Home Career & Education

Outsource/freelance artists should not be left behind

greentooth
Offline / Send Message
JoshuaG greentooth
I'm sure some of you have experienced this or seen this, but it's absolutely bullcrap that there are studios that treat outsource/freelance artists this way. Specifically:

  • Outsourced artists are not given permission to post their art publicly until months, years after the main studio has allowed their in house artists to post their art.
  • Artists are not listed in the credits to the game (personally me this can be offset if they're allowed to post the art on launch or soon after, but still a pretty dick move.)
  • Worst of all to leave out the outsource artist's names in the credits then say they can never show off the assets they've worked on. Essentially leaving months to even years in a gap in their portfolio.

Doing the first and second points can hinder an artist's perceived skills when/if they're looking for work. Of course you should work on personal art to put on your portfolio, but due to a variety of reasons some people might not be able to do that. I know some artists who are screwed if they were to be laid off from their jobs, and or could not get anymore freelance work. So they're essentially stuck with portfolios that are years old and recruiters, hiring managers, leads, etc generally do not care about that. 

Should on-site artists start to speak up more on this and advocate to the higher ups that outsource/freelance artists are not "lesser" employees and should be allowed to show off their art at the same time full time employees can? 

Replies

  • DavidCruz
    Offline / Send Message
    DavidCruz interpolator
    should be allowed to show off their art at the same time full time employees can? 
      The only reason i see them wanting this is if its a collaboration effort & depending on who did how much work on said piece, that is how it should be handled on their end, if you did 80% of the work you should post it 1st. My.02's.

      Though you are correct when i was fiddling around with the freelance gigs i was told this as well by the owner or one of the AD(was a while back).

      Just to add more then you get people saying your old stuff you should get rid off, since you know its old and doesn't show the current level you are at, as much as i agree with this if its all you have what do you do? .. have an empty folio ?
    • Alex_J
      Offline / Send Message
      Alex_J high dynamic range
      Why these restrictions for the outsource artist? What does company gain/risk?
    • Biomag
      Offline / Send Message
      Biomag sublime tool
      No clue. Maybe the studios want to appear independent or whatever.

      Personally as an on-site artist I would speak up. Idon't have the full insight how other teams within the company handle it, but I think the others as well as my team have their freelancers/outsource studios in the credits and I would complain if they were not listed.

      Even if I had to make some changes to freelancer assets, I don't see any reason not to give them the same credit any team member would receive.
    • poopipe
      Offline / Send Message
      poopipe polycount lvl 666
      Leaks and PR are the biggest concern

      As an internal artist its not unusual for the studio to have standards and rules about how you present work on your portfolio and for that work to go through a review before it's made public. 
      I'd imagine a studio that does this would rather not go through the process with outsourcers so they want  to wait til all the hype has died down before allowing unreviewed portfolio work out in the wild.
      For example, if an artist presented an in engine shot of a bunch of  assets arranged in the shape of a giant dick  on their artstation and it were picked up by RPS or another big media outlet on launch day the studio would look pretty bad. If it happened 6 months down the line nobody would give a shit because Ubisoft would have had another scandal and taken all the headline space.

      You don't really have a lot of choice anyway, it's not your work and you signed whatever contract you were presented with.


    • Biomag
      Offline / Send Message
      Biomag sublime tool
      Yeah, but these are simply cases where we are talking about timing of releasing portfolio images and you can actually have guidelines as well as an approval system in place for any release. And yet again, none of this explains why you don't add them to the credits.

      There are enough projects where outsource studios have to fight to actually even be able to say that they worked on them, not to mention the individuals not being allowed to say they worked on projects even after they've been released and with no chance of ever showing what work you've done on the project although they are just regular assets.
    • Udjani
      Offline / Send Message
      Udjani greentooth
      Maybe they don't want to make public that alot of the art is from countries where they pay 400-600usd/month to artists
    • Alex_J
      Offline / Send Message
      Alex_J high dynamic range
      Point I make in asking for the other side is, in order to make something happen you got to understand the others angle.

      Can paint a full picture as to why this negatively effects the freelancers, but really nobody besides the minority empaths give a shit about that. Look at civil rights movements all over the world as example. People dying and suffering every kind of abuse. Nobody cares. Only when you make system bleed green does change happen.

      So you got to figure out why company does this, and it may be different for every place, but then you got info you need to catch them in your trap.

