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How to price a car dealership commercial

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Joe Cinquina
How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 3:55:56 pm

What should the going rate be for a 30 sec spot on cable tv for a car dearlership?

Includes:
A couple of pan shots of cars.
Talent next to a couple of cars describing them.
Lower third graphic.
Animated logo.
Graphical map of location.

I own all the equipment and whould do must of it myself.

Thanks.

Best regards,

Joe


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walter biscardi
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 4:06:32 pm

No different than you price any other project. Your day rate for the shoot and your standard editing rate for the Post.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
http://www.biscardicreative.com
HD Editorial & Animation for Broadcast and independent productions.

All Things Apple Podcast! http://cowcast.creativecow.net/all_things_apple/index.html

Read my blog! http://blogs.creativecow.net/WalterBiscardi


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Joe Cinquina
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 4:33:40 pm

Thank you for your reply. I just have one problem, this is my first job like this where I have to think about procing those elements. What should I charge for the day-Shooting, the editing? the animation?

In the past i have done corporate for my company.

Thanks.

Joe


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MindYourVideoBusiness
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 5:43:50 pm

An experienced production company would charge in the ball park of $1400 per day for a two-person shoot. That would include a director/videographer, sound technician/production assistant, camera/tripod, one light kit, two wireless microphones and a shotgun mic with boom pole.

As far as editing is concerned, you would charge anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour based on your experience and market.

I have found that local car dealerships typically don't like to spend a lot of money on their commercials so it might be a challenge to get more than $1000 for all your efforts. If this is the case, try to get them to commit to multiple ads over the course of a year so that you can give them the "volume discount."

Kristopher G. Simmons

Video Business Coach

http://MindYourVideoBusiness.com


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walter biscardi
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 5:55:53 pm

[Joe Cinquina] "I just have one problem, this is my first job like this where I have to think about procing those elements. What should I charge for the day-Shooting, the editing? the animation?"

Then you'll have to charge less than most other folks unless you come to this project with a ton of prior experience and accolades.

Around Atlanta, the going rate for a good photographer with equipment is around $1,200 - $2,500/day depending on the gear. Sound / grip person - $350/day

Editing runs from $50 - $650/hour depending on the room and the operator.

Car dealerships are notorious for not wanting to pay diddly for their spots so we don't do them here. The only way to make any money on these guys at all is to get them to sign a 10 - 12 spot contract. If not, you'll be putting in about three times as many hours as you'll get paid for.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
http://www.biscardicreative.com
HD Editorial & Animation for Broadcast and independent productions.

All Things Apple Podcast! http://cowcast.creativecow.net/all_things_apple/index.html

Read my blog! http://blogs.creativecow.net/WalterBiscardi


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grinner
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 7:06:22 pm

3-5k is a fair number for these spots.
I usually don't shoot the car spots I edit but I have seen no reason to cut breaks as little as I do em so I just charge my hourly rate. Assuming you need a minimum of a grand a day for your time and overhead, thats how I started at 3k. A day of shooting, a day of editing and a day for graphics and animation.
That said, don't let me make your day rate $1k. Figure up what you need based on your overhead and expertise.



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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 6:22:52 pm

Joe,

When I directed car dealership spots, we always shot exterior shots of vehicles at an angle/45-degrees so that you can see the front and the side at the same time. The dealer managers demanded that from us.

Bruce

Bruce Bennett,
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC - http://www.bmmp.com


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Steve Wargo
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 8:08:34 pm

We don't do anything for under $2500 for a basic project and what you're describing would start at around $3500 and run to around $5k.

If you're asking us how much to charge, I would have to suspect that you are new to the business. Do you know what is required by the TV station or cable company? Most of them still rely on getting a BetaSP of the product, properly formatted in broadcast specs, like SMPTE Bars, 1K Tone, proper Slate, starting the TC at 00:58:30:00 etc. Do you know all of this?

Do you have the ability to deliver a proper finished product to the media that is running the spot? You can't just cut a commercial together and drop a dvd off at the tv station, in most instances. Some of the smaller markets do that but they don't do it here. Check on this before you get too far. If you need to have it transferred, find a post house now that will do it when it's ready and make sure that you provide exactly what they need. This could kill your project down the road.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut Pro systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 17, 2007 at 10:35:44 pm

So many answers and numbers but ultimately it's what does it take for it to be profitable for you and meet your potential client's needs. What gear do you have?

The low budget version.
Shoot on 1/3" 3 chip chip camera with tripod. Maybe a good small stabilizer. Don't use an assistant. Don't try to record any audio on location unless you and the client are ok with someone wearing a wireless lav.

