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How would you estimate this?

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Ben AvechucoHow would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 8:20:20 am

I worked on a project for a friend because I wanted to see his pillow project succeed.
He asked me how much such a commercial would cost, and I had no idea what it might run him out in the real world.

We were not able to get on an airplane or train to shoot the video, so I green screened everything.

I'm used to costing my editing project by the hour, or by the project, but since I hadn't really done this kind of effects work before, I didn't know how to approach it.

Any thoughts on how you folks would estimate the final cost of this?







Thanks!

- Ben


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Rick DolishnyRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 1:39:24 pm

Is the Kiro a competitor or what you shot on spec?

That's worth a minimum of $25,000 by my estimation. To get the ball rolling. That's production, gear rental, talent, rental for the space, post, audio...

- Rick

---
Rick Dolishny
Discrete Editors COW Leader
http://www.thecreativeprocess.ca


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Ben AvechucoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:42:40 pm

This is what I shot on spec.

One test shoot to make sure it would work with stock photos, a second shoot to make the :30 version and a third to make the :60 version which if the one he wanted for air.

It was shot using a Sony Z1U in HDV. For the final shoot I tried capturing footage directly from the Z1 using a Black Magic Intensity Pro to avoid 4:0:0 problems.


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Rick DolishnyRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:52:55 pm

For green screen I'd shoot BetaSP over HDV and upconvert the SD to HD, but that's open to discussion!

- Rick

---
Rick Dolishny
Discrete Editors COW Leader
http://www.thecreativeprocess.ca


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Mark SuszkoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:53:52 pm

I'm jealous of how well the compositing came out, would like to know more about how you put that together. The spot compares favorably in appearance to the many others we see on the tube. That is, it looks very much like the rest of them. Which could be good, because it's familiar, or bad, because it's not distinct and memorable from the rest.

I don't think anybody runs 60's anymore unless they are part of a longer infomercial. And you get more separate chances to make an impression running two thirties for the same money as for one sixty, IMO.

When figuring out the costs, are you factoring in fulfilment? Because an outfit like Bamzu not only makes the spot and arranges the time buys, but also handles taking the orders, processing the credit cards, and shipping out the product.

What you charge for the spot alone is based on time and materials, plus your markup. To handle all thsoe other things I mentioned would obviously add much more to the package.


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Mark SuszkoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:33:25 pm

People still run :60's?



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Rick DolishnyRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:51:09 pm

It's an infomercial. :30, :60, very common. 1:20 is now considered "long form" which is kinda funny. And of course the 28:30 still exists. Although in some markets I'm seeing 13:30 which is strange but up and coming.

- Rick

---
Rick Dolishny
Discrete Editors COW Leader
http://www.thecreativeprocess.ca


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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:59:51 pm

[Rick Dolishny] "It's an infomercial. :30, :60, very common."

Yeah, :60s and longer are usually seen for "infomercially" type stuff.

I'm taking a wild guess here since we have never really counted, but I'm betting that in my little company's tenure we have probably produced something in the range of 10,000 television commercials. Exactly two of them were :60. TWO.

Strangely enough though, for radio here :60 is more common than :30, because at least in our market radio spots are sold by "units" rather than by time, and at many stations a :60 costs no more than a :30. Weird.

We have, on the other hand, produced a lot of TV spots that were shorter than :30. We recently talked to a client who wanted all this stuff in his spot, and then found out that he only wanted a :15. Its also amazing how many national spots you see on network TV that are just :10.

Sorry to get the post sidetracked....




T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 4:05:02 pm

I should add that I thought the compositing was pretty darn good.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rick DolishnyRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 5:14:58 pm

Wait a minute I'm confused.

Again, is the Kiro spot YOUR spot, or is that the spot the client said "make our spot look like this one"?

If the client is in fact Kiro and this is your work, you did a great job. Bill it!

---
Rick Dolishny
Discrete Editors COW Leader
http://www.thecreativeprocess.ca


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Ben AvechucoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 7, 2008 at 7:41:51 pm

Yes - The Kiro Pillow spot is my spot. if you look at the YouTube previews, you'll probably see a link to the :30 version.
I did most of the compositing in Final Cut in HDV. The Chroma Keyer in FCP was much more forgiving to the HDV compression than what I found in After Effects or Shake.
I did use shake for a couple of the keys where I used DVCPRO-HD for.

My client is doing his own marketing for now, and the spots have helped him get his foot in the door with folks. The :60 spot is for local cable inserts. I'm not taking part in the fulfillment at all.


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Randall RaymondRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 3:09:04 am

[Ben Avechuco] "Yes - The Kiro Pillow spot is my spot. if you look at the YouTube previews, you'll probably see a link to the :30 version."

