Your Own IP?


Great thread and amazing work on Stasis keep on pushing that. This thread and Roberto’s comments have me wanting to try my hand at developing some I.P.


With regards to the other posts about copywriting ideas and such, I must say that I think it must be a horrible experience to have an entire universe of characters brewing inside of you, and not being able to share that with the world for fear of your ideas getting stolen. I know it can happen-but is holding back on your ideas, because they MAY get stolen putting the cart before the horse?

I know the feeling of having a universe inside me and not being able to let it out.

I have been developing my IP for years and just now have put myself into the works producing and creating it on my own.

I spent many wasted years on my project and not getting anywhere. Spent thousands of my own money on it as well. Even went so far as to buy a mocap system.

  1. Because I felt my skills were inferior in way of modeling and went looking for collabers and modelers but could not find any. Some would bite and others would flake out. And still the other fact is there is a big disinterest in collabing in many cases. So I would have to hire to bring my vision to life. Self funding is hard to do so could only do bits and peices even with the wonderful artists I found who were willing and really lowered their costs. If I even had 10,000 I would have been able to do the whole film the way I wanted. Shouldn’t have bought that MOCAP system, that was 10,000 wasted. I thought if I bought that I could barter with modelers, animators and artists who had their own idea. No one bit. So put the funds in the wrong place. Then I lost my job for almost 2 years and the self funding was not going to work without a job.

  2. I also didn’t have my stuff together. I had all these ideas but the story was not complete. Lots of outlines, sketches, ideas, etc but nothing founded. So in the chance I did find collabers I didn’t have it together. I had artists who drew great concepts but no model sheets, I had 3d artists who loved the concepts but wanted model sheets. 2d artists was now to busy to do and my work was amateur at best. If you are collabing, make sure to have it together. It will fail before it begins. Cause if you get some collabers to bite they will need direction and focus and if you don’t have that they will not stay. It will be like all the other half baked ideas.

  3. My own laziness got in the way. I could have modelled all I could in all those 2 years I was without full time employment, but I didn’t. First you lose a lot of motivation as the job situation gets bleaker. It can consume your thoughts and creativity goes out the door. Plus I still did not feel adequate about my skills still at this point.

Zbrush and now Sculptris have really fueled my creativity. I can model the way I want.
3d coat let’s me retopo quickly
Rigging and Animating in Project Messiah
For everything else C4d.
And now there is a mocap software on sale, IPIsoft. So I can do it quickly. I’ve played around with it and it is cool. I can clean up what I want in Messiah.

The other barriers I do not see as much anymore. I’m going full feature movie.
Others have broken down those old barriers

You have the lone animators like
Jeff Lew
M Dot Strange
David Krupiz
Who have all created a feature lenght movie or a quality animation in 3 years or less. Full feature.

Thurist, the brains behind Planktoon Invasion, created his own IP. Created quality episodes in less than a month and 1/2 on each episode and now is having a TV series come out of it.

No longer should it take 5 years to do 5 minutes of animation. Tools can make it faster and there are work arounds in technology.

And we are just talking movie IP. There are various other avenues discussed here, video games, comics, novels, books, motion comics, etc.

Here is the IP I’m working on now.


As far as protection goes, I registered my (currently on hold) animated scifi/fantasy feature script with the American Writers Guild a few years back. I also recorded the audio for the whole film with actors and had many drafts proofread by more than one person so I imagine they all count as witnesses to the fact that I wrote it. I even showed them early concept art… not sure how much having witnesses to your ideas or images helps, but it’s surely better than nothing.

There are other threads that go into more detail with the IP protection issue, and I think I recall the long story short was “keep it to yourself and make sure you release it first” since it’s hard to copyright such things apparently.


I have a few irons in the fire-maybe too many.

I wrote a novel 11 years ago and self published it from an online service. It was a Harryhausen style Arabian Nights adventure. When I started in cg as part of my learning I did still cg illustrations based on the story
and mythical

I sold a few, got a couple of decent reviews from odd sources, but it has been impossible to get either agents or a traditional publisher interested in even reading it and you have to be really creative and aggressive in marketing such things yourself. You cannot do much without an agent since most traditional publishers require a recognized agent to review a manuscript.

