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Old May 4th, 2005, 09:26 PM   #1
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How many hours would you bid for this job?

Hi everyone,

I'm baaaack. Sorry I"ve been gone from the board for a little while.
Thanks to everyone for your great advice in other threads too. I haven't been able to respond but will do so shortly. It's really great to be back. I would like to say once again thanks to everyone for such an awesome board and being able to draw on your experience has been a huge help.

I have a customer who wants some editing done. The video involves lots of animals from a trip to Africa. Lots of home video, lots of shake they want me to cut out. She handed me a log with approximate time codes. i need to clarify but it looks like there are about 177 different cuts on two mini DV tapes. I will probably make some titles and also edit some music although she's still deciding what music to use. I guess I'll have to edit it over music or the sound will be choppy from all those cuts.

She has some things starred but did not specify if she only wants those so until I talk to her i'm assuming she wants all the cuts. I haven't reviewed the tape yet.

I am a new editor and want to bid her what would be standard, or fair, because she shouldn't have to pay for my learning time. What would be a normal editing time for a project such as this? How many hours should I tell her it will be? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty? I have no idea and don't want to overbid or underbid.
How long would it take most of you to do a similar project?

Also any suggestions on how to make it look good would be welcomed.

Thanks everyone ---

Last edited by Kell Smith; May 5th, 2005 at 03:11 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 03:58 PM   #2
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That would be almost impossible to bid without viewing the actual footage. How much image tracking is there? How's the audio? Are these the EXACT timecode cuts? Who decides where the edits take place? What is the client looking for? How much can they spend?
The potential problems are endless. I would bid it by the hour for footage I've never seen. Also, is this for someone's "home movie"? What is the final running time they would like to see?
I couldn't even begin to tell you what would be fair to charge. What's fair to one person may not be to another. I charge around $150/hr and up. Then again, I know FCP very well and don't need to fumble around very often.

Try to figure out how long it's going to take and what it's worth to you. Pricing is a very tricky skill.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #3
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Thanks...
Well, I do have the footage here --- I reviewed it briefly -- it's lots of home-video style shaky shots of animals.

To answer your questions...
Could you possibly clarify what you mean by 'how much image tracking is there?'
The audio, not very good. It's the guide speaking here and there. I think they want most of it edited to music.

The timecode cuts look pretty close to exact. She went through and made a log.

She told me to use my judgement as to where to make the cuts. She said I'll see where it's shaky and not.

I believe she wants roughly an hour DVD.

I don't really know how much they can spend. As for a rate, they are a customer of mine in my other business, so I'm giving them a break and just charging what I would normally charge them for other work. I told them I would call with an hourly rough estimate but I don't know what to give them as a starting point.

You know, I'm going to call her and try to clarify some things and post back. I am not sure if she wants all of these cuts, or just the starred ones, or how many graphics she wants. You're right, there's just not enough info here. Back in a few...
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Old May 5th, 2005, 10:19 PM   #4
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If you were trying to repair the shaky shots you would use image tracking. Basically taking the camera shake out by tracking the image and repositioning it frame by frame, it's time consuming but there are tricks to it.

If you already have a rate you normally charge, just knock it around for a little bit on your computer and you can get a pretty good idea of how long it's going to take. Maybe pick out the very worst part and go ahead and do some editing on it and time how long it takes you to clean up 10 minutes or so. Then you can multiply that by how much footage you have and add some time for more editing (to get it down to 1 hour) plus the time to create a DVD. Then you should have a pretty good idea of what it should cost.

For instance, if it takes you 30 minutes to edit 10 minutes and you have 120 minutes of tape to edit you can guess it's going to take you 6 hours to edit the 120 minutes. Now you need to cut it down to 60 minutes. This is tricky because you have to cut content. It could take a couple of hours just to do that so lets say 2 more. Now you have to encode a DVD. How good are you? Ok a simple menu, 1 hour. Encoding time on the machine, you bet your butt I charge for that, but not as much so lets say half pay. How fast is your machine? If it takes 2 hours to encode 1 hour of footage then charge another hour. So where are we? 10 hours? It's probably going to take more but thats a good start. So what do you want to charge? $30 an hour X 10 hours is $300. Not terrible for a days work, especially if you learning.

