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Client Wants Raw Footage

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Luke Chu
Client Wants Raw Footage
on Mar 11, 2016 at 4:28:16 am

I have a small video production company in NYC. I just shot a crowdfunding video for a client. I am going to edit and deliver the final video. However, the client has also requested all of the raw footage. I used to just give it to my clients in the past if they requested. However, now I'm debating whether to make them happy or charge them.

What is your take? I've heard of some people never giving away raw footage. And if you charge, how much?

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Greg Ball
Re: Client Wants Raw Footage
on Mar 11, 2016 at 2:49:31 pm

Things like this should always be spelled out in a agreement ahead of time, so everyone understands the same thing. It depends if you hope to work with this client again in the future.It depends whether this is a work for hire project. In this case, the client may own the footage

I usually lean towards giving the client the raw footage,and keeping them happy but I charge them for the transfer of the footage to a drive if necessary. After all we sell our time.

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Client Wants Raw Footage
on Mar 11, 2016 at 5:25:58 pm

Giving them the raw footage means they can (and probably will) cut you out of any future editing business, so in my mind, that's reason enough to up-charge for it to represent some of the lost business. Like Greg said, this should be pre-agreed in writing before the deal. One thing I would NOT ever hand off would be project files, render files, any "secret sauce" like that.

Even if you give them copies of the raw footage, unless it is a work for hire, you still retain the copyright on that footage. Not that YOU can use it any way you like, without their permission, but then again, they technically can't re-use the footage for other purposes without YOUR consent, so, stalemate.

Establishing the issue of is it or isn't it a "work for hire" is VITAL, and you must know in advance. Things you do under work for hire, they own completely - they are paying the extra cost to own it free and clear and you have no say or ownership afterwards.

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Todd Terry
Re: Client Wants Raw Footage
on Mar 11, 2016 at 5:36:55 pm

As others have aptly said, the key to it all is establishing things in advance...

We rarely turn over raw footage (to be honest, we are hardly ever asked for it), and our contracts explain that we own it.

The vast majority of the time we shoot for projects that stay in house here through post production and delivery. But occasionally we are asked to do "shoot only" projects, where we are hired to shoot and turn over the footage.

We have different rates on that. Honestly, we make little to no money on shoots, because the overhead is so high. We do the shoots to get the creative/edit/post jobs, which are much more lucrative. Because of that, we have a slightly higher rate for "shoot only" jobs, to make it worth our while (and I don't mind sharing numbers, we charge $100/hr more than our regular rate to shoot only).

There have been a few occasions in the past when a client, after the fact, asked for raw footage. In those instances we went back and calculated what the client's charges would have been if we had used the higher rate... and the difference in that and what we actually did charge the first time was their cost to release the footage (the cost of the footage rights, there were usually some other charges for prep/converting files, delivery, etc.).

We haven't done that in a while... most recently we were asked by an attorney client for raw footage from his four-spot commercial campaign shoot (we did not work directly for him, but rather an advertising agency). Apparently he found a source to get some web videos done cheaper than through his agency (using us), so he did an end-run around them and asked us for the footage directly. We quoted him the price based on those differences (which was a bit, considering it was a four-day shoot). His only email response was "That seems a bit expensive." And we never heard from him again.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Ned Miller
Re: Client Wants Raw Footage
on Mar 12, 2016 at 12:13:14 am

Hi Luke,

Just because they're asking for the raw footage doesn't mean they won't hire you again. Many of my clients have young kids on staff or freelance who will edit for next to nothing, so they may be wanting to make Instagram/Facebook/YT snippets just for buzz. That is common nowadays. Videos they can't afford a pro to edit.

Yet they will come back to you for the professional shooting because that's what they can't do well cheaply themselves. This is opposite of Todd's approach and the one I use. I'd rather have the production and I consider the post to be the money losing nuisance. Or maybe I just love shooting more?

To me agreements are meaningless because there's no way I would go to court let alone want to spend money on an attorney's opinion, I'd rather just give them the original. My mentor taught me: "You can never win an argument with a client, even if you're right." So just give it to them and hope they liked your shooting.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer

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grinner hester
Re: Client Wants Raw Footage
on Mar 28, 2016 at 4:40:33 pm

simply deliver their property to em.

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