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Billing for Render Time

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Tim Kennedy
Billing for Render Time
on Jan 17, 2008 at 8:44:45 pm

Wanted to get some advise on how companies regard billing for Render Time.
I'm an After Effects Artist and I set a hourly or day rate to create, design, animate.
Should I consider the render time as billable time. My machine is tied up, its working for me.
Or is there a rule of thumb about how to factor in my hardware software into my hourly or day rates.


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Rick Dolishny
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 17, 2008 at 9:49:34 pm

Never bill for render time.

If you're a Total Professional


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Christopher Wright
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 7:25:44 am

I have always charged for rendering time (and always will), but it is always a part of my bid. I pretty much know how long any project in AE will take to render. You are paying rent on your space, utilities, laying out money for equipment and software etc, etc. It's called a business and you charge for the time you spend dealing with client issues.

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Mick Haensler
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 1:43:11 pm

Charging for rendering is like a traditional artist charging for the paint to dry

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media



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Craig Seeman
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 4:33:43 pm

[Mick Haensler] "Charging for rendering is like a traditional artist charging for the paint to dry "


Nope, not the same thing. An artist can go on to the next canvas. Drying paint doesn't tie up any additional resources. Of course if you've got 50 paintings drying as opposed to one you're tying up space in your artist's loft.

If my computer is rendering it's doing one job and not doing another. As someone who does a fair bit of compression, rendering is a major part of the job. If someone is paying for a high quality H264 or On2VP6 encode that's going to take longer than a standard mp4 or spark compression.

I don't itemize render time but it's certainly part of the job.




Of course if you have a big facility and a render farm your render is going to be very fast and each given render may not tie up the farm for long. That model allows you a much higher level of productivity and that's where additional income is generated to cover the cost of that render farm.

A small shop may not be able to use that business model though. My business is to make sure my business is profitable otherwise I can't be the professional artist.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 4:57:26 pm

[Mick Haensler] "Charging for rendering is like a traditional artist charging for the paint to dry"

I tend to agree with Craig, but there are nuances that sometimes make a difference in how I bill. For instance, if I'm billing at full book rate in an unsupervised session and I'm able to simply walk away or go to sleep while a big encode or batch render processes, I probably will not charge full tarrif. However, if the client is supervising, or if there's a deadline and I have to sit there the whole time, you betcha, they're gonna pay for me, my hardware, and my facility time.

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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walter biscardi
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 4:39:55 pm

[Tim Kennedy] "Wanted to get some advise on how companies regard billing for Render Time.
I'm an After Effects Artist and I set a hourly or day rate to create, design, animate.
Should I consider the render time as billable time. My machine is tied up, its working for me.
Or is there a rule of thumb about how to factor in my hardware software into my hourly or day rates."


It's rare that we charge for rendering time anymore. When I had one machine, I would charge 1/2 the hourly rate for rendering. We now have three suites and about 10 mac's so while one machine is rendering, we can be working on another.

But generally render time is 1/2 the standard rate, whatever yours is. But most clients I work with, we have a flat rate for all After Effects related projects.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

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Rich Rubasch
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 7:18:19 pm

We bill for rendering...our editing rate is $175 an hour (SD) and our rendering rate is $80/hr. I only usually bill a portion of the time it actually takes. 2 hours might get billed 1 hour. I have a machine to do it, but I have software on it, monitors, maintenance etc, and the machine is working.

Believe me, comparing paint drying to a dual processor Mac running cycles to spit out a quicktime movie of my 300 layers is an insult to my Mac!

We also bill for Encoding...again depends on the project. Most projects have both rendering and encoding and we put them in one line item on the invoice.

There are certainly other service industries who charge for machine time. I consider rendering sort of renting a machine for a short time. It is configured specifically for the job and it costs me money to maintain. But since it is not my primary income, I don't go nuts with billing for it.

I have never had a client ask about it. The only questions are usually about the grand total at the bottom of the page!

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media


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Rick Dolishny
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 7:36:52 pm

[Rich Rubasch] "We also bill for Encoding"

Interesting because I always bill for encoding. I wonder what the difference in my thinking is?

I guess if a client comes in with a 2 minute spot and walks out with a 2 minute WMV I gotta charge him something.

But the process of the "Render" of an edited project is, dare I repeat, the process of the paint drying. The client certainly paid a my rate to design the show, edit, deliver screeners, digitize (yes I charge a small fee for digitizing). The rendering is means to the end.

