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Client Dilemma...please read on.

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Jeffrey Gould
Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 5:25:38 pm

Hi, I have a situation that I need some advice on: I use DPS' Velocity to edit on, I have 3 raid arrays for which one is dedicated to one client and the others I use for my own projects. A client that I occassionally do work for now needs a few edits and I'm right in the middle of a few huge projects and I don't have the hard drive space to bring the footage in. I offered to split the cost of the drives which are $1,200 so $600 each. They were not acceptable to this. I'm not sure what to do. The last time I did work for them, every few weeks they wanted changes, I can't dedicate the drive space for a few thousand dollars a year. Am I wrong? I'm going to see if I get any feedback before I reply.

PS: I have an excellent relationship with these people

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Seth Bloombaum
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 7:05:05 pm

Your rates are too low if you can't afford the capital to expand for work for which you otherwise have the capacity and want to do.

IMO you need to purhchase these drives now or consider losing the project, which in many cases means you resign the client.

It's perfectly reasonable for you to set a rate for a particular type of work, and to have a discussion with this client why their projects deserve this rate.

I don't think it's reasonable to ask the client to pay for your capital expansion directly. It is OK to have detailed discussions with them about the life of their project on your drives, and gauge cost accordingly.

Alternatives include coming up with a workflow that doesn't require additional space, or negotiating a schedule acceptable to them that allows better timing for your drives. Have you thought about hot-warm-cold storage? Hot is on your raids, warm is on non-raid drives, cold is on tape. It's pretty easy to move a project from hot to warm, and warm to hot, and expansion may cost less this way.


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 9:34:04 pm

You make some good points, I disagree about others. How much can you charge to make 5 simple edits? Point is whether its one edit or 50, its the same amount of work to restore the footage. I'm charging them $1,500 to $2,300 depending on the actual script changes, if I buy the drive, I basically do the job for nothing. True, once I finish the project, the drive is available for other projects. They called me on Friday and the deadline is in 3 weeks but I'm waiting for footage from out of state. The original project was done 2.5 years ago...these are just updates, which come up every 6 months or so. I use a SCSI system for my NLE so buying warm drives isn't as cheap as IDE drives.

Honestly, I don't care about losing this client, they are always on a tight budget with unreasonable timelines. If they gave me $10,000 a year in business, I wouldn't think twice about buying a drive. On another message board, a guy posted that he needs to backup his footage to allow for other clients, and a few replies suggested that he charged the client for backup "warm" drives..that is where I got the idea to split the drive with them. I asked another client of mine the same thing who I work with 12 months a year and he gladly paid for the drive without question. I guess we just see things a little different but I appreciate your reply. There are other inuendos regarding the project that I didn't share, which could possibly skew your opinion....or maybe those issues are clouding my opinion.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Seth Bloombaum
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 9:45:51 pm

I use a SCSI system for my NLE so buying warm drives isn't as cheap as IDE drives.
The idea would be to use the inexpensive IDE stuff, could be with an external FW or USB case. Archive to this, then transfer back to SCSI as needed.

Honestly, I don't care about losing this client, they are always on a tight budget with unreasonable timelines... There are other inuendos regarding the project that I didn't share, which could possibly skew your opinion...
I think you've answered your own question.

There are times you know that working extra or buying something extra is the right thing to do. And times you know it's not worth it. If there's a little voice inside saying "not this client, not this time" I'd go with that.


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 10:04:48 pm

That is what I was getting at with the inuendo comment. I don't like this client. I don't like the way they expect me to jump when they say so, like I have no other projects or clients. Like I said, if they gave me substantial business..I would jump. I have excellent relationships with my clients and we usually become friendly after the project. I just gave it more thought and decided to buy the drive, because in the long run, I will need it for other projects...your comments helped in a to change my mind. Guess you have to take a chance and hope it comes back to you. Thank you.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 10:26:44 pm

Forgot to mention that the computer my editing system is on, will not recognize fire wire or USB. I do backup the footage to my other computer which has lacie drives on it. It takes hours to move it back and forth. The issue is that they expect me to leave the project there for weeks or months while they fine tune the video, which is why I suggested they have their own dedicated drive.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Michael Munkittrick
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 30, 2006 at 3:39:08 am

As an additional note to the post I left earlier, if they truly expect you to make modifications to things that are of their choice, offer them a "maintenance fee" and explain why it is necessary for their particular project. If there's one thing a client, good or bad hates, it's being pigeonholed by an external vendor.