      But of course, anytime you are doing work and not feeling like getting the credit you deserve, make a fuss. Shouldn't be signing contracts like that to begin with. If you do it because you "just need to get foot in the door", it's a big time buddy fucker move in my book. Got to think about something beyond yourself if you want shit to improve for yourself.
    • Ruz
      Offline / Send Message
      Ruz polycounter
      Indeed some studios will never let you share some pieces. I have one particular project form maybe 8 years ago i can't 'ever' show.
      sucks really

      Can't even get any work these days, seems it's all handled by larger outsourcing companies and i have heard runours that they would rather not even use indiviudal freelancers due to leaks/security

      all hearsay of course ;)
    • Zi0
      Online / Send Message
      Zi0 polycounter
      In some cases the asset that was delivered by outsource/freelance will end up being polished/tweaked and changed a lot and the end result that ends up ingame can be way different from what was originally submitted by a freelancer/source. If a company would allow a freelancer to post renders of what was submitted, there is a chance it would not represent the ingame asset. If a freelancer would post a render of a ingame mesh that was polished etc it would be getting credit for something the freelancer didn't  do. This creates a lot of work for the legal team and therefore its easier to just not allow freelancers/outsource to post their work.
    • Biomag
      Offline / Send Message
      Biomag sublime tool
      Point I make in asking for the other side is, in order to make something happen you got to understand the others angle.

      Can paint a full picture as to why this negatively effects the freelancers, but really nobody besides the minority empaths give a shit about that.

      Actually there is a lot of benefit in having a fair relationship with your outsourcing studio and freelancers, so its extremely shortsighted to not treat them as closely as possible to what you treat your own employees.

      Back when I worked at the outsourcing studio I would not have done overtime for our client as he made it clear with his actions we are not part of the team. Things like making it hard for us to get into the credits, completely denying us to use work for portfolio pieces once the project is released and all the good stuff.

      On the other hand the studio I'm currently at had good relationships with our freelancers and it made a lot of difference. Even without us asking them they were willing to work over weekends and do overtime to help us out with deadlines. But we are also not playing stupid games with them. Once the project is out we will help them to get the best possible renders within our own guidelines for their assets and as I said before they are already added to the credits. And even before that I've tried to give them those task that would be suitable for portfolio pieces while doing some of the technical stuff that doesn't show up when you are applying or looking for clients myself.

      @Alex Javor : By the way, this isn't really directed at you as I doubt that you don't know that stuff yourself :) Just using your quote to make a point.

    • Biomag
      Offline / Send Message
      Biomag sublime tool
      Zi0 said:
      In some cases the asset that was delivered by outsource/freelance will end up being polished/tweaked and changed a lot and the end result that ends up ingame can be way different from what was originally submitted by a freelancer/source. If a company would allow a freelancer to post renders of what was submitted, there is a chance it would not represent the ingame asset. If a freelancer would post a render of a ingame mesh that was polished etc it would be getting credit for something the freelancer didn't  do. This creates a lot of work for the legal team and therefore its easier to just not allow freelancers/outsource to post their work.

      You can avoid this by working on your relationship with the freelancer and by having an approval pipeline setup that is already part of the contract. Basically after release you just have them send you what they would like to publish as portfolio pieces and you can approve or not when it fits the guidelines.

      I've seen major studios doing it, naturally its a bit of additional work, but again, its also an investment into your partnerships. Also if there is an approval pipeline and they know that they can get their stuff out it reduces the chance of them doing it behind your back. You can even have some standardized presentation and text in those cases.

      For me at the end of the day there is no real justification to deny credit where credit is due and we see that many have no problems putting the info out there.
    • Ruz
      Offline / Send Message
      Ruz polycounter
      ZiO, also in studios the work gets lots of revisions before the final prouct, so does that mean the artist who started it does not deserve any credit?
      Really makes no sense to me. Basically if you respect yuor contractors at all then give  them a credit as 'additonal artist' or similar
    • birb
      Offline / Send Message
      birb greentooth
      Biomag said:

