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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:02 PM   #1
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Editing stuff that I didn't shoot: Cost/Price

Long story short: A mother of a student I teach asked me to edit video that was taken of her son's baseball team's graduation gig. I wouldn't be able to shoot the event because I had my regular job to attend to. She said that others were impressed by my work, stuff that I had put up on my website. I'm mostly a photographer but been into video for a couple years now and still learning.

I made it clear that the quality of the final product would really depending on how well the footage was taken. I gave specific instructions about where to put what camera and lent them my own camera as back up. They asked for a price and I said "I really can't say because if the quality of the footage is not up to par with what I would consider a 'good' product, then just transferring it to DVD on your own would be best." They still asked for a quote and I really didn't want to charge anything until I saw what I was working with.

I decided to OVER charge and then bring the cost down if the quality was poor and the final product not up to par. 500USD to edit the footage.

I got the footage back from 3 cameras. Quality varies from good to poor. I'm able to make something out of it but I would never buy it. Everyone went hand-held it seemed and nobody listened to the advice I gave them. I took a couple of weeks going through the footage after my regular work hours trying to figure out how to cut it all together for a higher quality product and what I came up with was not what I consider good.

I'm not going to blame the mother's but I also don't want to take their money. I also don't want to leave them with all this unedited footage. So I brought the price down to 200USD. The edit will be a quick one, getting in the important speeches and cut in a few pictures of the team players from the season. I told her it would take time. I've really spent more hours looking over this than any other project free or paying.

This year they have another ceremony and I told them that they had best hire a pro to be there. They are listening this time. I think I'm taking longer than they expected. Any advice?
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Old January 31st, 2011, 08:03 PM   #2
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My two cents: I would not charge based on the quality of other people's work. Everything I do is based on time. Rather they hand me gold, or hand me crap, my time is just as valuable.

As for not taking their money, I would not worry about that. They wanted you to provide a service, you told them what you needed from them to ensure the best quality product you could deliver, then you did the best with what you had. You are -not- cheating them. You were clear up front. If anything, you should be charging more because bad footage takes more time to work with than great footage.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 11:49 PM   #3
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You're one very nice fella :) But I agree with what matthew said... its not your fault. Just do your best and still charge the 500USD. It is a reasonable quote anyways. I don' think you overcharged them.

If you stil want to bring the price down for any reason, maybe go to 350/400 dollars... 200 dollars is too big of difference.

All the best!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about motion picture?
website: www.papercranes.com.au | blog: www.weddingvideosydney.net
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Old January 31st, 2011, 11:56 PM   #4
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Jason, you have nothing to lose but your own reputation and credibility.

Matthew is right, bad material takes longer to edit than good.

How much does your car mechanic (not a fitter who's almost unskilled) charge per hour? Are you worth less than him?

In your shoes my concern would be that any bad reputation would affect my photography business as well.

I think I'd explain that the camera people didn't even follow instructions. Sounds to me like this is a poisoned chalice.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 01:58 AM   #5
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It is for reasons like that I stopped editing other non-professionals work many years ago. I've had friends and friends of friends an neighbours ask about doing that sort of work. When I did take it, it inevitably turned out to be some like you describe Jason.
If you've already told them you're only going to charge $200 then you'd best stick with it, if not stick to the $500. Explain that you've spent so much time on it due to the reasons your given. Half jokingly say if you'd know it would have taken so long you'd have charged $1000, and pocket the $500.

I often have this sort of initial discussion with new business clients. Two this week, a theatre group want me to give them a price to cover a stage show. They want a price before even giving me any information about it other than where it is, and a company want me to film on their premises to make a short video for them to show as part of a business presentation, again asking how much would that be.

My rule now is never, ever, let a figure slip past my lips until I know just what is required and what that will involve. Even then I include a proviso that anything in addition to the listed details agreed will be charged for. Difficult I know when it's someone you know on a personal level.

Last edited by George Kilroy; February 1st, 2011 at 08:28 AM.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 07:51 AM   #6
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Hmm ...
Just yesterday I received a phone call from a company that asked us to make an edit of a video they are going to shoot on their own.
I told them, that we don't edit other peoples footage, while you will have no idea what you will get.
But your name will be on the final product.
My suggestion is if you want to help her.
Tell her that you can't edit that, but what you can do is just put the footage on a timeline and render it out.
So she can watch it via dvd, but it just won't be edited.
It won't take you that much time, she has something and you can ask about 200 us$ for it
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Old February 1st, 2011, 10:07 AM   #7
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This is what I would have done and what I do with clients who want me to edit there footage.

I have three options I give my clients: Good, Better and Best.

Good: Footage is shot by client, basic editing. $500

Better: I hire someone to shoot it and I edit it (add music). $800-1000

Best: I do all the work (professionally shot & edited). $1000 -$1200

The price points are just an example but if you give them these three options or ones that are available then they will understand what it takes to make a video and are most likely gonna pick the middle package.

I don't care so much about the quality. I edited a wedding video that was 20 years old. The worst footage I think I ever saw, but to the couple it was "THERE" wedding footage which they were very proud of. Don't assume that bad footage is bad in the eyes of client. Just don't put your actual name on the DVD or Video and don't post it on the web. You will be fine.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 01:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jason McDonald View Post
...I'm able to make something out of it but I would never buy it...
Hi Jason

Then I think you've answered your own question. Many times we eagerly reach for our creative hat and try to make good what is not good - the silk purse and sow's ear... But it does come to the point as Philip says about drinking from the poisoned chalice.

As creative people we are sometimes drawn into situations where angels fear to tread... now I'm all out out mixing multiple mega metaphors - that's an illiteration you know? OK, as you were...

Stear clear if you can.

Women don't hit harder, they just hit lower!
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Old February 4th, 2011, 08:42 AM   #9
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Interesting comments, I had no idea of the value of my own efforts, yet I currently film, edit, DVD/Blu-ray author, post video securely online, create video short films, and am expanding into better audio recording/mixing, on-screen titles, subtitles, and chroma key filtering British Sign Language support.

In terms of DVD Video, I'm researching low volume production, including the setting up of a duplication process, lacquer printing, colour laser printing, and inkjet printing.

In terms of Marketing, I'm researching different ways to promote the final product.

All this for charity, and the love of the game of Rugby Union, seems that although I normally never put my hand in my pocket that I really 'donate' quite a lot more than I thought.

At least I enjoy what I'm doing, and it keeps me out of trouble.
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