On occasion, you may run into an issue where a product is seemingly stuck at the External Post step. This can happen for a variety of reasons, the following article will walk through the steps to troubleshoot and help you get your assets moving on to the next step in the production process.
Presets and Fanout at External Post Step
Creative Force will not allow products to complete the External Post step until the image requirements as determined on the Style Guide associated with a particular product are fulfilled. The image requirements may be equal to or greater than the number of assets sent.
Creative Force will expect a greater number of images returned than received if the preset applied to a position has more than one variant and you have set variant creation (also known as fan-out) to take place at the External Post step within the workflow. To read more about presets and variant creation click here.
The image below depicts the setting within a given Workflow that will determine whether variants are created at the Internal or External Post step. To adjust this setting head to your Studio’s name in the upper right-hand corner, then select ‘workflow’. Variant Creation is the last section under the Post-production tab.
There are a few places within Creative that can offer insight that is helpful when determining what might cause assets to not return from your External Post vendor. The first place to check is the production tab. The production tab provides three important pieces of information:
Sent to Ext.
This is the number of assets that Creative Force has sent to the External Post Vendor.
Expected from External Post
This is the number of assets that Creative Force expects to receive back from the External Post vendor. As mentioned above this number may be equal to or greater than the number sent. If this number is greater than the number sent, this means there is a preset applied to one or more position(s) and fan-out is taking place at External Post. For example, you may send your vendor 1 asset, but the preset applied to the position requires 2 variants: a Main variant and a Crop variant, in this case, one asset is sent to the External Post Vendor and 2 assets are expected to be returned.
Returned from External Post
This is the number of assets Creative Force has received from the External Post vendor. This number should match Expected from External Post, but can be equal to or greater than the number Sent to External Post.
If you notice the number of images returned is less than the number of images expected, it would be recommended to double-check the assets returned against what is required on the Style Guide and you may need to contact your vendor to confirm all required assets have been created and uploaded.
The next section will provide another method for determining which assets Creative Force is awaiting.
If the number of assets returned is less than the number of expected assets, or it appears there may be an error as the production is not moving to External Post QC, the job view may offer insight into what might be holding up the process. Search for the job associated with the product stuck at External Post via the jobs tab in Gamma and select ‘view’ from the Job slide-out:
From here, select ‘by Production Type’ from the drop-down menu:
Enter the product code into the search field and scroll to the right until you see the ‘Back from Post' column. A red triangle indicates one or more expected files have not made it back from the External Post vendor:
Clicking on the red icon will reveal a window that provides detailed information on both the files that have returned as well as the positions and variants Creative Force is awaiting. It would be recommended to reach out to your Vendor to ensure the missing files have been uploaded to the FTP.
Lastly, the Back from Post detail provides the Physical File ID, we’ll cover this in the section below:
Physical File ID
Creative Force writes a Physical File ID into the metadata of an image when an image is sent to the External Post Vendor. The Physical File ID is what Creative Force uses to pull images back from the Vendor’s FTP once the completed images are uploaded to the correct folder. If the metadata of an image is not kept intact on export or the Physical File ID has been altered, Creative Force will not be able to recognize and pull the files back from the Vendor.
If you notice your vendor has uploaded the correct files to the correct folder on the FTP but the files are not returned to Creative Force, the first step will be to download the images from the vendor's FTP and check the metadata for the Physical File ID. To do this, head to exifmeta.com and drag and drop an image into the upload box.
It is important to check for two things:
Does the image have a Physical File ID?
If yes, does the Physical File ID of the asset that was completed by the External Post Vendor match the Physical File ID of the asset that Creative Force sent?
What to do if the Physical File ID is missing
If you confirm that the image your vendor has uploaded to the FTP is missing the Physical File ID, it likely means that it was kept intact on Export. You have two options:
Reach out to your vendor and ask if they can attempt either:
Re-exporting the image and ensure the metadata is staying intact
Download the file that was sent by Creative Force and copy the canvas from the completed file and paste it onto the Creative Force file and export.
Reset the product back to the External Post step this will retrigger Creative Force to send new versions of the file(s) with new Physical File IDs.
2. Instruct the vendor to download the new files sent by Creative Force, open them in Photoshop, and copy the canvases from the old version of the files to the new files sent by Creative Force
3. Export, check the metadata for the Physical File ID and upload to the FTP once confirmed metadata is intact
What to do if the Physical File ID is Incorrect
If you’ve confirmed the image has a Physical File ID and the image is still not being pulled back by Creative Force, it likely means that the Physical File ID has been altered or is from an older version of the file. As mentioned above, when a product or production type is reset, Creative Force will write new Physical File IDs to the metadata of the assets, so it is crucial that your vendor download the most recent files sent by Creative Force.
The first step, in this case, is to confirm the Physical File ID that the system is looking for. To do so, refer to the ‘Job View’ section of this article above. Once you’ve located your product in the job view and have pulled up the warnings window, we are able to view the Physical File ID the system is looking for:
You can then compare the Physical File ID the system is looking for to the Physical File ID written into the Metadata of the image uploaded by your vendor using exifmeta.com (instructions above).
If your Physical File IDs do not match, you have two options:
Instruct the vendor to download the latest version of the file sent by Creative Force, then copy their canvases from their working file and paste them onto the latest version of the file from Creative Force. Export and upload to the FTP.
Reset the production type back to External Post which will trigger Creative Force to send new files to the External Post Vendor with new Physical File IDs. The vendor can then download the files and copy their canvases as described above. Export and upload to the FTP.
If all of the steps above are followed and the files are still not pulled back by Creative Force, please reach out to our Customer Support team via Intercom and we would be happy to assist: