On Attribution

An incident yesterday has prompted me to write on attribution and credit again. To review, I wrote this at Motionographer a few years back: Credit Where Credit Is Due. Nothing has changed. I merely want to remind all artists who work in Motion Design, Animation and VFX that proper attribution and credit is absolutely required when posting your work online. It is not optional. It is not recommended. It is not a ‘best practice’ or a suggestion. It is the bare minimum of representing accurately your work as a professional artist, designer, producer, modeler or rigger.

When you work as an artist (on staff or freelance) you have the right to post your work done through various production companies on you own portfolio site. You should all be doing this. Don’t wait for the companies you work for to sing your praises. You’ve got to do it yourself. Put your work out there. Share it. Blog it. Send it around and get it noticed.

But you’ve got one obligation to all the companies that employ you and keep you in beer and your rent paid. Give them the credit they deserve as well. When a company produces a spot, the sometimes invisible work of actually landing the job, managing a client, shepherding the work through production and actually you know, producing the job is lost. After all what’s more sexy to all of us motion designers: nice colors, groovy shapes, ultra-smooth keyframes and popping type – OR – spreadsheets, bid forms, calendars, phonecalls, emails, conference calls and notes, revisions and suggestions for improving and finishing the work? (As an independent designer and a one-man-shop I’m learning more and more that all the unsexy stuff matters. It matters a lot.)

So when you post the work ON YOUR OWN site, make sure you’re properly attributing the production company that hired you to make those sexy keyframes and giving both yourself and all the other artists proper credit. Don’t take credit for Art Direction if you were the animator and don’t take credit for Concept if you designed the type.

This still goes both ways. Production companies and studios should absolutely post the credits and roles of folks who helped them create their work. I’ve seen a lot more movement towards this as standard in the past few years. Some notable studios still omit any names beyond the company moniker and perhaps a Creative Director role, though. And that’s still pretty disappointing.

And the incident that prompted this? It’s pretty simple: don’t let your work go up on a third-party’s site without attribution or credit. If you are an artist, you can post your work in order to get more gigs on your own site with the proper attribution and credit to all those production companies, Creative Directors, Producers illustrators, designers, animators and sound designers who worked on the spots with you. But you absolutely can’t let someone else put that spot up publicly as if it’s their own work without credit and attribution.

So hopefully, lessons learned. And hopefully the parties involved are all working it out together behind the scenes.

And I apologize for heading up the witch-hunt without all the facts. It’s not really a role I want. I’m not the design police and I’m not a lawyer. But as a vocal member of our community I sometimes get tipped off or discover stuff that just doesn’t seem or feel right. When that happens, I’m not scared to call it as I see it. But I think I also have to realize that I’m not in charge, and the folks involved really need to talk to each other and not have their dirty laundry aired out in public. So I’m sorry for that.

Keep your work on your own site w/ credits, attribution and links. Problems solved.

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One comment

  1. I’ve never had a problem giving credit to the production companies. It didn’t take long for me to figuire out that was fair dealing.

    What’s disturbing is how studios/firms will go after you with a vengeance, yet they don’t see a mutual need to credit you. This phenomenon should be discussed further IMHO. Because it’s happening alot. Lots of whining from studios about even using work that’s already been released. But then when it comes time for them to credit others…crickets. I want to know why that’s not a double standard. Please. Enlighten me.

    The hypocrisy is alarming. I think the studios need to be called out on this double standard, hypocritical practice. Or they should shut up and stop trying to bully artists into not having a reel. Or am I wrong? Maybe studios do have the right to silence artists but claim credit only for themselves?


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