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Old January 11th, 2006, 06:44 AM   #1
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My first corporate client. HELP!

Hi guys,

My client has asked me to do a 7 to 12 minute promo. The final DVD will be sent out to prospective clients all over the country, so a high standard is expected.
I realise some videographers would delegate tasks to freelancers for a project like this (ie. sound mixer, editor, writer, motion graphics), and charge big $$$$ accordingly, however I intend to handle everything myself (except for the voice-over work). The result might not be as spectacular, but it would be a great opportunity to use all my skills.
We will do a lot of interviews, but appart from this, lots of footage showing various aspects of the business. I will need to find me suitable royalty-free corporate video music, as the style needs to be dynamic.

My question then, is: what do I charge?
I am not bringing in a lighting technician, or any fancy lighting equipment, but appart from that, everything else would be of a fairly high standard. Might use a production assistant for the interviews, and definetely would have a voice-over artist, but not an expensive broadcast freelancer, just an aspiring journalist or someone like that.

My initial estimate is $1500. I could be way off, but this project may take 5 to 8 weeks to complete ( part-time )

Feel free to disagree with my estimate, this is my first corporate client and I am still learning, especially when it comes to finances.

Thanks in advance,

Eliman
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Old January 11th, 2006, 07:44 AM   #2
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Q1: What work have you done before?

Q2: How did/have you "landed" this job?

Q3: What as it that "clinched" the deal for you?

Q4: Have you already tabled a price?

Q5: Have you "shown" any of your previous work to this "client"?

Q5: What video skills do you posses?

I am truly very interested as to your approach here on this forum.

Grazie
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Old January 11th, 2006, 09:01 AM   #3
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There are a lot of factors consider but IMHO your budget is way, way, way too low. A general rule of thumb for very rough estimating the budget for professional quality corporate public relations and training videos would be something on the order of $1000 per finished screen minute. Now that includes things like your own salary, rental of equipment, etc and you may be able to signifigantly reduce that figure when it comes to actual out-of-pocket costs for your client. But consider ... for that 10 minutes of edited finished video you're going to need to shoot perhaps 60-150 minutes of raw footage, if not more, depending on the subject matter. (A "talking head" in the boss's office is going to have a tighter shooting ratio (footage shot to footage used) than you'd get riding with the cops trying to catch some exciting reality TV.) But the minutes of footage obtained versus the time spent on each setup is going to mean getting say 100 minutes of raw footage is going to take much, much more than 100 minutes of working time and you have to pay for equipment and people for the whole time they're tied up, not just when you're rolling. Just equipment rental alone - a bottom tier pro-quality camera such as a Canon XL2 or a Sony ZX1, tripod with fluid head, a basic 3-light location lighting kit, and a basic sound kit with boom and a couple of boom mics, mixer, and perhaps a couple of lav and/or wireless mics - is going to set you back around perhaps $500-$1000 per day depending on where you are and I can't imagine your shooting is going to get done in just one day. And don't forget travel time between setups if you're going to shoot in a variety of locations. The clock is ticking and running up $$ for every minute that elapses between the moment the equipment leaves the rental house door until it gets back again even if it's just sitting idle in the trunk of your car while you're stuck on the freeway.

Well, hope this gives you an idea of the sort of things you need to be thinking about. I'd suggest you do a one page treatment of your proposed film and from that create a general scene breakdown and shot list. Think about what's going to be required to get the footage for each sequence - tools, materials, talent, consumables - plus time and equipment to edit, licenses for the music, studio time for the V/O recording, etc then fire up Excel and start to work out a detailed budget.

You asked about music -- a google search on royalty-free music will turn up lots. You also might consider a program called SonicFire Pro from a comapny called SmartSound. It works with a set of libraries of royalty-free music they also sell (that includes a number of CDs of music suitable for corporate uses). One advantage of this system is the music is coded internally so it can be work with the software to be "recomposed" to fit the mood and timing of the video where you're using it. It's a very useful tool for building a music track, doesn't sound like elevator music or something you've heard a jillion times before. Here's another source I recently found you might want to look into ... http://magnatune.com/ I really like their style!
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Old January 11th, 2006, 12:13 PM   #4
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I doubt I could even develop a script for $1500. Preproduction is somewhere around 25% of the project cost most of the time. And if you think you don't need a script (or an extremely detailed treatment), then just walk away now because the end product will be anything but professional.

