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I need to get quotes from a 3D compositor. Where do I start?

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Stephen PickeringI need to get quotes from a 3D compositor. Where do I start?
by on Dec 26, 2014 at 6:51:20 pm

Hi everyone,

I have a potential client wanting a video which will include the use of 3D animated animals (probably a few shots with a total of 20 seconds worth). I'm not sure where to start.

We are not looking for cartoons. We found some usable rigged models online for purchase (one was from 3D Squid for example). They are not photo realistic, but look and move perfectly fine for our purpose. But it still needs to be composited into a few shots and lit to match the shot (which is far outside of my skills using Element 3D) in AE.

I don't know where to start on putting together a quote on a project like this. Should I storyboard it first (on my own time), then look for quotes from compositors? I'm guessing I can't get a ballpark price without showing at least some storyboards. Should I be posting in the "Jobs Offered" section of Creative Cow or should I be looking on LinkedIn or just contacting recommended fx houses (do you recommend any)? Do I say I have $2000 budget, for example, or do I ask for their rate?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Thank you!

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Mark SuszkoRe: I need to get quotes from a 3D compositor. Where do I start?
by on Dec 27, 2014 at 6:19:51 pm

At least a rough set of storyboards and some samples of any background "plate" shots you already have, would help the artist understand not just how much work there was to do, but to what level of realism to do it, and what aesthetic or "look" you're going for. If you can't draw it, locate example photos that look like what you want done.

You want to be able to say exactly how many shots there are, how long each one is, if anything in the shot is keyed to a specific sound track keyframe, and provide that track. If there are LUTs for color timing to match the rest of the show.

I would not be too cagey about what your budget is, when asking the artists for offers. If you have a hard limit of 2 grand, say so, right up front, then the question becomes, how much of your grocery list can the artist fill, to your expectations, for that amount? The artist may come back at you with a suggestion that fits the budget you've set, but reduces the complexity of the shot in certain ways as the method of economizing.

There is a kind of Laffer Curve for compositing work: a less-skilled guy takes more time, but charges less for it. A really skilled guy or gal charges a lot, but executes in a short time. The overall bill could wind up about the same, whichever way you go. So computing this deal is not just about the hours, but what those hours are spent on, specifically: more rendering time, more rigging time, etc. I think the only way to get a really good bead on the bid is to be up front about the upper limits of what yu can afford, and work backwards from there to a number of hours the artist is comfortable with for getting the look and action you want.

As to where to post for the opportunity, the COW jobs page is one place, and, I thought Turbosquid had some links to artists there?

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Stephen PickeringRe: I need to get quotes from a 3D compositor. Where do I start?
by on Feb 5, 2015 at 4:41:56 pm

Thank you Mark for your suggestions. I've been in touch with an artist I found at one of those 3D sites, I didn't even realize they had the "hiring" forums! I'll be posting there again soon to get some more estimates and ideas. I appreciate your input on the Laffer Curve... I've been on both sides of that spectrum.

Thank you!

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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: I need to get quotes from a 3D compositor. Where do I start?
by on Dec 28, 2014 at 9:18:07 am

Hey Stephen,

Just to echo Mark and to add that if you have 3D models that you are happy with, then it should not be too difficult for a compositor to compose them into your footage. is a good place to post jobs up on - you'll notice that there a few larger companies always seeking out animators and FX people.

My suggestion would be to get three to four quotes. Two from FX houses and two from freelance (owners). If possible supply them with a storyboard with an extensive description of what you are looking for - don't forget to ask them to make suggestions on how to improve the shots. As in do you want foreground materials to add to the shot? etc.

If all of the quotes are to high for the production, then go back with a fixed price and ask what you can get for the money. However, if the model with skin and all footage is there, you will hopefully find that $2,000 should cover everything.

All the Best

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid

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Stephen PickeringRe: I need to get quotes from a 3D compositor. Where do I start?
by on Feb 5, 2015 at 4:46:43 pm

Thanks Mads,

I found a model that is fully rigged (and even animated) but it still needs a little more detail as well as the lighting, etc. I'm in discussion with the original modeler of it and I'm also contacting other modelers who have impressive portfolios.

I put together an animated storyboard which was helpful in showing exactly what was needed.

Thank you also for mentioning that I should ask for suggestions on improving the the shots- they'll have a different eye than me and I'm sure that would be helpful.

Thank you again!


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