Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
hamax1

Delivering "source files"

Recommended Posts

A friendly client wants "source files" delivered at the end of a few month stint. Many of these files contain links to various plugins and scripts and will basically not operate as expected when they are opened on another machine.

The client requested that these plugins be delivered as well, or at least a list and how to obtain them.

I just don't think this type of deliverable is appropriate no matter what the statement of work said. But the SOW stated that resources and deliverables would be outlined, then in each stint they were outlined as "motion studies" or "animatics" or whatever but never Adobe After Effects files and the plugins used.

 

anyone else deal with anything like this before?

I'm considering just giving them the projects as-is, they can have fun trying to recreate stuff or find someone that can dig through it all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's explicitly outlined in the contract, then I'd do what was agreed upon in the explicit sense. Any gray area and you should consider it a favor to them. Then the question is how much do you like them? Typically a client asks for source files when they think they've found a cheaper alternative to you.

 

But I like to think of these situations in this way. When a contractor is hired to build a deck, do you expect him to give you his tools, his secrets, and a course on engineering after he's completed construction?

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your mileage may vary but, I do this if it's specified in the contract.

There is always a charge associated with this. Usually for the time to clean up the project pre-render pluggins etc.

 

I've found a lot of times clients want the working files as a security blanket in case there are last minute changes and you are unavailable or something like that. If you did a kick ass job and now they just want to go somewhere else because it's cheaper are they really a client worth hanging on to anyways.

 

Personally I find the secret sauce argument to be bullshit. I'm paid for my creativity and problem solving ability not a bunch of after effects "secrets". To change the metaphor if an architect designs a building for you, maybe down the road you'll want the blueprints so when you hire a plumber to fix something he can easily find the pipes. If they want to get someone cheap down the line because there is a last minute copy change I don't really think it's a bog deal, and still nine times out of ten they'll come back to you to fo it even if they have the project.

 

On larger projects sometimes the client requests we share assets between studios. A few times I've gotten project files from some pretty well respected shops and I have yet to uncover any secret sauce I can steal from getting these files, at the end of the day they are just talented artists producing solid work using the same tools as the rest of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always give my files to the clients. That way i don't have to render nothing :D

 

and yeah, you get paid for being able to solve the given problem, not just apply some secret combination. I think websites like GSG an d VCP have put an end to all this "Secret" stuff, since he gets all the cool looking projects and tells you how to achieve the same thing.

 

If you solved the problem well, next time they have a problem they will come back to you to solve the new problem. If they have someone cheaper to do last minute changes, more power to them. =) I have more interesting things to do.

 

And in this rather small industry being a good guy pays off. So pre-render the stuff that needs plugins ( if they dont have these plugins), but try to keep it editable so they can change copy or whatever it is themselves.

 

Do good things and good things happen =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From looking at your reel, your sense of timing and composition is something they're not going to be able to "pull" out of your source files. I'd pre-render any animated elements into a sandwiched background, midgrounds, foreground project so they don't have the opportunity to mess it up. If you have any type, keep it editable if you can. ( Although again, potential for them to uglify it ).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I find the secret sauce argument to be bullshit. I'm paid for my creativity and problem solving ability not a bunch of after effects "secrets". To change the metaphor if an architect designs a building for you, maybe down the road you'll want the blueprints so when you hire a plumber to fix something he can easily find the pipes. If they want to get someone cheap down the line because there is a last minute copy change I don't really think it's a bog deal, and still nine times out of ten they'll come back to you to fo it even if they have the project. On larger projects sometimes the client requests we share assets between studios. A few times I've gotten project files from some pretty well respected shops and I have yet to uncover any secret sauce I can steal from getting these files, at the end of the day they are just talented artists producing solid work using the same tools as the rest of us.

 

Right. We're paid for our "creativity"... Which explains why interns are paid dirt or nothing. Because they are...less creative?

 

Bullshit. We're paid for our technical prowess and experience, which does translate into creative ways into solving problems, which almost always lies exposed in the project files. And we're not talking exclusively AE. It's not like a guy will spend hours researching the various fluid settings to dial in for a realflow simulation? Oh no that's not a secret, but let's just bypass those hours he spent and take away the source files for free. Same thing with Houdini. Why hire a TD when we already have the project files for a tornado? Sure we'd have to dial in the settings, but Mr. TD here was nice enough to streamline the process enough that a junior Houdini tech could do it. We just saved several thousand dollars on our car insurance!

 

And no, it's not like giving away blueprints. Blueprints don't have a render button and *poof*, we have a house. Please put the cows back in the barn, the bullshit is starting to smell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Right. We're paid for our "creativity"... Which explains why interns are paid dirt or nothing. Because they are...less creative?