Michael Munkittrick
Managing Creative Director
Evolve Media Solutions

Forum COWmunity leader for:
Sony DV
Magic Bullet


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Michael Munkittrick
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 30, 2006 at 3:34:52 am

That's the ante if you want in on the game. As I read this post, I'm actually astounded that you would even propose that they invest in your hardware when it would appear that you are not willing to do so on your own. As a service oriented business, you sell the service of production and nothing more. If you're an internal communications employee for that "client", it's entirely different


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 30, 2006 at 6:01:29 am

Michael: Did you not see my post that I decided to buy the drive? I've been told I'm honest to a fault, maybe even naive...that should be my worst trait. I thought $2,000 for 5 edits and some new narration was a pretty good profit, except when you add in the $1,200 for the drive. I quoted them $150 per hour, plus restore time, I thought it was fair for them and fair for me. Money is not the issue, I could buy 10 drives if I wanted to...I just wasn't sure that this client was worth the investment and worth the headaches that come with them. There are times when you need to say no and turn the work down. They gave me a deadline of 2/28, so I really can't play with the time constraint.

I'm a one man shop and do all the shooting, editing, graphics, DVD's, CD's, etc... I happen to be working on two huge projects at 10X what they are paying me and didn't want to have to remove that footage, restore theirs and restore back, without knowing how long they expect me to keep the footage. It's actually for Yamaha, but I'm working for an agency geared towards Nursing Homes which are notoriously cheap. Perhaps I showed poor judgement at first, we all do at one time or another...but I read the posts and decided to go ahead and pay for the drive and hopefully they will give me enough work to warrant it.

Bob: I'm actually ordering a solution next week, a tape backup drive VS 160 from quantum and I'll use NovaBack software. I was burned twice by this set up a few years ago when the drive corrupted the data and I had to recreate everything...another reason I wanted to buy a new drive for the client(which I would still backup). Some software has something called "collect project" or "condense project" as mine is called.

PS: I came here for advice and I received it and appreciate your time and knowledge.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Michael Munkittrick
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 30, 2006 at 7:44:31 am

[Jeffrey Gould] "Did you not see my post that I decided to buy the drive?"

Unfortunately not I guess. My bad.

[Jeffrey Gould] "I thought $2,000 for 5 edits and some new narration was a pretty good profit"

It sounds pretty reasonable to me with respect for the amount of work and time. Maybe it's an accounting problem versus a profit margin problem. I'm not insinuating that you don't know your own worth, but all things considered, the simplest solution is typically the right one. I was just trying to make a point on client relations. I didn't mean to push any buttons.

[Jeffrey Gould] "I'm a one man shop and do all the shooting, editing, graphics, DVD's, CD's"

Very cool indeed, but being that you're a one-man-band, you should in firm control of your direction and what jobs you do and don't do. Again, I mean no disrespect, but the idea of asking any client...love, hate or indifferent to, they should never be asked to buy hardware tools unless it's ethically or legally necessary.

[Jeffrey Gould] "I happen to be working on two huge projects at 10X what they are paying me and didn't want to have to remove that footage,"

Been there before myself, but it still seems out of sorts for a professional to "invest" in your company. First, it lowers you to their level, which makes the work less enjoyable and it also less profitable as they would consider that purchase as a means to skip the proverbial lunch line. They'd be mistaken of course, but that point would come.

