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maximum f*** up! :(
show user profile  NLGFX_ger
Yeah, here we go... thought I'd post this up here since I simply need to write it off my mind and I wouldn't know where else to post this - you guys are unvolved in this business and may understand my point. Sorry for bothering or boring you off, but I just need to write this down... :/

Well there is this project I am currently involved in. The constellation:

1) a software company that wants a film including an animated character that is composed into live action footage to show around the company and explain stuff.

2) a marketing and advertising agency that normally handles all the print/web/merchandise stuff for that software company. The company asked the agency to do that short film but since they are unable to do animations and film they came to:

3) a tv/film production company. They were asked from the agency to do that film the software company requested for. But since that tv/film production company is unable to do animations they came to me...

4) so thats me in the end of the line...

So the film is supposed to be around 5:30mins in length and my work for it includes:

- buying the character "Masha" off turbosquid for use as basis for modifications.
- modifying "Masha" to make her look like the software company's "mascot" character that existed as 2D illustration
- supervising the shoot of the live action footage
- do previz stills for the storyboard
- match moving / 3d tracking of all shots
- full character animation including morph target talk animation almost nonstop throughout the entire film
- lighting and rendering with vray (inhouse)
- post production and effects
- sound edit and mixdown
- final editing

Normally I wouldn't have taken the job because they said that they don't have that much money that they wanna pay + it needs to be done within a month in total. Also, according to my experience it never works out good to do "low budget" character animation using non-abstract and "realistic" humanoids using keyframe animation and not mocap. Doing it "the cheap and quick way" will always look sort of unnatural and unrealistic and you can only loose with that.

However, since I was very short on money, I agreed to do it for a really really low price (5k euros + tax) to make them accept the deal.

Now throughout the production there have been many many problems:

- For the live footage shoot the tv/film production company used a professional camera operator using a Sony XDCAM (with lens he said its worth around 60k euros), light rigs etc. I told him to keep the lights very bright and the shutter speed high to avoid motion blur - which would be very inconvinient for 3d tracking the shots later. Motion blur can be added in post then. However, the footage turned out to have LOTS of motion blur and lacks of contrast in some places what makes 3d tracking extremely difficult. Manual tracking with lots of corrections etc...

- Eventhough I told them not to expect "Avatar-like Quality" for this budget and time frame the supervisor from the marketing/advertising agency (see above) always complained a lot about the character motions to looks not natural enough etc.

- The marketing agency supervisor accepted some work and let me continue working with it - but later, he changed his mind and lets me change all the stuff I have already animated. He says things like "why is it so much work? Just let her walk here and not there" - then I tell him that I don't want to bore him off with technical details but the nature of the workflow requires most of the work to be redone just because of these "small" changes. They have NEVER supervised an animation or film project before so he is very incompetend in terms of technical workflow. He tells me to explain him WHY these changes take so long and I start telling him - and then he interrupts me saying "I don't wanna know about all this".

This is REALLY starting to annoy me. Right now I am working 4 times of the planned budget and around 16-18 hours a day with a little bit of sleep in between. I really regret accepting the job but I need to money so I couldnt help it. The time I work on this... well, nevermind that. Calculating the budget efficiency doesnt make sense here anyway, but I just don't know how to do it.

The deadline for a rough edit of the whole film is friday and they are REALLY starting to push and stress me out. In the end you could say that they should be happy to get something like this for THAT money. But well, thats not an argument...

I just need more time to do this... more relaxed. But working like this is really getting down to my substance. I have headache, feel dizzy, can't concentrate. I don't know what to do. The marketing/advertising agencys argument is that the end customer (software company) can retreat from the contract in case we don't deliver on time. So it really HAS to be done because they are afraid that they are loosing money.

But HEY, I AM THE ONE DOING ALL THE FUCKIN WORK!!! Not they. Everyone takes money out of this (I think the total budget is around 9k euros - of which I only get 5) but I am the one having all the stress. I just can't take it anymore!! They said they'd pay 40% of the budget after the first preview has been delivered. The end customer has already paid that to the agency - but they haven't paid ME yet because its the first time I work with them and they wanna see how it turns out first.

I really dont know what to do... dead end. Can't take it anymore. Its too much.

Thanks for your attention.
----------------------------------------
www.nextlevelsimulations.com
www.nextlevelgfx.de
skype: oli_at_home
read 1198 times
6/28/2011 8:30:06 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 8:37:32 PM)
show user profile  advance-software
sorry to hear this fella. sounds like your client is really taking the piss.

hope you don't get screwed.

a software company with not much money wanting an in-house promo video ?

doesn't seem to make much sense. if you don't have much money, why do it - sounds like a luxury.
read 1184 times
6/28/2011 8:39:38 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 8:45:59 PM)
show user profile  Bolteon
lesson learned i take it...


if you're going to fuck yourself next time; least use lube...