 

Bullshit. We're paid for our technical prowess and experience, which does translate into creative ways into solving problems, which almost always lies exposed in the project files. And we're not talking exclusively AE. It's not like a guy will spend hours researching the various fluid settings to dial in for a realflow simulation? Oh no that's not a secret, but let's just bypass those hours he spent and take away the source files for free. Same thing with Houdini. Why hire a TD when we already have the project files for a tornado? Sure we'd have to dial in the settings, but Mr. TD here was nice enough to streamline the process enough that a junior Houdini tech could do it. We just saved several thousand dollars on our car insurance!

 

And no, it's not like giving away blueprints. Blueprints don't have a render button and *poof*, we have a house. Please put the cows back in the barn, the bullshit is starting to smell.

 

It's a question of degrees. I think we are paid for a lot of skills on a project with some of them being technical, some creative, some dealing with people.

 

The junior guy is not less creative than me per se, but less experienced, less able to deal with clients, prioritize, manage a project etc.

 

Your whole argument about the TD is exactly my point the TD who has the creativity to solve the problem to create a Tornado that looks the way the director wants can't be replaced by someone who is junior. If at the very end they want to get someone junior to iterate off a system he set up so what. That TD probably wants to be spending his time solving more challenging problems, and if the director wants to change the look the TD gets the call again, and if the studio is happy with that TD presumably he is getting called back by them frequently for a lot of their FX work.

 

Presumably the guy who did all the research for the realflow sim was paid for that time and the more often he does that and has the experience to do it quicker he can up his rate and charge for that so I don't see how he is losing out.

 

I think your argument makes a little more sense when you learn more towards the VFX side of things where processes pipelines and code tend to be a bit more proprietary.

 

To me there is an ecosystem of division of labour that makes sense. For example if I design the graphics package for a TV show I turn over my working files so they can plug in the names for the lower thirds for each episode themselves. I have no problem with this. I don't feel I am losing out because they want to get some junior to mindlessly iterate, the rate I would charge them to do that doesn't makes sense for them financially and while I am not saying I would turn down the easy paycheck if they wanted me to do that part I'm not bothered when it goes to someone else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone for your input, and a very timely discussion.

The plugins are actually not a terribly huge deal, it's more along the lines of expressions (which they would have to have in the SCRIPTS UI folder in order to see, right?) , and having some discression and sense of timing is what makes them look great. I'm not worried about anyone STEALING that sensibility really (moreso with Brake's added confidence, ty sir). If someone else can find a theme or pattern in the use of the expressions and implement them similarly then they can feel free.

I think them stating that the AE project files are part of the "resources" listed in the SOW is bullshit. A seperate "FEE" as 'anothername' mentioned would make sense.

At the end of the day it was a good client and I don't feel like I'm trading them anything masterfully re-usable, still delivering projects/plugins/scripts doesn't sit right with me no matter the field.


And just one more thing about Blueprints, recipe's, "secret sauce" ... Those things are not easily obtainable. I'm quite certain getting blueprints to private buildings takes some serious red-tape jumping. Recipe's can be secretive too. While there are tons of recipe's for free to make great food out there, the real delectable stuff can be hard to recreate. And the Chef's at a restaurant might tell you whats in it, but they sure-as-hell aren't going to hand you a step-by-step ... cuz that's in their book, or on the website, or whatever.

Edited by hamax1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That TD probably wants to be spending his time solving more challenging problems, and if the director wants to change the look the TD gets the call again, and if the studio is happy with that TD presumably he is getting called back by them frequently for a lot of their FX work.

 

This.

 

and

 

 

 

For example if I design the graphics package for a TV show I turn over my working files so they can plug in the names for the lower thirds for each episode themselves. I have no problem with this. I don't feel I am losing out because they want to get some junior to mindlessly iterate, the rate I would charge them to do that doesn't makes sense for them financially and while I am not saying I would turn down the easy paycheck if they wanted me to do that part I'm not bothered when it goes to someone else.

 

 

 

Then again i generally work with people who need my c4d problem solving skills, not so much final product delivery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've created boiled-down "versioning packs" before, where I basically prerender the living daylights out of a project and leave only editable text layers and special precomps to replace individual footage items. This was episodic broadcast stuff, and the people who were touching the project files just needed to be able to swap out very specific elements quickly and easily without necessarily being mograph ninjas. I have no problem sending out things like that, but I generally feel uncomfortable about releasing things like code, rigs, and presets. I feel like those are products of their own and I agree with eliss that as a creator you should have a right to keep them proprietary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a question of degrees.

 

This is just one of the many gray areas in the 32 bit world of advertising. Which is why you get everything in writing. And if it's not in writing, don't let them sweet talk freebies.

 

If you pussyfoot with the client or agency (or studio for that matter), they will fuck you. They pay their people well, some solely for their ability to fuck you. I don't care how friendly they are over the phones. It's always the same assholes sitting around a speakerphone, contriving with each other under their breath.

