Employers not allowing artists to have reel material?

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Old 10 October 2012   #1
Employers not allowing artists to have reel material?

Hi all,

Im wanting to know how common is it that employers to not allow artists to use any of their work for their demo reels? My last two employers have all had clauses in their contracts that forbid employees from using any work that theyve done on their own demo reels, watermarked or not. My current employer has threatened to sue any employee who uses any of their professional work done at the studio on their demo reel.

Is this normal? How do artists have professional reels when employers refuse to allow employees to use anything on thier reels? Do you ask potential employers about reel requests up front before even being hired or is that taboo?

I want to leave my current company but I have to spend all of my personal time making demo reel at home, and its taking a very long time. My current reel is over 4 years old now. how do professionals handle this during an interview? Or do people just take the stuff anyways, and hope they dont get sued by their former boss?
 
Old 10 October 2012   #2
Here in Washington DC that is VERY common. 1/2 the people I know are not allowed to show or talk on what they are doing, or what they have done.
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Old 10 October 2012   #3
Wow. Sorry I don't have anything constructive to say... but wow.

And if they act like it's taboo to ask about it, maybe that will be your first clue to run the opposite direction.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #4
I always find this practice epically hypocritical, since the exact same companies always want to see reels from potential hires themselves...

If the work is totally confidential (produced under a government secrecy agreement, for instance), then I guess there is no way around it. Companies trying to prevent their employees from using publicly available material in their professional reels seems unnecessarily draconian, and probably unenforcable.

Been seeing lots of password protected reels recently - seems like a good middle ground.

AJ
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Old 10 October 2012   #5
Just exactly how do these guys hire new people?
 
Old 10 October 2012   #6
it really depends on the content and company. obviously if youre doing CAD work on a government facility you cant put it on your reel. but if you work at an entertainment firm and the content is for commercial or film work that will eventually be released to the public, AND the said project HAS been released, then theres no reason you shouldnt be allowed to have your shots. But not knowing the details of your line of work, i would say from now on it would be a good idead to look for this in your contract, and if not there make your own clause and have them sign off for demo reel material. at least you got paid though.
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Old 10 October 2012   #7
I heard it from a friend of mine, I was surprised to hear such thing but then he explained.
The company he was working for is just outsourcing most of the jobs, in the eyes of the client and for general audience studio A made that, but in reality they were just supervising studio B which did most of the work for much smaller amount of money.
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Last edited by LuckyBug : 10 October 2012 at 09:09 AM.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #8
I am curious to know how are they going to find out if it's a matter of a published material ?!
Of course don't put your reel online for anybody to see, but if it's on a dvd or private video then you show it to the person who wants to have an idea on what have you done, I guess it's safe if it's not some military top secret classified.
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Old 10 October 2012   #9
Originally Posted by lazzhar: I am curious to know how are they going to find out if it's a matter of a published material ?!
Of course don't put your reel online for anybody to see, but if it's on a dvd or private video then you show it to the person who wants to have an idea on what have you done, I guess it's safe if it's not some military top secret classified.

In DC it is easy.
It is a comapny town after all and people know each other.
If yo uare showing classified stuff on your reel, people WILL find out.

BTW the way people get jobs in DC is NETWORKING like crazy, having a a National Security Clearance (AKA the golden ticket) and winning awards (yes there are award ceremonies for secure work).


And I do know of CG artists who have developed their own reel on their time.
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Old 10 October 2012   #10
Originally Posted by DoubleSupercool: Just exactly how do these guys hire new people?


the point is they keep you in a cage, unable to leave because of lack of reel
 
Old 10 October 2012   #11
be sure to get working on your own reel and any assets you can work from, just change enough to avoid Intellectual Property rights infringement.

Every place I have worked, I have aksed up front about creating personal demo reel content from the professional work. I was only asked to not release it until the material was already released in the public and if the end client was okay with it being released (some of our work is private/proprietary and clients do not want it in the public eye). I was also given permission to use clips, not an entire segment. I do notice that employers first knee jerk reaction is "why do you need it for your personal portfolio reel". Indicating that they may be a little threatened you'll use the work to go somewhere else. However, since I work in small companies, I usually offer up some of my own work for the companies promo use as good will.

At my current company, employees can use work created under company time, but a list of the clips, the actual clips and their places of use (DVD, web sites) has to be listed and available to the employer. Many times we will ask artists to "scrub" any logos or anything that identifies our client or brands. For instance, they may have to take out any specific color combinations, logos and/or change lighting, environments or vehicles around.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #12
I've gotta say, I've never understood it either. As far I can tell, it's a major American thing. I did a commercial for ESPN last year, and not only was I not allowed to show the work on a demo reel but never to show any of the models in my courses or talk on the project. I mean really? lol The content was mostly outdated the day after I turned it in people. hahaha Saying all that, I can understand some companies not wanting secrets to get lifted I guess. You can still post what movies, games, broadcast, etc. on your resume so it still sinks in. I mean if you are good enough to work on Avatar, I cannot understand how you cannot knock out a few nice new items every 6 months in your spare time to keep your reel fresh. I mean if you aren't into this enough to create your own art on the side, I have to question whether you are in the right field that fulfills your creative side. I think the paycheck fun will eventually run out. Shrug.
Still, never discount being friendly. Asking nicely can many times get things lifted.
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Last edited by MrPositive : 10 October 2012 at 02:50 PM.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #13
It's tough to get anything on the demoreel even for the company in my field. We have to ask the clients directly for permission to use clips from our projects and in the case of medical devices the answer is almost always "no".

If you're dealing with a lot of things that haven't hit the market yet then you're shit out of luck in most cases.
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Old 10 October 2012   #14
cant have it on your demo reel? link it on your website with an exact time stamp for the you tube video version of it and you're done. Work should always be kept behind closed doors until it gets released. DVDs for feature film or TV air dates for TV work. After those get out, its fair game.

There's ways around contract lingo, just be careful what you sign.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #15
Originally Posted by DanHibiki: It's tough to get anything on the demoreel even for the company in my field. We have to ask the clients directly for permission to use clips from our projects and in the case of medical devices the answer is almost always "no".

If you're dealing with a lot of things that haven't hit the market yet then you're shit out of luck in most cases.


thats where secrets count, so its understandable. Its stuff like a random TV commercial not being allowed where its extremely confusing, and quite stupid.
 
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