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New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help

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jorberg
New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 13, 2008 at 3:11:48 pm

Hello,
I am planning on doing a very small project for a company in my area -- it is a 5-10 second motion graphic sequence for a video podcast they will be using for the next year. It will be the intro and the outro. This is all they need. I'll be using After Effects and maybe a smidge of C4D to finish the project.

I'm hoping I don't get overly flamed which for some reason seems to be a growing trend, but I'm trying to figure out what I should charge for something like this. In the past, I have completed longer videos (8-10 minutes) that include motion graphic sequences, but I have never completed JUST the sequence for a project. This creates a problem because I've never priced something out like this.

Do you have any advice on how to charge someone for this? Here's what I have thought about -- Maybe I should charge an hourly rate, because I'm not exactly sure about how long it will take to complete the project. However, I estimate it should take me about 4-5 hours to get something together that they would really enjoy. My initial thought was to charge $125 per hour, but to be honest it seems like a lot of money for 8-10 seconds of video. I don't want to sell myself short, but I don't want to be unreasonable to the client.

I recently read the article in the Creative Cow Magazine and found it extremely interesting. It talked about making sure to charge an hourly rate because you never know how long it will REALLY take to complete a project. Does anyone have any advice for me, or would anyone be willing to post about how much they would expect to earn, or pay for a project like this? Any help you can give me would be appreciated so much!


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Gary Chvatal
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 13, 2008 at 4:40:46 pm

I think you charge hourly rates if you know what you are doing. If you are still learning it's not fair to charge them for learning on the job...


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 13, 2008 at 4:46:20 pm

[Gary Chvatal] "If you are still learning it's not fair to charge them for learning on the job..."

What?!@#@!?

People don't get paid for learning on the job???

;)

My guys sure expect to.

I knew I was doing something wrong...again.



Best regards,


Ron Lindeboom
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronlindeboom
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
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Gary Chvatal
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 13, 2008 at 9:30:17 pm

I see the smilie but I'm not sure if your post is tongue I cheek or you think I'm full of it. But my thinking was that the original poster sounds like he's new to the work he's selling. Hence, not knowing how to price the job or its value to a client.

Nothing wrong with learning on the job or expanding your skill base...but when I try new things it takes me longer than doing what I know best. So if its going to take me longer 'cause my skill set is not up to snuff for the job at hand...its not fair to expect the client to pay top dollar (at an hourly rate) for my slow pace. If he's going to pay top dollar I should at least be efficient at the task.

So if I'm expanding my skill set at the expense of a client I either should discount the rate a bit until I get up to speed or discount the amount of hours billed to do the job. Once the skill set is in place....bill the top rate the market will bear. If I'm billing a flat rate to do the job I can work as slowly as I like.

Those are my thoughts....maybe thats why I'm not making money in this business...

:-(


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Vincent Becquiot
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 14, 2008 at 1:28:24 am

If someone gave up learning while they are working, it's probably time to retire :-)

Vince


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David Roth Weiss
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 13, 2008 at 6:13:24 pm

[Gary Chvatal] "If you are still learning it's not fair to charge them for learning on the job..."

Santa knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you're awake. But, I've always figured that God gets all the jobs that require someone who knows "everything."



David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Michael Hancock
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 14, 2008 at 2:55:52 am

For the original poster, I would charge hourly, give them an estimate of how many hours you expect it to take, and charge a fair rate for your work. Only you can figure that rate out, but if it helps--for straight graphics work we charge between $60-$80 bucks and hour. $60 for print, $80 for motion graphics, and we bill hourly for everything we do.

[Gary Chvatal] "If you are still learning it's not fair to charge them for learning on the job..."

I think you have a fair point here--if you've only used After Effects a few times and you take a job that requires extensive use of it, you'd be ripping the client off to charge them while you learn what track mattes are. But you'd also be likely lying to the client by saying you can do the job (if it's way over your head). This poster said he/she's done graphics for 8-10 minutes videos, so I read that as having a real working knowledge of the program.

