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Old July 30th, 2006, 01:28 AM   #1
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Briefing clients on the work involved...

I'm up-and-coming in the freelance video production world, recently completing a 45-minute documentary on the town I live in. Now people are seeing my work and contacting me about their projects.

As much as I dislike family projects (slideshows, home movies, etc)... it's money. And today, someone contacted me about creating DVDs.

They have 5-6 MiniDV tapes to be put onto DVD. So lots of capturing time. They need it edited and put in a different order. Lots of editing time. Then they wanted one of their family members to narrate it (I've got recording hardware.). Lots of recording time. Then I need to final edit, master audio, output to DVD.

I was wondering... I created a quote for them, giving them a brief description of each step involved and how long it will take. I figured a total of 39-47 hours and charging them $650.

Would I be better off keeping them in the dark about everything involved? or will that just make them less likely to do it?

Also, if I do show them how much is involved, would I be able to get more money out of the project?
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Old July 30th, 2006, 07:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Becker
I'm up-and-coming in the freelance video production world, recently completing a 45-minute documentary on the town I live in. Now people are seeing my work and contacting me about their projects.

As much as I dislike family projects (slideshows, home movies, etc)... it's money. And today, someone contacted me about creating DVDs.

They have 5-6 MiniDV tapes to be put onto DVD. So lots of capturing time. They need it edited and put in a different order. Lots of editing time. Then they wanted one of their family members to narrate it (I've got recording hardware.). Lots of recording time. Then I need to final edit, master audio, output to DVD.

I was wondering... I created a quote for them, giving them a brief description of each step involved and how long it will take. I figured a total of 39-47 hours and charging them $650.

Would I be better off keeping them in the dark about everything involved? or will that just make them less likely to do it?

Also, if I do show them how much is involved, would I be able to get more money out of the project?
Is your time only worth $12 an hour even before subtracting out your costs?
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Old July 30th, 2006, 07:20 AM   #3
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Not knowing what the local economy and competition is like there, I won't venture into guesstimating an appropriate charge. Your hours estimate seems reasonable.

I've done a few of these, but only one that involved a narration. I'd recommend billing that time separately. You already know recording the narration is going to take 5 or 6 hours of your time -- assuming the 5 or 6 tapes are about an hour each. What you can't predict is how long it'll actually take to capture 5 or 6 hours of acceptable narration.

In my one experience, the guy doing the narration said he reviewed the video a couple of times, had notes, and was ready to go. Well, various things happened many times -- like forgetting stuff he intended to say -- so we had to back up to some point and record again. More often, he continued to talk about one scene when it was over and a new scene was on screen. Stop. Back up. Record again. Very, very frustrating. And, Josh, if you already have a negative attitude about family projects, this one could test your limits to meltdown.

You could offer a discount if the narrator has a script that's timed to the video so that you won't have to spend 12 hours (and maybe 2 days) to record 6 hours of acceptable audio.

I don't know that explaining what all is involved would command more money. People aren't concerned about your problems, they just want a price and what it's based on. You can go either flat rate for the job, or, estimate # of hours x $ per hour. When I give an estimate, I tend to go just a bit high. People always like it when you hit them with a bill that it is less than the estimate.

Good luck.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 08:00 AM   #4
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hmm...

easier way to work with narration is to use a program which allows for "punch in" recording.. such as Vegas..
during a realtime playback of the dv footage, you can connect ur mic and mix into Vegas. This will give the narrator a better idea abotu timing as well as actual content. If somethign needsa retake, just do it then and there.

Trust me, this method is MUCH more effective than using a recorder.

In addition to that, IMO i think 650 is cheap for something like this. I can tell u now, that this wont take less than 2 actual weeks of hands on work.. u may have calculated your hours, but with al the trial and error thats occuring, i woudl definately say your gonna hit the 100 hr mark before u know it..

As u have already quoted them and u have already started the work, i would recomend u be VERY stringent with ur time and costing from here on in..
You have now set a precedent for ur pricing on this type of subject ad as ur popularity grows, u will obviously increase ur prices.. people WILL notice this ... dont be afraid to say that due to demand, uve had to restructure the package and prices.

Good luck with it.. i for on know that i do not have the time or the patience for this type of project anymore.. i only do this kinda thing with corporates as theyre not emotionally involved.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 09:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
hmm...

easier way to work with narration is to use a program which allows for "punch in" recording.. such as Vegas..
...
Excellent suggestion - and even more valuable is insist that the narrator actually have a prepared script to follow and not just "wing-it" to some notes he has.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 10:35 AM   #6
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Actually, I haven't given them the quote yet. I'm just thinking over everything.

