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What should I charge?

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Mister CatWhat should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 1:48:48 am

I'm new to the freelance world of video so could use some advice. I've been asked by a band to edit some existing footage, shot by them so no infringement issues, into a new DVD demo of the band. It's about 45 minutes of them live and they first want simple bookmarks for each song for random access. Second, a 7-10 minute mash up of the footage to be used as a promo/booking tool. Finally, I'll be designing a new motion graphics menu for the DVD using some of the footage along with the graphics off the CD cover. These guys are doing pretty well on the Christian pop circuit but aren't big names...yet. Any input on what this type of job should pay is welcome.


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duffbeer911Re: What should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 2:02:52 am

if you do a search in here and in the business forum you will find lots of posts on "charging" "rates" "billing" etc etc

but I'm sure everyones response will be work out an hourly rate and then multiply by the hours.....don't forget to include in your rate depreciation of software and hardware.... so you might charge $100/hour and spend 20 hours on it..... you might charge $250/hour and spend 3 months on might do it for free......

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Mister CatRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 4:59:33 am

if you do a search in here and in the business forum you will find lots of posts on "charging" "rates" "billing" etc etc

Respectfully, I did search before posting my question and didn't find any real answers for going rates. There's lots of talk about hourly vs. fixed rates and talk about being the cheapo guy vs. the high dollar guy, but I couldn't find even a ballpark figure on actual pricing. Obviously a 25 year veteran of the industry can expect more than a newcomer, but I was hoping for a little bit of concrete advice rather than "do it for somewhere between $5000 an hour and gratis." Can anyone throw out some figures on what they would expect to charge for such a project?

thx in advance

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mstlegerRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 4:35:16 am

Do yourself a huge favor. Hire a producer to help see the project through. Even if it cuts into your rate, an experienced producer will help you decide how much to charge. They might even offer to work on your bid for free, with the agreement that they will produce the job at their standard rate. Don't make the mistake of trying to do everything yourself. When you are just starting out, it's easy to make mistakes when estimating how long things take to complete.
An easy estimate formula that I find works for me: No matter how long I think it will take, double the time. Also, when working out a contract for a job, have an agreement to limit the amount of changes that you will allow. If they want more changes, charge them extra.
Usually, to keep things simple, I just charge a day rate. I keep my rate reasonable, because I like to work alot.

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duffbeer911Re: What should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 5:50:34 am

I DO understand where you are coming from - I posted a very very similar question on here about a year or so ago when I was taking on my first freelance job. But honestly there really is no ballpark figure until you sit down with them and find out exactly what they want. How heavily treated to they want the footage, are you going to add animations/graphics - how was the footage shot? do you have a deck or will you need to rent one? do you own all the required software already? Are you doing mates rates? You really could spend anywhere from $500 - $500,000 just on a music video.

If they don't really know what they want, and are going to be happy to let you take creative control - then you could use it more as piece for your portfolio. Maybe just charge a couple grand (or less) - and just spend as much time on it as you want. Then next time a client comes along you will have a better judge of time/cost. It's just frustrating when you under quote for a job and it ends up dragging on for months and months with a really difficult client, and then in the end you only have a few hundred bucks.

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KTTC-RedRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 1:13:47 pm

Have you asked the client what they are comfortable paying?

If you can get a price range of what the client willing to pay then you can gauge how much creativity and production time you put into the project.

I know that when we make local commercials for area businesses...we come up with some good ideas/scripts and the client doesn't balk to loudly about the production estimate we give them for that idea/script.
Other times the client likes the idea/script but tells us that they only have a couple of hundred to spend on production so we "tame down" the script or come up with a new idea to match how much they want to spend...

Just my two cents..probably doesn't help a whole lot.

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GregRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 9:49:00 pm

Editing rates can vary depending on you, your experience, your equipment, etc. Just figure on at least $75-150 per hour to edit, about the same for authoring, and artwork. Then determine how long it will take and give them your total. Be sure to over estimate the amount of time it will take. One thing I do is tell the client if it takes less time, I'll take money off, and charrge them less. But it rarely takes less time.


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tony salgadoRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 23, 2006 at 10:19:21 pm

Since the band works for Jesus (sort of ) then do the work for free as you will be rewarded eternally upstairs should you be granted access.

But since you most likely owe someone else money for bills etc then factor in how much is your overhead, how much capital investment will be required, what your rate of return for ROI (return on investment) is, what the market rate for similar services are in your area, put this all in a blender mix it all up for five minutes add sugar for additional flavor stick it in the microwave .... and magically five minutes later your hourly rate will appear on the microwave clock display after the chime goes bing.

If it shows zero then you are not charging enough to stay in business past tomorrow at noon.

Oh I forgot to factor in your professional experience level. If your a novice then do the work for experience or at minimum wage. If you are a seasoned professional .. . well you would not be asking the question in the first place.

