How much should I charge for color correcting a 2 hour movie? at

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Old June 23rd, 2009, 02:27 PM   #1
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How much should I charge for color correcting a 2 hour movie?

I've been asked to quote someone a price range and a time length for color grading a 2 hour feature film. What would you all give for a ballpark estimate of price and time for such a job? Would you do it by hour, by day, week? I have no idea what the going rate is or how long it would take. I'm really more concerned with the length of time it would take and then charge from there. I was thinking like 3 to 5 days at most. Anyone have input for this? Also, I typically use FCP to color grade but is anyone really ranting about the program Color. I don't see a reason to switch.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 02:55 PM   #2
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I suppose it depends on exactly what kind of color-grading they're expecting from you. If it's simple stuff such as exposure, white-balance things like that it might not be worth your time.

Professional colorists or graders who do nothing but work color charge anywhere from $75 to $400 per hour; this also depends a lot on the equipment they're using. Someone using a DaVinci for example is going to command top-dollar especially if they have years of experience under their belt.

Unless you're a color expert - and based on your post I'm guessing you're not - then you probably can't ask for any more than what you'd normally charge for editing.

And yes, Color is much more advanced than using the built-in tools in FCP but it's also very slow and not very intuitive. Similar interface to what Shake used to be.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 12:17 AM   #3
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You need to call around in your area and see what people are charging 'cause it's gonna vary by market.

As far as the difference between FCP's 3-way and Color, well, it's not as extreme as the difference between iMovie and FCP but it's close. For basic primary correct I'd stay in FCP, but if you need to do secondary corrections, generate a 'look' or anything more advanced than just correcting improper white balance I'd go w/Color. The down side is Color's learning curve as well as a t-o-n of workflow problems involved w/round tripping between FCP and Color. I know nothing about the film but I assume it wasn't edited w/Color in mind so you could easily spend a week just prepping the timeline to get it to be 'Color friendly.'

If you want to stay in FCP I'd check out the Colorista and Magic Bullet Looks software from Red Giant. Colorista to balance all the footage and MBL to build a 'look' for the film (assuming that's what the director wants). Both pluggins have full functioning, but watermarked, demos.

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Old June 25th, 2009, 06:16 AM   #4
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Also, keep in mind that is going to take you more time than you expect.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 07:27 AM   #5
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Especially if the client wants to sit in.

If so .. try to get a look at the show first and make some notes on the run, no charge. Then try giving them an hourly rate, saying at the end of the first or second session you could estimate the total time and cost, a low and a high figure.

But if you've got their confidence, try asking them to leave you with it and agree to a completion date adding maybe a week to it. Then you have time to have a break and do something else, maybe making other money. Ask them to preview it at regular intervals, no charge.

An incentive to do this would be offering to reduce your hourly rate a notch. I'd get a down payment of 50% to start the balance on completion. That's a good way to make sure they're serious.

Always look for something the client hasn't thought of .. value added is always the way to go, it builds reputations. But if you have any doubts at all, jump out at the start not half way in. Good luck.

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Old June 26th, 2009, 05:55 PM   #6
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I've worked with pro colorists who used Color. I would prep the media for them (which is were 90% of your headaches will be). On a typical feature length project with prep and clients supervising it would take roughly one week.

Beware, clients will ussually expect the final finished cut from you. This means if there are any issues with the project it will directly affect you.

Issues I've come across:

client media offline

no media organization making it impossible to find media on there drive

effects on the fcp timeline don't always jive with color
this means if the editor was fx happy with a conflicting plugin you will have to export each clip and reimport them (could be an insane amount of work)

Also rendering a 2 hour feature is no quick task on any system.

There are many other issues, if you decide to do it and need advice pm me.
I suggest you qoute enough to make it worth the trouble.

Professional CC is not cheap, your client probably knows this.
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