A workprint is a rough version of a motion picture, used by the film editor(s) during the editing process. Such copies generally contain original recorded sound that will later be re-dubbed, stock footage as placeholders for missing shots or special effects, and animation tests for in-production animated shots or sequences.[1][2][3][4]

For most of the first century of filmmaking, workprints were done using second-generation prints from the original camera negatives. After the editor and director approved of the final edit of the workprint, the same edits were made to the negative. With the conversion to digital editing, workprints are now generally created on a non-linear editing system using telecined footage from the original film or video sources (in contrast to a pirate "telecine", which is made with a much higher-generation film print). Occasionally, early digital workprints of films have been bootlegged and made available on the Internet.[4][5][6] They sometimes appear months in advance of an official release.[7]

There are also director's cut versions of films that are only available on bootleg; for example, the workprint version of Richard Williams' The Thief and the Cobbler.[8] Although movie studios generally do not make full-length workprints readily available to the public, there are exceptions; examples include the "Work-In-Progress" version of Beauty and the Beast, and the Denver/Dallas pre-release version of Blade Runner. Deleted scenes or bonus footage included on DVD releases are sometimes left in workprint format as well, e.g. the Scrubs DVD extras.[9] A workprint as source for a leaked television show is rather unusual, but it happened with the third season's first episode of Homeland a month before it aired.[10][11]

See also

  • Hulk – Appeared on the internet two weeks before the film opening.[12][13][14]
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – Appeared on the web around the release.[3][12] The Simpsons episode "Steal This Episode" referenced this important event in file-sharing history.[15]
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Available on the web before the premiere.
  • Apocalypse Now – A 330-minute-long workprint circulates amongst collectors on the internet
  • This Is Spinal Tap - A 270-minute-long workprint exists (3 times the final film's length).
  • Vampires Suck – Appeared on the web around a month prior to the film's theatrical release.[16]
  • Grizzly II: The Predator – This 1984 film, featuring George Clooney, Charlie Sheen, Louise Fletcher, John Rhys-Davies, and Laura Dern, has never officially been completed or released, and only the workprint survives.
  • Homeland – "Tin Man Is Down", the first episode of the third season leaked a month before airing. It being an unfinished version is rather unusual for a TV show.[17]
  • Doctor Who – Workprints of the first five episodes of series 8 were leaked online months in advance of their premieres. These versions were in black and white, were watermarked, and lacked the computer-generated effects seen in the final releases. Producer Steven Moffat publicly condemned the leaks, and urged fans to avoid watching the leaked episodes until they properly aired on TV.


  1. Christopher George. "What are the different types of Piracy?". Archived from the original on 2012-03-01.
  2. "VCDQuality: Terms". Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Lists recent video releases in the warez scene.
  3. Craig, Paul; Ron, Mark (April 2005). "Chapter 8: The Piracy Scene". In Burnett, Mark (ed.). Software Piracy Exposed – Secrets from the Dark Side Revealed. Publisher: Andrew Williams, Page Layout and Art: Patricia Lupien, Acquisitions Editor: Jaime Quigley, Copy Editor: Judy Eby, Technical Editor: Mark Burnett, Indexer: Nara Wood, Cover Designer: Michael Kavish. United States of America: Syngress Publishing. pp. 164–165. doi:10.1016/B978-193226698-6/50033-7. ISBN 1-932266-98-4. Lay summary. Workprints are unfinished, pre-production materials that often lack scenes and additional sounds. They are of higher quality than CAM movies, and usually contain a ticker somewhere in the picture. (PIRACY FACT... A ticker is a small clock that shows the current frame that is running. It is usually used for reference purposes by directors and animators.) Workprints are usually leaked from production houses. Most recently, a StarWars Episode 3 workprint was released hours before the first official screening. The workprint was of relatively high quality because it originated from a DVD; however, it had two tickers at the top of every frame. (See Figure 8.1.) Workprints are rare, and only a highly anticipated film's workprints are released by pirates. The majority of watchers are only interested in watching the final product.
  4. Duke, Alan (2009-04-03). "'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' leaked to Web". CNN. Retrieved 2010-02-21. It was without many effects, had missing and unedited scenes and temporary sound and music," the studio said. [...] He said the movie is a rough cut, using placeholder images in many sections and special effects that look like "video games 12 years ago.
  5. "New Wolverine film leaked online". BBC News Online. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  6. "VCD Guidelines". Workprint: This category represents movies that were taken usually from VHS tape. If the source is as good as first generation VHS demo tape with GOOD encoding, it should be labeled Screener. All other home-made VCDs must be labeled Workprint. If you know your copy is not complete, use this label. (missing scenes, missing audio tracks, additional scenes, alternate ending etc.) VCD standards set by the warez scene.
  7. Andy (2014-01-03). "Good 'Pirate' Reviews More Important Than Piracy Itself, Game Devs Say". TorrentFreak.
  8. Williams, Alex (March 1997). "The Thief And The Cobbler". Animation World Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  9. Practice, Practice, Malpractice – Scrubs outtakes (DVD). Buena Vista Home Entertainment. 2005-11-15.
  10. Ernesto (2013-09-02). "Homeland Season 3 Workprint Leaks a Month in Advance". TorrentFreak.
  11. "Homeland series 3 opener leaked online". BBC. 2013-09-03.
  12. Respers, Lisa (2009-05-02). "In digital age, can movie piracy be stopped?". CNN. Retrieved 2010-02-21. In 2003, a version of Universal's "The Hulk" appeared on the Internet two weeks before the film opened. A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to the theft. And in 2005, a pirated print of "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith" was uploaded to the Web within hours of the movie's release.
  13. "The.Hulk.WORKPRINT-SMF". 2003-06-06. Retrieved 2010-02-21. Had to crop and throw some black bars over the indicative parts. All I can say is you wouldn't like SMF when they're angry! Enjoy a 2-week pre. and die slow all you puny banners! HULK SMASH!!!
  14. Jeff Howe (2005-01-01). "The Shadow Internet". Wired.
  15. Andy (2014-01-06). "The Simpsons Cleverly Cover The Pirate Bay & Anti-Piracy Enforcement". TorrentFreak.
  16. Ernesto (2010-08-17). "Fox Drives a Stake Through 'Vampires Suck' Workprint". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
  17. Ernesto (2013-09-02). "Homeland Season 3 Workprint Leaks a Month in Advance". TorrentFreak.

Further reading

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