Lost in Transit

A time lapse of cars on a highway so it looks like streaks of light.

Signed, Sealed, and…

In the 90s, as director of production at a commercial post house, I felt a vague sense of dread whenever a project wrapped up and we shipped our “baby” – the final production – out to the different TV stations that were going to air it.

Most of the time, of course, it would be fine. The officially uniformed driver or courier would pick up all the packages, very reassuringly scan their labels into a database, gently load them into a truck, and disappear into the night, and the next thing we knew, we’d be watching our television ad air on the local stations.

But sometimes, the worst would happen, and we wouldn’t know it until the call would come in from the paying client, the one whose masterpiece we had just labored over for a month had gone missing.

In that situation, you can’t say “well, we shipped it!” and expect that to be the end of it. You can’t even point at the FedEx tracking label that shows it was picked up on schedule. None of that matters. In fact, that whole month you spent brainstorming, writing, shooting, editing, color grading, finishing, painstakingly revising to client whims? Doesn’t matter.

The customer paid us for the delivery of a final piece. None of that matters without delivery, in hand, on time, period.

All of this hit home again recently when a colleague sent this email:

Last night, while riding my bike home, I stumbled across a box full of undelivered parcels that had fallen off the back of a truck of a major shipping company. I gathered up all the parcels scattered along the side of the road and in the bushes, carried them home on my bike and called the shipping company. They picked them up from me at the office. It did get me thinking about people who ship hard drives – they really can go missing. 

Think about it – no shipping company in the world can track a shipment that’s sitting there, scattered along the side of the road, when the tracking information clearly shows that it’s safe on the truck.

Digital Files, Physical Shipments

It seems crazy but it’s true – people are still shipping physical media.

One production company I read about uses an overnight service to ship from New Zealand to the US for $150 – which seems like a bargain until you read the fine print and realize overnight service between those locales can be about a 10-day turnaround.

As long as drives and tapes are in transit, it’s just impossible to have certainty about their location and possession. That’s not a flaw in the world’s shipping and logistics technology; it’s simply a reality of physical transport. Things can start out somewhere clearly documented, and end up somewhere absolutely confirmed, but in between they’re out of your control.

Signiant recently introduced a new feature in Media Shuttle’s File History that directly connects an asset’s upload (think shipment pickup) with that same, specific asset’s download (like signing for a package in-hand), permanently linking the transfer from sender to recipient – or even multiple recipients – so you have concrete evidence of the asset’s delivery.

It can’t be lost during shipment, because of the multiple security components built into Signiant’s file transfer technology; but even more important is the accelerated transfer speeds. Yes, they outpace traditional FTP transfer by up to 200 times, but think of how much exponentially faster that is than a delivery service.

No more multiple physical copies to begin with, one for every TV station that was going to air the ad (and spend all that money on consumable media, as well).

No more worrying about where my files were … Because now, with Media Shuttle I do know where my files are: Safely with my recipient, where they belong.

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