What is an animation contract?
An animation contract is the formal written agreement between an animation agency or freelancer and their client that discusses the scope of the project and the boundaries of their working relationship.
All freelancers and providers of animation services should have their own animation contract template to ensure that their rights are protected when working with a new client. The easiest way to do this is by creating and using an animation contract template. Both parties should review and sign this document in writing to constitute the start of the work agreement.
Note: We’ve done the hard work of looking over thousands of animation contracts, so we know what should be included. Create and edit your own animation contract template here for free!
What to include in the animation contract
Your animation contract should cover the basics of the working relationship, such as the work scope, the roles of all involved stakeholders, copyright ownership, the management of confidential information, and how any disputes will be addressed. Getting the contract signed means it’s in full force. The contract is a legal document to reference and use when one or more parties are not upholding their end of the bargain, so the contract terms are essential.
The scope of work
All involved parties should agree on the services required. Specificity is critical in all contracts between freelancers and their clients. Without specificity, terms are left up to interpretation. If a specific service is included, such as a kickoff call or mockup, that should be listed in this section of the contract.
Details on the work scope to be incorporated into a final animation contract include:
- The name of the contractor and the company owner or client
- Payment terms, including deposits or final payment requirements
- Milestone and deadline dates, including target project completion
- How revisions will be handled
- What, if anything, the client agrees to provide (like logos, color palettes, or other collateral)
- What items are not included in the scope of work
- A termination clause which details what is required for either party to end the contract
Payment terms are some of the most important aspects of any animation contract. A freelancer’s business can suffer if a client doesn’t pay on time. The right terms increase a freelancer’s likelihood of being paid the total amount owed on time. Some additional payment issues to evaluate are:
- Fees for late payments
- An hourly rate for other time spent or additional fees for other work requested by the client outside the scope of the contract
- Explanations of full payment and the milestones it’s broken into, such as monthly payments or a series of milestones to be released to the freelancer
- How payment must be made, such as through ACH or credit card
Milestone and deadline dates
Details around milestones and deadline dates are vital. A client might have a specific launch date intended for their final animation and a freelancer should do everything in their power to make sure their efforts align with this day. Remember that adding deadline dates could put you in the position of breach of contract if you don’t meet these deadlines, so take these seriously.
Deadlines and milestones are also important for payment purposes. For example, you might include a clause that says you will be unable to begin on the second draft of an animation until the milestone payment for the first draft has been approved and released to you. This protects a freelancer’s boundaries and increases their chances of being paid on time.
How revisions will be handled
Revisions are a big gray area for many freelancers, but being specific upfront will limit arguments and frustration for both parties. It’s reasonable for animation contract clients to expect the chance to provide feedback and to have their edits incorporated. At the same time, it’s not a good idea to offer unlimited revisions.
Most animation freelancers will offer 2-3 rounds of revisions maximum to ensure a clear endpoint for the working relationship. If the client requests further edits, make sure the price is updated to reflect that.
What the client agrees to provide
The freelancer can be blocked from completing their work if they don’t get the support, files, or revisions needed from the client. Therefore, it’s helpful to call out what the client must provide for the freelancer to deliver.
What services are not included
Ambiguity causes problems in contracts, especially when the client misunderstood what “completed work” means. Perhaps custom files, promotion of the finished product, or unique animations are not included in the freelancer’s package. If a client gets confused, it’s helpful to refer back to this as a very clear indication of those services sitting outside of the existing contract’s scope.
A termination clause
A termination clause allows either party to end the working relationship because of unforeseen circumstances, an inability to come to terms or agreement with a client, or some other reason. A termination clause might require written notice of 30 days, for example.
For freelancers, it’s vital to read between the lines of any template or client-provided contract to determine what the agreement constitutes or doesn’t. Most work-for-hire agreements, for example, make it very clear the client is not the employer of the independent contractor.
An independent contractor clause confirms the relationship between the client and the freelancer and also provides the freelancer with a reference point if the client tries to alter the relationship once the project starts.
Legally, freelancers cannot be treated like employees and paid like freelancers, so it’s worth calling out the independent contractor/client relationship within your contract.
Animators put a lot of hard work into their finished product, but copyright typically belongs to the client. If an animation freelancer wants to be able to include a portion or the finished product in their portfolio as an example of services performed, this should be listed in the animation contract.
If the freelancer will own the work and is instead licensing the right to use it to the client, it’s very important the client agrees by signing the document in full and possibly even initialing that section of the contract.
Confidential information details
Freelancers might learn confidential information about a company’s proprietary process or product in the course of creating an animation. The company might want peace of mind that you won’t disclose this confidential data.
How disputes will be handled
In the case of a dispute arising between an animation freelancer and their client, it’s a good idea to have the terms of dispute resolution addressed in advance. A standard contract template, for example, might stipulate that the parties agree to resolve things in arbitration or in small claims court in the city and state where the freelancer lives.
In addition to addressing dispute management, clauses stating who will be responsible for legal costs incurred for one party to resolve the issue should be included.
How to write an animation contract
The good news: you don’t have to start from scratch when creating an animation contract. Whether this is the first time you’ve quoted animation services or whether you’re looking for an animation contract template you can use all the time, we have a template that includes all the most important elements of animation and other services you might provide.
Start by finding out what the client wants and use that information to create custom proposal materials. Once the proposal is approved, this information can be copied into your animation contract.
Find out exactly what the client wants
Your conversation and discovery call with the client is your opportunity to determine what they need. During a sales or discovery call, ask them about their end goals.
Remember that not all clients will be familiar with the work that goes into a completed piece of animation, so this is your chance to adjust their expectations within their budget and timeline, if necessary. You don’t need to determine on the call exactly what the client needs, but take good notes that you can return to after the fact as you create your animation proposal.
Ask questions of the client during this discovery call such as:
- Where will you use this completed animation?
- How long would you like the animation?
- What other animations do you like?
- Who will voice over this animation? Has that person already been hired?
- Are there any design elements you don’t want to use or styles you don’t like?
- Are there any third-party materials you want incorporated into the animation?
Use the answers to these questions to create a custom proposal for the client.
Highlight what sets you apart
During your initial conversation with the client, get to know what’s most important to them, not just in terms of final product, but working relationship. You will use that information to begin creating a custom proposal and contract. This is especially important when you’re not the only agency or freelancer the client is speaking with because you need to create a proposal that stands out from the crowd.
Here are some ways that you might set yourself apart:
- Custom animation designs
- Ability to deliver quickly
- Providing several options to the client to review in a first draft
- Previous work performed for brand name clients
- Awards you’ve received for animation work
- Repeat business or great feedback from other clients
Creating an animation contract is simple with Bonsai
When using the Bonsai animation contract template, the most important elements of your agreement are already loaded in. You can simply use the contract template as a base for each client, making adjustments as necessary.
With our professional contract, you get the confidence of knowing that you have protected your work and your right to be paid while also presenting a professional image to the client.
Animation contract FAQs
What if the other party wants to alter the contract?
If you create and use your own animation contract template, there might come a time when a client asks to add or remove elements. As a freelancer, it’s recommended that you tread carefully in these situations as you could be impacting your rights. In the case of a big project with substantial changes in your animation contract template, a business lawyer’s review is valuable.
What is a breach of contract?
Breach of contract is a term used to describe when one or more parties have failed to provide the services outlined in the contract. For example, if the client was obligated to review the final deliverables within two months of submission but has failed to do so, the freelancer could allege that the client is in breach of contract. A breach of contract can lead to legal action, which is why the wording of any animation contract is so important.