I will probably re publish it in the future with illustrations, since there are now many more options for self-publishing and I spent the last few years learning animation techniques-if I went back into stills I could do so much more than what I did before.
The book has a copyright registration as part of the original publishing plan but frankly if someone made a movie or novel with a similar idea I dont think there is much i could do about it.You have to be making money off your ideas. I dont think a court takes one seriously unless you can prove you have been making money off your creative works.

Traditional publishing is best (especially for IP protection) but the technology and means are there to do it yourself and if the choice is doing nothing with it or self publishing, i think the choice is clear.
But without a commercial distribution network I think the artist faces a terrible uphill battle.One doesnt usually write or create your own works in isolation with a strong thought about selling it–this is why the traditional model is someone sponsoring the artist-whether a patron or a magazine or company that seeks such works.

True with publishing and with filmmaking. I don’t think we live in a seller’s market–not for original story ideas. The focus among the major media companies is taking what’s already out there or in the public domain and recycling it to infinity.

I tried for a few years to sell short stories, figuring it was the traditional route for writing. Sold one, and hundred plus rejections. But I recently discovered that what counts as “pro” markets wouldnt be considered pro 30 years ago. The pay has been cut by half or more, there are few markets, and few readers. Stephen King said the short story is dying.
You can find them online, but it isnt much of a filtering system. There’s an example of a dead cultural industry profession-the short story writer. They used to be able to make a living from it-not anymore.
Even novelist struggle to some extent-you have to do 12 volume series–not even sure one can get a single novel deal these days unless its something very mainstream.

While one has the advantage of distribution via the internet for self-published efforts, it doesnt have the money stream or the attention span (although there’s a few exceptions, like the guy who published his book online and eventually sold it and they are making a movie from it–I think it was called John Dies At the End).

I also had afilm project in the works for a few years, did costumes and props and cg models but it was a big disappointment. Started as a comic, then was to be a film, then a short film. Then a comic. I just havent been enthusiastic to work on it consistently because it was a mind crushing amount of work for one person alone and I dont think the buyers are there and other projects attracted my interest, like right now I am back to writing a sword and sorcery serial (sword and sorcery-not a big seller). I think its the worst time ever for selling original stories and characters anyway. Its perhaps the best time for creating–never could one do so much with so little, but the downside is the lack of enthusiastic buying venues. Maybe it will upswing but I dont think the signs are good. When someone like Nolan has trouble getting studios to finance an Inception, and then it becomes a big success and they do their best to ignore its success, then it shows the corporate media empires are hostile. And they are the main gatekeepers for cultural content when we are talking books or film. There arent many small players.

In the end I am almost content making my own things-self publishing or doing film experiments, especially after some health problems. I am not sure where I will go with it–my writing is quite varied. if in the end I just self-publish a big book with illustrations and that’s my artistic legacy I am ok with that. Its about self-expression in the end when you make your own ideas. Money would be nice though. :slight_smile:


Ahh, a subject dear to my heart.

I’m one of those people who’s been developing my own IP’s since I was a kid (more precisely, around age 13 or so). I have boxes filled with story synopses, character profiles, screenplays, novels, concept art, and illustrations that I’ve created over the last 25 years.

To get your own IP out there is much easier today than it was back then. Now with the internet, you can get your IP out there as long as you are willing to put in the work to execute your ideas in a consistent manner. Back then, you had to have a publisher or a studio to back you.

In the 90’s, I had my creator-owned graphic novel series published, and I worked on it full-time for a few years. It was a dark fantasy series called Enchanted.

When I worked at Optidigit/Android Blues, I developed a few IP’s (it was part of my job as a creator/writer/director/art director to develop IP’s), and I got it down to a science–how to create IP’s that had both commercial value as well as substance. Unfortunately we lacked the funding to get them off the ground. The development process was so much fun though–creating a bible for the IP’s universe, writing treatments and loglines, plotting each episode so they paced optimally from one to another, writing the screenplay, doing the concept art for the IP’s, and on on.

In the last 12 years or so, I worked on my “definitive” project called Promise on and off. It started around 1998 as a one-shot graphic novel, and then later when I got out of the comic book industry, I rewrote it as a short story. Then as I got into CG animation, I rewrote it as a screenplay for an animated short. It became an IP that Optidigit/Android Blues wanted to produce, and my agreement to working for them was based on their agreement to produce my film. After realizing I would not be able to secure the budget required for the high-end quality the story demanded, I tried to re-imagine it as a multimedia novel.

