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giving away tricks?

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I lost my job and have have started freelancing for the first time. I'm working on this project and I want to use a compositing trick that I think looks really cool. My concern is that I will have to hand over all the project files to the studio I'm working for. (I believe the contract I signed says they own anything I develop during production.) This industry has made me very competitive, and I've become very protective of my bag of tricks, because it's one of the things that made me a valuable asset at my job, and it's what will keep clients coming back. Handing over project files feels like handing over the hen that lays the golden eggs. Is this simply one of the unfortunate disadvantages of being freelance? It makes me tempted use less attractive or boring treatments and save my recipies for projects where I don't have to give up my secrets. comments?

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Bill them for an extra day and spend your time linking all the variables of your "trick" to expression controlled sliders etc. It'll either be so easy for them to tweak that they'll never dig deep enough to learn what's at the heart of your "trick", or it'll be so difficult to understand they'll keep coming back to the super-genius that made the original file (you).

 

I'm only partly joking.

 

(otherwise, just pre-render the shit out of that thing so they can only change what's absolutely necessary)

Edited by beau+++

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This drives me nuts about the "design" side of this industry. Everyone thinks they have these great tricks and they guard them with their life. Meanwhile I work with some uber talented modelers, animators and renderers and they all share everything with each other and everyone in the online world, why because that is a great community and how they learn. If you are so worried about not getting work because you know some stupid "trick" in after effects work no your design skills, those tricks are a lot harder to learn and will always get you work.

 

Take a look and someone like Andrew Kramer, they guy gives away his tricks and we all learn and get better.

 

Don't take yourself so seriously because tricks don't amount to a hill of beans, talent does.

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Guest Sao_Bento

To me the secretive approach is the old way of thinking that died with the black boxes. "The tighter you hold on, the more slips through your fingers".

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Sorry that you lost your job - but freelancing although tough at times, is good fun and very rewarding.

 

Fair comments by deedeee and AromaKat pretty much said it.

 

I guess, you're employed because you're good at what you do, and you should do your best for the client. If you do a good job and they like you, you're pretty much guaranteed repeat work... I think you need not worry about using your 'bag of tricks'. I thought I knew some tricks, but then you go to a studio and see some fellow freelancers doing some über cool shit and you're like, 'I need to step up my game', but at the same time, they're looking over your shoulder saying - 'that's some neat work you're doing there...'

 

Someone else will always be doing something cooler, because if you're like me, you are your own worst critic.

 

Best of luck.

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This is nearly always required.

 

The reason being in case revisions need to be made and they cannot reach you / relations fell apart since the initial development.

 

 

I agree that there are legitimate reasons so send over project files, and that holding onto your "bag of tricks" is sort of a fruitless enterprise- but I have to say - the above statement is really shortsighted.

 

There is no assumed viewpoint on this topic- if you don't want to give up your project files - then don't. End of discussion. Even if the client stipulated up front they'd like the files - theres no law requiring you to, unless you signed a contract and its in black and white.

 

It's my personal opinion mographers give up way more than they get back, but who cares about my opinion - the point here is: use your discretion.

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i had the same problem last week. The company I was freelancing for was really impressed with what I could do. (obviously they didn't have too much exposure to the mograph community...)

 

But after I completed my work, they wanted me to make several "template" files, with adjustable animations, and drag and drop assests files... I didn't wind up doing it for them because I ran out of time... But why cut myself out of their workflow? I'd be like giving them exclusive rights to one of those stock elements and effect packages.... but for $15/hr....

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This drives me nuts about the "design" side of this industry. Everyone thinks they have these great tricks and they guard them with their life. Meanwhile I work with some uber talented modelers, animators and renderers and they all share everything with each other and everyone in the online world, why because that is a great community and how they learn. If you are so worried about not getting work because you know some stupid "trick" in after effects work no your design skills, those tricks are a lot harder to learn and will always get you work.

 

Take a look and someone like Andrew Kramer, they guy gives away his tricks and we all learn and get better.

 

Don't take yourself so seriously because tricks don't amount to a hill of beans, talent does.

 

 

I agree. I learned a lot from the Meyers, Maffit and some of those Cosa pioneers who were willing to share their knowledge. When I was a print designer, my favorite magazines were Step-by-step and How. I don't think you should be so concerned about your tricks. My wife would often see a commercial and ask "can you do that?", to which I answer, "probably, but the better question is would I have thought of it." That's what you have that separates you.

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yeah, protecting your tricks just seems greedy. But then again i guess if the studio wants the source files, you should either charge em extra for it, or just precomp it, so they can only change the text and other basic stuff.

