Friday, May 07, 2010

Stuck with the wrong tool

I was doing some work on a small project for a client in Flash the other day. I’ve done Flash work for him before, and he had called up about a month ago and said he needed something in Flash so that he could put it into a PowerPoint presentation, and I didn’t question it. The work primarily involved adding captions and highlighting to a stock video sequence, though there was also some adjustment in frame rate and some other graphical bits and pieces added.

It took about an hour, went together okay, and the client was happy. Job done.

He called again last week saying he needed some more changes, which included adding another clip at the end of the sequence. This required some futzing, as the two clips played at different speeds, were different sizes, and didn’t smoothly transition from one to the other. Getting a nice transition in Flash was a bit of a struggle.

It was only after we were wrapping it up that it occurred to me that I’d been using the wrong tool from the beginning. It would have been much simpler – and faster – to have put the piece together using a video editor like Final Cut, and then simply used Flash to convert it to a .swf. Or even use another format to play the clip in PowerPoint. The captions would have gone in easier, and probably looked nicer too, the speed changes and transition would have been easier too.

And really there was no reason to use Flash; we weren’t doing anything interactive. It’s rather ironic really.

Of course, part of the problem was that it was a small project that kept growing piece-by-piece. You tend to spend more time thinking about the best way to do something when there’s a lot of work ahead. When it’s an hour or two, you’re more likely to just jump in with the first thing that comes to hand.

But it’s an important lesson; are you sure you’re using the right tool?

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