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Old March 3rd, 2009, 05:44 AM   #1
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Hourly-rate changes in post

Hi,

If you're giving a customer an hourly rate for a job, do you still charge the full hourly rate for tasks that you're just waiting for a computer to finish processing (i.e. file conversion, rendering, DVD burning), or is a discounted rate applied, or maybe do you not charge anything (but then say do the computer processing at night when you're sleeping)? Thanks,
Tim

Last edited by Tim Pearce; March 3rd, 2009 at 05:49 AM. Reason: typo
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 07:37 AM   #2
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Everyone is different. I personally try very hard not to bid a job by an hourly rate. But when I do, I have my full rate for "real" work, and then a discounted rate for computer down time like rendering and compressing. If it's a great client who shoots me a ton of work, I might not charge at all. I just make sure the invoice reflects that so they know I threw them a bone.

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Old March 3rd, 2009, 09:00 AM   #3
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Anything I need to attend, I charge full rate for. If I can do a render over lunch or other break, it really depends on the client. If they are already getting a great deal OR are pushing for more and more "value added" stuff, I charge as I see fit. I almost always charge SOMETHING as there is wear and tear on my system, power being consumed and I'm unable to use the edit bay for something else. I may choose to multitask while encoding MPEG-2 for DVD ASSUMING that my edit software isn't locked down as a result (in FCP, an Export Using Compressor for example means that I can't edit).
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 12:26 PM   #4
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I charge the same whether I'm editing or rendering. It's the same machine, with the same hardware and software doing exactly what it was designed to do. Rendering is just a cost of doing business with the machine and you're still putting hours on it and miles on the processor. While editing, do you drop your hourly rate to leave FCP create a quick graphic in Photoshop and then raise your hourly rate again when you go back to editing? I doubt it. It's all part of the process.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 12:35 PM   #5
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I do sometimes charge a little less for "unattended" functions, but only a little less. Like Shaun and Rick said, you still have costs associated with running the computer whether you are there or not. You have the electricity, the fact it is unavailable for other tasks while you render, the cost of the hardware and software, the cost of eventually upgrading the machine, costs of the overhead (i.e. your office, or your home office), your advertising, your insurance (you DO have insurance on your equipment and yourself don't you?), and all the other costs of doing business. Many people make the mistake and think that they can work for $10 an hour, or in this case do work "for free" while they sleep. The reality is that there is a cost for just keeping the machine turned on and you should be charging the client for it at a rate that allows you to sustain your business.

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Old March 3rd, 2009, 12:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
I charge the same whether I'm editing or rendering. It's the same machine, with the same hardware and software doing exactly what it was designed to do.
To clarify my above remark, relative to Rick's statement above, which I agree with:
Any cost reduction I give around rendering etc. is based on the labour component being removed from the equation. IMHO, to charge full rate for UNATTENDED functions would constitute fraud. If I'm otherwise working with the client or on the project while the computer "does it's thing", it's full rate.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 04:20 PM   #7
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I do sort of a hybrid. Generally it's full rate, unless I can do something else at the time which results in billable hours -- then I charge each client half. They get a little price break and I don't reduce my rates. To double-bill would be unethical (and oh yeah, illegal). Same goes when I'm on the road: If I'm in city A for one client and I go straight to city B for another, they each pay half the travel time and half the expenses for the flight.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 05:31 PM   #8
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To double-bill would be unethical (and oh yeah, illegal).
You might consider double billing unethical, but why do you think it's illegal? It might be unethical, and possibly illegal, if you are double billing one client. But if I've got my computer rendering for a few hours for one client and I can do work for another client at the same time, I'm going to charge both my full rate. As long as it's not taking away time from one client (which with rendering it's not, the computer is just sitting there chugging away), I see no problem is double billing for the same hour. It's called maximizing time and profits.

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Old March 3rd, 2009, 05:49 PM   #9
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I had an editor who I was paying $60 an hour try to charge me $600 for a 10 hour render. I laughed. He argued that it meant his computer was offline and unusable for other projects for 10 hours, and thus he was "working". I told him that I knew damn well he was rendering overnight while he slept, and if he wanted to ever work for me again, he'd take the charge off the bill. He took the charge off the bill.

I don't believe in charging for full rate rendering time when you are playing in a small ballpark. The same goes for logging tapes. We all know that we are watching American Idol audition episode reruns or playing Grand Theft Auto while we are logging the tapes... if you aren't working, you shouldn't charge "working" rates. Just ethics.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 06:55 PM   #10
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I had an editor who I was paying $60 an hour try to charge me $600 for a 10 hour render. I laughed. He argued that it meant his computer was offline and unusable for other projects for 10 hours, and thus he was "working". I told him that I knew damn well he was rendering overnight while he slept, and if he wanted to ever work for me again, he'd take the charge off the bill. He took the charge off the bill.