On the other hand, I'm constantly trying new things and trying new things in all the programs I learn. Everyone sh ould. Of course, this increases the number of hours I put into a job, so I take that into consideration when I bill a client.

For example, lets say I spend three hours learning basic expressions because I need to use them in a project. Once I learn them, I know in the future it should have taken about a 1/2 hour to set them up for the entire project. What do I bill the client? All 3 hours? No, I bill the 1/2 hour it should have taken me if I already knew how to do it (and I do now, because I learned on the job). I don't expect them to pay for the full 3 hours because I was reading help files and searching for and watching tutorials on the COW. I could have done it with keyframes but I knew it would be faster to use expressions and I knew I need to learn them. For this project, of course, it was slower because I had to learn them, but the client doesn't pay for the that and now I can use it in the future.

As long as you're honest with the client and you bill a fair rate you should always be trying to learn on the job. You spend 40+ hours a week there--who wants to spend that many hours at home in the off hours improving their skillset? Learn on the job and everyone wins--the client gets a better product and you increase your knowledge!

My 2 cents, for what they're worth.

Michael.





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Gary Chvatal
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 14, 2008 at 3:13:37 am

[Michael Hancock] Once I learn them, I know in the future it should have taken about a 1/2 hour to set them up for the entire project. What do I bill the client? All 3 hours? No, I bill the 1/2 hour it should have taken me if I already knew how to do it (and I do now, because I learned on the job). I don't expect them to pay for the full 3 hours because I was reading help files and searching for and watching tutorials on the COW.

I completely agree with that...my issue its not about learning on the job...its about what gets billed.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 13, 2008 at 5:58:41 pm

[jorberg] "anyone be willing to post about how much they would expect to earn, or pay for a project like this?"

Jorberg,

This type of project calls for originality and creativity, and that requires inspiration, perspiration and time. Going in, you pretty much know it will take the better part of a day, but rarely more than that. Right??? Any producer hiring you would be very comfortable if you simply explained it to them in just that way.

Although I normally recommend an hourly rate on short projects, I think a day rate, slightly better than your hourly rate for a full day, might make sense on a job like this, because it gives you the freedom to spend the time necessary to elevate the project to a higher level, but without worrying so much about the clock.

BTW, no one should ever have be concerned about asking for advice here, that's why we exist. I think the old adage, "there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers," certainly applies to many of the responses here as of late. Flaming is new to this forum and hopefully it will end just as quickly as it began.

David

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Vincent Becquiot
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 14, 2008 at 1:35:54 am

A lot of the flaming you see usually means the ego is taking over. In that case the person is only answering to make themselve look better than you are, which obviously doesn't get us anywhere. I find that restating your question right below their thread takes care of things...

Vince


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Mark Suszko
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 14, 2008 at 6:51:54 pm

If you have a seasoned pro who could do the job fast and accurate, and a beginner, who kind of stumbles thru it but gets it done, either the beginner has to cut their rate to next to nothing, or the pro has to charge out the wazoo by comparison. They can't both work for the same rate, not without a markup for the pro or a discount for the beginner. Yet the beginner has a floor rate below which he dare not go as well.

The pro has spent a lot of time to get mastery which leads to efficiency and productivity. The pro can maybe do the job in one hour, the beginner, in eight. The pro can thus do eight jobs at the lower rate, (which though mathematically possible is practically unlikely), or the one job at the higher rate. Even at the higher rate he may still cost less than a cheaper guy that has to try, then abandon several approaches over an 8-hour day before he gets the one that's going to satisfy a client. So comparing rates is never just an objective exercise. The level of artistry and quality you get for the rate has to figure into it as well.