      On the other hand the studio I'm currently at had good relationships with our freelancers and it made a lot of difference. Even without us asking them they were willing to work over weekends and do overtime to help us out with deadlines. But we are also not playing stupid games with them. Once the project is out we will help them to get the best possible renders within our own guidelines for their assets and as I said before they are already added to the credits. And even before that I've tried to give them those task that would be suitable for portfolio pieces while doing some of the technical stuff that doesn't show up when you are applying or looking for clients myself.
      I'm content in quietly watch this discussion unfold from the sidelines, but I just wanted to say that this is... really nice! I've worked for studios that weren't nearly as thoughtful when dealing with their employees as yours is with freelancers. Please don't change.
    • Biomag
      Offline / Send Message
      Biomag sublime tool
      birb said:
      Biomag said:

      On the other hand the studio I'm currently at had good relationships with our freelancers and it made a lot of difference. Even without us asking them they were willing to work over weekends and do overtime to help us out with deadlines. But we are also not playing stupid games with them. Once the project is out we will help them to get the best possible renders within our own guidelines for their assets and as I said before they are already added to the credits. And even before that I've tried to give them those task that would be suitable for portfolio pieces while doing some of the technical stuff that doesn't show up when you are applying or looking for clients myself.
      I'm content in quietly watch this discussion unfold from the sidelines, but I just wanted to say that this is... really nice! I've worked for studios that weren't nearly as thoughtful when dealing with their employees as yours is with freelancers. Please don't change.
      I know it sounds as if I'm just trying to be nice to them, but that's only part of the story. Its about showing our partners that we take their needs into consideration as well and that we look for ways how to make the cooperation as valuable for them as possible - because this also means they will make room in their schedule for us when we need them, because this also means they might be willing to do some minor revisions without asking for money, because they might show us some patience when we have to change things suddenly or are late with responses... and they will put this little bit of extra effort in to get the best result because they are invested in the success of the project. 

      Cultivating relationships doesn't always show in balance sheets, but you will notice it in your day to day work. Treating partners and customers with respect is in my opinion always worth the effort. 
    • Neox
      Offline / Send Message
      Neox ngon master
      it's just not true
      Ruz said:
      Indeed some studios will never let you share some pieces. I have one particular project form maybe 8 years ago i can't 'ever' show.
      sucks really

      Can't even get any work these days, seems it's all handled by larger outsourcing companies and i have heard rumours that they would rather not even use individual freelancers due to leaks/security

      all hearsay of course ;)

      from my experience, there are more factors in play than security concerns.

      Of course having a company as partner gives some security, going after a company is usually more likely in some outcome than going after some dude in some remote area.

      Quantities is another thing, a studio can just carry a load. we are talking thousands upon thousands of assets on many modern games, live products even more. giving this to individuals is... less than optimal

      Which leads to another reason, outsourcing the administration part of the production, having to install outsource managers and micromanage multiple artists is something that is a cost factor you have to consider. So this also gets given to the outsourcing companies. Quality assurance, planning, all the micromanagement and balancing resources is something that doesn't have to happen onsite.

      Then there is local laws, some countries/states need the clients to treat their freelancers like employees, they don't want to hire. So hiring individuals is also not an option for them.

      -

      back to topic, i think as a solo freelancer you have a somewhat different stance as a team of people which take over some significant amount of work. Being in the credits and being able to post artwork (this is with sometimes excpetions thanks to the clients marketing... yay) is crucial to our business. Our clients know this, it's part of the deal. If only the studio is named in the credits we make sure all the individuals are credited on our end. in our portfolio and social media posts. We also contact credit sites to add those credits, but to be fair that rarely ever happens.
      God would i wish it was easy to just edit Mobygames if there is solid proof a person worked on a project.

      That said, most of our clients see us as an expansion of their team, we also have regular credit updates on our live games in some cases, but to be fair, no credits site updates stuff after the initial round and nobody watches 35 minutes of credits to see our names, 3 years into a production cycle.
    • Ruz
      Offline / Send Message
      Ruz polycounter
      Neox, i figured there was more to it tbh and did think about quite a few things you mentioned, but i think I will get very little games work in the future, mainly through cost as lots of companies farm out loads of work to cheaper countries where I could never hope to compete.
      There are still some smaller operations where it is possible to get work, but they seem few and far between these days. Last game I worked on was 'kng of crabs' and did quite a lot of the characters

      I was told this at an interview , where they basically said that they only have a small team of staffers and the rest was just farmed out to India, china wherever it was cheapest

      I am personally not 'that' bothered about credits per say, but having the ability to post my work is absolutely essential

      In 13 years of freelancing I have not had one company who has helped me go through and post renders in the style of the company or even demand I put the company logo on.
      As soon as the work is finished they generally don't care. Only 2 companies told me I could never post the work 'ever'

      As far as I am aware I have never been offically credited for any of the freelance  games work I have done apart from Forza Horizon back in 2012 :0

      My last full time game credit was Rugby challenge 2006 lol


    • Zi0
      Online / Send Message
      Zi0 polycounter
      @Biomag I agree, this would be the ideal solution.