 

I've thankfully never had that problem, since i've only worked with a studio that uses my software once, and i worked inhouse for em. all the others just want png sequences.

 

And yes. VIMEO link plz we want to see!

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It's good you're only worried about tricks and not unique work from a developed artistry that only you posses. The good news is that every trick in the book is on the web already so you don't need to worry about it's secrecy ;)

 

relax now.

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Protecting your "tricks" not only makes you seem like a one-trick pony, but it's far from the best way to capitalize on your unique skills. If your trick is good, people are eventually going to see it in action, emulate it, and figure it out. Then the guy with the tutorial web site and DVDs will codify it and make money, and your trick will suddenly become the latest mograph cliche.

 

Sorry to be harsh, but I hate the combative, arrogant undertone in this kind of trade secrecy. It really doesn't work anymore, with this new internet thing and all. Expect that anything good will be copied and reverse-engineered. Stay ahead of the game.

 

OTOH, giving away everything to clients so they can profit off your work in perpetuity is BS. And a different story.

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I'm working on this project and I want to use a compositing trick that I think looks really cool.

 

Other people are giving away "great tricks" every day. If luck has it, someone with wits could reverse-analyze your stuff in a split second just by looking at the output. So I really don't know, what you are trying to say. Contractual legalities aside that are your own problem (I mean, if handing over stuff was on the board from the start, why did you agree to that in the first place?), there's only a limited number of things that can happen:

 

a) they don't care about the underlying mechanics, as all they ever want is to create their weekly slates

B) they have some smart guy, who may understand what you did, but really doesn't care beyond getting the job done

c) they don't understand a thing and call you in every time something needs to be updated

d) they only understand half a thing, create a mess and call you in

e) they call in another artist who rebuilds the project to their specs

 

Whichever way you see it, there's really nothing to write home about. No matter how you twist and turn it, either you are in or out. If the region you work in is not overcrowded with other artists, it may swing in your favor, if it's a busy area you may perhaps have to find out that you are not yet the competitive artist you think you were.... That's life. The rest is just a (self-)indulgence.

 

Mylenium

Edited by Mylenium

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I'd hate to think the industry is aging and everyone is morphing

into old guard Quantel dinosaurs who used to carefully hoard their

pathetically nothing secrets. The digital revolution blew that

nonsense out of the water. Suddenly everyone shared ideas.

There is nothing more amusing than working in a project where

some neophyte thinks he's hiding some dipshit nothing that

anyone with a couple years experience knows anyway, and if

they don't they can figure it out in 30 seconds.

When art directors at the place I work, look at projects and see

that the guy who did it is doing a lot of pre-rendering and nonsense,

he doesn't come back.

 

That being said, a company has no right to expect projects being

turned over without paying for them. I resist doing

so because I use a lot of fonts and materials that most

companies are too cheap to purchase on their own, and turning

them over is violation of copyright.

 

Freelancers who work off premises need to stop giving this stuff away.

Edited by tomcat

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how about that instead of putting so much effort into "keeping" your secrets to yourself, trying revealing new ones?

 

try and give your clients MORE than they ask for, there's a better chance that they'll come back for more with that attitude in mind, rather than when you insist of pre-comping your stuff only cause of some "RARE?!" expressions or tricks.

 

there are new graduates everyday, new design hotshots, mograph rockstars, and extremely talented people are becoming your competition whether you like it or not, instead of hanging on to your old bag of tricks, trying to achieve the new ones works way better.

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This industry has made me very competitive, and I've become very protective of my bag of tricks...

 

"Indiana........Indiana....let it go."

 

 

As has been stated: I personally feel like you'll be just as marketable if you hand over your project files. It's the end product of your work that defines you. Your process is precious to you but your process is fluid - ever evolving and ever changing. You'll keep learning more and more impressive "tricks", I'm sure companies aren't hiring you because you're that "3D Stroke Guy" or that "Particle Text Guy" etc. They hire you because they like your end product.

 

PS - sorry to hear that you lost your job, but happy to hear that you are up and freelancing. Good luck!

Edited by RAZ

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The "trick" may be valuable to you, but I think what's more valuable is the ability to pull off a great effect/whatever and get it done in a timely manner. Someone who can do the work/hit deadlines/is easy to get along with is more valuable than any one specific "trick." My guess is you'll get more work by being the guy that people can count on to pull off a difficult composite and do it seamlessly without taking forever is worth more than anything else.

 

Besides, in my experience, a "trick" that may work well with one specific type of composite, may not translate well to other shots. Be confident in your abilities, and I don't think you need to worry about some company ripping off your effect.

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