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bibbadad

Sending work files?

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Hi,

Love mograph and would appreciate expertise/advice here:

 

I've been doing DVD menu design for 8 years, and recently I've noticed the trend of bigger authoring houses asking for all work files associated with projects (AE, photoshop, supporting files, etc). I am not liking this trend because I hate to give over work files that can basically be used by another vendor for future work. In the past, if another vendor really demanded the files, I've just made dumbed-down versions of the files by flattening the animation into a movie and making the text editable.

 

I am about to finish a months long project for a really great, long-standing client. Thing is, they're using a big authoring house that has a spec sheet requiring all working files for the project, and they're seemingly unbending with their requirements.

 

Is it unreasonable to push back on sending any work files at all, using the defense that it's an intellectual property issue?

Are other people upset about handing over after effects files to other vendors? If so, what are people doing to not create possible antagonism with their clients?

 

I don't wanna shoot myself in the foot, but I also don't want to create a stink for my client who's been very good to me.

 

thanks!

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I remember there being a pretty big thread here regarding this subject.

If you search for it, I'm sure you'll find the responses helpful, although there is a mix of opinions.

 

Overall, you'll notice the word "contract" used pretty often when talking about this :)

Did you have a contract with this client and what did you agree on prior to starting the work?

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I remember there being a pretty big thread here regarding this subject.

If you search for it, I'm sure you'll find the responses helpful, although there is a mix of opinions.

 

Overall, you'll notice the word "contract" used pretty often when talking about this :)

Did you have a contract with this client and what did you agree on prior to starting the work?

I remember there being a pretty big thread here regarding this subject.

If you search for it, I'm sure you'll find the responses helpful, although there is a mix of opinions.

 

Overall, you'll notice the word "contract" used pretty often when talking about this :)

Did you have a contract with this client and what did you agree on prior to starting the work?

 

I do have contracts with this client for each new job. There's no specific language in there that would lead me to believe that they own the work files, a lot of stuff about expectations and delivery date, copyright, etc.

 

One thing that makes this particular situation a little weird is that this project is being funded by yet another company, and I'm using that company's vendor.

 

Ugh, I didn't search well enough on this topic, sorry...I'll check that thread and see what people have already talked about on this issue.

thanks for your reply!

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one way that may be a work around, which seems to be more work then its worth, is you could make your comps slightly larger and do a pre-render of each element, then rebuild it with the pre-renders and having the larger pre-renders would allow them to move things around slightly. and by providing all the pre-renders you technically provided them each of the elements and argue intellectual property...but it comes down to did they pay you for the creation or for the final product.

 

maybe have them sign an agreement stating that those elements you provide are only allowed to be used specifically for that project? one time use copyright type thing. just thinking allowed here.

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Make the stuff uneditable and be done with it. They can't complain when they get a flattened Photoshop file, pre-rendered elements and rasterized text layers - they get the "working files", just frozen in their last state. If the wanna futz around with it, they'll have to rebuild it at their own cost and time. If they can be mean, then so can you. Simple "eye for an eye" policy.

 

Mylenium

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from their perspective, they are just protecting themselves. What if you get sick or die and the studio asks for revisions from your client? What do they do then?

 

Its easy to get pissy about this stuff (I do), but everyone is looking out for their own security.

 

I just had a situation where a client asked me for the AE files to something, and it was clear there were revisions and I wasn't going to be hired to do them. I got mad and made some calls, and it turns out that their client (the movie studio) didn't give them any money for the revisions because they were a big studio and could push them around. So instead of losing even more cash and hiring me to do it, they were going to have one of their staff dudes do it who they were already paying a salary to sit around anyway.

 

I can sympathize with situations like that, so I just gave 'em the files.

 

Is your client a client that keeps coming back? Do you have a good relationship? Are you sure you want to piss them off? They could be getting greedy, or they could just be playing it safe like any responsible company should by making sure their bases are covered.

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Guest Sao_Bento

Many companies policies are based on their policies for staff employees. In the staff situation, they usually stipulate that any work you do as their employee, they own. In some cases, they might not even realize there is an issue. I recently worked with a design firm on a project and was surprised to find all the source and project files included on the hard drive with the final, which goes to show that expectations vary, and just because someone does it differently doesn't mean that it's a calculated move on their part. It's best to bring the issue up early on and write whatever is agreed upon into the contract.

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from their perspective, they are just protecting themselves. What if you get sick or die and the studio asks for revisions from your client? What do they do then?

Oh no! What about cooperate America! What will they do!?

Excuse me while I don't give a shit.

