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What to charge client for AE project files?

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Noelle Vaccese
What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 3, 2012 at 10:52:45 pm

Hi there,

A client of ours, who we work with every now and then, asked for our AE files on a particular project. They want to save some money by having one of their employees work on it in-house.

Since this has never happened before, we aren't sure what to charge for this.

Just some background if it matters: We have been working as freelance animators for the past 6 years and charge between $75-$100 per hour.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

joy + noelle
twins are weird


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 4, 2012 at 3:54:50 am

This may not be what you want to hear, but I'll try to be clear.

I like to think of what we (collectively as professional post folk) do as something akin to construction. There can be lots of artistry involved, but typically we're building something for the client. It's not really that simple in practive but let's use that metaphor for the sake of my argument.

I've been asked for project files before. My general rule of thumb (and this is simply my own) is that if they paid for the work to date, I will give them what they want.

There are some caveats. In some cases project files are extremely complex; do they want them simplified and organized and annotated so someone else can, as easily as possible, take over? If yes, that takes time. Billable time. Is the project data-intensive. Again, it will take time and hardware to transfer.

If they want the project as-is, and, again, have paid for the post production time to date, I see it much like (to tie the room together) as me moving off one construction site to another. The building is theirs and they can do what they want with it.

I will, under no circumstances, give out project files for open accounts unless there was some contractual agreement or requisite workflow that neccessitates such an exchange.

After all this, in the end, it's up to you. I can say that, no matter what, it's never a nice feeling to have to give up something you worked hard at, only to have it hacked at by someone else, whether that reason is they're cheaper or not.

In some ways, it is one of the realities of many professions, but rarely a pleasant one.

I will add this to close though, there's a good chance they'll be back when they realise what you're worth!

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Jack Maschka
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 22, 2017 at 9:36:10 pm

"If they want the project as-is, and, again, have paid for the post production time to date, I see it much like (to tie the room together) as me moving off one construction site to another. The building is theirs and they can do what they want with it."

Sure. The final output is theirs, ie. the video/animation. But not the tools to use it. Most of the time they're hired for a final product.

A construction worker wouldn't build a house then give the patron all his vehicles and tools when he was done. He/she would take them to the next job.

Another way to look at it: a factory builds a product and sells it to a customer. But just because the customer bought the product, it doesn't mean he/she owns the building.

They paid for the product and the labor. If you're going to send your files, I would highly recommend to everyone that they should be charging for it.

Cheers,

- J


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 4, 2012 at 7:07:15 am

If you give them the project file they won't be needing your business anymore.


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Mike Smith
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 4, 2012 at 8:14:15 am

Maybe you should ask for a future-plans review meeting; it sounds like it may be time to look for more new clients. It sounds as if your client plans to bypass you in future.

Of course you do not need to hand over any file that wasn't part of your original contract, at any price, unless you choose to.

If your AE project file is straightforward, it should be easy if slightly timeconsuming for a competent AE user to recreate your work.

If your project containts the fruits of unusual skill, experience and learning in clever solutions, advanced use of effects, layers, expressions or other features that make it special to you, it would be understandable if you did not want to hand it - and with the file, speedy, short-cut access to your hard-won learning and skill - at all.

Having now looked at a little of the delightful work on your twins-are-weird site, I'm more inclined to the view that your AE project files are special to you, and contain a lot of original art. If you do decide to be nice and share them at all, they would be worth a decent price.


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adam taylor
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 4, 2012 at 11:54:00 am

also - do you use a lot of 3rd party plugins? Many of those are expensive and require extra knowledge and learning. If your files are packed with these hidden extras, the client will be unable to use the files without forking out a large amount of money...perhaps they unaware of this?

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk
My YouTube Animations Page


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Noelle Vaccese
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 5, 2012 at 11:18:11 pm

You are right! We didn't even think of that. We used some Red Giant Software, which we know they don't have.

joy + noelle
twins are weird


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Noelle Vaccese
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 5, 2012 at 11:17:12 pm

Thanks Mike! Yes, we did put a lot of work into the the project, which is why we felt either we charge them for the files, or we don't sell the work at all.

joy + noelle
twins are weird


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Cassius Marques
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 4, 2012 at 1:34:07 pm

It all comes to your interest in keeping a good relation with your client, here we never give away project files unless requested prior to the job start.

