Types of Briefs
In the media industry there are a number of different briefs which are distributed from the client the contractor/ employee. This report is to expand upon the various briefs and the principles behind them. There are eight types of briefs, such as:
- The Contractual brief which a legally enforceable document between the client and the employee that is created by the parties involved. The brief will demand both sides to uphold their part in the contract or one or both could face litigation.
- The Formal brief has been written specifically with carefully chosen language and detailed information, in accordance with strict legal guidelines though they are not always legally enforceable.
- The Informal brief is where the client and employee have a meeting, typically quite lax and without much protocol. The brief can then be discussed and have a discussion instead of sending emails back and forth or being in a boardroom.
- The Negotiated brief will be “negotiated” between the client and the employee, often times talking through the production theme, budget or deadlines until both parties are satisfied with the terms.
- The Commission brief focuses on the specification of the cost of production, first estimated by the client and then decided upon the employee.
- The Tender brief is where the cost and budget of production is estimated by the clients. Similarly to a Commission, the employee will then choose from offers.
- The Co-Operative brief is shared to everyone who is working on the project, some of which that could be in charge of a different section of the project.
- The Competition brief is typically open to the public or employees, where it will tell the participants what their project or task is. There may also be a prize.
The Importance Of Writing A Brief
To a client a brief is essential to successfully communicate what they want the employee to accomplish. Without a brief it would be hard without a proper meeting or a series of emails which would take time and/ or resources when a brief clearly sets out what the employee is required to do, what timescale they have to do it in, possible costs, budget and style the client will want. Though revisions are sometimes made, it also enables the employee to clearly see if they are completing the brief and/ or if they even should agree to it in the first place.
Principles Behind a Good Brief
Writing a good brief is imperative to it being understood. For this, it needs a number of things included in its creation like:
- A clear structure will allow for little confusion to who is reading it. It can also save time with unnecessary questions or with possible future amendments. Structuring the brief well should also help the person writing it as it would allow for them to easily see what they have already written and what they haven’t.
- An objective brief allows for a clear delivery of facts without any bias included. The brief should be impartial and simple serve its purpose of a proposition to the employee.
- The deadline. Of course the deadline should always be included to avoid any confusion over the timescale with the employee. It will aid in planning for the employee, both in terms of preproduction or/ and booking things like locations. Having a deadline that conflicts with other projects or a pre-existing event could also enable an employee to – at an early stage – be able to tell if they will be capable of fulfilling the the project to the deadline.
- Budget can be very important if, for example the brief is to design and make a dress and although silk has been provided the employee runs out. With a budget to work with, it is a simple case of spending that to buy more silk to finish the dress in a timely fashion without having to worry about out of pocket expenses. It could also tell the employee how large the project is going to be.
Elements of a Brief
- Company description however brief can aid the employee in knowing who they are working for. For example, knowing they are working for Nintendo straight away gives them an idea of that company’s particular demographic, previous work and a good plan of how to successfully fulfil the brief.
- Summarisation can allow the employee to get a quick grasp on what is being asked of them.
- Target audience will enable the employee to properly make and market the project. If the target audience is eighteen plus than creating a remake for the Teletubbies is bound to fail.
- Competition in any industry can be hard to combat, especially if they do not know who they are running against. Knowing is half the battle won, for example Apple will probably do a lot of research on Samsung and what type of product the sale and who their demographic is. Knowing this, they can keep an eye on release dates for one so a new iPhone and Android phone are not brought out too close together.
- Tone (style or theme) will allow for creativity not to be hindered or for last minute changes to occur. By the client outrightly saying “though it is marked as a comedy, the tone is very dark and there will be a twist ending” they avoid the employee from making a wrong executive decision because they didn’t know, and have them make a satire instead.
Changes that can Occur in a Brief
Briefs can be sent out or given/ written up in a face-to-face meeting. However, even than changes in a brief can happen. Revisions or amendments that the client or even the employee will ask for if they feel like they can no longer work to the set brief. For example, the client has asked for a mini web series to be made based around real life characters only for their girlfriend to break up with them. The client no longer wants the character his girlfriend inspired to be included but needs another as a replacement. The client will have to get into contact with the employee to see if that change can be made.