 

What if I get sick and die? Are any of my clients showing up at my funeral? I used to use some really sweet plugins from a guy that died in an unfortunate car accident. You know what happens? The plugin stops being developed... as it should be.

 

Do you think power house studios like Shilo, Buck, Psyop, Digital Kitchen, Motion Theory, etc. give out their project files?

If not, why not?

What if their client wants to make edits... ya know... just to "protect themselves".

 

You can be whatever you want to be.

Do what you want to do, but don't do it because you're afraid to lose a client.

Fear is the worst reason to do anything.

 

-m

Edited by the_Monkey

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I think giving work files away for nothing is not a smart at all. I believe the best option would be to charge a plus for the production files, and make it clear in your budget that you're adding a special amount for that and how much. So they can decide if they want them or not.

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100% Agreed. DO NOT GIVE AWAY YOUR WORK FILES.

They are your personal DNA.

 

The only time a client gets my files is when I work on site in-house on his Mac in his

after effects, or

if I am helping another AE artist on a mutual project.

 

I think giving work files away for nothing is not a smart at all. I believe the best option would be to charge a plus for the production files, and make it clear in your budget that you're adding a special amount for that and how much. So they can decide if they want them or not.
Edited by tomcat

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Oh no! What about cooperate America! What will they do!?

Excuse me while I don't give a shit.

 

What if I get sick and die? Are any of my clients showing up at my funeral? I used to use some really sweet plugins from a guy that died in an unfortunate car accident. You know what happens? The plugin stops being developed... as it should be.

 

Do you think power house studios like Shilo, Buck, Psyop, Digital Kitchen, Motion Theory, etc. give out their project files?

If not, why not?

What if their client wants to make edits... ya know... just to "protect themselves".

 

You can be whatever you want to be.

Do what you want to do, but don't do it because you're afraid to lose a client.

Fear is the worst reason to do anything.

 

-m

 

completely agree. And if i'm dead or sick - i won't care if i left a client in a bad spot cause i'm dead or sick

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i feel your pain man.

 

push back. the law is on your side.

 

if you haven't signed anything - you own the source files. and the results as well - actually.

 

i fought over this very issue with one of the world's largest corporations. believe me if they could legally get the files from me they would.

 

you have to stand firm and be willing part with the client.

 

your client will bet on you backing down. especially if they give you a lot of work.

 

they will threaten, lie, criticize, harass and maybe even sue you. i even had this client calling other companies in town and telling them not to work with me. people who i thought were friends won't even talk to me anymore.

 

all i can say is get this stuff out in the open at the beginning of any relationship with a new client. i tell my clients now right at the beginning that they do not own anything - and that i provide them with usage rights on the final product only. if they are needing source files or copyrights, they either pay extra for all this, or we don't work together. make it a mutual understanding from the start.

 

good luck!

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Oh no! What about cooperate America! What will they do!?

Excuse me while I don't give a shit.

 

My meaning wasn't to just give the files away, it was to consider all sides. If I did a project for, say, Starbucks, then yeah, they don't need my files and they would have to pay serious coin if they wanted them. If I was working for freelance for Motion Theory and they needed my files for a project I was freelancing on, I'd be a lot more inclined to give them away, especially if we had a good working relationship I wanted to preserve.

 

Clients = evil corporate america only if thats how you chose to see them. They are also business partners and the people who write the checks. Sometimes saying no and burning bridges is the right move, but sometimes you figure out a way to give people want they want if it works out to your advantage long-term.

 

What you wrote is such shit advice I don't even know where to start.

 

 

Do what you want to do, but don't do it because you're afraid to lose a client.

 

Seriously? Thanks! That solves everything!

 

bibbadad said:

 

I am about to finish a months long project for a really great, long-standing client.

 

It seems obvious he cares about the client relationship and may even *gasp!* be afraid of losing them. Sounds like he lives in the real world.

It also seems obvious that he isn't a power house studio, so don't make a comparison that doesn't apply.

 

Your advice sounds like something a kid would say when he graduates from art school with his red hot Video Production degree, and it reminds me of the attitudes I saw when interviewing for new hires back in the day.

Get over yourself, you're replacable, and if you run around saying "Fuck Corporate America" or whoever it is you work for, then your career may burn bright, but it'll burn out fast.

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Hey,

Wow, thanks for all your comments, they've been really insightful.

 

What I think I'm going to do in this case (and what I've done in the past) is to what RustyAce suggests...that is, render all the fancy animated stuff and just make the text editable. I think that's all they really want in this case anyway, but I was surprised to see "all original, complete work files" in their delivery spec sheet...and it's something I've seen more and more lately.