By then, it became very important to me that my creative vision should take form as something I can do on my own. I was tired of depending on other people for manpower, budget, and distribution, and then be let down when nothing happens. Other people will always have their own agendas or deal with things they can’t control. If you are truly passionate and have the endurance to see it through, then you really should do it yourself. If you can find others who will be just as dedicated as you are to the project, and will bring something valuable to the table (skill, knowledge, connections, resources), then consider yourself blessed. Otherwise, focus and work on it yourself.

Whether or not you should hire help is a matter of priorities. For some people, the project is an intimate and personal form of self-expression, and it’s important that they do it on their own. Or maybe they have a point they want to make, such as Brian Taylor and Rustboy. For others, they don’t care who works on it, as long as the IP gets out there.

ROI (Return On Investment) is extremely important I think. I’m not talking about monetary, but emotionally. Based on my observations, the format and the market makes a difference.

Animated films - It seems most CG folks want to make animated films, since that’s the closest to what inspired them in the first place, and it could be done without a full blown animation studio. But from my observations, this type of creative endeavor is the least likely to be continually fulfilling in the long-term. We all have seen lots of animated shorts and attempts at full-length features produced over the years, and some are absolutely amazing. But if you dig deeper, you’ll see that the people who made them often said it’s so much hard work that they’re likely to never do another one, or that they spent so long working on one that it never got completed. Of all the ones that were completed, they got their 15 minutes of attention, but then what? They go right back to working for the man in some game or animation studio. We don’t hear from them again in terms of doing another IP of their own.

There might be some exceptions to this, but it is rare. And the chances of one of these animated films leading to bigger and better things? It’s also rare (such as Shane Ackers, Neill Blomkamp, Ruairi Robinson). So essentially, the animated CG film route is likely a one-shot effort and after that, you’re likely to be burned out. There are very, very few people who continuously make animated films one after another that’s their own IP, unless they were lucky enough to have it become their job to develop and produce IP’s.

Another problem is that there’s no established market or fandom like there is with comic book industry or gaming industry. There might some press in the animation industry about what you’re doing, but it’s more like a side-note. The commercial world of movies and animation typically won’t pay any attention to what you’re doing. Without an organized and established fandom, things usually just run out of steam, especially if you don’t continue to output more work to build up an audience. The extremely rare exceptions of those who generated enough buzz are usually something really remarkable like doing an entire feature film on your own, but how many people have the endurance to do that?

Graphic novels - If making money with your IP is not a big concern, and you want to do something where you have the most control as well as the least technical hurdles to jump through, then graphic novels are a great way to get your IP out there. You can do it all yourself, and there’s actually a market for it with an organized fandom you can access. Because it’s not as labor intensive as an animated film, you can also produce more work and build up an audience. You might even have people come knocking and wanting to adapt your work into movies, TV shows, or games.

Games - Depending on what your IP is about, it may or may not be suitable to be made into a game. If your IP was originally imagined to be a game in the first place, or is suitable to be made as a game, then you have to face the fact that you’re not going to be able to do anything like a AAA level of production. You have to be satisfied with the indie development approach of a small, modest game. That may or may not be your cup of tea. But if you like indie games and you make a great indie game, your chances of continuing to develop your own IP as a full-time job becomes very real. There’s an established market and fanbase that’s one of the most thriving and enviable of all mediums out there. You can in fact have a life-long career doing this if you’re good at it. Games are inherently team-based projects, so unless you are also a sound designer, composer, programmer, all-around artist who can draw, paint, animate, you will have to get help.

Novels - One of the oldest forms of creative expression in human civilization, and will always exist. We might digitize them, but they will still be just words to be read. The chances of making money as a novelist is very slim. There are thousands of books on the shelves of a book store, and very few of them actually sell enough to allow the author to make a decent living off of just writing. Many don’t make any money at all. If you are willing to accept that and just write for the love of telling stories, then this is perhaps one of the most fulfilling and enduring ways to express yourself. In terms of ROI on time/energy spent vs. amount of work done, I would say that writing fiction is probably one of the best if you want to work alone on your IP. You can write a chapter in a couple of days and if you were to take the same content and develop it as an animation, graphic novel, or game, you would be spending far, far more time doing it. And if you are a good writer, you’ll be able to express things with your writing that you couldn’t express with other mediums, while the reverse is rarely true.