May I be blunt? The acting is horrible and unbelievable. Typical over-acting. It really detracts from the message - because the thing LOOKS like it could work really well. The voice over is all wrong as well - it should be soothing, relaxing - perhaps a female voice would have worked better.

Some technical wonders, yes, but the message got lost.

I would have liked to have seen the packaging in case I see it in an airport store. 16 shots of people in seats got old. i.e. It's a truncated message when there's more to it. e.g. You could have shown one of the actors AFTER the flight looking refreshed and at the top of his game. Just some thoughts...

What would I pay as a client? Nothing, until you fixed it. I don't know how others will react, but I've had clients who would kick me out of their office if I showed up with a product full of problems like that.


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Mark RaudonisRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 4:32:03 am

randall,

May I be blunt? Who asked you for your critical opinion?

This is an infomercial... not a frickin' Academy Award contender! Jeez. Give the guy some credit for a great spec spot!

Why don't you post your latest project so we can all take a shot at it?

Mark


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Randall RaymondRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 4:39:46 am

[Mark Raudonis] "May I be blunt? Who asked you for your critical opinion?"

He did - by asking what it was worth. Would you pay $25,000 for it? He asked for your critical opinion as well. So what would YOU pay? $100,000.00? What? Be blunt - I wanna understand your standards. Let's go, man, put your money where your mouth is...


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Zane BarkerRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 5:30:27 am

[Mark Raudonis] "This is an infomercial... not a frickin' Academy Award contender!"

Yes it is an infomercial, and the purpose of an infomercial is to SELL the product. Randall is completely right, yes there are some really great technical effects like the keying, but clients do not care what technical aspects what into what they are paying for, ALL they care about is if it is a overall good product and whether or not it will do what it is supposed to do.

In this case it is supposed to sell the product. Does it do that? In my opinion NO! I mean absolutely no offense by saying that.

The reason I believe that it does not sell the product is because the actors intend to be serious but come off CHEEZY. Most people immediately discredit a product when the advertisement comes across cheesy then they are trying to come across as serious. Being cheesy on purpose can work at times, but you must be aware that you are doing it.

Personally for me it was fine right up until the time the "fake" actors "tried" to act. I would hire some "quality" actors and have them do some "believable" user comments. I would also place those actors in a place like an airport and have them say how it affected the flight they just got off, that could also help it be more believable.

Bottom line is the actors MUST come off believable that they really to use the product in real life.


Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!


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Randall RaymondRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 3:38:50 pm

[Mark Raudonis] "Give the guy some credit for a great spec spot!"

Well, there were certainly some great keyed shots. We all agree on that - very clever. But as Zane remarked, 'Who cares?' Beyond that, why do you think it was so great?

Bottom-line - it didn't sell me, it advertised at me. None of the ad agencies I've worked with would have accepted it or payed for it.


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Mark SuszkoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 5:05:39 pm

Let's not get too esoteric here: It is, after all, just a travel pillow. A technology that's hundreds of years old. And one that historically makes you look goofy using it, no matter what. This one particularly does because it makes you look like you were in a whiplash accident. But maybe it *IS* an improvement. That's what he has to sell.

That thing is never going to be a fashion accessory. I'm not sure how you're going to make an item like that much more "sexy". You actually become a parody of yourself if you push that slickness too far on such a prosaic item. So you don't.

You fight goofy-looking with "practical", or "saves money", and "but it works". For example, the Flo-Bee vacuum hair cutting device. Our family wore out two in twelve years and is on our third one, they've all more than paid for themselves, and the thing looks stupid but actually WORKS. We don't take the flowbee out on public walks, or show it to houseguests. We just use it at home and nobody can tell we're saving huge amounts of money on kid's trims alone. Back to the issue...

So you concentrate, not on fashion appeal, but on function and benefit. And testimonials are an obvious, direct way to do that. You could go another way and concentrate on end-result benefit, for example comparing two people on the same trip: one used the pillow, the other didn't, and the non-user is either tired, sore, or both. However, this takes longer to tell well on screen.

You can argue that the testimonials are not as sincere or effective as you might want. In a spot like this, I think you want as many different examples as possible so everybody in the target market sees a person they might identify with. You try to show as many possible situations and users as you can, to get consumers to picture themselves using it.

The one other testimonial you HAVE to have in there somewhere is a scientific or medical expert saying yes, this really works. The quality of that particular testimonial endorsement is specially important. The more prestigious list of endorsements you can amass, the better. Typically you would see a a sports-related celebrity used for this.

I wouldn't ride the guy too hard on what he's done. It's technically very well executed for what it is, particularly the fake airline seat compositing. They can't all be Chanel no. 5 spots with swimming pool montages.


