How to manage endless revisions/excessive client requests

Most of the time and especially while freelancing, clients will not have enough knowledge of CG or VFX production. (The same applies for composers, sound effects artists, video editors, compositors…) That is why they want your help after all. However, they may think that these kind of creative works are easily and quickly done. Some even imagine most things happen with just the click of a button.

What to do at the start of a project

Ask a lot of questions, gather as much detail as you can from the client. Do they have any references, how long should the render be, what is the FPS, resolution, what is the main goal, who is the target audience, when is the deadline…

You should also teach them about your job. I don’t mean teaching them the parameters in your particle simulation but educate them on how the process works, how a high resolution render takes time or how long finalizing a high poly model takes. Basically show them what they should expect from you.

Essentially you need to be very transparent with what you do and make sure that the client also knows what to expect from you. That is the reason why while freelancing, I find it more difficult to work with clients that do not know anything about VFX or CG. Or when in-house, if my supervisor does not educate the client about the process, the job may become a non-ending work.

If you have effective communication and thorough to do lists with plausible deadlines then I assure you there will be less work to be done. The project will end faster and you’ll deliver a much better product. Therefore that will lead the customer to appreciate what you do and get back to you for another project.

Thus be very specific about what you deliver whoever you are delivering it to whether it is a client, lead, supervisor, director or boss…

Revisions

There is no running away from revisions or doing a revision free work. After all, the client can change their mind, add some other/new stuff or revert back to older versions.

Just like explaining the process, when you deliver your work to the customer, again be very specific with what you did. Tell them that the version you just sent is not final and that they’ll see improvements on some specific stuff. For example, if your shot contains a smoke simulation but to save time you lowered your sim quality, you should tell that to them. If you explain your shot accordingly, you’ll get less revisions and more precise feedbacks.

If you made a contract (which you definitely should but may not be able to sometimes) try to set a certain number for revisions. This’ll make the client think a lot more on their feedbacks and they’ll give more thorough requests. In addition, add that any additional revisions over the set number will cost extra. You can also classify the revision rounds like first two or three revisions to be for bigger changes but the last few for tiny edits.

Lastly don’t confuse revisions with extra work. Sometimes a client might ask for something entirely different from what you are working on. When that kind of a request is outside the boundaries of your contract either say “no” to the client or again charge extra, maybe even make a new contract.

Take Away

  • Act, behave and manage your work like a businessman instead of an artist.
  • Do not let the client or yourself to breach the contract you agreed upon at first. If they are asking for little free revisions from you, and you do just one of them, those will surely continue.
  • Stand by your contract, don’t feel bad to tell them (again) that you charge extra for additional revisions.
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid to say “no” to the client, remember losing a potential job is better than working on a non-ending slave labor project.

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Berk Erdag

Berk Erdag

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VFX artist writing about mostly the business side and a bit about the artistic side and some technical experiments of the VFX and CG Sector.