I see this when I use pro actors versus volunteers. The pro actors can memorize lines and deliver with consistency take after take, with few mistakes. That lets me shoot with just one camera over multiple takes for different angles and yet I know everything will cut together well. For nonpro talent, that single camera work becomes expensive because I have to do many more takes to get the same footage right. They'll also often wind up needing extra help like a teleprompter, and they likely won't be as believeable or smooth in any case. Because they can't do the same take the same way twice, I often find I have to backstop my continuity and cover shots by using two cameras, a closeup and a cover shot, instead of one, or I won't get enough good matches to edit with. And that extra shooting from a second cam and sorting thru lots more bad takes adds time in the editing suite. So you can see that one simple decision on pro versus nonpro talent could have ripple effects that lead to double or triple costs in gear, staff, quality and time. While the actor's were "free" they cost more in the long run than hiring "expensive" pro talent. And such it might be for editing and graphics comp services.

So back to the original question.

Know your hourly rate. Predict at least to yourself the hours it should take. If this will take more than a day, you might give the client a minimum and maximum HOURS estimate, with a cutoff if you go over that needs his approval. Figure how long this project will take and if it's more than a half day, but less than a full day, just quote a day rate, which is giving you some margin for trying a few different things that may work out or not. I think you should usually never tell clients the hourly rate if possible, only the day rate, where you can adjust any markups you need to make for the differences in each project's difficulty and time.

Billing half days usually is a money loser because of the blown opportunity costs of missing another gig. What happens if you run over a bit? Are you going to eat the overage and thus functionally cut your rate and profit, or try to add on to a bill that was already agreed, (bad for customer relations) or negotiate a new deal to finish? None of these are great situations to have to face, so don't.

I would agree that if you were learning an app the first time on a client's dime, you should not charge full rate for any "dead time" there, so if you are a scrupulously ethical person it might be good practice to keep a stopwatch nearby that you can start and stop to track productive versus nonproductive time. Don't tell the client that's what you're doing, this is for your own use. Then search your heart at the day's end when you're tallying the hours and efforts, and rebate accordingly. Don't cut rates or hours just to ingratiate yourself or encourage future work, that way lies madness and grinders.

Cut rates where you honestly messed-up and wasted time, where gear broke down, etc. Trying and failing may sometimes be billable, if what you're doing is pushing the limits of the creative process. Often I'll spend many hours off the clock thinking about upcoming projects, I don't get to bill for that, but it has an effect on how well and fast the product turns out.


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joel jackson
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 16, 2008 at 7:00:53 am

good advice Mark. It's OK to learn on the job and charge for it. Just weigh what you already know with what you spent time learning and figure out a fair amount of hours. 125 per hour is not at all unreasonable if you are good at what you do.

If I spend 3-4 hours figuring out how to achieve a look or effect that I did not know how to do before the client approached me, I may charge 1/2 (say 2) the hours for the initial discovery period.

If we stop learning the craft does not progress. Market prices and demand determine what people are willing to pay for our services. as long as it is reasonable clients have no problem paying for something new and innovative even if you it requires a learning curve

pec


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Brendan Coots
Re: New to Motion Graphic Pricing -- Need Help
on Jan 15, 2008 at 7:25:28 am

It's a question that would be impossible to answer fairly, because it completely depends on dozens of factors such as skill level, local market, competition, economic conditions, timing etc.

The issue usually starts to get emotionally charged because people who are in a hiring position read a poster's lack of knowledge about rate as a lack of experience, and suggest they ask for a fairly low rate. Freelancers, on the other hand, tend to suggest the poster charge a much higher rate that gives personal need much more weight than factors like skill and speed. It becomes a standoff not unlike the Mac/PC debate.

I was a freelancer for 5 years and now I am in charge of hiring - from this dual-perspective, I think you had better really, really know how to deliver high quality work if you are going to charge people $125/hour, regardless of market and other factors. Sure one could argue that you need X amount to live comfortably and pay your taxes, etc. but no one, myself included, is guaranteed a living wage "just because." You must be competitive either in price or quality if you expect to lead a comfortable living.


Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Bob Cole
OTOH -- the superfast pro
on Jan 15, 2008 at 5:07:54 am

Conversely... What about someone who knew exactly what to do, had invested in superfast machines, owned an extensive collection of software and plug-ins, and could do the job well and quickly? Would that pro be justified in billing more than the actual hours it took? I say yes.