Petros said "The building is theirs and they can do what they want with it. "

I understand from this analogy that the building here is the final delivered video format... and not the tools that created it from ground up.

But if you need a value for comparison, I believe we would charge something around 30% of the production cost, considering they would use it again for let's say, 1-5 more videos.


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Jeff Brown
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 4, 2012 at 3:16:31 pm

That's always difficult. How good a client are they? Maybe not that good if they think cheaper is better. Or that you are essentially training your own replacement.
I have some clients that ask for source materials up-front (it's usually called work-for-hire here in the U.S.), and they have kept me busy enough that it's OK.
A 30% premium is probably not unreasonable. Unless it's the kind of work that is so unique that it's "all you." In which case, politely decline, or work out a license thing so you don't give up the rights to use it yourself.

Just my opinion,
Jeff


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 4, 2012 at 9:04:53 pm

[Cassius Marques] "Petros said "The building is theirs and they can do what they want with it. "

I understand from this analogy that the building here is the final delivered video format... and not the tools that created it from ground up. " "


Actually I disagree and that's ok, I think this discussion is vitally important whether any one of us is "right or wrong." In my mind, my metaphor follows two issues that have been brought up here:

3rd Party plugins and the above statement. You give them a file.

Keyframes and equations are not proprietary; this is very western-thinking in my mind, the kind that relates to the IP issues our societies are struggling with.

Now, let's say they need the trapcode suite and some other third party effects (like the Foundry camera tracker) - well this goes right back to my metaphor. You gave them the building, and even (to extend it) the blue prints. But they can't have your hammer and nail gun, they need their own. They need those and they need to know how to use them. And again, this is where a true artist's value lies, in their knowledge to get what they want and need out of a project.

I think there are lots of great points raised in this thread, all of which bear weighing against the final outcome: does that client come back to you, do you really want them, and are you trying to protect something because you're emotionally hurt or something like that...

No matter what, the most important thing mentioned here (and not by me), is to discuss it upfront and get it in writing, but again, remember to put yourself in the client's shoes. You were paid to work on x, it is not entirely unreasonable for them to ask you to hand over work and assume the time you spent on it covers that. You may disagree, I may disagree, but is it worth fighting about?

Your value isn't in what you own or what you've done, but your ability to put all that together with that indefinable something that makes you an artist whether you're working on something mundane like tracking a shot for logo placement or some amazing 3D composite.

This is all just, like, my opinion, man. ;)

Be well folks!

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Michael Hendrix
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:29:22 am

It's always nice to have these terms outlined before you take the work. I work for a Fortune 50 company and we have a pretty standard contract for any photographer/editor/graphics person to sign before they do work with us that spells most of this out.

When I contract work out, I usually ask for project files, mainly Final Cut projects but I like After Effects files as well. This really isnt to screw the freelancer, it is just for small changes down the road where maybe a logo changed and I just need to change one file and re-render.

Here is a possible catch for you, and I have used this when I did some freelance After Effects projects and they wanted the files. If you use anything like backgrounds, stock photos, music, etc. you may not legally be able to give that to them. Most licenses on these items state that you can purchase them to use within your project, i.e. the project that you are contracted to do. However, you cannot turn around and sell those elements alone. If you give them the project files with the elements, you are really re-selling those items.



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Noelle Vaccese
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 5, 2012 at 11:20:14 pm

Thank you for sharing the 30% charge - that's really what we were looking for, and 30% seems more than fair. We'll write them and see what they say. They haven't been the best to work with in the past, so we have a feeling they aren't going to want to pay that much, but we'll see. Thanks again for the input!

joy + noelle
twins are weird


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Jonathan FitzSimons
Re: What to charge client for AE project files?
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:48:03 pm

This is a tough situation. I'm not sure what to charge monetarily, but I have a problem with providing project files in the first place. Maybe what I'm saying is more of a rant, but the company I work for (lots of kids shows, mascot has big ears), requires me to deliver all project AE files, Maya Files, Photoshop files, re-organized and labeled so they can use them. I'm required to basically provide instructions on HOW to use the project, all so they don't have to use me again if the need anything. If I don't comply, they'll find someone who will (hence the tough situation part).

It's like asking a chef to, not only provide the meal, but all the ingredients (nicely packed away and labeled), and detailed instructions on how to make it at home. I think it would be nice to see a move AWAY from this sort of thing.


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