I don't believe in charging for full rate rendering time when you are playing in a small ballpark. The same goes for logging tapes. We all know that we are watching American Idol audition episode reruns or playing Grand Theft Auto while we are logging the tapes... if you aren't working, you shouldn't charge "working" rates. Just ethics.
Wow, I couldn't disagree more. If my computer is tied up with your project and I can't do another project and I have to babysit the render every so often to make sure all is going well- guess what? I'm going to charge you full rate AND I'm going to play XBox while doing it. It's not unethical IN THE LEAST to charge you for my machine and my power that I paid for to do your work.

And if had tried to pull that crap with me on my invoice, I would have fired YOU as a client and sued you if you didn't pay the bill.

But that's me...
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 07:24 PM   #11
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Wow, you guys all have just one computer? :)

QuickBooks timer only lets you time one event at a time. That's a good guide for me. I'm not a "down time" kind of guy, so I'm always working on something. If my editing workstation is busy rendering, then I'm working on a web site on the other workstation. Whatever has my attention at the time is what is being billed. I don't bill more than one project at a time.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 09:02 PM   #12
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I had an editor who I was paying $60 an hour try to charge me $600 for a 10 hour render. I laughed.
STRICTLY to play devil's advocate: I agree with Dylan if the project had a significant workload outside of the render. But, if for example you were asking me to stitch 3600 still images into a QT movie and the setup took 5 minutes and the render took 10 hours, you'd be paying more than the 5 minutes... Again, solely devil's advocate...
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 09:35 PM   #13
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And if had tried to pull that crap with me on my invoice, I would have fired YOU as a client and sued you if you didn't pay the bill.

But that's me...
LOL....

Here's the cooler part.... if you "fired" me as a client and derailed the timeline of my project... I'd sue you for failure to complete the project, breach of contract, diminished revenue, etc... and since *I'M* the one with the contract, AND could prove damages in terms of lost sales/time and make it stick... Not only would you not get the $600, I'd also end up with a winter home in Las Vegas. :)

Just kidding... I wouldn't really sue you... I'm Canadian, we only settle our differences on the ice with sticks. Courts of law are for wusses.

Maybe what you aren't seeing Bill, is that in my case, we had an agreement/contract as to the specifics of the job, and the $600 came as an "oh, I also need to charge you $600 for rendering". I didn't agree to pay it up front, and the rendering was technically covered in the contract specifying the delivery of the project.
Now...
If at the start of the project, he quoted/included $600/10hrs for rendering there never would have been an issue later. Having said that, I still would have told him I wasn't paying full rate for rendering, and if he wanted the contract, he'd better drop the price by 50% or better.

Also Bill... buy yourself another damn computer, even if it's a $500 cheapo system. It'll increase your productivity by at least 30% if you are doing a lot of editing, and will pay for itself in no time. You'll love it.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 10:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
STRICTLY to play devil's advocate: I agree with Dylan if the project had a significant workload outside of the render. But, if for example you were asking me to stitch 3600 still images into a QT movie and the setup took 5 minutes and the render took 10 hours, you'd be paying more than the 5 minutes... Again, solely devil's advocate...
That's true. Each job is different. In my case, the rendering time was roughly 5% of the total project time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
QuickBooks timer only lets you time one event at a time. That's a good guide for me. I'm not a "down time" kind of guy, so I'm always working on something. If my editing workstation is busy rendering, then I'm working on a web site on the other workstation. Whatever has my attention at the time is what is being billed. I don't bill more than one project at a time.
You are the guy I would hire over, and over, and over.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 07:21 PM   #15
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Yeah I really don't like downtime either. FCP and Compressor does tie up your editing, and sometimes I have trouble with that, but if things are slow, that's when I work on new quotes, update my website, pay bills, generate invoices, etc. If I start it just before I leave it for the day, 99% of the time it's done before morning. Plus you can send a list of projects to export to Compressor, so I'll do 3 or 4 edits at a time and export all at once at the end of the day. This by itself saved me a ton of time when I realized I could do that. You also don't have to render out your timeline before exporting to Compressor, so if I'm confident that it's good, I'll usually skip that step.

I've never counted that as work time except in a few rare cases where it was a rush job, the client needed it done that day, and I was locked into waiting for it to render out. As long as you have a workflow that makes sense and schedule accordingly, you really shouldn't have to sit there and wait for it.

I do have a second computer that I have set up to use in a crunch for capturing and rendering, which is an investment for me but saves my clients money and saves me a lot of time. I also have multiple external drives set up, so I can swap drives back and forth between the two computers when it gets crazy.
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