How To Understand Revisions

An issue that comes up a lot on projects is determining the overall scope of the project, and sticking to it. There can often be a great deal of grey area here, simply by nature of the fact that there's likely more than one right way to produce a video (And even more ways to do it incorrectly, but we digress). This becomes a particularly relevant topic when it comes to the nature of revisions that might happen during production. Let's give an example:

So, Clint McClientson wants a video. Greg McGraphicsberg agrees to put it together. The topic is Shoes, and Why You Should Wear Clint's Shoes. A budget is set, script put together, art style is agreed on. All good. Clint sends out a check for an agreed-upon down-payment. Greg starts creating rough storyboards based on the script, so to establish overall timing and pacing, etc. Clint says they look good, wants a couple sections switched around, and suggests a different visual device for one particular scene. Sounds fine so far. The changes made here so far seem like they're just part of the normal production process, are relatively minor, and are allowed for in Clint and Greg's contract. Moving on.

So, Greg makes the changes, Clint signs off, and asset design begins. Clint approves the Shoe design, and Greg applies that design throughout the project. Clint gets the updated storyboards with animation assets added, and reviews them with his manager, Bessie McBosserson. She points out several parts of the script that are now outdated, because now they have a new model of Shoe for Back to School season. So now, every shoe design has to be updated. Clint asks Greg if he can do so, and Greg says he can, but he will need to charge an hourly rate to do so, because this is a change to a previously approved asset.

So, that change is made. Clint gets the new storyboards with the new Shoe design, signs off on it, and gives the go ahead to begin animation production. Greg does so, and puts together a rough cut for Clint to approve. He goes over it with Bessie, who now has new marketing data from the new Shoe rollout. Turns out the Shoes are used mostly by kids trying to run frantically after the school bus, where the script specifically shows kids hanging out and relaxing on the school bus (no running necessary).

So, now there's a script change! A new scene is added to the script, and several scenes are now obsolete! Clint goes back to discuss with Greg, who points out that he is now midway through production, and will (quite literally) need to go back to the drawing board to create new storyboards, etc, for several shots.
What happens now? Nothing fun, unfortunately. Work assignments and contracts can differ from project to project (and client to client), but generally, the story above is always a possibility. Key parts to a script can and do change as the client gets new data about how their product is being received. It's not their fault. At the same time, it's also very true that it's much easier to make changes to a video early on, as opposed to midway through, and the contractors do deserve to be compensated for all this extra work that, as far as they're concerned, came out of nowhere.

So, what's the best takeaway here? Flexibility. Communication. Good relationships. These are traits that are often impossible to define 100% in a contract, but can make or break a good project. Scope creep is definitely a thing, and being up-front about potential pitfalls or changes early on is much preferable to surprising an unsuspecting contractor later on. It's always good to set realistic expectations for any video, so to avoid unpleasant compromises later on. And when compromises do happen? If the relationship between client and contractor is a good one, everyone can often move on, having learned valuable lessons for the next project.

So there you have it. There's no magic solution here: Changes happen, and sometimes (most of the time, in fact), it's no one's fault. Pretending otherwise doesn't do anyone any favors, and its always good to have some kind of Plan B in mind, or at least an understanding of where Plan A might go cattywompus.

That's all for now! Hope everyone's having a great Labor Day weekend, and we'll see you next month!