      @Ruz I was not talking about putting people in the credits, this should be done even if most of your work got cancelled and didn't end up in the game. I just mentioned one of the reasons why some big companies decide to not allow freelancers to post their stuff or why it sometimes takes years. Im not saying that its a good thing and having a approval pipeline like Biomag mentioned would be the ideal solution IMO.
    • Ruz
      Offline / Send Message
      Ruz polycounter
      ZiO, no excuse for an 'eternal' ban on people posting  work though. i think that's quite a rough deal

      so yeah decided to give up on games/character art after 20 odd years, waste of time really. still have 3d plans though so not sad :)
    • Ryusaki
      Offline / Send Message
      Ryusaki polycounter lvl 4
      There is a simple workaround. You might not show images of your work, but you can tell what you did, how long you worked for them etc.
      "I worked for 6 months as an .... for company ..... and I did.... . I am not allowed to show images of my work here due to its confidential nature."
      Biomag said:
      .... not to mention the individuals not being allowed to say they worked on projects even after they've been released and with no chance of ever showing what work you've done on the project although they are just regular assets.
      That stuff will not hold up in face of a judge in the EU. Such a line in an contract is null and void.
      An NDA must have an reason and it must be understandable - If the product is done and available and no trade secret is touched by the work - there is no solid reason to forbid anyone to tell the truth.
      You can also ask them to lift the NDA when the product is successfully shipped.
      Any form of coercion, bullying and intimidation makes the NDA worthless.



    • garcellano
      Offline / Send Message
      garcellano greentooth
      It's a common thing, even in film. I use to work at a vfx studio that would convert movies to 3D. They had about 100+ artists at one point, because of the demand at the time, and only were able to have a few names in the credits. It's upsetting to work on something, knowing that you won't be credited on it, and on top of it, because of the work we did, it was something that you couldn't really put on your portfolio.

      That part where you mentioned leaving a gap on your portfolio, I had that problem. It is a tough feeling to deal with. I guess on one side, you're employed, or you work with a client as a freelancer, but on the other side, it'll stay confidential and you have to showcase your own work on your own time. This is hard for those starting out, depending on the artist. For the ones that already have tons of work and titles under their belt, it's a different feeling.
    • Biomag
      Offline / Send Message
      Biomag sublime tool
      Ryusaki said:
      Biomag said:
      .... not to mention the individuals not being allowed to say they worked on projects even after they've been released and with no chance of ever showing what work you've done on the project although they are just regular assets.
      That stuff will not hold up in face of a judge in the EU. Such a line in an contract is null and void.
      An NDA must have an reason and it must be understandable - If the product is done and available and no trade secret is touched by the work - there is no solid reason to forbid anyone to tell the truth.
      You can also ask them to lift the NDA when the product is successfully shipped.
      Any form of coercion, bullying and intimidation makes the NDA worthless.


      Not sure if there is a EU law that overwrites state laws these days, but I'm not sure I would go with that in front of a court as I wouldn't consider this neither coercion nor bullying nor intimidation probably it will be accepted as usual business practise (employees have some protection usually from competition clauses that are too prohibiting, so there is a chance that you might be protected in these cases as well). Especially if you are not an employee, but self employed thus just a business partner thus on the same legal level without the additional protection that employees might enjoy in some countries. Also looking at the cost of such a trail that you as a claimant would probably have to put up in front in most countries and adding on top of that that even winning you might get the reputation for being 'difficult' I don't see how this would make economically sense for a freelancer.

      Oh and a final note, keep in mind that just because you might work in the EU you might not have a contract that falls under EU law. Employees again are protected to some degree as there are provisions to ensure that EU legal standards are not circumvented this way, but its 100% legal between business partners to both select which law their contract uses AND what court has to do the trail. So if you are a freelancer working for a company from the US or any other country outside the EU you will most probably have a court stated in your contract that isn't in the EU and very likely a law will be applicable that isn't from an EU member state. 
    Sign In or Register to comment.