Updating Project Files
I'm in a strange position-
My company switched from FCP to Premiere a couple years ago (2012). Up until that point we were using Final Cut Pro to do all of our NLE work.
We were approached by an old client to update some videos we did back in 2011. We still have the project file, but only one computer runs Final Cut (in case something like this came up). We'd like to export the XML to premiere so that more than one person can work on the project, however when this happens, all color correction info is basically lost so that would all have to be done. Also, regardless of whether or not we make that switch, due to having a new server, all of the footage and project pieces (hundreds and hundreds of clips) will have to be re-connected/synced up. Obviously this is pretty automatic as we have it well organized, but there's always a few miscellaneous clips or graphics that have been moved.
Would you bill your client to go through all of this just to get the project file back up to speed? Is this something that you would consider par for the course as a part of maintaining projects? Just interested in what everyone's thoughts are.
I would expect the process to take about a day to update.
Oh I'd very definitely charge for that time.
A project that is three days or three weeks old (maybe even three months), the client should have reasonable expectation that you are keeping that project "active" and ready to go. But one that is three years old, obviously that is going to take some work to get it back into shape to start editing on it again.
I haven't had that exact situation before, but we have on numerous instances had to revisit projects that were years old. Many of them were quite large (several TB in size), and it does take not insignificant time to reload them from their archive drives back into the suites' RAIDs. Plus they were often created often several generations of software back, might use filters or plugins that are not in play any more, and other things that require massaging to get back into ready-to-edit shape. And we charge for that time.
If you hire someone to paint your house, he might have to do some scraping on the old paint to get it ready for the new job... even if the same guy did that paint job years before. And he'll charge you for it.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
I might as well say this before anyone else does: You should have this covered in your original proposal/contract/letter of agreement. That's a much safer way to maintain happy client expectations.
Updating projects has been a major PITA for me this year.
Sadly, the flexibility and speed of the modern NLE has created expectations which are unrealistic. It's so easy to make revisions to a current project that clients inevitably think it will be easy three years hence.
Yet once a project is completed, for the average client it is OVER, and clients have little reason to pay you to archive the footage and project files.
I try to archive everything. But it requires a lot of unbilled time, and then, no matter how carefully I do this, I often run into problems reloading old projects. These problems are difficult to predict, too; we don't know how future changes to hardware, software, and OS's will affect the reloading and media-relinking of old projects.
[Nick Griffin] "You should have this covered in your original proposal/contract/letter of agreement. "
I keep reading, in this forum, about contracts. I wonder whether someone could recommend a good source of contracts specifically geared to video production. This situation (updating old projects) is a great example of something which would only appear in the contract of someone with a great deal of experience in video production.
I would be hard put to give a specific cost for keeping a project active and available for three years.
[Bob Cole] "I try to archive everything. But it requires a lot of unbilled time"
We too save everything.
Unless a client would specifically ask me not to (and no one ever has), every estimate and subsequent invoice includes a line item, "Archival." It's not much, less than a hundred bucks, but enough to cover the cost of the drive space for the external drives that we back project up to.
I'm probably luckier than some because we do mostly very short-form stuff (there's few things shorter than broadcast commercials, which is our primary work). Ergo, our project files are not gigantic... probably on average less than 200GB for everything. It'd likely be a different story if each project was several terabytes big.
But yes... the older a project is, the far more likely it is to be challenging to jump right in and start editing on it.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
[Todd Terry] "every estimate and subsequent invoice includes a line item, "Archival." It's not much, less than a hundred bucks, but enough"
It would concern me to make any sort of promise to a client to save his/her project elements in perpetuity. It is very difficult to guarantee the future.
If I did this, I'd add a disclaimer that makes clear there is a possibility of failure to retrieve an archived file.
[Neal Petrosky] "Would you bill your client to go through all of this just to get the project file back up to speed?"
If you have a working project file, with working media, and with an operable version of FCP7, then by definition the project is up to speed. Crank it out in 7 and submit the invoice.
Late on the reply, but we're moving forward with billing the client.
[Richard Herd] "If you have a working project file, with working media, and with an operable version of FCP7, then by definition the project is up to speed. Crank it out in 7 and submit the invoice."
The reason why this wouldn't be optimal is although we have FCP on this particular computer, the computer is not the same as the one that created the video, and some plugins didn't make the switch over to this machine. Also, we wanted it in premiere so that multiple people can work on the project.
Thanks everyone for all their input. I've also adjusted our standard contract to include wording regarding the archiving of the project file and raw video. We don't really dump anything at all, but I'd rather have it spelled out that we're not responsible for lost files following the completion of the project just in case.