Another problem I have is that I live in a town of 600 people, and the nearest big town is 10 miles away and has 6000 people.

There aren't many video production places around here. This causes me to: A) Appear to have a monopoly on the customers, and B) Be unable to charge reasonable prices due to lack of competition. (And customers' lack of knowledge.)

How much do you think I should charge? I mean, I understand it's going to be an arduous project, but it can make me some great money.

And at this point, I'm jobless, waiting to return to college after this short, short summer.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 11:39 AM   #7
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The majority of people don't realize how time intensive this kind of work can be. I would think that breaking down each step and how long it will take and informing them of this would help them realize why your quote will be higher than what they expected.

Considering you're a college student, out of work, in a small town, and facing what really amounts to an easy job (compared to busting your ass in construction), $12/hr seems a pretty fair rate. You don't exactly need to bilk this family for every penny you can.

Make a fair assessment of the hours it will take (keeping in mind the unforeseen problems the experienced posters above have stated), then just multiply it out by what you feel your time is worth, keeping one thing in mind: what exactly are your other options right now to make some money. Working for less than it's worth in the beginning is the name of the game. Part of what you're paid is in experience and having a good referral.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 12:10 PM   #8
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Also, would it be weird to give them instructions and maybe some form of agreement? Like "Here are the things you need to provide: MiniDV tapes, narration script, preferred video order, etc." (I'll make that more detailed.)

Then maybe have them sign an agreement or something? Maybe so they can't come back at me and say "Well we wanted this and this" and I can say "You agreed to the terms and prices."

Good/bad?
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Old July 30th, 2006, 01:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Becker
Also, would it be weird to give them instructions and maybe some form of agreement? Like "Here are the things you need to provide: MiniDV tapes, narration script, preferred video order, etc." (I'll make that more detailed.)

Then maybe have them sign an agreement or something? Maybe so they can't come back at me and say "Well we wanted this and this" and I can say "You agreed to the terms and prices."

Good/bad?
Definitely good. I think everyone here will agree that you always need to cover yourself during any business transaction.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 04:01 PM   #10
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How do you think I should make the agreement?

I mean... I don't really have a lot of terms they need to agree to, so a full sheet of paper would be sort of overkill. What would you recommend?
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Old July 30th, 2006, 07:05 PM   #11
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In my experience, it always takes longer than I predict and I always wish I would of charged more. I wouldn't touch a job like that for under $1500
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Old July 30th, 2006, 09:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Dan Minor
In my experience, it always takes longer than I predict and I always wish I would of charged more. I wouldn't touch a job like that for under $1500
Yeah, I feel the same way... but honestly, they came to me because they didn't want to go to someone who would charge $1500. So I'm at least giving them what I think is a good bargain, even though I've been doing this for over 3 years now and think my work quality is very well established.

Anyone have recommendations for the agreement? Half-page stuff? Content?
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Old July 31st, 2006, 12:52 AM   #13
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Yes!! Estimating how long a job takes either makes or breaks your business or your spirit. As a double check I always estimate the time by working backwards as well. e.g. I estimate it may take two hours to do the voice over. I then say if the job has to be completed by 12 o'clock I'm safe to begin at 10 o'clock and have the job done. This is a good reality check as it is easy to underestimate the time involved. By working backwards from a deadline you are inclined to alot more time which comes closer to the actual time it takes. Hope all this makes sense :)
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Old July 31st, 2006, 01:41 AM   #14
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I would also bill out the voice over narration separately and here's why. Tell them it's going to cost x dollars/hour to record at your location. Then, offer to give the narrator a low resolution copy of the rough edit so they can write a script and rehearse the timing. That way, when they come to do the actual recording, it should take fewer hours. I know that's less money for you potentially, but it beats giving them a package price and then having to spend countless hours with someone who is unprepared like the example given above. Separate billing will encourage the voice over person to have their stuff together so that it doesn't cost the family a lot of money.

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Old July 31st, 2006, 02:13 AM   #15
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Yeah, I actually just went through the quote I typed up and make certain parts red to highlight they were optional and pertained to the voice over. Then I gave them the option of eliminating the voice over. Since that would be a huge pain.

But yeah, I could do the rough edit thing, but that's still me burning 3 DVDs for just that rough edit.
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