View Full Version : Client has asked for .obj file

03-31-2005, 06:24 PM

A client has requested several images to be produced for a brochure. There will be a video produced in the future with the same model. We are charging him to produce the model and for the rendering of each image made with that model to be delivered in a .psd or .tif format for inclusion in the brochure.

While showing the images to the client he requested the .obj file be delivered with the rendered images.

I do not believe this is customary. No one has ever asked for that file before. Usually we deliver the { .avi or .mov } or provide a tape or a print.

I was wondering what other 3D modelers are doing in this situation. and what would you charge for the .obj files

This client is a freehand frelancer who wants to learn LightWave. He says he gives his sorce files to his clients.

What is customary in the 3D world for use of the .obj & .lws files ???

03-31-2005, 06:53 PM
Depends on whatīs in the contract,obviously. Right now i am doing an architectural job where after rendering the client gets a copy of all. Future commercial usage rights stay with me, and the client can always render out some perspectives by themselves. They have a copy of Lightwave,too.

Thatīs what contracts are for,and stuff like that should be negotiated and written down before starting a job.

03-31-2005, 07:45 PM
As I've read many times, when you do something "for hire", as in being paid to produce a model, then the model belongs to them. Unless the contract states that the model stays with you, and so they have to pay you to use it in the future, then that's different.

You should have a lawyer look it over, but I'd guess the model belongs to them.

03-31-2005, 08:59 PM
If you are an employee of a company, then the model belongs to the company you work for, not the client. If you own the company the model belongs to you and you can sell it to the client. Unless you have an employee contract that states otherwise. I am sure about this.

I am still writing the contract as plans are still being made to produce more images and video. It just struck me as odd the this client requested the object file and now wants to buy LightWave. What should we charge for the object ???

We have received the deposit to start the project. The bid was to produce a series of specific images which requires us to produce several models. The bid specifically lists a description of each model and says we will deliver rendered files in a .psd format. I have verbally agreed to relinquish the rights of these images, but never imagined providing the model as well and it is not included as a deliverable item in the bid.

That is why I am posting this here, to see what people are doing with their object files, LightWave scenes, surfaces, etc . . . Do you normally sell yours or do you sell what you produce with them ???

What about video editing and compositing programs ? People pay for the results of those not the source files. Is anybody selling those ???

So what is the going rate for custom made object files these days ???

03-31-2005, 09:15 PM
It's definitely not customary to supply the objects with the renders. The fact that he says it is would worry me about his intentions. If you commision a photo-portrait, the client doesn't get any of the lighting equipment, right?

The only help I can give you with the price is to charge your hourly rate for building it. Even half of that should scare him!

Another idea, go to turbosquid.com and see what their prices are like.

03-31-2005, 09:57 PM
Somtimes people will buy the negative as well as the prints. Still not as useful as an object file but still a source file. I guess the lights would be the equivalent of either our software or computer. Does anyone sell their project files when they edit or composit video ???

Turbosquid does not make custom objects and their objects are priced to sell in quantity. I like the hourly rate idea and have already scared him :-} but he still wants the object and probably lightwave lessons to go with as the project continues. Maybe I should encourage him to learn LightWave and see what becomes of it ???

Thanks for the reassurance.

03-31-2005, 10:03 PM
I saw this done with a model that someone using LW made and the client wanted it as well as the images/animations, the modeller built his name into the model it would be on the interrier as just a bunch of polygons and points naturally but they would then be connected to the model so that removing the name would basically destroy the model.

You can even make the name like really small so that when they bring it up in modeller they would have to do multiple zooms to get to even see it. This way if you see them using your work for other things you have at least a legal way of checking the model that they use if you were to get involved with lawyers etc.

If it were to go to court just have a laptop with lightwave on it ask to see the model that they are using then show them in the court your name buried inside the model as far as I know there is no legal way to prevent a modeller from doing this since it would be to protect his interests.

But anyhow it really does depend on what is written in the contract which you will want a lawyer to go over carefully to make sure that your protected and get paid, credited etc. whatever is required.

There would be no harm in doing this since placing your name in your own work wont affect the image/animation at all. I would definately be concerned since they have already alerted you to their intentions of getting lightwave.

It just sounds that they are looking for a quick way to have a model of what they want for a 1 time fee and then have endless use of it.

Look how many commercials that have been made with that gieco gecko. bet the modeller on that gets paid each time a new commercial comes out because it's still his model, but think how much money he's out if he just gave them the model and then they went to someone else to animate it for each commercial or if they did the animations themselves.

as for fees that again depends on how the contract is drawn up. You can get a smaller fee on a per usage basis or get a much larger one time fee. Though the latter would not be in your best interest.

Now bear in mind that I have never done a model professionally for anyone only still learning all this stuff. and model for pleasure at the moment ( it's also relaxing at least for me..) so I would not know how you would price out your model. I would think it depends on the complexity of the model for a base price multiplied by the number of hours/days/weeks/months/years whatever it took for the creation process. It would be best to do some sort of daily modelling fee instead of a flat rate for a model I would think since theres no telling what the difficulty level will be and how long it could take to build and what the client is actually after. Probably if it's for stuff like say a commercial on TV do some research on commercial prices then base the models total fee on say a third of that.