But becoming a good enough writer is one of the hardest things to do, because so much it is directly related to talent for storytelling. While you can study the art of storytelling, improve your grammar and spelling, evolve your prose style by studying the usage of syntax, cadence, vocabulary, usage of metaphors, symbols, allegory, deconstructing literary masterpieces, major in English or literature…etc, it is no guarantee because at the core of the matter is what you have to say as a human being. Do you have anything worthwhile to say at all? Do you have a unique creative vision? What’s so compelling about your story that other people must read it?

Alternative/new mediums - Online flash animations, online comics, visual novels, kinetic novels, multimedia novels…etc–some of them can piggyback on existing markets/fandoms, while some have will have a harder time finding a market/fandom. Most of these types of IP’s sink or float based on whatever attention they can generate on their own through word of mouth, and of course, how entertaining the IP is to begin with. This is definitely a risky way to present your IP, but if you have very defined ideas of how you want your IP to be executed, then perhaps you have already thought about the possible shortcomings and are willing to accept them. If you consistently put out content and the quality is good (not necessary in terms of technical execution, but the entertainment value, since many online comics are crudely drawn, but very entertaining), then you will likely build a big following that might even be able to turn your IP into a full-time job (selling merchandise, advertising space, printed version…etc). Penny Arcade is one of the most successful examples of this.

For me personally, being a writer, artist, and composer, I’m drawn to mediums where I get to wear all three hats so that none of my skills go to waste. But after all these years of developing various different IP’s (and I’ve done them all–all the different mediums I’ve listed above), I’m finding that the better I become as a writer, the more I want to just keep on writing. I can get so much ROI by simply writing, and I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the additional headaches like technical hurdles of complex 3D graphics, game engine, spending days and months to illustrate scenes that would only take me a fraction of the time to write, or to illustrate stuff that bores me to tears like a bunch of office buildings and cars and people in the crowd in the background just because my characters happen to be having a conversation while walking around downtown somewhere. Most of all, I can express myself with words in ways that no other medium could touch. Those of you who have experienced how much better the original book is compared to the movie version, or game version, or graphic novel version all know this intimately. Simple writing may be the oldest medium of expression there is, but it is still the most powerful.

But to get to where I’m at in terms of mentality, it took decades. I was always insecure about my writing style because English is not my first language (I didn’t learn English until I was 11 yrs-old). For many years, I felt like my ability to express myself in English wasn’t good enough. I felt my vocabulary pool was shallow, my syntax clumsy, and even my spelling and grammar was horrible. It took constant learning and pushing to finally start to reach a point where I felt I was at least decent at it. And now, only when I’m nearly middle-age do I feel like I’m starting to be able to produce consistently good prose, where as in the past, I had what felt like moments of brilliance, but then long periods of substandard writing.

I used to feel that you couldn’t force writing, even when respected writers always say you have to write write write no matter how good or bad the results are. Now I’m starting to see what they mean. You really have to–that’s how you reach some kind of consistency in the quality of your output. By constantly writing and assessing, you learn how to make a lackluster sentences more interesting, or how to delay a punchline so it has the most satisfying effect. So much of good writing comes from rewriting that it’s not even funny. Your first draft will always suck compared to your second draft, and that in turn will suck compared to your third draft. I’m glad I finally realized this lesson on my own, before it was too late. At least now I have another few decades left in me to just write.

I will always love music though, but whether or not it plays a part in my IP development is no longer important. My love for music can exist outside of my IP development. My art can continue to serve my IP’s in the form of illustrations and concept art, or even just cover paintings for my novels. But what is true now is what has always been true for me–that storytelling is the heart and soul of all the creative endeavors I love, and now I just want to concentrate on telling the story in its purest form, without any other distractions.

In the last several months, I’ve concentrated on just writing novels, and I have to say, it’s been a very long time since I felt so fulfilled creatively, and headache free of all anything that distracts from simply telling a story.


fighting the urge to scream “Arrghv! Too much text, needs more pictures!”
Making some coffe then reading all that cause I know it will be interesting. Am I the only one who find longer texts a bit hard to read on this forum?