For the employee, they could have been walking home one night and his laptop with all his design work for the client could be taken. Without a back up the only thing they can do is ask if they can have an extension. Or, if the employee was making a wedding cake an realised the middle part needed another pillar in order to stabilise it and needed to then contact the client to see if they were alright with the extra cost.
Example of a Brief
In this brief I will look at a real example of a contractual brief between a company and a creator. Here, I will go through elements o this contract.
“Author declares that he is the sole inventor of the object of the Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the “Item” for short). Furthermore, he declares that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, he has sole disposal over the copyright therein and with regard to all pertinent contents, including the game system with the instructions to the same as well as the design of all parts of the Item as conceived and/or drawn by them. He further declares that he has not yet granted any third parties any rights to exploit the Item in the territory defined in Appendix A, or that any previous such grant to any third parties has now definitively expired.”
– Extract from the contractual brief, Clause 1.1
To start, the “Author” that they – person or company – are solely responsible for the creation of the “object”. Meaning the author could not give parts of the project to subsidiaries or third parties. If this was a single developer this could put a strain on the development stages or deadlines if something went wrong.
The other part of this clause is that the Author has agreed that they haven’t used any third party proprieties or copyrighted materials. The “to the best of his knowledge and belief” allows for some protection if a false copy right claim was made and the Publisher is sued. Whoever it can also be used against the Author if the third party wins the copyright and can lead the Publisher to chase after the Author for any loss they have suffered.
“Author grants to Publisher the exclusive right to produce, publish and sell the Item. This right shall apply to all versions and editions for the countries and/or languages listed in Appendix A.”
-Extract from the contractual brief, Clause 2.1
Here, the Author is giving the Publisher completely exclusivity to be able to make, release and sell the object. Having this apply to all versions and editions to all countries and languages is signing a lot away and could keep the Author from making any additional monies. Though it is good for the Publisher since it gives them a lot of control though if the first game release does badly this could be a useless part of the contract that could have cost them more money otherwise. (Even if it does stop another company from repackaging and reselling it again, some years later).
“Publisher shall be liable for any third-party loss or damage due to defects in the Item that are attributable to development, production or quality of materials.”
-Extract from the contractual brief, Clause 3.2
This clause protects the Author from any damage done to the object done to the item in the production stage. Something the Publisher is in charge of, has full control of and should take full responsibility for anyway.
“For the best possible realization of the said rights of exploitation, Publisher shall be free to choose an appropriate title, design, presentation and components of the Item. Publisher shall advise to Author thereof in good time, however, and give due consideration to his suggestions.”
-Extract from the contractual brief, Clause 4.1
Giving the Publisher control of design components for marketing could go very wrong since the Author should know the object the best. However with the “rights of exploitation” (which refers back to Clauses 2: Rights of Exploitation” in which the Publisher has exclusive rights including:
“The commercial exploitation of large-scale games, the publishing rights for books, newspapers, magazines and periodicals; theatre rights, music rights, film rights, TV rights, video rights, CD/CDI/CD-ROM rights, audio and radio play rights, software rights, versions for the Internet, merchandising rights etc. These include production, distribution and, where appropriate, public demonstration thereof.
Publisher shall notify the Author of any exercise of subsidiary rights and conclude with him a collateral agreement on remuneration in each such case.”
-Extract from the contractual brief, Clause 2.2
In this case, with such a large scale of releases which include into other countries and languages it is probably best for all parties involved if, due to that and ethical and legal reasons, that the Publish is in charge of 4.1.
“Publisher shall pay to Author a royalty as a percentage of the net sales of the Item.”
-Extract from the contractual brief, Clause 5.1
Royalties. Having a percentage of the net sales instead of simply getting paid for the work done can lead to for a larger amount earned. However, it is dependant on how well the object sells. If the object flops, the Author may not even get a return.
Working to a Brief
To accurately follow a brief knowing the client well is imperative to my understanding of who I am working for, and how this could impact my product or working relationship with them. For my 3D modelling and animation task, I am creating my project for “Zenna Games” who:
“is a new independent game production company; who have released a range of successful titles in a short space of time. The company is growing very well and would like to diversify into other game genres. They would like to venture into the mobile and tablet market as there has been an increase in their popularity over the years. Zenna games would like to be part of this market and is open to ideas from potential designers and developers to come up with a killer and innovative game concept and prototype.