Of course if you've already gone through the contract stuff with the client most of the above is moot now anyway but at least you would have more options to consider in future and can chalk this up as just a learning expirience.

03-31-2005, 10:11 PM
The bid was to produce a series of specific images which requires us to produce several models. The bid specifically lists a description of each model and says we will deliver rendered files in a .psd format. I have verbally agreed to relinquish the rights of these images, but never imagined providing the model as well and it is not included as a deliverable item in the bid.

This says it all really, as far as your obligation is concerned, but business isn't always a matter of obligation, sometimes it's connected to opportunity. In the case of your client, future work may be an important mitigating factor. If there's no opportunity for future work, I'd stick to the deliverables. If there's good prospect for future work, think of this as an investment. By giving into this request you're endearing yourself to the client, you'll be viewed as a good service provider you'll strengthen the relationship all for a nominal cost to you.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that the client understands that you're going that extra mile for him.

04-01-2005, 01:22 AM
What bothers me about this is he wants the models AND is learning Lightwave himself (if I read your post correctly). This sounds like he is unlikely to think about repeat business as he is looking to get to grips with doing this stuff himself.

If your contract is to supply the images, supply that. Of course it stands to reason that you must produce the model - how else are you going to produce the image?
However, and this is the crux, does it cleary state that you should supply the finished model with the image, or just the image?

Certainly you need to charge for the models if it is the latter, even if it is abiguous as I for one would be very wary of producing work where it appears there is a chance that the client would end up utilising my models for their future development.

I'd need a very clear marker in the contract stating this before I'd even consider parting with them.

04-01-2005, 02:46 AM
Also, if he wants to learn LightWave, why is he asking for an OBJ? Why not an LWO?


04-01-2005, 03:58 AM
..yeah - must admit - wondered that myself! :confused:

04-01-2005, 04:13 AM
well the possible reason is that he already has a 3D package that uses that format but clearly was unable to produce the model(s) he needs. Quite possibly he may have gone to one or more of the big model repositories and could not find what he was after with them or their price was outside his expectations. Either way the only real reason to request the model as well would be for future use without future cost to him. Sorta like those wierd forms that tv/movie folks have to sign for the usage of their face. Generally stuff like that give studios permission to use your image anyway they see fit as often as they want. They pay you initially but after that... well..

In any event you will need to let the client know that the model was not agreed to in the original contract either written or verbally and should they still require it then a new contract would have to be drafted for that purpose. At which point you would then get the help of a good contracts lawyer to make sure your not getting screwed over.

04-01-2005, 08:11 AM
When I got married 15 years ago I wanted to find a photographer who would shoot the wedding photos and make his sale of photos to family and friends and then after 6 months sell me the negatives. In the city of Chicago I found not one photographer willing to do this at ANY price! At the time I was a freelance photographer and would not have sold the negatives either.
Today I design buildings as an architect and I never give a client a copy of the CAD drawings. Our contracts state that the the client has full use of the design ONLY for that specific job. He could not legally build the same building again anywhere without paying us a fee.
I would not give up my .obj or .lws files to anyone unless it was in writing as to their use. You can allow the client to use them to learn only or for a specific job or even time frame, or not at all.
Most 3D artist don't realize that until you give up the "source files" you have full control of your work. You are in control. It is entirely YOUR decision what to do with your creation. If you "give" it away you cheapen the value of your work and others in this profession. Ask for a fair fee for your work. Don't let a client convince you that he just "learning" or that he is doing you a favor by giving you the job. I have a lot of client tell me that the project is "easy" so as not to be charged so much.....baloney you are providing them a service that they cannot do....so be confident and ask for what your time is worth. Remember they came to you.

04-01-2005, 10:32 AM
Ya, I meant .lwo, long day. The client clearly wants the object files. If I sell them to him I would expect a lot of phone calls asking how to do this or that and eventually he will want the .lws and surfaces as LightWave is not an overnight learning experience so he probably wants it all.

He says there is a training video to be made with these objects and I think he wants to try making some video for it with his copy of LightWave. This would put us in the position of guiding a first time user in a video production.

Has anyone ever taken on a project like that ???

It seems more like an internship relationship only the work is for his client. I also forgot to mention that his client is under the impression that he is producing the images we are making for him. He wants to be able to make "quick" changes to send .jpg images for his client's approval.

04-01-2005, 10:57 AM
This client is sounding worse and worse! You don't want to give up anything to 'endear' yourself to a client that is trying to cut you out completely, on your dime no less. Even if he does come back to you, he'll expect even more sacrifices from you next time.

This person obviously doesn't know how to be a client, telling you that he deserves things above and beyond any normal contract - even training??? I've heard that one before, it always turns out that the 'client' is a total cheapskate, and also thinks that 3d is just push-button.