Have fun and enjoy it while you can.

Good luck,

Tony Salgado

PS- don't use the defroster mode in the microwave because your rates will be calculated at half rate since the microwave is using half or less power.

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George SockaRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 24, 2006 at 1:40:17 am

The 45 minute thing will take 5-6 hours - 1 hour to whatch what they have, 1 hour to capture and fiddle with the bookmarks, 1-2 hours to create the menu, 1 hour to talk about it with them, and 1-2 hours to encode / burn / test the dvd.

The 7 minute thing will just as long ( maybe longer) since you will be cutting up the 45 minutes into chunks that sound nice together and will spend more time talking about your edit decisions and going back and changing them. Maybe posting a few on-line rough cuts. But you will already have the original video captured and will know what it contains, since you have just spent 5 hours watching it for part A

12 hours at $100 is $1500. At $150 is $2000.

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mister catRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 24, 2006 at 10:58:13 pm

Thanks for the input everyone. I'm getting more comfortable with figuring out what this is really worth.


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TimRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 29, 2006 at 5:27:19 pm

First of all...George...don't ever bid on projects in my are cheap!

You did not allow any time for editing...graphic/interface creation...dubs/burning of the "whole" thing...client changes...producer time wasted meeting with client...etc. If you are going to survive in the have got to have a clear vision of what it is going to take to get it done and do as little for free as possible. And only do for free what will help you in the future as far as furthering your skills or business position.

I've done projects that were less than 20 minutes that took weeks...only you can make the time determination based on what the client has told you that they want. You will have to judge your time base on past experience(so you are going to come out in the whole alot until you figure out your own editing speed...I have worked with seasoned editors that were slower than malasses in February...simply because they were anal about the small things.) I am rather quick, but I try to have a very clear vision of my own/merged with the client's desires before heading into it.

Here is the simple skinny "cat":

I charge $1300.00 per day to edit...that includes me/editor/graphics creation/authoring/etc...or $130 per hour. I figure this price point keeps me busy if it just comes down to price...since most regional post houses charge $150.00 per hour and up. I have been doing start-to-finish production work for nearly 20 years and edit on a mobile, High Definition Final Cut Pro tower system with the Kona 2 and Kbox and Kona I/O for standard def. If you bid on an 8 or 10 hour day...bill for that...don't give 'em anything...if you work...they pay for it.

I also leave myself open ended on my estimates/budget with a clause that says this is only an estimate and that actual price may be more/or less dependent upon final requirements to complete project(as clients are want to constantly change things after your initial meeting that will be expected to base your estimate off of)...I also include an "out of scope" clause that states any costs/delays/additional man hours/ and or expenses will be passed on in addition to the initial estimate.

I am a Christian and I have been where you are and it is an unusual situation. Unfortunately with this client and the religious implications...what they are doing is their "ministry" and in too many cases like this...they expect what you do to be a "ministry", as well. They do not think...hey...this guy has to pay his bills...etc. So be upfront with what it is going to take and it up to you to educate your client as to what is involved and what the cost will be. In the process, you do two give them an idea what they can realistically expect to pay...and you build worth in your skills and product because you hopefully have told them how long you are going to be sitting infront of your editor...blah...blah...blah.

I, unfortunately, have to say that the few jobs that I have walked away from feeling like I got the shaft...were for religious organizations. So be aware of the spiritual and emotional junk that can get tossed into the mix, as well.

Sorry for the long post, but hopefully I have given you the information that you wanted and maybe some insight that you did/did not...the main thing is there are a lot of variables that we on the "Cow" cannot know, but I at least, I think, gave you an industry standard rate that is attributable to my geographic location...which is another consideration that you need to consider, as well. If you are in will support higher day rates than if you are in Small Town, USA.

Tim Baker
Chameleon Mobile Video Productions
"It is not the light at the end of the tunnel that we should is the courage to take the next step in the dark that we must find."

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George SockaRe: What should I charge?
by on Jun 29, 2006 at 11:53:25 pm

Can't argue with $130 vs $100 vs $150 - whatever the market will bear. However, how long would you tell your customers it will take to put 6 or so chapter marks between songs into a 45 minute program that you are not editing since it is their program, using Premiere? And then encoding to DVD? If its measured in multiple 10 hour days and customers in your market accept that, then I really do need a better market.

In any case, the original poster needs a number as a starting point - he does not appear to have the experience to know just how many mouse-clicks that might take, or how long between mouse-clicks. All too often seasoned pros say "take your rate and multiply by the hours it will take" but the beginner wants to know how many hours it will take. And to some extent what his market will bear in rates. Then he can take longer because he is learning, or he wants to work at a relaxed pace, or he wants to contribute to a cause.

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