Edit includes shots, a selection of stock music from your music library. Somebody from the dealership stops in to do the voice over. Create your basic graphics in Photoshop, After Effects, Motion. Don't be afraid to use stock backgrounds or presets. You can probably edit the whole thing in one eight hour day. Do make sure everything is broadcast legal.

Deliver spot by creating MPEG2 Program Stream and use DGFastchannel. You won't need to go out to DigiBeta or BetaSP that way.

If the client really is low budget you can do the above for about $1500 ($750 an 8 hour day). Believe it or not some clients may be ok with the above. If you act as the ad agency you can also get 15% for the media buy.

This is your one man band version of the job. Your objective is to make a profit you're comfortable with. Be honest with the client though about the corners you're cutting.


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cowcowcow
Mark Suszko
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:48:44 am

If they complain about the extra charge for undercoating the back side of all your luma keys, tell them they do that at the factory and you can't take that off, but that you'll go talk to your manager and see if you can make an "adjustment".



More seriously, car dealerships have the rep they do regarding spots because it's generally proved true over time. Go into this knowing you are dealing with the Devil, and everything said by them needs to be parsed and double-checked for loopholes. Others have discussed rates, I'll add some side details. First, I'm shocked you have a chance at working for "Faustian Motors, home of the Hellishly Good Dealz" at all; usually the local cable company grinds these out at a shockingly low fee nobody else an match, if they agree to the time buy (placement) package from the cabe company. The good news for you is that their "free" productions usually LOOK like what they cost. Anyway, on to some rules....

Rule 1 is NEVER do the job for a flat fee, EVER. Always charge an hourly rate, and don't charge half-days. Completion times are always an ESTIMATE; as in car repair, it may take longer and you will have to charge accordingly if it does. And always get at least a partial deposit in advance. Many folks here like working in thirds: a third up front, a third after the shoot or first rough cut screening, and the final third paid in full upon delivery of the approved final master. Pay your own expenses and any rentals or crew costs out of the up-front money. Adjust the amount of the first "third" to make sure this can happen. Never start the second project until the first one is all paid for, this rule must be set in stone and told to the client in advance. You are NOT a finance company, let them go to a bank to make money off the interest on someone else's money.

Rule 2 is Never believe the proposition that if you do the first 1,2, or however many at a discount, you'll get a lot more future biz at a higher rate. Repeat this mantra: "I am not a finance company". My own personal rule is to walk away from clients that ever mention this proposition, but hey, you are already dealing with car salesmen, so it's kind of too late for that... Still, any time they suggest a price "adjustment" for volume, suggest they have it happen on the "back end", that is, no, you won't drop your rate on these first spots, but if "we" establish a good working relationship now, you will start cutting them a volume deal on spot number five and after that.

Rule 3 is GET IT IN WRITING. What you are doing, at what rate, what deadline, what amount is paid down and when the rest is payable. What you will and won't do if the deal is cancelled. What format and how many are you responsible to deliver. Who pays for errors and changes. How many changes allowed before a new deal must be arranged. ( My rule of thumb is, one set of free changes after the rough cut screening or first time they see the edited master, interpreted pretty liberally as long as the changes don't require new elements. Mistakes they make like spelling, they pay for, mistakes I make, I eat. After a second screening, any more changes at that point are billed as a new job. ) Who owns the tapes shot and the shots done; will you be able to show people your spots in a demo reel. Will the client provide any stock footage, logos, or other elements.

Rule 4 is It COSTS WHAT IT COSTS. Build a reasonable profit into your rate, so that if you divide the time you spent into the money you made after expenses, you're not working a wage that qualifies you for your own plastic name tag and spatula. While it's right to pay attention to what others charge, don't let that figure rule you: they can be low-balling, or have some other reason they can afford to charge too low. If you lowball first time out, it is HELL trying to get the rate raised later when it becomes apparent you have not been charging enough due to inexperience. Work out your true costs of doing business and your profit, add some margin on top for safety, see if you are somewhere AT LEAST in the upper middle range of competitors rates for similar work, then re-evaluate after the first job. Don't take a too-low rate because its' "good for your portfolio/demo reel".

Rule 5 Is come back here and run things by the group mind here any time your spider-sense starts tingling or you just don't know for sure. These guys are VERY smart and eager to let you benefit from their vast experience and avoid mistakes they've made. You have a HUGE resource and support team here working for you: USE IT!





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Steve Wargo
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 18, 2007 at 5:07:56 am

[Craig Seeman] "Deliver spot by creating MPEG2 Program Stream and use DGFastchannel. You won't need to go out to DigiBeta or BetaSP that way."