 

And if they're trying to capitalize on the obscure, don't feel guilty bringing the same game to their doorstep. Then they can go looking for the next poor schmuck panhandling for attention.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry but I'd consider most of my scripting a "trade secret" and I'd render out the elements that include any expressions or effects.

 

 

I have no problem sending out things like that, but I generally feel uncomfortable about releasing things like code, rigs, and presets. I feel like those are products of their own and I agree with eliss that as a creator you should have a right to keep them proprietary.

For sure there is no reason to go out of your way to reveal this stuff if you can pre-render around it. Maybe my experience is different but generally this is what clients prefer, they don't want to deal with your complex expressions or code. They prefer if it's baked in as keyframes or better yet pre-rendered and idiot proof. Most of the time they just want something so that if their client comes back to them in 6 months with a change and you are unavailable they have something to fall back on.

 

Sometimes I even ask freelancers for source files just because I am contractually obligated to maintain offsite backups on certain projects, no intention of even looking at the files but need to have them in case freelancers appartment goes up in flames or something.

 

But yes fo sho

 

Which is why you get everything in writing. And if it's not in writing, don't let them sweet talk freebies.

 

Also gotta use common sense and your gut, no doubt there are people out there who will screw you if they can get the chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would and do charge to the time and effort to create those delivery files that are organized and cleaned up. I also dont deliver them unless asked for. If a client is going to under cut you to change type and color and stuff then so be it... usually they are looking for the process of getting from "hey this is our idea" to what we deliver.

 

Definitely do not send them plugins though... they can google where to buy them on their own :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going through this situation right now and after reading lots of posts all over motion graphics forums I still don't know how much to charge the client for the project files.

Some suggested charge them the total amount of hours for the project using a $150/h rate but it feels like too much to me. If I put 90 hours in this project that would be $13500.-

Others suggested charging 30% of the total cost of the project. Now it's too little.

 

What to do?

Edited by mAssimo___

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Right. We're paid for our "creativity"... Which explains why interns are paid dirt or nothing. Because they are...less creative?

 

Bullshit. We're paid for our technical prowess and experience, which does translate into creative ways into solving problems, which almost always lies exposed in the project files. And we're not talking exclusively AE. It's not like a guy will spend hours researching the various fluid settings to dial in for a realflow simulation? Oh no that's not a secret, but let's just bypass those hours he spent and take away the source files for free. Same thing with Houdini. Why hire a TD when we already have the project files for a tornado? Sure we'd have to dial in the settings, but Mr. TD here was nice enough to streamline the process enough that a junior Houdini tech could do it. We just saved several thousand dollars on our car insurance!

 

And no, it's not like giving away blueprints. Blueprints don't have a render button and *poof*, we have a house. Please put the cows back in the barn, the bullshit is starting to smell.

 

The father, the son and the holy ghost. Amen. +1

 

Even the shittiest of photographers don't give away the negatives or outtakes.

 

If anywhere along the way the client treats you poorly, one could always say bye bye project files. Legally no one is obligated to give them away, since copyright law says you own them.

 

Starting the second those pixels debut on screen via your wacom pen. End of discussion.

 

I'm sure we all (myself included) try to treat our clients good.

 

But, especially if a client (of any size or stature) asks initially in a threatening tone. Yes, bill them without hesitation. They are violating your rights to ask for compensation. Since when did they become chief of the law?

 

If it's a big company, they have the money, so you deserve a counter offer rather than an earful. That's just arrogant and rude x10.

 

But if they're cool and explain their needs respectfully, then maybe give them for free or discount. It's all relative to their attitude.

 

That's the best way to reward the system IMHO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe law is different in Canada but if it is a work for hire agreement the client technically owns copyright and IP you create. Not that I disagree with your points.

If comparing apples to oranges, sure. But we are discussing a different scenario. A true work for hire, you'd be working on their site and they'd be witholding taxes, etc. And they'd already have the project files which negates this discussion.

 

in the US, If you are working on your own set hours, offsite, there's a 99% chance you are not legally an employee, but an independent contractor. In many cases, this also includes working onsite as a freelancer if you are an indie contractor.

 

Food for thought.

 

;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe law is different in Canada but if it is a work for hire agreement the client technically owns copyright and IP you create.

 

Exactly. Unless your compensated by way of a licensing agreement on distribution, its work for hire, plain and simple.

 

I never saw what the big deal was in this area. In fact, I have been burned once by a freelancer withholding source files and not being available when a change request came in. I didn't hire them for a special skill that couldn't be done on our end - I hired help to crank out more work in the same amount of time. It pissed me off fiercely and won't ever be going back. Super talented person and all, but its not a risk I will knowingly take.

 

Charging for more than the time it takes to tidy up the project files and folder structure, at normal rate, is a sleazeball move IMO.

