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Quality Control Tips: Checking Your Final Drafts and Finalizing Your Edit

Jourdan Aldredge

Before you consider your project completely done and ready for delivery, make sure you go through this final quality control checklist.

Whether it’s a final cut of your festival debut feature, an hour-long wedding video, or deliverables for a client, there will always be that terrifying feeling in the hand-off . . .

Are you 100 percent sure that everything’s perfect?

I’m here to tell you that the terrifying unsure feeling never really goes away. There will always be little mistakes and shots you wish you had more time to correct. But at the end of the day, you do have to meet deadlines and get paid. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t double- and triple-check your projects before your final exports.

To best nullify the terror, it’s helpful to have some quality control best practices in place to catch any major mistakes in your final edits. Here are five quality control tips for checking your final drafts and finalizing your edits before exporting.

Quality Control Tips: Checking Your Final Drafts and Finalizing Your Edit — Edit Checklist

Image via recklessstudios.

1. Have a Secure and Quiet Room

I spent years in-house with a video production company that, among other things, produced hundreds of wedding videos. Weddings are a beast — they often have long cuts and lots of deliverables. Before anything was finally sent off to a client, it was always one (unlucky, perhaps) person’s job to lock himself or herself in a “quality control” room where they would view the deliverables in their entirety.

Now, we may not all have access to a “quality control room,” but the mentality can be helpful. You can lock yourself in a closet or just make a pretend-quiet room by removing all distractions. The biggest rule for the quality control room was no cell phones or laptops. If you’re going to do a true quality control review, you have to be 100 percent distraction-free.

2. Work It Segment by Segment

Another way to streamline your quality control (and save your sanity) is to work it segment by segment. You can apply any of the advice in this guide to an individual segment of your project — especially if you’re working with projects over 10, 20, or 60 minutes long.

Once you’ve reviewed a segment and signed off on your own quality control, you can mark it in your notes and in your edit. Here are some tips for organizing your timeline that will help.

3. Bring in a Second Set of Eyes

When you do find yourself so neck-deep in a project that you’re struggling to keep your mind straight, a great trick is to simply bring in a second set of eyes. Part of our quality control protocol in-house with the video production company was to always have a second party do the QC.

It’s not just about project fatigue — a second set of eyes also means a second set of opinions and a good gauge for response and feedback. Once your project is totally done, bring in a friend and ask him or her to give it a watch for any mistakes or advice on what works and what doesn’t.

4. Export and Watch on a Different Monitor or TV

Image by ImageBySutipond.

Since my days working on a television sitcom in college, exporting a draft to review on a different monitor (or in my case, my TV set at home) has been a great way to get a new perspective and catch any mistakes. It’s doubly helpful if you can do this with dailies on a bigger project — but even when quality controlling, reviewing your projects on a different source helps in many ways.

Not only will this give you a fresh perspective, it can also give you insights into how your project will look on a non-editing monitor. How do the colors look on a regular TV? How are the sound levels now that you’re not just wearing headphones? You can get a lot of insight from exporting drafts for review on alternate sources.

5. Deliver to a Pretend Client First

I can still remember the one time I was most terrified before delivering a final project. It was a huge video: lots of VFX and a big budget in terms of dollars, time spent, and people involved. It was scary leaving so much to chance, so to qualm our fears as best as we could, we decided to do a full test run.

This was a few years ago, so the final video was going to be delivered on a DVD. So, to make sure it would go as smoothly as possible, we did an entire test run, like I said. We exported the final video, burned it to the DVD, then physically took it over to another location where (as best as we could figure it) a similar DVD player and TV were waiting. We turned the TV on, dropped in the DVD, and pressed play. (Luckily everything worked, but that’s how concerned were.)

While this is rare example of having the time and resources to do a test delivery, if you do want to do a perfect quality control, this might be your best bet. However, if you don’t, keep it in mind and see how closely you can recreate to the same situation.

Even if you take these tips to hear, the fear of exporting will still never really go away, but it might be more manageable.

Cover image by ronstik.

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