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Old October 20th, 2009, 04:07 AM   #1
Major Player
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: London, UK
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Supplying an uncompressed master to client

Hi all,
Not sure if this is the correct forum to post this, but here goes:

I recentley completed a short promotional video for a client.

I'm supplying the client with burned DVD's, an ISO file should they want to burn more, a few versions of H.264 - from small resolution/low bitrate for web to a full HD high quality file. I'm also supplying them with a PAL widescreen DV file so they can make themselves a DV tape.

They have not specifically asked for an uncompressed HD master, but they did ask for "a high quality file should we want to make a beta". No mention of Beta-HD, just Beta.

My question is - Is the AVI-DV good enough to make a Beta? do I need to supply them, of my own accord, an uncompressed master? and if so, should it be an HD master, or - as they have not asked for it specifically - would an SD PAL master be enough?

I'm asking because the client knows nothing about video, and will not know himself what to do with the huge files. I would need to zip and split it across several DVD's, or purchase out of my own budget maybe a large flash USB disk-on-key, and it seem easier to just tell him should he ever need a master, he can contact me (I will be archiving the project in any case...)
I'm also not sure if it's customary to actually give a client a master, unless he specifically asks for it...

many thanks,
Jon Shohet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 20th, 2009, 07:14 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2008
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To answer your last question first, it's up to you to do what you deem appropriate. You can charge them extra if you like, but I don't think there are concrete rules for this.

It seems that the client won't do anything directly with your hi-res version, but they could pass along to someone else for processing. (If they do, you are losing control of the client which creates its own quandary.) That said, you could create an uncompressed avi file if you're on Windows or a QuickTime file using the Animation codec which is lossless if you're on a Mac. Either one will preserve maximum quality. You could deliver on BD, flash drive, SDHC card or USB drive.

The more I think about this, the more I'd not supply the client with this copy. You can give them a DV version, but the conversion to DV will introduce its own artifacts.

I think you first need to make a decision based upon what is best for your business. Once done you can then tackle the technical bits.
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Old October 20th, 2009, 10:47 AM   #3
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thanks, Tripp.
The technical bits are not a problem, in fact I have already coded the clip into every delivery and archival format necessary.

It's the business decision advice I'm after, from more experienced guys like you ;)
This is not my first commissioned work, but it is the first corporate client I'm working with, with a proper copyright contract and all the legal bru-haha.

All the legal stuff is sign and sealed. There is no option of charging the client extra for anything at this point, however - on the other hand - there is no obligation on my part to deliever an uncompressed master, be it HD or SD.

I'm not keen on delivering anything uncompressed. The only question is, how to supply the client a file that's good enough to produce an SD Beta (should he want to in the future) without giving him an uncompressed AVI/QT/Targa sequence.

Thanks again :)
Jon Shohet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 20th, 2009, 05:29 PM   #4
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Location: Fayetteville, NC
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If you didn't agree to provide the client an uncompressed master then don't. If the client wants one then he can pay for the dub and your time. If you're going to provide storage for the client then you should charge for that as that is an additional service to the client and ties up your hardware.

Also, the best format to provide the client is a digital copy of the format you shot in the field - HDV, DV, Beta, etc. or the codec you used in your sequence/timeline. Transcoding to other formats, decompressions, compressions, upressing, downressing, etc. all degrade the original files and should be kept to a minimum.
"The good thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not." Neil deGrasse Tyson
Rick L. Allen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 20th, 2009, 09:03 PM   #5
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Thanks Rick,

I fear I didn't phrase myself properly... By uncompressed master I meant a digital uncompressed master. The source footage originates from Hi-rez DSLR still photo-sequences, and "mastered" as an uncompressed AVI (actually Lagarith lossless AVI to be precise).
I then encoded it to various delivery formats for the client, as agreed (DVD, H.264)

The client asked for a high quality file, which he may need in the future to produce a Beta-tape, at his own expense.
The question is should I provide him with any sort of uncompressed AVI\Targa sequence, or maybe a DV-AVI.

On one hand, the clip is really an artistic effort... I'm a bit uncomfortable with giving away an editable high quality file that theoretically could be misused to re-edit my work.
On the other hand, I do feel obliged to provide him with some sort of file that will allow him to produce a good quality Beta....

sorry for the confusion :)
your advice is much appreciated.
Jon Shohet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 22nd, 2009, 07:35 AM   #6
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Location: Atlanta/USA
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I would provide an SD file in DV-AVI format; you said you already provided them with a high quality HD file, so if they want to, they can further edit that.

The real question seems to be the intellectual property here, seems like that's what makes you uncomfortable. If that's not already "signed and sealed" and you gave your rights away, there is not much you can do.

What you could do is politely ask the client what is their intention with the "uncompressed master" and maybe supply it, together with an addendum to the contract, stating what they can and cannot do with it... if you can get them to sign that too.
Ervin Farkas, CDVS
Certified Legal Videographer
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 11:42 AM   #7
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After further inquiries with the client, it became obvious they were highly unlikely to ever actually need a Beta. I supplied them with an ISO image so they can produce more DVDs and an mpg-2 should they want to re-author. I told them that they can contact me if they would ever want to make a Beta in the future (at their own expense, of course). Since I'm archiving the project for my own portfolio use anyway, I did not see any reason to bring up any additional storage charges for this...

Yes Ervin, the dilemma was about intelectual property issues... I wanted to provide the client with good service, and supply him whatever format/quality he needs, considering he payed a good price for this clip. It just felt like giving away a digital master is somehow not right.

Luckily, in this case it turned out to be a non-issue. But I will certainly take this as a reminder to better define exactly what I'm willing to give away in the futue.

Thanks to all who responded :)
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