//edit

and a key point to why i will never work in EU. 5k euro's for 5min of animation/rendering/tracking/comping?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

that'd be a 1.2 million dollar project to get done right over here. even stylized you'd end up in the 700k range.

-Marko Mandaric



read 1174 times
6/28/2011 8:43:16 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 8:45:43 PM)
show user profile  Dr. Jim
First off....let me say "Welcome to Working with Agencies". ;-) IMHO that is how 50% of agencies act.

Now with that said....dude, I sympathize with you. From my experience,....you have to take charge, and set precedents EARLY. At this stage it sounds as if they are quite comfortable pushing you around since (no offense) they have been able to get away with it since day 1.

A good scope of work in the contract, outlining such things as style/look/motion..etc helps as a recourse (e.g. unnatural motion should be denoted upfront,...and NOT verbally).
Sign offs on work completed......sure they can change their mind....BUT it costs $$$.
There is alot of "cover your ass" that needs to happen on the front of a project like this,....I dont know if you have your ass covered in writing? Or just verbally? (which means nothing).

As far as $$ goes. If you had an agreement to receive 40% from THEM after preview was delivered...and they were paid by the client,...I suggest you hold up any more work/delivery until you receive payment.

Dude....I could go on for days about how I feel about clients like this,...I have had my share.

1) Get your 40% NOW. If not,....walk.
2) Find out what recourses you have in writing you can hold up to them regarding changes, milestones, signoffs, scope...etc....and ENFORCE THEM.
3) If they can work with you like this on THIS project,...it is the way they will perceive you hence forth. You may get more work from them.....but they will treat you like this, as you have inadvertantly educated them to do so.

meh......ad agency fekkers......!

edit: 5K euro for ALL that? Are you outta your f**kin mind?...Dude,....so not only are you takin it up the *** you have totally warped their perception of what this stuff is worth!.....
read 1174 times
6/28/2011 8:43:57 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 8:45:24 PM)
show user profile  NLGFX_ger
yeah, lesson learned... I am neither gonna do any low budget character animation under these circumstances nor am I going to work with that company again. Not ever again. But in the end its my own fault... I should have never accepted the job.

I hope to get out of this alive.
----------------------------------------
www.nextlevelsimulations.com
www.nextlevelgfx.de
skype: oli_at_home
read 1166 times
6/28/2011 8:46:32 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 8:46:32 PM)
show user profile  horizon
They said they'd pay 40% after the first preview but didn't. They knew they were working with you for the first time when they said that didn't they? How is this a new argument that prevents them from paying?

I'd tell them to pay up or you'll quit.
If they're scared the company above will pay nothing if it's not on time they can't afford to change artist at this moment.
If they do change artists then they were lying about the deadline and who knows if they even planned to pay you in the first place.

Either way I think you should stand up.


read 1163 times
6/28/2011 8:47:49 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 8:47:49 PM)
show user profile  NLGFX_ger
Hey Jim,

Thanks a lot man...

I'd really love to say "pay me the 40%, otherwise you won't see anything more" but I don't know... I feel that they have absolutly NO idea how much work that is - and from how they talk to me it sounds like they feel that I could do faster or I am some sort of lazy person who takes that stuff too easy. However that is not the case... by telling them I want the 40% first, it sounds like I put on demands without having proved that I can deliver what they want (well okay, the first preview of the finished 1:15 mins was accepted so far - after a lot of changes they requested and for me working the last 4 days until the preview deadline nonstop with a total of 5hrs sleep just because of their fuckin changes requests).

So I don't feel good putting up that demand... :( the supervisor of the agency is a psycho anyway. He is a hardline marketing guy who really freaks out a lot when on the phone. Its hard to talk him down....

I guess I have no choice other than working through until friday and hope to catch some sleep in between... damn.

Yeah, the budget... its very off. Normally my daily rate is 450 euros plus tax (which is still cheap!!) - but thinking about this, I have already worked around 20 days (and not 8 hrs pay day - but an average of 10hrs). So its really a rip off! I know that... but I had no other choice since I was very short on money and have a lot of bills that need to be paid.

At least they want a spanish and english version of the film in the end. I said I need to re-animate the entire mouth morph thing so it would cost around 2800 euros per additional version. So in the end I'll get around 10k so its okay... somewhat.
----------------------------------------
www.nextlevelsimulations.com
www.nextlevelgfx.de
skype: oli_at_home
read 1151 times
6/28/2011 8:59:54 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:03:05 PM)
show user profile  Bolteon
if your going to run your own thing or freelance like this... you've got to grow balls.


it's business, not friendship. keep that in mind.