That might at least give you an idea of "how" to start figuring it out.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 12:00 AM   #5
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Thanks Rhett,
That image tracking sounds really interesting, especially since I have another piece of video that could use that as well. How good is it? Nothing may save this other video I've got, though.
As for the encoding of a DVD, I don't know how to do that yet. I did figure out some very, very basics of DVD Studio 3, enough to burn a photo montage to a DVD, but barely. So I would need to sit down with the DVD S 3 training DVD and learn. I'll also be learning as I go for the After Effects graphics. I'd just charge her for the average time though, knowing it will take me much longer but I'll be learning. So what you put for the DVD time, that's average?
Also would you be willing to explain more about image tracking, or point me to where I could learn? I'm using Final Cut Pro.
I've got a call in to her to get more information about what she wants. I'll post back when I hear from her to clarify some of that.
Thanks =)
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Old May 6th, 2005, 06:07 PM   #6
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Ok, so you want to know about image (or motion) tracking. This is the easiest way I know of, watch the video on this page.

Motion Tracking with Shake 3.5

this is another form, or use, for it:

rotoscoping in Shake 4 sample

You can do it manually, frame by frame or FCP has a motion tracking filter under the "video" category (it's not very good and you are still doing some frame by frame changes), but for $50 you can't really complain with this plugin though:

Lyric Media

Or if you want to look at other products here are a few:

BorrisFX
Borris Continuum
Borris RED

And since you mentioned After Effects, it has some tools in it since version 6 and they're alright too:

AE 6.5 Motion Tracking

There are quite a few options out there but this is the bad boy of effects right here. Steep learning curve and steep price but it's totally worth it.
http://www.apple.com/shake/

DVD encoding and assembly can be hugely variable. If you throw something into iDVD you could be finished in a couple of minutes (not including the actual encoding part, that depends on your machine speed). Or you could build a very complex menu in DVDSP and it could take hours and hours.

One thing's for certain, you'll have a better idea of how to price it after this one. Like I said, it's kind of a learning process in itself. The more you do it, the better you get at it. You should be able to get pretty close though.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 06:54 PM   #7
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Update - but I still don't know how long it will take

Well, I talked to my customer and gave her an estimate of about twelve hours. I could be totally wrong as to what most people would estimate.

That would be at $25.00 an hour, at the rate I charge her for other work. For her only because I know her.

I tried editing a few things, multiplied it by 170 (approx. number of cuts), added a few hours on for graphics, backtracking, and putting together a DVD, and editing to music and just came up with a rough guess.

It's home video and she's not sure if she wants to spend that much. We decided I would capture the video into my system, bring her back the tapes and see if ther'es a way she can cut it down. I don't know what she could do.

I still feel like I am standing on sand and could not give her a real estimate because I am not experienced enough to know what the time would be. So not only do I feel lousy about the estimate, I think i lost the job, a job that I really need, and I'm sure I looked amateurish and as a result she has lost confidence in me. But I tried to just be honest and level with her that I was estimating to the best of my ability here, and why.

Personally I don't think 300 bucks is that much to hire an editor but maybe for home video it's not that important to them. Fair enough. Or maybe I've way overestimated and don't know it.

I don't like this open-ended guessing, at all. In my former business I knew exactly how long things would take. There's just nothing solid to measure your estimate against. If in your market everyone who fixes fridges or fixes your car or whatever bills at 60.00 an hour, and it takes two hours to complete a job, you at least know where you stand in your pricing. Maybe it's just my inexperience.
But people are never going to sign up for an open-ended job. And it's a very expensive service that usually only businesses can afford to pay for, it seems. I wanted to get into biographies but it seems that unless you are dealing with a business, even people who can afford to pay aren't really willing to.

Then again other people are getting much more per hour. I hope this becomes a viable business because I have yet to get any business, at all. I'm still doing my other business but most of that is gone now because I have been moving in this direction, and I really need to start seeing something come in.

maybe I'm going about this all wrong. I don't have any experience. But does that mean I have to work for free? I dont ahve anything against that in the context that has been brought up in other threads -- ie go to events and get in with the producers and maybe they'll bring you future work etc -- so on the occasional project it's okay -- but I have to eat, have to bring in an income so there has to be paying work too. She's not trying to get me to work for free, or less so it's not that. I just didn't even feel legitimate giving her an estimate because I'm not as experienced as the next guy. That attitude has to change because people will not place a value on your time if you don't. If you think on some level that your time isn't worth anything then people will pick up on that.

I'm not going to let it get me down though. I think i can make this business work, somehow.

Last edited by Kell Smith; May 11th, 2005 at 07:21 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 10:24 PM   #8
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Hey Kell, where are you located man???