Edit; There you go, read it :slight_smile:
You raise an interesting point Lunatique; finding markets for the projects with fem IP owners and no big publisher to back it up.
Here at cgtalk you have a decent audience, would cgtalk as a site be open to taking in funding from, as an example kickstarter, to build such a marketplace?


I’ve been working on plans involving this chap for a while.

What plans you ask? Ahhhh, it’s a secret…

[i]Waves hands mysteriously & walks away

Falls over[/i]


Looks fantastic! Really easy rig too i imagine :smiley:


Dreamworks owns anything you develop, even if you do it at home?

I can’t imagine if you spent months of late nights after work to write a novel, only to have lawyers storming into your house and grabs your manuscript, declaring it the property of Dreamworks.


On thing I would suggest to all who wish to develop your own IP is to either partner up with a writer or start taking classes/reading books on the subject.

Like art writing requires a set of skills that takes time to develop.
I would suggest attending Writing workshops

Also read books on the subject:
I like a LOT the book “On Writing” by Stephen King (

Another famous book, and very controversial for some is:
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

(The film Adaptation made fun of the seminars the author gives)

and if you want to know about how to write hero ques stories there is the old stand by:

     [[b]The Hero with a Thousand Faces[/b] (Bollingen Series)](         by [Joseph Campbell](

I recently attended a writers workshop by professional writers and they shared some online resources writers should know about.
Let me go through my notes and I see what I can share.



nice inspirational thread! i’d like to see more from indie artists! i was wondering whatever happened to that old indie game thread that was here a few months ago…maybe some of those could be brought back here to see progress…

pyke: do you have any video tests of your game? the art work looks great! i’d love to see a demo of it…unless someone else asked this question before…i was just browsing…nice work! keep it up!


I did have a problem with that at my last employer. I was quite open about the projects I had, good thing cause the Danish owner tried to introduce a character called Sofie" to the same segment as my “Sofij”. They did it, it was lousy and will go unnoticed, but I had the domains registered and pictures of the character out there before they hired me, so it wont be a problem. Or if they make it a problem, I have all the rights backed up (checked with a lawyer).

A great resource if you are in Sweden, will give free legal advice as well as help with applying for grants etc. to their members.


I would love to get an update from those guys in that thread. Some of that work was incredible!

I do have some gameplay videos. :wink:







Wow! Some excellent posts and points here. Im going to split my post up into two posts, because lunch is calling… :smiley:


So do you think that when technology ‘catches up’ there will be new IP’s being developed more often? Or will the bar just be raised even further for IP’s to catch up to? 30 years ago, it wasnt even thought of that one person could produce a video with visual effects. Now if you take a look at someone like Freddie Wong, or Andrew Kramer, they are producing work in ‘garage’ setups that were literally impossible to even think of back then.


I actually never considered that as a limitation on artists. Have there ever been any instances where this has actually been followed through?
If you sell prints of you work while employed by a company, do you need to have a profit share arangement with the company? Or do they own the rights to the characters you produce, but not nessesarily the artwork itself?
I seem to remember that the computer mouse was developed while the guy worked at XEROX, and it was feared that he would loose the technology rights because he was employed there.


The one man show is definaly not easy! From my point of view, Ive always tried to do some form of artwork apart from my work stuff. Be it the CGTalk challenges, or even building scale models. STASIS is merely a more focused form of doing that. I once read a post here, where someone was asking what people did with all of their unfinished project files-and it really hit home. I had harddrives FULL of junked models…wasted time!
I have had quite a few generous offers from people to help me out-but keeping it with just me means that the only person I can really dissapoint is me. I think that as soon as I have someone else that I am responsible to, the work will start to be less fun.

Im definaltey not saying you should give up on animating your stories-what I am suggesting tho is that perhaps there is an alternative to the ‘work heavy’ route of animation to get your story out there? You can start developing the universe simply by creating a few stills of art with some descirptions about them. Taking key aspects of your story, and illustrating them may be enough of a spark to get even more ideas flowing!

BigPixolin, thanks man. :smiley: And really, if this thread pushes anyone to get some of their ideas out there then Ill be a happy guy!!!


