Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pro parva pro bono melior est

Imagine asking an electrician to fix the wiring in your house for free. Or calling the plumber to fix your backed up toilet out of the kindness of his heart. Or going to the supermarket and seeing what you can get for the grand fee of nothing.

These are things that people actually need to live in modern society. Nobody needs animation, we do it in large part to pay our electricity bills and pay for groceries. Ignoring the obvious and fundamental fact that even the simplest animation (at least when we do it) takes a lot of time, resources, and skills of highly trained individuals and just look at the plain economics of it. If you can't afford to buy a new 60 inch HDTV, don't buy it.

During the course of a seven day calendar week we get asked maybe three or four times to do something for nothing.

But your idea is going to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, you say? Have each one them give you a dollar then we'll talk. It'll look great on our sample reel, you say? Have you seen our sample reel? Look in the Encyclopedia Brittanica under "awesome" it has it's own chapter.

Sometimes, for whatever reasons, we'll do some of this pro bono work. Whenever we've done it with someone who we don't know it's never worked out. Maybe it's because we don't care as much. Maybe its because we're used to dealing with professionals and professionals know that this is an expensive field and our time has value.

On that point, professionals will usually pony up some cash. It might not be a lot of money, but the simple gesture of paying makes a huge difference (and, hey, money changing hands makes it a legal transaction even without a contract).

Here's some art we did for an incredibly nice guy who wanted to add some animation to a short was doing for a gay activist organization.

He didn't have a lot of money to make the film, and needed to sell the idea to his sponsors. Like a pro, he figured out what he could afford and set aside a small piece of money for some designs to pitch to his client.

These are some (along with the one at the top) that we came up with.

Ultimately, they decided to keep animation out of the film. But they came to the decision based on actual designs that were created by professional artists and worked up in a professional way. Even though the animation didn't happen (and if it did the money would have barely covered production costs), it was a positive experience because the guy we were working with realized that our time and labor has value and budgeted his film accordingly.

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