FWIW, if you have no experience and no paid gigs yet, find yourself some work for free. Choose it carefully, but you have to get experience somehow, and having a client to answer to (even a free one) is a good exercise in confidence building. I have given up on offering free work to local NPO's, they just abuse me too much for my personality. I did give away a free biography at a charity auction 2 months back, I still have not had to actually do it but I got a bit of free exposure and built some good will with the charity at no cost.

But the music food-bank festival gig we spoke about a few weeks back came thru, and I gave them a price of $600 for a day of shooting, plus editing into final form. We meet tomorrow to start talking about post-production. Scripts, voice over text, graphics, music selection, sponsor credits and logos, etc. I am paying for v/o talent out of my $600, if I can't find free music that fits they will have to pay for that (lots of good library music for not too much money). But I think I have a local musician that will do a free original song for me, with lyrics that match up to the script, just for the exposure. I have to go record his band performing it though. So that will be yet more experience (and work). I am probably also going to edit up a couple of 30 second TV spots to be ready for voice and graphics for next years event, and I will not charge them extra for that. I will have a ton of hours into this when I am done, but that is not why I am doing it. Any work is better than no work, until you are 100% happy with your demo reel. I really expect when this project is done it will bring me 6-10 more just like it in the next year, hopefully at a somewhat higher rate and a lot less hours. And it's for a good cause too.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 11:33 PM   #9
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Congratulations Bob,

Sounds like it paid off for you.

Hey how much time total goes into that process that you are charging 600.00 for?

Yeah you're definitely right about just getting out there and doing some. i was talking with a friend tonight about that and what you guys had said on the board. Sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming with all that remains to be done, both in generating work and doing what's necessary to train myself on this stuff. It's just a much bigger task than I anticipated. I really thought I'd be self-trained and ready to go in a month's time, since I did have some basic background but it had been awhile. That was unrealistic. It's been a very slow process. Then you add some pretty critical money issues to the mix and it gets more stressful.

Still though I do need paying work. I'm going to go back to square one and come up with ideas for getting experience, free or low-cost jobs.

The situation with my customer worked out. I called her back to offer to do it for whatever price range she had in mind, to get the experience. By then she had talked with her S/O and they decided they would be willing to go up to the 300.00 I had bid them. So I told her I would do it for that no matter how long it took.

I hope I haven't overbid her. Is that a fair price for what she is asking me to do? (170 - odd cuts, cutting out camera shake, two titles, some music, some audio, on a DVD). I know I will spend much more than the 12 hours I bid her on it because of the learning but what would market be?
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Old May 12th, 2005, 12:54 AM   #10
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Ok first let me get this off my chest... that cheap bit*h! Just kidding but really, this is the mind set you will continually run into. These are videos from a trip to Africa! Do you think it's cheap to take a trip to Africa? Did they "give" her the video camera at the store? Did she buy your computer and software for you? How about make you food and bring you snacks and drinks for the 300,000 hours you spend sitting in front of your computer learning your trade. Maybe she can just pay all of your living expenses during the project?
This is what you have to teach the client. Nothing is free! You are a professional, you deserve to be treated as such, after all, you're not the one who can't hold a camera still. Now of course having said that...
Doing free work is nice on occasion but you've still got to pay the bills. Unfortunately, home movies just don't have the budget to keep you profitable for long (without working your butt off). Pricing is a tricky game. It's never the same twice, well it can be close, but it's not usually exactly the same. I charged $1000 to edit a 30 second TV commercial, I did it in an afternoon. I charged $20K to produce a 6 minute video for my last project, it took a couple of weeks. I've been slowly working on a really great piece off and on for a few weeks now (the planning stages) and I'm doing it for free! If I were charging, it would cost them about $10K+ but it's for a good cause and they aren't rushing me (and they have very powerful and influential friends to refer) I also happen to have 4 other projects going on right now as well that do pay. Sometimes it's a good idea to give away small projects to the right people in order to make friends and show off skills, then the question of price doesn't even come up when you get hired because they already know how good you will work even when it's "pro bono" (learn this term, it's fancy talk for freebie and is used by people who typically charge a lot of money).