I recommend you contract for images only, or an hourly rate for source files, take it or leave it, if he leaves you'll probably be better off.

Steve McRae
04-01-2005, 12:21 PM
it all depends on what you were hired to do

if you were hired to make nice images - then provide the images

if you were hired to make a nice model - then provide the model

i would simply tell them that you don't normally release the models unless they want to pay for them.

04-01-2005, 12:33 PM
Or negotiate that they can license the model and pay you on a per use/per project basis. If they didn't contract you to make the model for them, then you aren't obligated to provide the model. This is essentially going to cut your legs out from under you. You can sell it or license it, though. That's your choice.

It's like a client saying, "I need a nice picture of a house for my brochure." So, you go build a house, then take a picture of it, and the client then asking for the house, too. If they didn't contract you to build the house, then they don't get the house. You can rent the house to them, or you can outright sell the house to them. But if you sell it to them, be sure they won't be buying the house from you again. It's your choice.

Not to mention the fact that they could "reverse engineer" your model if they had it (under license), and still cut your legs out from under you by using their version in thh future, unless you add a provision for that in the contract, too. Welcome to the legal nightmare world of doing business.

04-01-2005, 12:38 PM
I'd have to agree with that. This client is sub contracting out work for his own client and passing it off as part of his own capabilities. Sounds like a guarantee of taking your scene elements and never paying you another dime, while he asks for ongoing support. He has probably learned just enough in LW to know he can do decent work as long as someone else does the modeling. You apparently did good on your original contract so stick to that. If he wants your design elements, you can certainly negotiate a reasonable price you can both agree upon, but it should cost the client pretty dearly. You should also negotiate fees for ongoing support if desired. If he doesn't agree to a reasonable offer, you're better off keeping your works and displaying it in your demo reel as evidence of your skills instead of him showing it off as evidence of his own. Maybe his client could use your work in the future if he doesn't want to pay fair value for it. It's easy to get a little warm and fuzzy with clients when it comes time to charge them. I always try to balance the notion that setting costs and fees for my work is where I decide how happy I'm going to be this month, not just how happy my client is going to be.

04-01-2005, 12:42 PM
Welcome to the legal nightmare world of doing business.

Amen! Welcome! Negotiate without fear....If the client agrees he is worth working for, if not keep walking, plenty of fish in the sea.....

04-01-2005, 12:45 PM
here's what i'd do..if you decided to hand the model over..

if it's a sub d model..freeze it with a nice hi setting then triple it...to get rid of quads...

if it's a normal model..no sub d's then use meta form at a nice hi setting and then triple it..to get rid of quads...

this way he gets "the model" but not in the state you hold it on you hard drive
where you can edit it simply etc.

re the lws file and surfaces..no...don't hand over your fnal version...just a basic lws file that "holds" the object and with only basic surface setttings...no animation or fx's...

this will forfil his demand for the model but will limit it's actual usefulness to him.....

personally i'd be reluctant to hand over a model unless the price inculded the payment for his eclusivity to that model...by the way did you design the model yourself or were you following his plans?....

04-01-2005, 02:20 PM
cresshead - good point......I would NOT hand over the model.....but your "tactics" are similar to the ones I use with CAD.......I create a tif of the CAD drawing and insert it into a blank drawing and give that to the client. You cannot edit the drawing since it is only a "picture" of the drawing and yet I fulfill my contract to provide a CAD file.....It says nowhere in the contract that the file can be edited......legal samantics but valid....I hate doing this but if the client insists.........

04-03-2005, 09:29 AM
I agree with most of you, but i have been doing some freelance work here in the UK, and the guy who gets me the jobs has categorically said "everything you create is yours, under artistic license" Also i'm allowing him to use the images i produce for his company to promote his company for 3d modelling, but when it comes to rights, they are all mine.

By the way, i have just done some architectural visualisation for my local council, and they didn't ask for objects. and if they did, i would have definitely charged for them.

Sounds like the guy you're doing work for has been asked to do some work that he is purely and simply not capable of... therefore offloaded it when he got into a big heap of doo doo. Not only does he want the images that he allegedly has produced, but wants to be able to replicate your work with your models, so he can impress other people too.

Buying the rights to your model could also mean that you are unable to do anything more with it too. I'm no legal guru, but imagine if the original company this guy is working for came to you instead (just out of chance) and asked for a better render of exactly the same building... you'd be buggered because he'd own the model. (very unlikely to be honest, but sure there are other examples).

04-03-2005, 01:53 PM
Well the smart thing is not to release the model you lose your rights to it then. However It would still be a good idea to get a lawyer involved in this one have him write up a contract that states exactly what the future purpose(s) of the model are and what you can do etc and what they can do. Make it so that it can NOT be subcontracted out without your approval and that all parties involved in the usage of the model are cleared by you first. This way if he is trying to pass your work off as his own to someone else it will stop him in his tracks. You would then be in a position to pick up a new client as well.