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What should I quote?

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Krissy CarstensWhat should I quote?
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 3:54:27 pm

Hello all. I'm a graphic designer and I have some experience creating short commercials, no portfolio, and it's not my specialty. I was approached by a client asking for a quote and I'm not sure what to charge.

This is what he wants: atleast 150 1-minute commercials for the web that are similar to the videos on this site:

(bad video, i know!)

I'll have to hire my friend that has all the video equipment, and I could edit and I'm guessing I'll be the one who provides the dialogue. This quote will exclude an actor for now.

Since its simple videos, I was initially thinking $100 per video (again excluding the actor) which would come out to $15k for 150. Is this too low or near the ballpark for my experience, etc?

Thank you all!

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Joseph W. BourkeRe: What should I quote?
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 8:56:12 pm

I think there are too many variables to quote at this point. If you don't hire an actor, chances are that the cost to produce is going to go up, since there will be more takes, the "talent" won't get every take right, which may require more post-production time fixing things, more time logging the good takes, searching for the good takes, editing out the mistakes, etc..

If you can get the client to nail down exactly what they want (to a point), in terms of the structure, then stick to that structure, I think that more like 200 - 250 dollars per spot might be a fair price. It all comes down to how much you think you think you are worth an hour. If one of those spots takes you three hours, including writing and shooting, then when you subtract the shooter's price, you won't be making much. That said, work is work, and it may be good to get this on your reel (or not, depending on the final quality). 250 bucks per spots is still a steal for the client, especially if you can show them I higher production value than the sample! A bad spot is essentially worth nothing, plus I can't imagine the idea that makes it worth anyone's time to produce a spot to sell a pen! Do you know how many thousands you'd have to sell to recoup your investment? Oh well...that's not the issue here.

I think your safest bet is to give the client a range of costs, depending on whether you hire talent (highly suggested), how "cookie cutter" the spots will actually be (will they stick to format), and whether you are the writer/producer/editor, or the client is writing the script. At the very least you will need the client as your "content expert", so that you will have final copy when the shoot date arrives. It's much easier to fix it on paper than re-shoot.'s not quite as simple as it seems. And make sure you get a third of the total up front. Projects like this have a way of going south fast, especially when you've put lots of time and effort into it. Just consider the up front money "serious money". If the client balks at it, walk away - they just wanted a freebie.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Krissy CarstensRe: What should I quote?
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 9:33:33 pm

Thank you so much Joseph. That was such great advice :)

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Steve KownackiRe: What should I quote?
by on Sep 21, 2011 at 11:16:08 pm

Whenever I get approached with that volume of work, I always figure out a reasonable cost to produce say 5 of them. The client and I agree to a fixed price to create those first 5; fully-knowing to track all costs, make adjustments and proceed with the next 10 now having a cookie-cutter approach. Then you can determine a great rate for the remaining work. You'll have some straight costs like studio design/setup, project mgmt, etc. Those are divided into the total number you create at a single time.

Pro talent with a prompter would help, but I know lots of marketing people that can spew out a pitch very quickly and concisely - they really know their products. Who is going to approve them on location so you can mover to the next one? How perfect do they need to be? I see the big problem as the writing an possibly loading a prompter. It all takes time. I'd suggest a few changes of clothes too for variety. And ya gotta keep the client from taking over - you need to direct and keep them on schedule. They generally like to watch outtakes eating up your day.

Say you could get one done on loc every 10 minutes; that's only 6 per hour; with no breaks 150 would take you 25 hours just to shoot them. Shoot direct to your laptop (or KiPro) to eliminate ingest (you'll need more hard drives) having their intern log the good takes accurately, chop 'em apart, throw on the end graphic/music bed, set in/out, render, burn 'em a disc, done. Maybe 10 mins work per video (I'm serious, maybe only 5 minutes). It's a single take with a graphic - this is robot work. So you can pump out 3, maybe 4 per hour (depends on your render power, you'd have enough profit to buy another iMac to add to your network anyway). So again, someplace between 6-12/hour hopefully more. This is still 10 hrs + with no breaks. I also wouldn't render during your edit daytime. Send them to a render que and let them churn out when you sleep.

I'd also get in touch with their web person and send a test file they approve before you render lots of them.

What I've described is not inexpensive by the hour, this will keep you churning them out quickly, because of an effective approach. The next guy will shoot tape or cards, ingest them, convert them, etc. That would add significant time to the production schedule. I don't bill by the hour, I bill by the service.

Have fun!


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Chris TompkinsRe: What should I quote?
by on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:06:28 pm

The edit could become template like as well I suppose.
Maybe the videos are similar in one form or another?
Once in the can, you can spit em out quickly.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC

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