Saying it will be professional "except for lighting" is like saying it will be professional except for audio. You are fooling yourself, and maybe your client. But you can't fool the audience. You don't need much, but if you don't have any (even for interviews) you will likely be disappointed. I have a $700 light kit that solves my interview problems.

Smartsound is a great music product, and I use it. I include a music charge for every project, whether I have to buy a new library or not. The fee then pays for the NEXT library purchase. Music is a key part of what you are doing, and needs client approval during the pre-production phase. If it is a marketing piece, you need to be pretty careful who else is using the music. I just recently watched 2002 World Series of Poker, and their background music is the same music now used in those goofy Encyte commnercials. Does your client want to risk being associated with a male impotence drug or worse?

Don't underestimate the need for B-roll. IMHO, no more than 10% of your video should be talking heads. Otherwise, put some money in your budget for caffeine pills for the audience. This is why you need a script. Otherwise you have no way of knowing what b-roll shots you need.

I would not quote it without a detailed treatment that told me how many days and locations would be needed for production. I would make my best guess as to their ability to make decisions, which is the second biggest time factor. And I would limit re-edits or get paid hourly for that part (or all parts).

15 minutes is way too long, 8 is pushing it and better have a LOT of cool stuff in it. But based on what I know now, my budget estimate for an eight minute video would be from $5k to $15k.
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Old January 11th, 2006, 05:07 PM   #5
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I agree with what Bob and Steve have said. If you're familiar with your own work speed and have a good idea of what you want/need to shoot you can estimate. I've worked without script but a goo preproduction meeting followed by a treatment is a MUST then.

Once you have a complete list of what you need to shoot I think figure out the number of shoot days. I usually include that in the contract. I can add shoot days if things are slow on my part (never happens) or I can bill them if things go slow on their part (does happen). There's nothing like sitting in an office half a day to get a previously over confident Exec to do their paragraph without falling a part.

I estimate the number of days in post and include specific time for revisions (one or maybe two days for example) and include that. If you have a demo reel they can often point to previously done work and say "like that only . . ." or point to a current TV show and "like the openning for . . ." and you can get a pretty good idea of what it'll take.

Make sure you allow time for Window Time Code dubs and approval copies. I always want time code numbers for changes. Prevents misunderstandings.

As said before. SmartSound Sonicfire Pro is a great choice.

It's really important to have a number of days because you may want to book other jobs during any possible off days.

My prices are very low but people who do these jobs for $1500 are the reason I keep getting under bid! $5K-$6K at the very lowest.
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Old January 12th, 2006, 12:22 AM   #6
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Craig, this is my approach to a "T".

I read and re-read what you say, you have totally outlined what I do.

"If you're familiar with your own work speed and have a good idea of what you want/need to shoot you can estimate." That is why I asked the questions above.

"I've worked without script . . " YES! YES! - It can be simple, but it MUST be agreed.

" . . figure out the number of shoot days . . include that in the contract." YES! Oh yes! I call them "Bookings".

Depending on the type of project - this is really for the long ones, anything over 3 weeks - I agree with client that I will bill at the end of each month for work in progress.

Revisions and drafts are built into my estimate/quote. I also provide a demo DVD/Reel of the type of thing "we" are working towards, and would they like some more of the same with their own particular "feel"? These meetings are the best and can/do produce some amazing ideas. That is the other thing: impress on them that the effect of collaboration creates even more for them.

"I always want time code numbers for changes. Prevents misunderstandings." YES! and Double YES!

Bottom line is always keep the lines of communication open to your client - but don't drown them in your process, they too need to get on with their day job.

Craig - great outline for a business, for a business of any description.

Best regards,

Graham
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Old January 12th, 2006, 04:48 AM   #7
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To answer some of your questions...

Q1: What work have you done before?
I've actually done several corporate videos before, but only as part of my University course in Media Production. I've also colaborated on a number of other video projects.