I think that the main point of your post boils down to a lack of preparation with your ideas. I think that, esspecially when dealing with getting other people to work with you you need to have everything in an ordered form.
[B]Would some sort of structured document, or template help you in organising everything together?

I really like the idea of having some sort of ‘skill swap’. Would you be willing to swap motion capture info for say, writing, or storyboarding? If you had 3 people with different skills, each developing their own IP, sharing skills would help in that area.[/B]

…part 2 coming a little later… ;D


I think the Bar will continue to rise but not in the same speed of technology, so while a game in the future would look better than what they do now they will be a lot easier to do. games started as a one man show then became a lot more complicated then IMO it will go back to a one man show before a new cycle or technology begins.

and as you mentioned you can see the developments already happening in VFX.


The thing is that good storytelling is good storytelling.

The medium is secondary.

Look for example at the classic Twilight Zone episodes.
60 years later they still pack a great punch and they are top of the shelf sci fi.

I think strongly that people to embrace the short medium,
be it short stories, short docs, 6 page comics etc.
And while doing it fail, and fail often.

Hell Pixar did only shorts for a Decade before Toy Story.

Even a guy like Rod Sterling had his fare share of stinkers, but wrote A LOT and learned from those stinkers.


Every studio I’ve worked at has clauses in their contracts where they own what you produce while employed by them, even if it is at home. I guess the thinking is that the company doesn’t want you to hold back creatively at work and keep ideas reserved for your own project. You can always negotiate to have specific projects exempted from these restrictions, but usually the project has to be in a fairly different medium than what your day job entails. For example, I was working on a compositing program before joining DW, but that had to be set aside once I started here. But I was able to have some games exempted from my contract, so I piddle around with those when I have time.

Even when I attended USC’s film school, if you made a single edit to your film on their equipment, or used any of their equipment in the production, then the school owned the rights to the entire thing. Freelance contracts may differ, but I think all of the places I’ve been staff in the entertainment industry have had similar clauses in their contracts. So I get the most work done on my personal projects when I’m unemployed, but needless to say that isn’t very sustainable in the long run.

That said, DreamWorks Animation does have some really, really, really good artistic development classes and workshops for its employees. There are plenty of drawing classes, sculpting classes, acting seminars, screenwriting seminars and workshops, guest speakers, etc. for the employees to attend in order to improve their personal artistic skills. So many people are still doing stuff on their own time.

When I’m unemployed, I work on my own stuff. When I’m employed, I work on developing my knowledge and skills so that I’m better/faster/stronger for the next chance I get to work on my personal stuff.



In general, I think if you aren’t making money off of something then the companies don’t care, although technically you would be breaking your contract and if they ever needed an excuse to fire you or you came at odds with them for something, they could pull out your contract and cause you a lot of grief. Terms vary from place to place, so you would want to read your contract and check with HR to make sure everything was clear before trying to sell anything. Also you want things clearly spelled out in writing, because even if your current company owners don’t care if you do something on your own, they could sell the company or be acquired by a larger company that prefers to follow every single letter of the law.

The only instance of this kind of thing popping up that I’ve heard of, was at some studio where two guys developed a short on their own time and it really took off on the internet. The company they worked for owned the rights to it as per the terms of their contract, and they decided to do a TV series based on the short. But they decided the original authors weren’t right for any roles on the production, so the TV series went forward without the original authors getting any royalty from it, and not even being selected to work on the project.

I don’t remember the name of the project, people, or studio, but it was set in a spaceship with robots/aliens/a sexy woman at the helm. It was pretty early in the days of television CG (possibly late 1990s?), and the one episode I saw that aired didn’t strike me as very funny. Kind of had a late-night “Heavy Metal” feel to it. I don’t think it lasted but 3-4 episodes. (If this jogs anyone’s memory, please speak up as I’d like to get it straight in my head. :slight_smile:



I believe you are talking about TRIPPING THE RIFT…

wikipedia entry


Wow, I’ve never worked under such a restrictive rule as that, and never knowingly would. Working on business hardware or assets is one thing, but work done at home - that’s just ridiculous. But then, I work in games and not film, so maybe it’s different. All the places I’ve worked have been very accommodating of outside work, even if it competes with “official” work. Usually they are just more concerned that you are putting the required time and energy into your job and not on time-consuming and schedule-busting side projects.