Please understand, I don't speak from experience, but it's a pretty good bet that if you asked a lawn service to mow your yard and they simply don't have enough equipment to do the job correctly, but instead of saying that they offer to cut it if you buy them another mower. That's all I was saying. I'm sorry that it came across abrasive. No ill will intended.


Michael Munkittrick
Managing Creative Director
Evolve Media Solutions

Forum COWmunity leader for:
Sony DV
Magic Bullet


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 30, 2006 at 2:58:29 pm

Thank you Michael for reiterating your points in a much less abrasive/scolding tone...I agree with you 100%. I guess I looked at splitting the drive with them as a win win solution, not knowing that there was an unspoken rule against this. Your analogy of the lawn service really put it in perspective for me. You're a well respected member of the Cow and I appreciate your input. I'm glad I opened up this conversation as it seemed to help other members. Thanks again.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 10:56:40 pm

Jeffrey,

You did ask, and Seth certainly does not deserve crap for telling you like it is.

Fact is, hardware is the responsibility of the facility unless the client requires something extraordinary. If they ask for something special like a PAL deck, or maybe Digibeta that's something to charge them for, but hard drive space is certainly not extraordinary in the least. With ATA and SATA drives now at only $125 for 300gb you could easily move media off of your SCSI drives overnight while you sleep and without supervision. Its really no big deal, and the hours and hours you complain about are computer hours not man hours. There is a difference. Try to remember, this is a service business...

DRW


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 29, 2006 at 11:00:48 pm

Crap? whose post are you reading? I told him I agreed with him on a lot of points and in the end I decided to buy the drive. I already do what you suggested about IDE drives on another computer which I stated in a post.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Bob
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
by
on Jan 29, 2006 at 11:43:32 pm

I think the real issue with this client isn't needing the additional storage at this time, but the time they leave their media on your drives. I'd explain to your client that drive space is basically, real estate - it's leased to them for a reasonable amount of time during their project with you. However, this doesn't mean because they book a job with you for a week they get to leave it on your system for 6 months. We had this issue with a client, we explained it to them, and they were fine paying a "storage fee" for the ability to call up & have it available for revisions. No need to get into the details of HOW you have it available (loading offline drives, tape, keeping it online, etc).


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Client Dilemma...please read on.
on Jan 30, 2006 at 12:01:40 am

Thank you Bob for seeing my point. I just wrote my client and told her that the footage itself is not an issue, as I can just swap it out to an IDE dive...it's the time it's on the drives. Based on history, they make changes once a month for a few months, then disappear for a few months...so I was just suggesting that I split the cost of the drive and everyone will be happy and I can work on their projects as they come up without transfer time. The woman who works for my client thinks I should just build it into the estimate, but I'm a really honest up front person and wanted to do it the right way.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Bob Cole
More about hot-warm-cold please
on Jan 30, 2006 at 1:36:53 am

[Jeffrey Gould] "The woman who works for my client thinks I should just build it into the estimate, but I'm a really honest up front person and wanted to do it the right way."

As usual, the woman is right. Why did you need to tell them they were buying you equipment? Not only is it an unappealing idea, but it might be a capital expenditure that they're not allowed to make.

But I'm glad you posted this issue; it is a problem many of us face, and the hot-warm-cold idea is cool.

I'd settle for hot and cold storage. What do the experts here think about good options (and more important, good strategies) for "cold" storage? I use three computers for every project, and backing up a project always takes me far more time and hassle than I'd like. DRW's comment about cheap IDE drives is interesting, but while the drives are cheap, the housings add expense. I'd really like to be able to pop in a drive or a tape, back up everything associated with a project (everything: scripts, graphics, After Effects projects, media, EDL's, alternate edits, etc.), AND be able to reload it to the proper computers, drives, and directories automatically. If anybody has this mastered, I'd love to hear about it.