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Randall RaymondRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 5:21:35 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I wouldn't ride the guy too hard on what he's done. It's technically very well executed for what it is, particularly the fake airline seat compositing."

I agree, it was super in that regard. But he asked what he should charge. Someone suggested $25,000. On that score, since I think it missed the greater mark of actually convincing people, I think it needs to be fixed before sold. It came off as a huckster and planted shills - I guess that still works on some people but, for the majority, it's a complete turn-off.

What would you pay him? That's his question.


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toby de jongRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 8, 2008 at 9:20:06 pm

I agree I like the production Values but the actors were a bit cheesy I wanted to see some graphic to sell me on the pillows ability to comfort me.
either fix it or charge around $10,000 and don't tell anyone you made it thats what our production company does. as long as the customer is happy.

Nice job on the compositing


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Timothy J. AllenRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 9, 2008 at 1:50:46 am

I haven't taken the time to run my magic spreadsheet, but I'm fairly certain that my charge for this would be much closer to the $10k mark than the $25k one.

I'm also assuming a huge cost savings by using non-union actors (not-so-professional). Of course, it's way easier to criticize work than to actually do the work, so I really don't mean to be harsh.

I understand that there is a purpose for this style of production and it's not all about art. Nice compositing, by the way. A bad key would have not only been distracting, it would have endangered credibility of the production.

Unfortunately, something else made it seem a little less than authentic. The spot lost me at 28 seconds when the woman let a slight smile slip when her head dropped. Credibility is absolutely vital for this type of ad, so you need actors who are truly sincere and believe in the product - or actors who at least could convince you that they really use it.

Those don't.

Well, there is the shot right after the one I mentioned - at about 31 seconds) where the woman is smiling in comfort. She seemed to really enjoy the comfort of the pillow.

Enough about the b-roll... I'd be less judgmental about the on-camera testimonials if I was convinced that I was seeing real users of the product, since some (real) people just act different on camera because they are nervous.

All this said, I have to admit that I've done my fair share of corporate videos where we have to use employees on hand as "actors", due to budget and deadlines. We all probably KNOW better than to do this, but sometimes that budget and the deadline actually is more important (especially to the client) than whether I'm convinced that the two businessmen shaking hands in the shot are really entrepreneurs that are happy to be doing business with each other.

Sometimes I try to educate the clients on points such as this. Sometimes I don't. We all pick our battles, I guess.

The important thing is to step back and ask "After it's all said and done, will this video achieve what it is intended to achieve?" Even ask "Will this decision lead help produce a product that will achieve the goal of the client?" That question can guide most if not all of your decisions while producing the spot - even the so called artistic decisions.








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Randall RaymondRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 9, 2008 at 4:05:24 am

[Timothy J. Allen] "Credibility is absolutely vital for this type of ad, so you need actors who are truly sincere and believe in the product"

Actors are actors - they are paid to look and act sincere. The better ones don't need much direction - the average actor does. The non-actor needs a lot of direction. Where does that direction come from?

When an shooter-guy or an editor-guy (and, Ben, you're a good one) tries to make a commercial, they had better be a good director as well. They are usually not.

Directorship is not really about managing actors, it's about making a story-board come alive. Successful productions are about one guy putting his vision together in sight and sound. He's the one guy video studios need if they are to make commercials and make their mark. When you find him, hire him and pay him well. He'll grow your business, not the software you throw at it.


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Andrew KimeryRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 9, 2008 at 7:49:28 am

The only thing it's missing, IMO, is a quasi-medical looking graphic/animation to come up and "illistrate" how the pillow works w/when the VO says, "It supports your chin and jaw...." To me the less than stellar acting in this case isn't a huge detractor for a couple of reasons. First, most actors in these types of commercials aren't very good anyway, and if these are supposed to be testimonials from real people I don't expect real people to come off as good actors on camera.

This thing might not be the best commercial ever made but I think it could definitely go on air and move some pillows.


-A


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Timothy J. AllenRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 9, 2008 at 6:41:02 pm

Randell,
Maybe I should have put the word "actors" in quotes? Actors are paid to be believable, but that doesn't mean that those in front of the camera will always do so.

... and I do believe there IS such a thing as bad actors, just as there are bad directors, bad editors, etc.

Andrew Kimery is correct though - after all this discussion I agree that the spot would move some pillows. If it does, it's done it's job.

The original post was about pricing. That question varies depending on how much it costs the producer to create the spot. That's affected by a myriad of factors, such as geographic location. I wouldn't charge $25 k for production of it, but then again, I don't live in NYC or LA. If I did, I might.