-Marko Mandaric



read 1139 times
6/28/2011 9:05:25 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:05:25 PM)
show user profile  NLGFX_ger
Bolts,

Well, its low-budget. Nothing fancy... I know, its hard to achieve low budget non stilized character stuff that still looks convincing. But if I had calculated it 1:1 I would have ended up with around 20k maybe. But 1,2 mills is too far off ;) its not "hollywood style" man! ;)

To give you an idea on how this looks like... this is the first preview I delived. First 1:15mins. I will take out the link in 20-30mins after I have posted it. Please do not redistrubute it

[ took out the link ] ;)

you'll see that its REALLY nothing fancy - and very basic indeed and I don't really like it. It kinda sucks. Still a lot of work and enough to cause fuck ups. :/

----------------------------------------
www.nextlevelsimulations.com
www.nextlevelgfx.de
skype: oli_at_home
read 1137 times
6/28/2011 9:06:51 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:54:44 PM)
show user profile  NLGFX_ger
bolts again... yeah I know that. working with an agency like this is actually a new experience to me. I used to work with end customers (companys, industry) and tv clients before. That was different and I didnt have any problems like these...

----------------------------------------
www.nextlevelsimulations.com
www.nextlevelgfx.de
skype: oli_at_home
read 1133 times
6/28/2011 9:09:00 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:09:00 PM)
show user profile  Bolteon
doesn't matter what quality level your going for; 5min of footage is 5 min of footage.


the fact the quality level isn't special and that it's being done in a part of the world where 3d work is considered a joke for the most part (and pays just as such) makes the difference that over here it would be in a whole different ball park when it comes to the cost.


and never, ever accept work cause you need money. sell shit first, work the corner, etc... do anything other than take a massive hit on work that you can do at a reasonable price point but have to bend yourself cause your in a shitty place.

keep in mind, when you do something like that it not only screws you but every other person that'll work for that place from now on.


it's exactly why when a client comes to us and has X amount of work... if they're not willing to pay how much its worth; i laugh a bit and wish them luck.

much rather sell off my prized toys than succumb to some asshole who thinks they know my industry better than i do.


//edit

saw the video... your doing a hell of a job. keep it up and try to get some sleep.

-Marko Mandaric



read 1126 times
6/28/2011 9:14:12 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:17:00 PM)
show user profile  BishBashRoss
If you need any help I've probably got a few hours this week that I could take a look at some tracking or similar. I'd be happy to help out a little as a favour as long as nothing else crops up in the mean time.

I have been in similar positions before with regard to looming deadlines and it's not a nice place to be. Best of luck. I'm sure it will work out in the end.





read 1121 times
6/28/2011 9:20:55 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:20:55 PM)
show user profile  NLGFX_ger
Yeah, you're absolutely right and I get your point. I really regret it... also because of the stuff you mentioned. But it doesn't help if I'm smarter now - I need to get this project out of the way... and right NOW I can't really find the proper motivation... (so I need to hang out here lol).

But I can tell you - animations like this for THAT price arent common here. Like I said, I would have costed around 4 times the price if they would have gone to a regular animation studio here. Just an estimate. Its nice if you can afford declining jobs... but taking into consideration that there is additional work (the multiple language versions) + some more work to come from the tv/film production company (not character stuff fortunatly) it looked like I could give it a go...

Don't have that much expensive stuff to sell anyway... maybe the Lex lol. But can't live without a car here... so that wasn't really an option ;)

edit:
Bolts, are you serious about the video?! Its REALLY nothing fancy. Not even something I'd use for my demoreel... I don't really like it. I just try to make the best compromise out of it... to make the customer accept it, thats the only thing that counts.


----------------------------------------
www.nextlevelsimulations.com
www.nextlevelgfx.de
skype: oli_at_home
read 1120 times
6/28/2011 9:21:39 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:25:24 PM)
show user profile  NLGFX_ger
hey thanks ross!!! Thats really a generous offer from you :) but I will try to do it on my own first... I don't feel good about letting others do the work just because I have made a mistake :(

----------------------------------------
www.nextlevelsimulations.com
www.nextlevelgfx.de
skype: oli_at_home
read 1118 times
6/28/2011 9:24:09 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:24:09 PM)
show user profile  advance-software
crit if you want one - she got hit slightly with the ugly stick - can you make her face a bit more 'cute' ?

(sorry more work is not what you need, just thought it might help sell it to the client)

read 1106 times
6/28/2011 9:40:24 PM (last edit: 6/28/2011 9:41:55 PM)
 
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