-- Bob C



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Mike Schrengohst
Re: More about hot-warm-cold please
on Jan 30, 2006 at 2:00:01 am

There are far too many post houses that would love new clients. I had that attitude with a few clients and they went elsewhere. Did I really need or want that business?
I don't know but the point is - The video post industry is a service business.
You don't serve and the clients will EASILY find a new post house that will serve their needs, no matter how picky.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: More about hot-warm-cold please
on Jan 30, 2006 at 2:01:39 am

H[Bob Cole] "I'd really like to be able to pop in a drive or a tape, back up everything associated with a project (everything: scripts, graphics, After Effects projects, media, EDL's, alternate edits, etc.), AND be able to reload it to the proper computers, drives, and directories automatically. If anybody has this mastered, I'd love to hear about it."

Bob,

With FCP its a breeze to move everything in a job to a single directory on a hard drive. In fact, its the very best function of Apple's so called "Media Mangler." Yet another fine reason for you to start cooking regularly with FCP.

DRW



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Seth Bloombaum
Re: More about hot-warm-cold please
on Jan 30, 2006 at 2:28:09 am

...But I'm glad you posted this issue; it is a problem many of us face, and the hot-warm-cold idea is cool.

I'd settle for hot and cold storage. What do the experts here think about good options (and more important, good strategies) for "cold" storage? I use three computers for every project... but while the drives are cheap, the housings add expense....


For me, the concept of hot-warm-cold come from a former employer, back when we were doing multimedia production on network server storage. Here's how I'm applying it now.

My main workstation has an internal drive for system & programs.
On top of it sit three identical housings with three 300GB drives inside. Rendering is typically done from drive to drive, otherwise, all project assets stay on one drive. These are "hot".

A drive fills up. I find 20 minutes to trash what can be trashed, and move project renders to that drive. I make some notes as to what projects are on the drive and add them to a spreadsheet that's on my workstation and my laptop. I pull the drive out, put it on the shelf - this one is now "warm".

A drive fills up. I start trashing files and realize that project A will never come back for various reasons. I trash captures only, preserving such project assets as DVD images, final renders, and graphics on the drive. I go to the shelf and make sure camera tapes have a rubber band around them and they're actually labeled. This project is now "cold".

I put new and bigger drives in the cases, I probably put a raw drive on the shelf every 3-4 months. My cost per GB is between $.25 and .40 USD, as I can buy IDE drives on sale at local retailers - I just watch the ads and always have a new raw drive on the shelf. The cost per GB keeps on going down... It is VERY economical compared to any other archive strategy.

Working with "hot" projects - you know about this, it's what you're doing now.

Need to edit/revise/source some footage from last year's project? Pull a drive off the shelf and stick it in an enclosure - takes 10 minutes, what was "warm" is now "hot".

Need to revise or source from a project you never thought you'd have to touch again? Maybe you can do it from final renders, maybe you have to go back to source tapes.

If you're working on three computers you could do the same thing with a gigabyte or fiber network file server. A buddy is doing it with removeable drives. I sure didn't invent this, lots of people are doing it because it's the most economical way. You could also walk an external project drive from one computer to the next.

As I make the transition to more HDV work there's probably a raid in my future - haven't figured this one out, but I'll probably start by keeping the drives in the raid and dumping off to my same externals for "warm" storage.



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Aanarav Sareen
Re: More about hot-warm-cold please
on Jan 30, 2006 at 8:03:31 am

[Bob Cole] "I'd really like to be able to pop in a drive or a tape, back up everything associated with a project (everything: scripts, graphics, After Effects projects, media, EDL's, alternate edits, etc.), AND be able to reload it to the proper computers, drives, and directories automatically. If anybody has this mastered, I'd love to hear about it."

Done this way too many times. If you are using Windows, then here are my steps:

1. Purchase a hot-swap case, like this one: http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=GN210&cpc=SCH&srm=0 I have about 6 or 7 of these. You can just put in a drive and slide in another drive when needed.
2. Use a syncronization software. I use a software called SyncBack SE that syncs between two directories every couple of minutes. The first sync takes some time time, but after that it takes a couple of minutes.
3. When you are done for the day and both the drives are synced, take out the enclosure and pop in another one for another proect.



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