Q2: How did/have you "landed" this job?
I was in the right place at the right time.

Q3: What as it that "clinched" the deal for you?
I did a brief presentation for him (my client), I even brought my camera and some other gear I own to show him I meant business.

Q4: Have you already tabled a price?
No I haven't. He has asked me for a quote and I said we'd sort it out later (he expects a full quote in a couple of days)

Q5: Have you "shown" any of your previous work to this "client"?
Some.

Q5: What video skills do you posses?
Primarily motion graphics, videography, editing, scripting, but I will also handle the audio for this project.
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Old January 17th, 2006, 09:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliman Vega
The result might not be as spectacular, but it would be a great opportunity to use all my skills.
You've received great advice from the other posters. My comment is to re-read the part of your original post quoted above. Remember that the result is for your client - not for you. What result does your client expect? What result does your client need? While it's great to be able to use all of your skills, if the result your client is expecting means bringing in other pros to get the job done right, then don't hesitate to do so. And charge accordingly - for yourself and for the pros you bring in to assist. My .02.
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Old January 19th, 2006, 07:35 AM   #9
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Eliman,
I (or my company) have produced maybe 40 to 50 of these types of videos from sales training, to product launch to recruitment and for pharmaceutical, commercial companys and Federal law enforcement agencies. We coined a name of a Video Brochure as a product name.

My suggestion is to read and re-read Steve's post. What he is saying is that this is not something you can go out and just "wing it".
There are so many elements that need to be controlled that it's amazing.

For me the most important part of all is THE OUTLINE. Yeah yeah I know, we don't need no stinkin outline! An outline or what Steve calls, a single page treatment, forces you to map out how the video will flow and will force you to visualize all of the scenes and things you need to do to get those scenes.

You wouldn't travel to a new vacation location without a road map. Why would you want to travel down the road of mediocrity for a one of your products that you will need to show new clients later? And don't forget the client is paying for this, he has a right to professionalism.
Gary
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Old January 19th, 2006, 12:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Moses
...

You wouldn't travel to a new vacation location without a road map. Why would you want to travel down the road of mediocrity for a one of your products that you will need to show new clients later? And don't forget the client is paying for this, he has a right to professionalism.
Gary
Exactly! The difference between a professional and an amateur is not necessarily the level of their skills. I think it is more having the mind-set and attitude of the professional and that holds true whether this is your first time out of the gate or you have been in the business for years, whether you are a one-man-band or a major Hollywood or broadcast network producer.

A number of years ago I did some work for a speciality food-service retailer that was famous for their explosive growth in the early 80's. Their internal corporate motto was "Good enough, never is." Over the years their taking that philosophy to heart declined - so did their corporate success.
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Old January 21st, 2006, 09:05 AM   #11
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Hello again,

I've read this thread several times, and it's proving most helpful!
My client's expectations are not huge, I intend to deliver a pro-level result, but always keeping in mind there are budget constraints and I am not a veteran video maker. What I'm shooting for, is something along the lines of the CISCO corporate videos. I realise they probably spent millions in their marketing campaigns, but I think their videos ( http://newsroom.cisco.com/Newsroom/f...html?videoXML= ) are a good example of what can be archieved.
I am the sort of person that has no problem with putting in a few extra days (or even weeks) if it means getting a much better result. My client, however, may have other ideas, but I think he's realising this project will take a few months ( already, he's taking 3 weeks to do something - project-related - he thought would take 3 days ). I may also be doing a training video for him.
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Old January 21st, 2006, 12:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliman Vega
Hello again,

