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Old May 22nd, 2011, 12:38 PM   #1
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protecting work in progress

I'm doing a documentary for a non-profit. Before they write a check, they'll want to review the final project and make comments.

I can't think of a good technical way to protect the material, but I need to do something because I don't totally trust them. If I burn a DVD for them to pass around, someone might get the idea to make copies.

My two possibilities so far are:

1. Add a video track above the entire thing that watermarks the footage with something like "Copyrighted material. Do not loan or copy." Burn that to DVD.

2. Put a low-res version on a hard drive and have them watch it on computer. Even if they copy or loan the file, it'll be less than great quality.

Any other suggestions? Thanks
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 12:43 PM   #2
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Re: protecting work in progress

Both good ideas. Others: I always put a huge window timecode burn for their "convenience" so they can tell me "exactly where to make changes." Also, you could require that they come to your office and view it there so they never actually have possession of a physical copy, again so you can assure "quality control" by guaranteeing that it is viewed on properly calibrated equipment, i.e. yours.

If you don't trust them -- and non-profits for some reason are the least-trustworthy players around -- then don't let them take possession of anything until you've been paid.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 02:08 PM   #3
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Re: protecting work in progress

Get a vimeo pro account for $60/yr., post it, password protect it, and don't allow downloads.

They can "pass it around" for review as much as they like, you can change the password or take it down whenever you want.

Adam's suggestion of a burnt in time-code window can also be used in the online version...
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 06:36 PM   #4
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Re: protecting work in progress

Curiously,

how do you put burnt time code in the v ideo in post; never done that but its a great idea!!!
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 06:37 PM   #5
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Re: protecting work in progress

I wouldn't give them a full resolution version to review personally, even with a watermark or time code. They still might copy it with those. Render a low res version and put it on a thumb drive. That way they can pass it round easily and it's not good enough they will want to do anything with it, hopefully.

The truth is unless you have them watch it at your studio and never let them have a copy they still are likely to copy or convert it.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 08:10 PM   #6
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Re: protecting work in progress

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Curiously,

how do you put burnt time code in the video in post; never done that but its a great idea!!!
I use the timecode effect in Premiere. Add a transparent video layer to the track above the finished timeline and add the timecode effect to that.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 03:07 AM   #7
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Re: protecting work in progress

This is a useful utility to add a timecode track to any movie: Download QT Sync for Mac - Audio/video sync correction and more. MacUpdate.com
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 10:32 AM   #8
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Re: protecting work in progress

Dale, aren't you using Sony Vegas? If so, just apply the "Sony Timecode" filter. This can be applied at the media, event, track, or project level. Media gives you original camera timecode, and project gives you timeline timecode.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 10:09 AM   #9
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Re: protecting work in progress

Some very useful ideas here. What I like about the copyright & do-not-copy/loan watermark is that it offers some guilt-inducing properties. These people see themselves as honest and don't want to risk being judged otherwise by their peers.

I've even thought of throwing a blur filter on top of the whole thing, to make it somewhat painful to watch. But no matter how carefully I explain it, there will be some who think that the way it looks in the review copy is how it will be.

Unfortunately, the trustees don't get together much, so I need something they can view individually. And many of them are old and non-techy, so there's much more likelihood that they can use a DVD player than a computer.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 10:29 AM   #10
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Re: protecting work in progress

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
Get a vimeo pro account for $60/yr........and don't allow downloads...
Not good enough I'm afraid. There are many free and very easy to use web utilities that allow the user to capture HD video files from sites like Vimeo etc, for example aTube Catcher on Windows platforms - even if downloading is NOT enabled. The quality is identical to the playing quality. This is why I (near enough) watermark everything I do now (if it will appear on the web). I'd go with some of the other ideas, personally.

Interesting thread!
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Old May 26th, 2011, 01:14 PM   #11
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Re: protecting work in progress

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
Get a vimeo pro account for $60/yr., post it, password protect it, and don't allow downloads...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Wilkinson View Post
Not good enough I'm afraid. There are many free and very easy to use web utilities that allow the user to capture HD video files from sites like Vimeo etc...
Well, yes, Andy is quite right that a determined pirate can extract anything that appears on their screen. My general advice, if you feel that your client is a determined pirate; "Don't deal with pond scum!", you shouldn't be working with a client in whom you have so little trust

OTOH, it takes much more determination to extract video from password-protected vimeo or similar than it does from a burned DVD.

But that's a peripheral discussion - I also agree that watermark, timecode, an on-screen graphic saying "For review only - do not distribute", and a copyright notice may all be appropriate. Though I doubt the determined pirate cares about any of that.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 02:34 PM   #12
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Re: protecting work in progress

I don't think of these people as determined pirates, or even savvy enough to copy a DVD. But I think casual loaning to friends would cross their minds. The on-screen warning might dissuade them. Of course, it can't be a total solution.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 10:59 AM   #13
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Re: protecting work in progress

In my experience, the client is generally more interested in the content than the quality, so when I've provided a screener with purposely degraded quality, they still have no qualms about distributing it. All you accomplish is having a crappy version of your video floating around in public.

IMHO, the best and most effective way to prevent this is to put the text "For preview only - do not distribute" on the screen and on the DVD label. At least if they have ideas to copy and distribute, hopefully their sense of shame will prevent it.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 06:08 PM   #14
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Re: protecting work in progress

Here are some of the things that I do when working when producing documentaries for non-profits:

1. My agreement requires half up front, and the other half upon completion of the project (usually the delivery of final draft, even if I'm handling publishing). I never start a project until the client pays the up front fee.

2. If they're paying for the project, I give them the rights to the content I produce for them in the agreement. I found that it closes more deals than if I tell them I'm going to own the content. Generally speaking, if they need to produce and/or publish anything additional with it, they contact me, or I give them re-purposing ideas (such as publishing a book) that I handle for a different fee.

3. For pre-final draft, I watermark it and post it to my YouTube account at low resolution (370p). I've never had a client pirate the online version of the documentary. My YouTube account allows me to post up to 2gb without any time/length constraints.

4. If they approve the pre-draft I prepare a final version on DVD and tell them to have the final check ready when I deliver it. They don't get the final version until I get the check. Never had a problem.

I'm currently working on three projects, two of them for non profits, all using the above tactics.

Good luck.

t.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 12:27 PM   #15
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Re: protecting work in progress

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
non-profits for some reason are the least-trustworthy players around
This is related to the Robin Hood mentality. They think that since they are "doing good", they can steal from the rich and give to the poor. It doesn't matter to them if you agree with the "good cause" or choose to contribute. They manage to rationalize that they have every right to filch your money.
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