I'm glad to hear you are going to do the project, it couldn't hurt and you have to start somewhere. It's funny to hear you say you thought you could be trained in a month, I guess that's what the general public thinks. If I thought someone could learn a job in a month I wouldn't be very motivated to pay them very much either, heck I could just keep training new people and never have to pay more. Fortunately it doesn't work like that. To really KNOW what you're doing takes YEARS of practice but it passes quickly and you can still make decent money in the mean time. I think you gave a very fair price and I think they are getting a very good deal so it's a win-win. Congrats!
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Old May 12th, 2005, 09:41 AM   #11
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Thanks, I feel better now. lol
She's not really so much a bargain down-er as she was examining if it was worth it to them to pay several hundred dollars to have it edited vs. keeping the raw tape as is. But they do have the money. Individuals think differently than businesses. I wonder what I am going to run into when pricing biographies for individuals, because it will be a lot more than three hundred dollars! I also gave her a low hourly rate because I know her, and I do work for her at that rate. But do you think twelve hours is a fair time bid for the project? I am sure I will spend many more but she shouldn't have to pay for my learning time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhett Allen
I charged $1000 to edit a 30 second TV commercial, I did it in an afternoon. I charged $20K to produce a 6 minute video for my last project, it took a couple of weeks.
Now that's what I like to hear. I was getting concerned that since technology is coming down in price that people weren't making this kind of money anymore.

Like portrait photographers trying to compete with Wal-Mart, for portraits they used to charge hundreds of dollars for.

Let me ask, for both of these projects, what exactly was your process of bidding and figuring out your time/charges? And how many actual hours did you spend on each?

Also what type of cameras were you using? That could raise the price. I have (one) pd170, not a broadcast camera. How would that affect bidding?

And also, once you are experienced enough to ask for that kind of money, how do you do that? I've never made that kind of money and my thermostat, so to speak, is still set at $25.00 an hour. Once I m experienced I don't want to undercut the industry, so how exactly does one comfortably ask for a lot of money per hour? And with all the Uncle Bobs who shoot video, and high school kids with a mac, how long do you think the industry will support such good rates?
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Old May 12th, 2005, 02:31 PM   #12
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Individuals do think differently than businesses, but business is no brain child either, they just have deeper pockets.

It's always going to be harder to make a lot of money on the home circuit. That's not to say it can't be done, there are plenty of people doing it. It is a very specific market though. There are people who spend $300 on a wedding photographer and there are people who spend $10,000 on a wedding photographer. Which one would you rather have as a client? Same goes for biographies.

Is it a fair bid. Sure, if it's fair to you. It's $300 you didn't have. She is paying you to learn. The client always is.

The rest of your questions got me writing for a while so I am going to send you an email off the board since my reply was soooo long. But for the benefit of posterity (and maybe anyone else reading) it basically says...

Don't compete on price. Don't compete on price. Don't compete on price.
It's not doing anyone any favors. Give the best service you can. Once you feel comfortable with your skills, or AS you feel better, charge more.
I know "about" how long something is going to take just because of experience. That's the only way to find out. You may be faster or slower than someone else. Next, I decide how much I want to make. I start around $150 and hour. It's variable though. I know I like to make around $5K a week on an extended project and if it's a rush, I want to make more because I know I'm not going to get to sleep.
Of the two projects I mentioned the 30 second spot was a flat fee. Not hourly. How did I get that price? I just figured I could edit and drop in some graphics in a few hours but that would take most of my day, so what did I want to make for the better part of a day? I decided a grand, they thought it was fine. (this was a really simple commercial though)
The second project was a little trickier. I had about 3 weeks from concept to delivery (I wrote the script). I knew I had to travel to location, they were handling location and talent, I rented a PD-170 and lights and audio there and shot it in 2 days and started editing it on my Powerbook in the hotel. I spent the next week or so fine tuning it. I had very detailed storyboards so shooting and editing went very smooth. I hired out the soundtrack, did some voiceover and shipped out two of each VHS, S-VHS, DVD, MPEG-1 and MiniDV masters. Paying all the crew, buying lunch, renting equipment, travel, hotel and other expendable costs ate up about $5K. I knew that going in and budgeted for it. What did I spend most of my time on? PLANNING! Laying around in my underwear and socks planning. That's the biggest part. If you have a well thought out plan you will know almost exactly how long and how much it will cost before you do anything else. I knew what shots I would need, how they should be framed, how I would light them, how I would mic them, what kind of music and graphics were going into it. I had EVERYTHING mapped out exactly and I had a contingency plan just in case. Then add 20-30% on top of that in case something goes horribly wrong, like your hired talent actually lacks any talent or your location is so busy it takes 2 days to shoot 20 minutes or the equipment you rented doesn't work like it should. Add the 20-30% to everything, time, money, staff, equipment, food. It all can go wrong.
So there's 2 examples, I've also had a 2 minute video with a 6 day deadline that cost almost $40K so there isn't a single formula that works. (it was shot on a PD-170 as well but had a lot more FX work).
If you don't compete on price, uncle Bob and the kids in school don't matter. None of them can take my clients from me because they can't offer what I can offer. I may not be the very best photographer, videographer, editor, designer and so on. But I am the best customer service representative they have ever encountered and I'm not afraid to work hard for them and listen to them and help them solve their problems. I'm also not the cheapest they will ever find, not by a long shot! And that's a good thing.