I've read this thread several times, and it's proving most helpful!
My client's expectations are not huge, I intend to deliver a pro-level result, but always keeping in mind there are budget constraints and I am not a veteran video maker. What I'm shooting for, is something along the lines of the CISCO corporate videos. I realise they probably spent millions in their marketing campaigns, but I think their videos ( http://newsroom.cisco.com/Newsroom/f...html?videoXML= ) are a good example of what can be archieved.
I am the sort of person that has no problem with putting in a few extra days (or even weeks) if it means getting a much better result. My client, however, may have other ideas, but I think he's realising this project will take a few months ( already, he's taking 3 weeks to do something - project-related - he thought would take 3 days ). I may also be doing a training video for him.
That level of work is certainly achievable by a small producer with affordable resources but I think you're seriously underestimating the amount of work it takes and the budget it requires. Sometimes it takes more than being willing to take extra time - on the set, for example, you can't be in two places at once, running the camera to make sure you're getting the picture you want at the quality you need and at the same time doing the sound making sure you're also getting what you need recorded at the quality you need to get it. Ergo, to get the quality of sound and picture those clips illustrated is going to require a minimum of a two-person team just to cover those elements and maybe more. Take one of those clips and watch it through counting the shots. Try to estimate the number of takes that the clips were edited out of and see if you can identify the number of unique setups that it took to get 'em. Make an educated guess as to how much footage was shot in each setup versus the amount actually used and the length of time it took to shoot that much footage. I think that you'll find it those 3 to 4 minute videos are not something likely to have been produced in the time you've allotted and for the budget you've quoted.

It's nothing to do with your qualifactions as a film maker - I'm assuming you know HOW to do it and have the necessary talent, the question is have you adequately budgeted for the resources you need to actually put into practice what your talent tells you needs to be done.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 06:34 PM   #13
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what to charge

I agree that your thought about 1500 is way low. I looked at the sample you showed and if your client expects that level you have a lot of re-thinking to do.

Also, if the people on camera are not experienced on camera your work and time involved is multiplied by some unknown factor. The sample shows an experienced lighting designer & lots of setup. You can't expect to just toss up a few lights - the people look good and you have to know how to achieve that.

If your client does not give you information you require in order to proceed on the time schedule you know you need to have everything ready, it could botch the production. Many clients underestimate how much of their time will be involved and don't prioritize it into their schedule - you'll likely waste a lot of your time playing phone tag and asking for responses to your emails - think about that when estimating your hours.

They will expect a good production from you but when they fail to do their part you are trying to work with "both hands tied behind your back".
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Old March 30th, 2006, 07:03 PM   #14
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Lots of great advise above. I'd like to suggest you rethink the one man band concept. If you are trying to acheive results similar to your example, you'll likely need as a minimum, a shooter, an audio guy, a lighting guy and a director/producer to make sure the work of the others is acheiving the desired results on screen. I would propose to your client that you will need to hire a crew to shoot it right. If they go for it, you win double. First, you're likely to get the quality you desire and second, you're sure to learn some from the pros about how it's all done. As previously mentioned, spending half a day to get a 30 sec bite happens. When it does, the client has to accept it. It's much worse when YOU are holding up a top level exec while you experiment with lighting and shot composition, then finally get it the way you would like it, the "talent" does a great take and then you realize that the mic came unplugged when you moved a light (nope, never happened to me!! LOL). Editing can (and should?) be done as a one man band, but shooting much more than basic b-roll requires help.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 08:53 PM   #15
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Eliman,

First congrats on landing the gig. Gotta start somewhere.

I will certainly continue with the theme of your price being much too low. You say you don't mind putting in the extra days... that's fine, as long as you don't mind doing it for free.

Typically professionals will charge on the order of $1000/day just to pick up the interviews. As others mentioned, to make a video that is worth something most of your time will be spent in pre- and post- also... it is a lot of time.

In this case, the short answer on what to charge is the most the customer is going to be comfortable paying you. It is tough to gauge that, but look around at their other products and marketing materials and get a feel for what they are used to paying. If you sell yourself too short you will not just lose the money, but possibly some part of your perceived value to your customer.

It sounds like you just want to do it for the experience. That's great, and I think it's a great idea. What you have to do, though, is tell both yourself and your client that the product you are taking a nominal fee because it is a learning experience, but the the actual value of what you're delivering is much higher. You tell your customer this so that they know what they are getting, and they are properly grateful and allow you more room in deciding when it's done and when you need to work more. You tell yourself because you don't want to get in the habbit of undervaluing the work. If you do, you will always be busy and you will never make money. And you'll love it for about three months and then hate it.

You might want to call a local professional production house and ask them for their rate card. It will be eye-opening.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
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