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Need advice on a presentation/demo video project for a client

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Need advice on a presentation/demo video project for a client
on Nov 8, 2007 at 1:53:29 pm

Hi everyone. I recently came across a project that I'm interested in doing. The potential client needs a screen-captured demo/presentation of their software/services that they would like to present at trade shows and/or to future clients.

At the moment, I'm not sure how long this video will be nor do I know if any editing (aside from some basic editing here and there, I presume) or motion graphics will be needed. My problem is that I have no idea what to charge. I have never done this type of work commercially but I do have experience with NLE and motion graphics (and I currently own Premiere Pro CS3 and After Effects CS3 Pro).

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I should go about coming up with an estimate for this project? Also, this will most likely be viewed on a projector. Is there anything that I need to know in order to make the video optimized for viewing on a projector?

Thanks in advance,

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Mark Suszko
Re: Need advice on a presentation/demo video project for a client
on Nov 8, 2007 at 3:42:41 pm

For billing, know your costs and establish your rate, one that not only covers your costs but also makes you a worthwhile profit. Do not bill a fixed price whatever you do, but make an estimate of the hours this will take you to do, add a small safety factor over that to get the stated estimated hours, and tell the the hourly rate you will charge, and set a number of hours on task, beyond which, you must stop and get an approval from them on.

Say that this protects the client as well as you if costs should escalate beyond a set point, or if they suddenly need to make additions or changes not previously budgeted. Insist on a partial advance payment to start the project, the rest payable upon successful completion and approval. You can sweeten the deal for a recalcitrant client by offering to rebate part of the cost if you do it in less time than the estimate. But don't offer that unless pushed. Really, it works out the same way either way when you're billing by the hour, that's the beauty of it. Work longer, get paid more.

Don't give the guy a useable master or final dub until you're paid; if he insists on "review copies" to take somewhere and show somebody, make sure you burn your logo bug or at least a time code window into the approval dub which makes it useless to pirate or use for anything but screening for approval.

As to tech/production suggestions, you can use screen recorders like snapz pro (just revised btw) on the mac or Camtasia for the PC, or you can hook a scan converter up to the client's box and digitize the output of that directly into your NLE or onto an intermediate step like to tape. I have seen good work done both ways, but I'm partial to using scan converters if they are good ("good" means at least a thousand bucks, which gets you great clean scaling and positioning as well as flicker removal and proc amp controls. You get what you pay for with scan converters, good news is can rent great ones for the day for a reasonable price). Capturing thru a software recorder can give great results but may interfere with the computer's process you're trying to document, plus, the movie files created are generally very large, so storage may be a consideration.

Things to watch out for while capturing include very thin lines on the screen that will seem to vibrate if you capture interlaced, and you want to watch the brightness and chroma saturation levels coming out of the client's box, so that your levels are not blown out with loss of detail and subsequent ugliness during video projection.

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David Roth Weiss
Re: Need advice on a presentation/demo video project for a client
on Nov 8, 2007 at 5:20:49 pm

Mark has pretty much said it all... He's good at that. I would just add that in every case where mark has used "hours" in his discussion about billing the client, you could insert "days" or even "half days." On many projects where I'm the "one man band," I prefer to bill days and half days, thus simplifying my accounting job and imposing a form of order that the client quickly realizes they need to adapt to.

I have always found that doing just about anything for a client eats up at least half a day, so my units of measurement usually reflect that. It usually works out better for everyone, as it encourages clients to organize their ideas. Instead of calling me about each and every idea or change, knowing that its going to cost them half a day encourages them to write a list and submit several wishes to me at one time, in a much more efficient manner.

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


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