 

I guess the point to start makin a fuss is if they come back and ask for the whole shebang later. If they do come back and ask for the full files, I can make the argument that the work files are far too complex to have someone just jump in and change stuff around . Additionally, there's the issue of having the right plugins and stuff. Also, this is a huge project for me, one that has involved other animators and audio guys and such. I've had to frankenstein some stuff together with other people's corrections, they aren't the neatest files, it would take some time to walk someone through them. I'll cross that bridge...

 

In this case, I don't think this place's aim is malicious or to take away future work away from me, it's probably more of a case that they want everything laid-out according to their specs so they don't have to think, and if they have absolutely everything then there's less time down for them if they need a quick change. I'm not that comfortable with handing everything over, but I want to be a good and "easy to work with" kind of vender and make my client look good. Again, I'm not giving work files to my client, this is a third-party vendor that my client's client chose.

 

I think this is mostly an intellectual property issue, and I should have my lawyer check out these contracts one by one as I get them, and have him send the contract back with the provision that I keep my work files. Thing is, using him costs a lot of money and digs into my bottom line for each project, I might want to have him do that for the next round, tho and hopefully use that contract as the new template for each job.

 

I appreciate all of your responses.

 

thanks!

-bd

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That was a terribly venomous post Monovich and I'm sad to see that it peaked at name calling.

I served you no such disrespect. You're entitled to you opinion.

I'm not going to call you names or belittle your character just because you have a point of view I don't like or disagree with.

 

It's hard to to hear what your say about being a professional when you say it like that... but that's your choice.

 

-m

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yeah my post was fired off in a quick flameout, but check out the wording in yours also, it was pretty full of a similar attitude. Maybe that wasn't intended, but thats how you came across. So yeah, I'll defend my opinion, and I'm not afraid to come out and say what I thought of what you had to say.

 

Does that mean I think you are the sum of what you wrote? No, not at all. So apologies if that seemed unprofessional. This is a forum where people hang out, and people shoot their mouths off here all the time, so how I speak here also isn't the sum of how professional I am out in the real world either.

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Hi guys,

 

I have such a situation right now and funny that even giving the whole project did not actually solve anything. Everything because at this case it was more difficult to understand and learn my project than create a new one from very beginning.

 

just my 2c

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What you wrote is such shit advice I don't even know where to start.

 

Get over yourself, you're replacable, and if you run around saying "Fuck Corporate America" or whoever it is you work for, then your career may burn bright, but it'll burn out fast.

 

Actually sao's advice is far from shit advice, although he is rather direct and more direct then most people can stand. He simply points out our relationship with corporate America(world since we are a global community) is a necessary , but often times regretful symbiotic relationship. I grantee you that if your client is truly a corporate client, once they have your project files they will have no qualms about taking your project files to India or wherever and have cheaper versions done.

 

That being said you can go through your project file and bill them for the creation of so many proxies and precomps, and things connected through the pick whip and code, that carrying your project to anywhere else but back to you would cost them exponentially more to have done, in order to protect yourself.

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rustyace i don't think monovich was talking about sao's advice, to be fair.

 

i agree with everyone who is saying: bill them. (contractually)

 

see? no need to argue, here is an agreement that works for both parties. The client gets your postmortem data and you get some more money. Yay!

 

personally, i don't really mind if a client uses my proj with some cheaper shmuckus down the line. as long as i get paid for handing over those files. thankfully, all of my work doesn't come from just one client. as no freelancer's should. this may not be the case in smaller cities, but well, that's the geographical curse of design at this point in time.

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Don't want to hijack this thread - but it raises an interesting question regarding the motivation behind asking for the projects / assets.

 

Wondering if anyone encounters this as a desire from the client to "audit" the work. Here's the reason I ask...

 

When I was doing research for our Flow product, many a big co' articulated their frustration about understanding the use of rights managed assets in a project (music, stock photography etc etc). They then in turn get burnt because they don't have a clear understanding what was used, when and where. They also don't understand what terms may have been negotiated for the license etc.

 

They explained to me that the only way was to ask the contractors (freelance, production house etc) to audit their work and send all elements along with the final which was contracted for.

 

Could this be one of the motivations behind their request from your perspective (as well as all the other reasons already stated in this thread)?

 

Would love anyone's $0.02

 

Steve

GridIron Software Inc.

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yeah my post was fired off in a quick flameout, but check out the wording in yours also, it was pretty full of a similar attitude. Maybe that wasn't intended, but thats how you came across. So yeah, I'll defend my opinion, and I'm not afraid to come out and say what I thought of what you had to say.