Zenna Games is therefore looking to employ a new member of their team;the successful candidate will be the lead for the successful game concept to further develop once they join the company.”
– Extract from the client brief
I will pick apart the client brief I have been given for my two units while looking at my SWOT analysis and explaining how I will create my project in relation to both my SWOT and the client brief.
Starting at the beginning. The client brief’s description I have come to understand that an indie company (Zenna Games) has had recent growth and wants to try and branch into a new market: the tablet and mobile market (a market which one study has shown to have a 37% audience of people between the ages of 6-64 years old; quite a large percentage to play around with.) To this end Zenna Games has released a competition brief calling for people to come up with a game concept to continue to develop if they gain employment.
I came to this conclusion through simple reading skills and observational skills I developed from taking Business Studies and Media for GCSE’s. Though I have dyslexia I am more than capable of reading briefs/ tasks given to me.
To gain employment there are then a list of requirements I – as one of the applicants – must fulfil in order to “win”. Such as:
- Come up with the story, idea/ concept and mechanics for the game
- Plan and model for at least six items. (items to be modelled).
- Prepare the necessary documentation (see separate sheet for details).
- Discuss the ideas with us (one to one)”
– Extract from the client brief.
The first thing that is required of me is to come up with an idea that needs to be flexible enough in order to fit Zenna Games’ previous criteria. So a game that would be able to run on either/ or both a tablet and mobile requiring it to be low polygon/ framerate in order to render properly so there would be no lag or glitches that would affect gameplay.
I know these problems from last year on this course though I realise without I wouldn’t understand where to set the perimeters of what would be possible for animation/ gameplay and what wouldn’t be. But since I have fortunate enough to have free time due to being in education, I would be able to learn regardless from sources online.
Continuing on, the game also need to be simple (simple, because people play app games on the go with a larger percentage of the audience being female. Some of which, who would not call themselves a gamer or who have interest in “core”/ “hardcore” games.) to keep audience attention but engaging enough that they would keep it up again and keep playing.
To answer this I come up with a simple point and click which leaves animation to the few cutscenes it has. I have decided on a crime, story-mode puzzle game with a ski-fi theme that fits into a running storyline that has a strong narrative.
Figuring this out wasn’t especially hard with being able to draw things out until they looked right and being creatively wired, in order to work out what would be best for a market. Knowing the best audience to cater for was discovered through simple research that I have improved at through my work with my GCSE’s.
The preproduction for these steps has been completed with a storyboard of an opening cutscene which would introduce the player to the storyline without having to beat them over the head with the world’s continuity or characters.
I managed to get the preproduction done by its separate deadline in spite of my poor time management (often times due to my dyspraxia).
Other considerations are modelling as I need to have modelled at least 6 objects which is easily beaten with how much I will have to do. There is there is the two separate environments, one which is very different to each other being modern and in relatively good shape while the other is a crime scene in the slums. Then I have about six characters to model and rig in order to animate. These are things I thought about and made notes on, in accordance with the brief.
Planning is not something I am inherently good at as I prefer to jump into things. Some cases I will write ideas out but not to the detail I have for this project and have found it did indeed help to work out the kinks I was struggling through.
Next, are things I will have to do in the upcoming months in order to bring my part of the brief to completion. Such as:
- Plan, design, model and animate at least 2 items to be used in the game
- You can incorporate characters within the environment (2 minimum) otherwise a bank of two character animations can be created and presented separately.
- Characters and or objects need to be animated and seem part of the scene.
- Demonstrate a breath of modelling techniques and styles.
- Various animation techniques and styles should also be explored.
- You can incorporate your assets into a game engine (optional).
- The use of copyrighted material is prohibited and items such as textures and materials must be original.
- Royalty free items are permissible but credit or reference should be given if used.”
– Extract from the client brief.
For the next part of the client brief I will have to model characters and environments, incorporate them with each other, rig the characters and use a variation of animation techniques and styles in order to finish the brief all the while avoiding copyrighted material.
In order to do this I must complete the designs for my characters, make character reference sheets and begin to model. When it comes to actual modelling I need to make vast improvements to my own skill in using 3D software and learn how to animate as I haven’t clue. I will need to employ time management skills I haven’t got and use any and all free time I have in order to create what is needed from me and upload by the due date.