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How to break down this job

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Marco SalsicciaHow to break down this job
by on Oct 6, 2006 at 9:35:45 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm quite new to the freelancing community, and I need some advice on how to put together a proper bid on a project that's been offered to me.

This job is from my former school. They want me to take the demo reels of a little over 50 students and create a looping widescreen DVD for a portfolio show, plus make an additional DVD with interactive menus that prospective employers can peruse at their disposal. I'll have to inspect each reel to make sure they fall within the proper codec and format size that I've specified, and offer assistance/possible tutoring if necessary.

The running budget for this is $800, and it's basically going to be a three day project given their deadline schedule.

Can anyone grant me some industry experience relating to putting together a proper hourly-rate bid for a contract like this? Or any terminology/syntax I should be aware of when documenting out my entire workflow process?

Marco Salsiccia
Engineer of Insurrection
Digital Anarchy

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Steve WargoRe: How to break down this job
by on Oct 8, 2006 at 10:22:48 am

Give them a package price. Avoid hourly pricing if possible. Quite frankly, this sounds like a weeklong $2500 job to me. Unless you're still a student of sorts. More details please.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!

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btveditorRe: How to break down this job
by on Oct 9, 2006 at 2:22:05 pm

Good day Marco,

I agree with Steve, give them the package price. To many times an hourly rate scares clients and even more so if it is broken down to everything you do.

I would make them a fair offer as Steve suggested, but make sure that you will make a couple nickles off of it. I can't stress that enough, it is one thing to help a new client out, but it is another to give them the farm. Reason being (take it from someone with 20 years experience), once you give them the farm, they'll expect it everytime.

My feeling is I got in this line of work because I like what I do, but I need to keep a roof over my head and food in my family's tummys. If clients want it for free go get a college student who is looking to start a reel and prove themselves. Other wise, good talent costs money. Of course there is always exceptions, sometimes probono work for a worthwile cause can be good for the soul.

btveditor, out

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Mark SuszkoRe: How to break down this job
by on Oct 10, 2006 at 3:28:33 pm

$800? For tweaking, encoding and AUTHORING 50 pieces of tape into TWO separate DVD's in three days?

You have to be freaking kidding me.

Assuming each student's piece is no more than three minutes, that makes a 2&1/2-hour DVD. Two of them, actually, you said. Even assuming you automate the authoring by using something like iDVD and it's built-in templates, this is still going to take quite a lot of time. You also don't say who's paying for the raw materials either.

A quick back-of-the-napkin calculation tells me you're making less than $21 an hour for this. Maybe way less, since I'm assuming ten-hour workdays without any breaks for meals or even the restroom, and who knows how much time it may take to tweak some of the entries for levels and etc...

Figure your hours and your rate, then you can base a flat fee on that and give the flat figure to the client, but I am not a fan of the flat fee on projects that have creative variables, as it almost always undershoots or overshoots. If you undershoot, you lose money or have to beg the client for more, and this is always a bad and unprofessional proposition to be in. If you overshoot, by a sufficiently large amount, you're never going to get called again, or will never get the initial bid. The flat fee should only be considered a baseline, with the understanding it can go under, but likely will go over by some percentage.

Flat fees are okay for mechanical things like straight dub making. I think for creative projects they are dangerous.

Most of all I think you are selling yourself cheap for 800 bucks; I can get that much for four hours work or less just shooting a wedding on a Saturday or editing one spot for an afternoon.

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JbaumchenRe: How to break down this job
by on Oct 11, 2006 at 2:43:11 am

I'm just a bit curious how you intend to loop it and provide an interactive menu. I was always under the assumption that a dvd was either a loop, (drop and play), or select an item, play it and return to menu.

Is there a trick I'm missing?

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Marco SalsicciaThanks for the replies!
by on Oct 13, 2006 at 11:27:06 pm

HI everyone, thanks for all the insight.

I knew as soon as they announced the going budget that it was severely undercut, and since the reel cutting was basically a side-job I did at the school when I was still a student there, I guess I was the first choice to possibly do this as a "favor" to them at that price.

It's going to be two an interactive one with menus and the like, and the other a widescreen looping presentation for a portfolio show. I'm friends with the Academic Director of the school and the Portfolio Teacher, and have given them stringent guidelines for the students to follow when creating their reels. They are going to be doing the encoding for me, handing off all the files I need to make both DVDs several weeks before the DVDs are due.

The people who are handling the budget are the ones who were expecting a ridiculous turn-over time.

Marco Salsiccia
Engineer of Insurrection
Digital Anarchy

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Steve WargoMore info
by on Oct 16, 2006 at 9:49:52 am

Get a staff of students to work for free and you become the project manager. I saw the word "favor" in there. This is up to you, of course, but this is a huge favor. It's always easy for someone to outline a project like this and make it sound like something you could knock off during lunch. That is hardly the case.

Someone above mentioned staying away from set prices or package jobs. However, this situation would never lend itself to getting paid hourly. They are expecting a "favor" price and only you can decide what to do here. I know that when I do favor type jobs, we don't usually want to know how many hours we have wrapped up in the project end then, they seem to tweak forever and ever.

A lot of people who get into this business look at it as though it's a job, instead of an actual business. If you're just getting started or you need the experience, do what you need to do but be fair to yourself. There will always be someone who wants you to help out or get on board or donate your time or whatever. Keep your eyes open.

Good luck.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!

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Ron LindeboomRe: Andmoreagain...
by on Oct 16, 2006 at 3:17:51 pm

Kathlyn and I have a standard line we use with friends who think we should do them a "favor" since it won't take us long to make them a commercial, edit a video or repair their computers...

We basically tell them: "Would you mind swinging by tomorrow with your crew and painting our restroom? After all, you're the expert and have all the equipment -- it should only take you a couple of hours or so. We'd really appreciate the favor." You can always tweak the recipe ingredients to suit the tastes of the person you are dealing with.

For some reason, what we do is not a "real" job, it's hard for people to get their heads around work such as that which is done in this industry. But if you can translate it into their realm of experience, they get the message real quick...

Eric, our code guru, likes to say that one of these days he is going to get a t-shirt that says: "No, I will NOT fix your computer. Sorry."

Sure, we've done favors, I think we all have -- but we have been asked for many more than we've actually done. The above recipe has helped us cure the problem in most cases.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

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