 

Does that mean I think you are the sum of what you wrote? No, not at all. So apologies if that seemed unprofessional. This is a forum where people hang out, and people shoot their mouths off here all the time, so how I speak here also isn't the sum of how professional I am out in the real world either.

Agreed + Peace.

 

I think you might have read my prior post with a personal spite that was not intended. After re-reading it, I could see how it would cause such a reaction if the yous had been read as a singular "you Monovich" instead of plural "you People of MoGraph". It was not intended as a sermon or a finger pointing that you personally were afraid of losing clients.

 

***

 

I have no argument to win here, so the following is just a sum up (and it's mostly boring, so if someone has posted something in the funny stuff thread... I'd suggest going there). Please, everyone, read it lightly.

 

Plenty of people have given good advice here. This question comes up a lot and it almost always comes down to the same thing: Get it in writing or talk about it in advance. If you didn't talk about it first you're screwed... hand it over and move on.

 

Bibbadad's original post distilled into this one line for me:

"Is it unreasonable to push back on sending any work files at all, using the defense that it's an intellectual property issue?"

 

I always encourage pushing back. Not because you have a chip on your shoulder or something to prove, but because that's the only way to define your role (especially as a freelancer). An equally asked question is, "How much money do I ask for," which Govinda will reply with, "As much as you can."

Likewise...How much control over YOUR creativity do you ask for? As much as you can.

 

My attitude may seem rebellious, but I assure it is not so because of youth or inexperience. I have arrangements with a couple studios that recognize the ownership of my work, not only when it's made on my machine at home with my software, but even when it's made on their machines in their studios. They own the final output, but the development files are mine. That is VERY uncommon, but it's like that because that's what I wanted and that's what I asked for in advanced. They love my work and I love working for them. Good, positive, fair, business relationships can happen.

 

The owner of Dorian Orange and I were having coffee once near the end of a very large project where we each independently confessed that we had had daydreams of me getting hit by a bus moments before delivery. We agreed that it would have sucked and ended it with a pretty hardy laugh. It was a good memory. If he would have come in the next day with something for me to sign just in case I would have died I probably wouldn't be working there anymore. That's what I mean by Cooperate America. People who put people last. Why would anyone want to work for someone like that? I'm not against Capitalism. I'm against practices that put people last.

 

I just don't like to see people give up so easily because they feel "replaceable" or are afraid they might lose a client. IMO, one of the best things you can do for your business is to lose a client. Stay in any business long enough and sooner or later someone is going to treat you in a manner that will make you ashamed you buckled or proud you didn't. Finding the right time is the tricky part.

 

-m

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Steve has a point.

From my experience some places require complete project assets(both video AND audio(we had to deliver a multi-track, unmixed set on a Hi8 tape a couple times))

 

I might not be in the popular camp, but I'm a big proponent of having the owner of files be the guy that paid for the work.

 

A lot of people might not understand, but a project doesn't begin and end with the "freelance graphics guy".

 

The company that I work at, 95% of the time, requires its freelancers to deliver the project files along with the renders. And we do the same for our client as well.

 

Does that mean that said freelancers never work with our company again? Hell no. We continuously try to make use of the same people. We like working with them, they do great work, and we know enough about their work flow to be able to match them with certain projects. We always come back to the guys we like.

 

But there are times when we need to use the project files ourselves:

Freelancer is unavailable(booked, sick, etc..)?

Were working on a big project/campaign, especially one that is too big for one freelancer to handle.

Freelancer is remote, while client wants to sit-in on some tweaking.

Freelancer sucks(too slow, hard to work with, etc..).

 

To be honest, we have gotten more work from several clients because their other vendor would refuse to release project assets that needed to be used elsewhere, thus making themselves harder to work with.

 

In an industry where everyone is always short on time, and money and advertising accounts change hands so often, its also necessary to know that you're not always the goto guy for everything. If you're paid 800 per day to build a spot, why would any company in their right mind pay that rate to get some supers swapped out in the same AE project. Instead its more likely they will come back to you for more of the work you're cut out to do.

 

No one wants to be bound to a particular service provider. Everyone(not just companies) likes royalty free stock footage and music and tries to avoid union talent/workers so as to get away from paying residuals; and gets pissed off when our software doesn't export to another format of our choice.

 

Sorry for the semi-random thoughts.... just Alt-TABbing between this and work :-)

 

 

 

EDIT: P.S. I completely agree that this arrangement should be worked out before any work starts.

Edited by KGB

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