Just take it easy and do what you can. When this is done you will know a little more, use that to make the next decisions and keep growing your knowledge. Also do some pro bono work in your spare time (see email) and it will all make sense as you go.

Good Luck

oops! sorry, your email isn't in your profile. You can email me if you'd like.

Last edited by Rhett Allen; May 12th, 2005 at 04:31 PM. Reason: added the oops!
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Old May 12th, 2005, 09:35 PM   #13
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Awesome Rhett, thanks
I will drop you an email and also post back shortly. =)
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Old May 13th, 2005, 08:03 AM   #14
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Hey Rhett, go ahead and post the long response. Electrons are free. :)

And Kell, one more thought. The project I mentioned just grew yesterday. When we had our post-production meeitng to talk about issues, not only am I recording a live band (which was not planned for), but I just volunteered to go do two additional shoots of the non-profit groups that benefit from this event.

Downside: More planning, two more half-days (maybe more) of production, additional edit footage.

Upside: Two more community contacts that "owe me", or will at least know I am in business. . A much better production that will be more effective for the groups purposes, and will make a MUCH BETTER demo piece for me. A chance to use my new DVX100a in a real (yet controlled) production environment.

I don't advocate doing ANYTHING for free. But as we had our post meeting, I learned more about this particular event and that it is 100% volunteer. No paid staff at all, they pay event expenses like police and electric, and every dime goes to the two NPOs. In fact, I am their ONLY non-event expense (overhead). And the guy who drives the event is paying me out of his own pocket. So I was much more inclined to step up and do more work than I originally promised. I would never do dup work for free unless I really wanted to be in that business, which I don't. How much can you learn, and can it lead to a demo or more work? Free work has to provide great experience, great contacts, or great demo possibilities. Preferably all three in copious amounts.

I will let you know how many hours when I am done. But I am 12 hours in right now, I expect it to end up anywhere from 50 to 100, and I probably have to pay a v/o artist out of my fee. TWrite a script, more shooting, work with composer, record a band, editing DVD, TV commercials, managingthe replicator and artwork. This project should not take 100 hours, but I am in some new territory. Also, it is going to be seen by 150 local businesses in the next six months. So it has to be as good as I can do. And these people are nice to work with, and right now I have the time.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 12:49 AM   #15
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Hi guys, I'm back..
Thanks again Rhett for the email.
I really like what you said about being as professional as possible, even for free work. You guys are right also, it looks like that is going to be the best way to kick-start what I'm doing. To get referrals coming in and get some good demo pieces going. So you guys have really driven it home as far as a marketing plan. I guess it was really unrealistic to expect to hit the street, have work, have money... it's the cart before the horse, really.

You know and I don't mind doing free work. Not really if the benefits are worth it. It's just that I need paying work too ;-)

I have been doing some barter and that's been helpful. I'm going to be bartering with a decorator (cuz I hate the way my apartment looks and now I'm home a lot working/training). So I get her help on this place, she gets a DVD portfolio, and I get a good demo. Unfortunately she's moving away so it won't be permanent but it's a start. I've also bartered some graphic design recently and that's at least something cookling in the demo pot.

i also really love the idea (thanks Rhett) of giving something that's a surprise, a freebie to add that little extra. So i decided to go through my friend's footage and export stills of some of the animals and put them in a montage for them. They will really appreciate that.

I"ve been logging the footage and it seems to be taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r .... I suppose when I am more experienced I'll just slap it down. just logging each little clip takes an eternity. But it's still fun. Once this gets going I'm going to really love this. It still doesn't feel like work. I spent all day yesteday in the house here, capturing video and logging clips. Then I went out onto the deck with my cat, had a fruit smoothie, sat on the porch chair, took a break -- came back in and logged a bunch more hours. I had to keep reminding myself that yes, this is actually, in whatever small measure, paying work.

It just doesn't feel like it. It feels like a Saturday.
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