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Getting image approval from celebrities is hard

Preface: This is a post that I wrote for for the globaledit blog. 

Talent Approval is an essential component of the media and entertainment industry. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, let me give you some background. If you’re producing a TV show, movie, or even YouTube show, you probably want recognizable people to appear in your production. One of the common bargaining chips used when negotiating a contract for a celebrity is the right for the talent to approve or kill images they like or dislike respectively.

This celebrity sign-off typically takes one of two forms:

  • Talent Approvals – Talent has the right to approve any image of theirs used (within some boundaries.)
  • Talent ‘Kills’ – This is the right for a celebrity to reject some percentage of the images of them.

For simplicity, I’m going to focus on ‘Kill’ rights but the exact same logic applies to approval galleries.

By giving your talent the right to reject images, you’re adding a significant speed bump to your creative process. You are effectively allowing someone to put a pause button in your creative process.  Before you invest in marking up and retouching images, you need to first get their approval and this is harder than it sounds. If you don’t get the approval, your work might be wasted or even worse – it could lead to contract compliance problems.

Second, how do you enforce your contract terms? For example, talent might have the right to kill 60% of their images. What if they email you and tell you they are ALL rejected?

There is also a latent third problem. How do you prove that a talent approved a photo? If they come back in 6 months when the publicity photos are released don’t like an image, how do you defend your operation?

Now, imagine that you have multiple celebrities in your project, all with different terms, and several different sets of publicity photos. All of the sudden, getting talent approval doesn’t seem as easy as it first did.

HOW GLOBALEDIT TACKLES THE PROBLEM
Talent Approval is a common use of our platform (watch this short video to learn how we do it). I’ve had the luxury of seeing how multiple production companies, development labs, and agencies tackle this problem. This has helped us for our best-in-class approval workflow. To simplify this discussion, I’ve broken down the process of creating an efficient Talent Approval machine.

ENFORCING THE CONTRACT
Let’s say that Jean-Claude Van Damme has a contract that allows him to kill 50% of the images we present to him. His agent and your company have agreed to the terms and now you have the first round of unretouched publicity photos for him to review.

To easily enforce the agreement, I setup a ‘Kill’ Gallery in globaledit.

A ‘Kill’ Gallery is like a specialized lightbox. It allows you to take a group of images and set an approve/kill ratio. Once the kill ratio has been set (at say 50%), the recipient is only allowed to kill UP TO 50% of the images. They cannot select more than half of the images in the gallery.

This makes the decision clear and forces the correct number of assets to be selected in the process.

GETTING IMAGES IN THEIR HANDS

Tracking down Jean-Claude and getting a contact sheet in his hand with a red pen is challenging. You could always FedEx images and hope they get to the right place and are sent back in a timely fashion. Alternatively, you could email him the images but then you have a problem if he responds ambiguously like “Kill the first and third one” instead of “Kill photo2345.JPG and photo2315.JPG”.

The better way to do this is to send the gallery to Mr. Van Damme or his publicist. By sending them the approval gallery – all they need is a computer or a smartphone to get to work.

When the gallery is sent to a mobile phone, a thumbnail list of images is displayed. He can then tap on images to kill them and a running counter shows how many images are remaining before he reaches his quota.

When Jean-Claude is done looking with the gallery, his decisions are recorded and the process is complete. You know unambiguously which photos were rejected, you know you are compliant with your contract, and you have the list of ‘killed’ images instantly.
CENTRALIZE DECISION LIST
Since we used a gallery to get the list of images to ‘kill’, we always know which images were rejected. These ‘kill’ (or approve) decisions live with the metadata in globaledit. This means that your retouchers, if they are using the globaledit platform, will never accidentally work on the wrong image.

AUDIT
Lastly, all of these ‘kill’ or approve decisions are stored in our database. Among many other things, we keep track of:

  1. who sent the ‘kill’ gallery
  2. which images were ‘killed’
  3. who ‘killed’ them and when

This provides you a traceable record of a photograph from the time it was taken to the finished image. Each step of the process generates notes in our asset notes log. Hopefully you never have a dispute with talent but if it happens, you have a strong record of the approval.


PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

By using the globaledit platform, we simplify and clarify the process with talent representatives, ensure talent approval rights compliance, and give you the tools to audit the entire process. While doing all of this, we speed up the creative flow by both instantly sending approval requests and giving you instant feedback. For your talent, we make it as simple as using Facebook.

The key to the process is our Approval Galleries. They are a purpose-built mechanism to capture approvals or ‘kill’ decisions. All of the talent input is recorded in the database and lives with the asset alongside the previews, markups, and high res images.

Credit: Image from Flickr user Gnaphron, used under Creative Commons. Modifications: Cropping and color.

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