Sometimes a speedrun is too good to be true. Using editing tools and some sneaky cuts, a desperate runner can disguise that they are stringing together a series of videos so it appears that they have completed difficult skips or achieved a world record. One clever YouTube channel challenges viewers to find the exact moment they have cheated.
Spot the Splice is a video series by speedrunner SixRockFire that showcases a section of a speedrun that has been edited with a “splice” somewhere in the clip. Splices mark the spot where a video has been edited together, and are usually spotted through close scrutiny which sometimes includes using spectrograms to analyse sound. In other cases, such as a Super Meat Boy speedrun that was disqualified last spring, individual video frames are examined for discrepancies. Spot the Splice edits aren’t as sneaky as real cheat runs, but the challenge of finding the exact moment of the splice provides a novel bit of sleuthing.
There are a few factors to keep in mind when looking for a splice. The most obvious of these is audio. If a game is playing music in the background, you can listen for moments where it stutters or skips in order to help locate an edit. Ambient noise or strange sounds during animations are another thing to look out for. If you don’t have keen ears, you can also test your eyes and look out for any sudden changes in the environment or jumps in the video. Other edits are less obvious, but a good starting point is to compare something that seems off to what came before. An enemy could fall to the ground a bit faster than usual or an end of level transition might run too fast. By looking at how these things usually play out, you can see what the differences are.
That sounds straightforward, but watching a splice in action isn’t always obvious. Here’s a section from Jak 2. Try to find where the edit is.
The series only has three videos at the moment, but will hopefully grow. For now, you can waste some time hunting for the splices, and get a taste of some of the tricky edits that cheaters try to sneak into leaderboards.