When I bought my house, I complained to my uncle about the huge commission the realtor got for just a few hours of work. The uncle (also a realtor) defended the fee; my realtor, he said, had invested many hours learning how to match client and house, and keeping up with the available inventory. I should have been all the happier that he got the job done quickly, for my sake.

Later, I looked for another house with another realtor, who spent dozens of hours with me, and never did find me a house. He wasn't a very good realtor, he got ZERO fee, and I got ZERO house. I paid nothing. But it took me weeks to spend nothing, so in a way, the second realtor turned out to be much more expensive.

I think a seasoned pro who does a "two-hour job" in 30 minutes would be justified in spending an hour doing computer maintenance, and billing for 1.5 hours.

Bob C

MacPro 2 x 3GHz dualcore; 10 GB 667MHz
Kona LHe
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HD-Connect MI
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DVCPro AJ-D650


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Patrick Ortman
Re: OTOH -- the superfast pro
on Jan 15, 2008 at 7:21:23 am

It kind of reminds me of the old saw:

The manager of a manufacturing plant was unable to solve a mechanical breakdown, so he sent for the retired engineer who had installed the machinery. Following a brief inspection, the engineer took a hammer and hit a pipe. The problem was solved.

The next day, the engineer submitted a bill for $1,000 to a horrified manager. "$1,000 to whack a pipe?!?!" So the retired engineer explained, "it's only $1.00 for hitting the pipe. The other $999 is for knowing where to hit it."

For what it's worth, eh?


---------------------
http://www.geniusmonkeys.com
(818) 653-9144


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Christian Glawe
Re: OTOH -- the superfast pro
on Jan 16, 2008 at 6:21:05 pm

I think a seasoned pro who does a "two-hour job" in 30 minutes would be justified in spending an hour doing computer maintenance, and billing for 1.5 hours.

Maybe, maybe not....

I think what it comes down to *is* market, and *knowing* your market. Spend some time researching what other folks in your market are charging for similar services... the bigger houses will be higher, since customers are also paying for the Leather Sofa, and the Bagel Tray, and the Pool Table, etc....

I think to say that "market doesn't matter" is to miss a big part of the equation.... here in LA, $125 puts you in with the small fish, one-man/two-man shops, etc.... but, if you're living in Peoria, doing local/regional car spots, I don't know if $125 would work in that market.

Know your market, know your market.... and know your market. You need to know what the guy/gal down the street is charging, and how good he/she is... I'll bet that your client (if it's a first-time client) *has already* called the guy down the street - but there's probably an objection somewhere... which is why he's talking to you!

Christian Glawe editor/compositor christianglawe.com Read my blog: http://blogs.creativecow.net/blog/111 Pain is temporary... film is forever.


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lixandro cordero
3 in one and more of the same
on Mar 4, 2011 at 9:50:21 pm

im doing a 3 minutes project in after effects, im doing all the images , because im the illustrator, im doing all the animation because i am the animator, and finally doing the motion graphics in after effects combining all of it....so the final price should be 3 times expensive?

if i charge a flat rate of 2000 per each 30 sec would it be fair ?


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David Roth Weiss
Re: 3 in one and more of the same
on Mar 4, 2011 at 11:03:07 pm

[lixandro cordero] "so the final price should be 3 times expensive?"

I think you'll do a whole lot better with your clients if you simply charge them by the time it takes you to complete the job rather than by charging them a fee times three because you're performing three different functions.

Wearing several different hats is the way things work now more often than not. So, don't get caught up in trying to get paid by the credit or you'll probably make enemies.

If you want to charge a license or usage fee for your artwork, that has merit and I could see that argument as being valid.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums. Formerly host of the Apple Final Cut Basics, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Micah DeBenedetto
Re: 3 in one and more of the same
on Dec 10, 2012 at 4:40:01 am

David Roth Weiss
http://my.creativecow.net/278
what dictates price tag of the usage/license fee?
thanks in advance.


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