 

I can see where rigs / scripts / etc can get hairy, but usually such scripts are custom-tailored to the task at hand and is relatively useless outside of that particular use-case. It is more likely that an intern screws something up royally, or they have a need for another crazy script / rig and they will just come back to you the next time they are in over their heads on something.

Edited by AromaKat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Exactly. Unless your compensated by way of a licensing agreement on distribution, its work for hire, plain and simple.

 

I never saw what the big deal was in this area. In fact, I have been burned once by a freelancer withholding source files and not being available when a change request came in. I didn't hire them for a special skill that couldn't be done on our end - I hired help to crank out more work in the same amount of time. It pissed me off fiercely and won't ever be going back. Super talented person and all, but its not a risk I will knowingly take.

 

Charging for more than the time it takes to tidy up the project files and folder structure, at normal rate, is a sleazeball move IMO.

 

I can see where rigs / scripts / etc can get hairy, but usually such scripts are custom-tailored to the task at hand and is relatively useless outside of that particular use-case. It is more likely that an intern screws something up royally, or they have a need for another crazy script / rig and they will just come back to you the next time they are in over their heads on something.

You're missing the point. We aren't talking about work for hire. Lets stay on topic.

 

If it was a work for hire they'd already have the project files. No one said gouge them. Labeling someone who charges within their rights, a sleazeball, is a pretty ambitious and unproductive.

 

There is markup in most businesses. That's in fact, how they make a profit. A big company should be able to cough up at least your rate or half. None is unacceptable. For example, it takes half a day or more by the time the artist is done.

 

Like if a bakery charged only for the ingredients and time they actually worked, the cupcakes would cost .25 cents each. It's business 101, unless you are running a charity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Labeling someone who charges within their rights, a sleazeball, is a pretty ambitious and unproductive.

 

I am referring to the practice of charging outside of one's rights. I presume everyone here is in the service industry, not a product industry.

 

Unless you are retaining copyright, even in B2B, it is work-for-hire / assignment or at least falls under the same rules in regard to copyright ownership. If you are retaining copyright, then we are simply in different businesses and my opinions here are nullified.

 

If someone successfully patents their project files then I will be forced by law to agree with - or at least comply with the position of paying fees outside of standard rate structures for the licensing of said workflows.

 

As I said, the time it takes to prep the files to meet whatever their needs are is fair and expected. If they are coming to you after the fact on a flat bid project, then absolutely charge for the time put into it at pre-established rates.

 

Freelancer's rates are inherently marked up as it is, or the sporadic work periods couldn't ever make sense. Surprising someone with a high percentage of the original rate for project files is not how markup works within the service industry. I'm sure someone will argue that their project after completion, prepped for re-hashing is a product, but I would disagree and I'm sure Adobe would too. :P If you use proprietary (patented) software, then you actually have something with weight.

 

If someone is truly thinking like a business in the service industry, they have rates well established. Hourly or whatever. They likely even have a nice little rate sheet for when a client asks for rates. If said businessman assigns Manload™ to the task lets say at $70 / hr and charges $125 / hr for their time, that is markup. Even if they are running a solo operation that is more structured as a business, the rates the client is shown at sign-on are whats expected, nothing more.

 

30% of project rate without any real warrant behind it isn't markup. Its a surprise stiffing, bad business, but an excellent way to get a bonus from someone you never want to work for again. If the time it takes for the Manload™ to prep the files come to 30%, fine.

 

Everyone does business differently, but my point is, I simply don't respect the practice of holding anything hostage for more than a rate the client has already seen before in black and white. If it has already been established in a contract or whatever beforehand that providing project files will cost extra, then whatever. Feel free to charge 10,000%, as long as it was stated clearly before they initially signed on.

 

If it can be itemized and broken down, its fair. If its just a number pulled out of thin air on a whim, its not.

 

Every single network, agency, and promo house I have worked with need project files for regional versions, etc. I'd be happy to do it, but I'm personally happier being the heavy lifter. If rehash work is is requested, I'll openly propose hiring on someone more cost effective just as they would and include..... wait for it..... markup. Real, sensible markup. If they can properly manage, staff, and equip for it for less than what I offer for it, good for them. If you suspect that they are hiring someone to use your 'template' to reduce cost, why not just counter that idea with a cost effective solution managed on your end?

 

 

 

A true work for hire, you'd be working on their site and they'd be witholding taxes, etc.

 

I'm not a lawyer, but am pretty sure that being on-site & tax withholding is not what entirely defines work for hire / assignment.

Edited by AromaKat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AromaKat -- Totally agree with you and do the same thing on my end here. HAHAHAHA... this work for hire thing is ridiculous. It is only work for hire if you are full-time employee or your contract says that the agreement is considered "Work for hire". It makes sense then to get a client to use your contract rather that theirs as hopefully it is a bit more on your side. Even if it is work for hire contract you can have it amended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...