Craig, Our cable company says "BetaSP Only" so before suggesting the above, it might be wise to have him check with whoever will be broadcasting the piece. We've delivered DVDs to other media broadcasters but each one has their own capabilities. The local channel that brags about being all HD cannot take an HDCAM tape while all of their news room is HDCAM.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut Pro systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 18, 2007 at 10:42:13 am

.[Steve Wargo] "Our cable company says "BetaSP Only" so before suggesting the above, it might be wise to have him check with whoever will be broadcasting the piece."

Both my local cable companies told me BetaSP too. After a local dub house delivered 3 bad BetaSP dubs to both cable companies, I asked both companies, "is there another way?" They both said DGFastchannel. They had no idea a local spot producer would have the ability to use them. They were getting spots from DGFastchannel from their big regional advertisers. I looked into the price and found it was no more expensive than using any overnight shipper. Only one didn't have to dub to tape and neither go to a shipping office, wait for a pickup, hand deliver a tape to the local cable office. In short, it saved both money and time.

Simply ask the cable company. They might be saying BetaSP simply because they have no idea you have access to DGFastchannel (or some of their smaller competitors).

BTW DGFastchannel will tell you who accepts their method of delivery even if the cable company is reluctant to say.

[Steve Wargo] "The local channel that brags about being all HD cannot take an HDCAM tape while all of their news room is HDCAM."

News room and advertising have little to do with each-other at many cable station. We have one that shoots all DVCPro but advertising insisted on BetaSP . . . until my prodding which resulted in finding out they accept DGFastchannel MPEG2 Program Streams.



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Steve Wargo
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 18, 2007 at 5:30:27 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Simply ask the cable company."

I just did that again and same answer, but, I am going to head down there shortly and we'll see what they actually say in the tech department.


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 18, 2007 at 5:53:49 pm

Given what you're finding I'd thought I'd add detail to my story. Important to note that my area is divided between two cable companies.

One company INSISTED BetaSP and the OTHER told me about DGFastchannel. I spoke to DGFastchannel and confirmed the info told to me by the one that acknowldged it as a delivery solution. I said it was odd that other didn't accept it as a delivery method. DGFastchannel told me they BOTH accepted it.

The short story is that you might simply ask DGFastchannel themselves. They know exactly who accepts their delivery.


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Steve Wargo
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 19, 2007 at 6:10:07 am

Thanks Craig. I pressured them and they accept Vivx, Telestream and DGF. Well I'll be darned. This will save us on our deadlines.

Did I say thanks?


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Joe Murray
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 19, 2007 at 1:09:24 am

If you upload a full-resolution mpeg-2 to DGFastChannel, they can deliver a BetaSP to the station next day for a little more than digital delivery. Or a DVD, DVCPro, DBeta, whatever format you need. I have all of these decks in house and sometimes in a time crunch I'll have DG make the dubs anyway.

Joe Murray


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Steve Wargo
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 19, 2007 at 3:25:07 pm

Joe

I found them on the web but how about if you give a short piece on the process and what we should expect to pay.



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut Pro systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck


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Joe Murray
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 19, 2007 at 3:32:29 pm

Basically, encode to mpeg-2 using DG's specs, upload to their ftp site, then place an order to send the spot through their online order system. You have to go through a testing period with DG to make sure your files are encoded properly to work with your system. This was the biggest hassle of the whole process but once we got it working everything else has been fairly simple. Price will depend on how much you use the service. We sometimes send as many as 10 spots to 50 stations, so we get a pretty good rate, at least I hope we do. A good way to go is to get pricing from their competitors as a point of comparison.

Joe


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Joe Cinquina
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 19, 2007 at 8:16:58 pm

What a wealth of information! You guys are great. This by far is the best forum here. One can learn so much from the contribution.

I guess I feel some what humbled and maybe a bit ignorant on how this business works. I have been given this opportunity because I made a demo reel of the work I have done and they like what the saw. As far as equipment goes, I have just a Canon XH A1 HDV camera, basic light kit, tri-pod and a whole lot of passion. I know have another question; Do you believe my equipment is not up to snuff for this job? Will I have to rent?

Thanks.

Joe


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Mark Suszko
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:35:55 pm

I learned some things here too, never heard of FastChannel before this, will check them out.

Joe, The interesting thing about car commercials is there are so many ways to do them, so your gear question is hard to answer until you pick a style and type of spot to do. For example, you could do spots all day and never use a camera once: just a lot of (and I mean a LOT) of graphics flying around and flashing and whatnot, from images supplied by the client or the co-op they belong to that furnishes great pre-shot still and motion images from the manufacturers. My friend who lives in Texas does this kind of stuff almost exclusively, it's mostly Aftereffects work from what I can tell.