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Mark SuszkoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 9, 2008 at 7:13:14 pm

I forgot now because I only watched it one time, but if it doesn't have a few seconds of scientific/medical-looking animation in it showing how it relieves pressure points and keeps the neck straight, it should.

I think that would help sell it. Making that animation could cost between $500 and $1500 depending on the artist and level of detail you needed, and if it was 2-d or CGI.

Instead of saying what this spot should be billed at, I'm just going to say a figure that sounds "reasonable" from the standpoint of if I was contracting to have this done for me.

Including the newly proposed animations and the lovely compositing work already done, I would not flinch at a bill for eight to ten grand. However, I think an identical such spot *could* be done, shooting, post, all done, for a cost as low as three grand before markup.

Is that a wise amount to charge, I hesitate to say yes, because I don't know the kind of hours put into the shooting and compositing or the new animation. I would assume three days for the post work, all-inclusive, and a day for the shooting, so on a strict time basis, multiply 4 days times your day rate to get into the ballpark before adding any markup and materials/expenses.


Tha magic of the day rate, and it's curse, is that it doesn't reflect or care how hard or not you worked in those ten hours, how brilliant you were, what dragons you had to slay, what problems you innovated a way around, how much of your Wa and chi you invested in this. Some would say time is time and all else is irrelevant. There are biblical and ethical as well as economic arguments in favor of this idea.

Others would say you should add something to the markup if you had to make a super-hard effort or if some part was especially unpleasant or painful. That decision has to be up to the individual.

If someone is a super pain, you might very well decide to add on a "jerk charge" to your markup, (under some other name of course) to either make you feel better, discourage the pest/ grinder from coming back, or both.

If you are going to set such extra charges however, think about the other side: would you give the client a discount for making your job easier or more pleasant or fun? Have you ever?
Seems to me that you can't do one without the other and sleep well at night.

It is not all just a numbers game, there are intangibles and opportunity costs galore to deal with. Think these thru and try to be consistent with whatever rules you cook up for your billing.


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George SockaRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 9, 2008 at 10:17:36 pm

I have no opinion on costing, but the message and delivery is no worse than the Head On spots - and they seem to work. No worse than the Blowflex infomercials. Bay more believable than any of the Mac vs. PC things. But not sure that they work anyway.

A TV viewer will watch this twice - he needs to remember the name and the 800 number. And remember his last long airplane flight.

Of course most such spots also offer 2 more free if you order now, but that is a fulfillment thing, not a video creative thing.

Your average pillow buyer is not going to analyse the quality of the acting. An ad agency might, but obviously this was not sold with a slew of intermediaries with their fingers in the pie.

George Socka
BeachDigital
http://www.beachdigital.com


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Timothy J. AllenRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 10, 2008 at 12:30:05 am

I have a friend who ran a very successful ad agency for more than 20 years. He told me a couple of years ago that "the Head On spots are brilliant!", "They aren't art, but they work".

(I'm summarizing.)

He also noted that they NEVER actually claimed to do anything. "Head On. Apply directly to the forehead."

No claims=No lawsuits for it not working.

... and to apply directly to the forehead you most likely have to BUY IT.

subtle yet terribly... um...not subtle.


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Randall RaymondRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 10, 2008 at 4:14:53 am

[Timothy J. Allen] "I have a friend who ran a very successful ad agency for more than 20 years. He told me a couple of years ago that "the Head On spots are brilliant!", "They aren't art, but they work"."

Kinda like jingle advertising of the 50's and early 60's - I still know them! "See the USA in your Chevrolet lalala..." So incredibly effective! "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom" Jingle producers were in high demand and got top dollar - we may see that resurgence as the subtle gives way to staying power. "You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!'


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Mark SuszkoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 10, 2008 at 4:25:48 am

"Hot Pock-ets".....

Oh yeah, the zazz is back in jingle creation... well, maybe not:-)



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Randall RaymondRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 10, 2008 at 5:18:38 am

[Mark Suszko] ""Hot Pock-ets".....

Oh yeah, the zazz is back in jingle creation... well, maybe not:-)"


Sung to the tune of 'That's Amore'

"When an ell
lunges out
and it bites
off your snout...
that's a morey."

After 20-200 views of a first class jingle, I'll have you reciting it for the rest of your life. Why?


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Mark SuszkoRe: How would you estimate this?
by on Jan 11, 2008 at 6:47:13 am

On a lighter note, it could have been worse. He could have had to work on a 2-for-one combo offer with the travel pillow and THIS product:







(note: while safe for work, the link goes to a spot with audio that might be misconstrued by someone not watching the screen, be advised)

I dunno if this is legit or not, they have the Ronco look and feel down very well. But somehow I just don't think the product was named right.


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