Some local dealers are more vain than others and always need to be seen IN their spots. Until we know the context of the shot, again, hard to say if you have enough gear to do it. You probably don't have a jib for example, and to show the splendor of a car lot, the high angle jib shot is very often just the ticket. You can rent a jib if you live near a large city with a rental place. Or if this is going to be a long series of spots with a good portion pre-paid, you might build the cost of purhasing one into your rate up front and pay it off in six or so jobs. From there on out, YOU rent it out:-)

Here is a little cheap trick you can use in place of a jib: get a hi-hat, which is a mount for your tripod's pan head that looks vaguely like Abe Lincoln's hat. Often used to shoot very low angles like a bug's eye view of a hot sportscar. Bolt the hi hat to a small piece of plywood, and c-clamp the board and hi hat to a 10- foot stepladder. Instant stable crane shot, looks great.

Of course it can't do the sweeping moves of a real jib or crane, just pans and zooms, but often that's enough. I've worked with real Matthews jibs on a dolly and with the stepladder, you really can't tell the difference when the shot is just static. The hi-hat can also be adapted to ride on, say, the hood of a moving car, so it's a flexible kind of purchase capable of multiple use, unlike a jib that only does one thing. A beanbag can be used on the ladder instead of the hi hat but is less stable and more dangerous.

Another piece of gear that will be handy for car spots is a rotateable polarizer for your lens, to remove glare from car windows and let you see people and details inside the car.

You're probably going to need a good wireless mic if the guy wants to do standups.

The things I see wrong the most in low-budget car dealer spots are:

Bad lighting or just exisiting light, usually with a bad background choice that's too busy or off-message. Lighting a car to look the best is a skill all by itself. There are tricks to doing it on a budget.

Too MUCH light: too much backlight from windows, or the wrong color temperature, or the light hits everything in the frame inclusing useless things, instead of being mostly on the things you want to emphasize.

Crummy audio with wind noise or off-mic. Long mic wires in the shot.

Shaky handheld camerawork with bad framing.

No extra shots at different focal lengths to allow for better editing. Do more takes.

Cue card reading that look off axis to the lens. Memorize the lines or invest in a real thru the lens prompter.

Horrific scripts written by the client. No real solution to this if he insists, since he's paying. Try to first beat the easy to fix problems and save client relations for last in this case, because the better you make them look, the more they will start to take your opinion about other matters.



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Timothy J. Allen
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 21, 2007 at 4:01:52 am

Good stuff so far...

You'll learn a lot by talking to the client. Some dealers have done TV spots for eons and the guy on camera will know (or at least think they know) exactly what they want. This is not always a bad thing, if you figure out the reasons why they ask for certain things. For instance, I've had dealers that wanted to tape a new spot every week UNLESS it rained the day before but WASN'T raining during the shoot. Why? Because puddles underneath the cars give the subliminal impression that all the cars leaked oil. ;-)

The funny thing was that they didn't mind doing the spot if it had been raining for several days and it was still raining WHILE they taped, since they didn't worry about people mistaking what was clearly rain for oil. Since they did a new spot each and every week, they knew that once sunny skies were there again, the customers would also show up again, and they would rather update the spots than air one that was two weeks old.

Other dealership clients we had focused on the affluent market, so they wanted a broader campaign, with more longevity. This meant that we couldn't get specific with current deals, but focused instead on building the dealerships image of high-end quality. So we shot on film, used the jibs and dollys, and spent WAY more time on lighting and audio etc. etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that even though there might be a typical "car-spot", it's still good to really find out what image your client wants to project. What differentiates them form the competition? If you can make your spots stand out, SOME clients will keep you for that reason. Then again, others just want quantity at "decent" broadcast standards rather than high art. There are good business cases for both types of campaigns. Just make sure you understand the requests, so you don't get frustrated.

By the way, the gear that you listed gear is most likely fine as long as you know how to use it well. If you find out they want shots that you need more gear to pull off, simply rent that gear and charge them enough to cover the overhead.

We had one client that always wanted to shoot at night, since the talent was the general sales manager and he was always very busy during the daylight. We rented HMIs and all was well...
(Although our audio tech strongly suspected that the sales manager only wanted to shoot at night because "salesmen are technically vampires"... Seems the audio guy didn't get the discount on the new vehicle he thought he's get from working on their spots. ;-)



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JBaumchen
Re: How to price a car dealership commercial
on Sep 24, 2007 at 5:53:09 pm

I'd give them a set price on one line using a 16 point font, then give them 4 pages of conditions that the price is dependent on, conditions they can't possibly meet and put it in 4 point font.



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