Charging for that process doesn't seem right. Especially when there are mechanisms that allow (in my case) older machines to render pretty much unattended in the background.

Exception though noted by DRW. If a client is there and needs to leave with a product and I am physically unable to work on something else, I would consider charging something...

but only after our round trip to the pub was over. :)


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


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Nick Griffin
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 9:10:08 pm

[Rick Dolishny] "
Interesting because I always bill for encoding."


I'll chime in with a me too on this one. But we don't list it as encoding on the invoices. It's all part of the DVD authoring process.

As to rendering, the stuff we're doing in After Effects is usually so simple that the renders can be churned out during breaks or during short breaks created for the purpose of getting a few quick renders done so stuff can be added to the NLE.

BTW, if you do anything at all with After Effects your life will be GREATLY improved by adding the Nucleo Pro plug-in. Not only does it make renders faster, it does background renders and background previews so while you're working the part of the timeline you're not changing is rendering. An unbelievable timesaver that can easily pay for itself in a session or two, making getting it essentially a no brainer.


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Rick Dolishny
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 7:45:23 pm

[Rich Rubasch] "our rendering rate is $80/hr. I only usually bill a portion of the time it actually takes. 2 hours might get billed 1 hour."

There is a subtlety and powerful concept you mentioned here that is worth pointing out to our newer members of the COW, especially this forum which I might add seems to be growing incredibly quickly.

Note the clear hourly rate, but a flexibility on the number of hours billed. This is an incredibly significant billing strategy which is far better than a lower rate at full hours.

Even thought the gross bill might be the same, charging full rate and discounting the hours saves your bacon the next time the client shows up. And you hope they do. Because as us Old Timers know (OK, Rich, I have no idea how old you are, no disrespect, I'm talking about me and David Roth Weiss) but as we know, once you set a rate it's pretty much the rate the client is gonna pay.

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


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Tim Kennedy
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 8:39:53 pm

Thank you for all your feedback,

After reading everyones post it seems that billing for rendering time is discretionary. And the factors seem to be the facilities and if you even tell the client that they are paying for render time. I am of the one man one system variety, and always set up my queue before I get some ZZZZ. After reading your posts it seem my decision would be, to charge an for rendering by the hour. And that hour would be half of the hourly rate. In the past I've just added a couple hours to the total hours to the job to justify cost of rendering. I just wanted to know if it was common to charge for rendering time. Thanks

What are the going hourly rates for After Effects and encoding these days?

Kino Pravda


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Mick Haensler
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 8:13:02 pm

[Rich Rubasch] "Believe me, comparing paint drying to a dual processor Mac running cycles to spit out a quicktime movie of my 300 layers is an insult to my Mac!"

I wuz jes tryin 2 b funny





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Christopher Wright
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 18, 2008 at 8:46:49 pm

Even more obvious in this thread is also the confusion of exactly what "rendering" means and what it consists of. If Rick is only talking about NLE renders that is one thing. To me "encoding" and "rendering" are the same type of process which I also bill for. The original poster is talking about AE renders, which are (usually) quite different in complexity and time than FCP renders done only to optimize and output a timeline project. And then there are Lightwave, 3DSMax, and Maya renders with radiosity, hair and cloth simulations etc. that can take weeks or months. That is why many 3D artists I know still stick to the "$1,000.00 per finished second" rule on high quality work. Again if you structure your pricing right, rendering is and should be factored in as an expense you must cover to keep a healthy business going.

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Rich Rubasch
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 19, 2008 at 3:34:04 pm

Our rates are posted at http://www.tiltmedia.com but basically AE work is $150/hr Authoring is $125 and Encoding is $80. NLE SD editing is $175 and HD Editing is $225.

All posted conveniently on our website so producers can make a quick estimate without a phone call checking on our rates.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media

Editing since 1992



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Patrick Ortman
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 19, 2008 at 6:10:24 pm

We often (not always) do charge for rendering, otherwise it's difficult to pay for all those machine and software upgrades to stay current.

It's interesting too- when one guy says he charges $80 an hour for rendering it initially sounds like a lot to charge. Until you realize that he may have 10 octomacs running in his render farm. Then it's a bargain compared to the one guy with a single G4.

I humbly put forth that if one wants to use an online render farm (say, for a big Lightwave project), that the render farm companies don't offer the time on their systems for free.

:-)

Just my datapoint of the day...






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Rick Dolishny
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 20, 2008 at 5:57:43 pm

[Patrick Ortman] "I humbly put forth that if one wants to use an online render farm (say, for a big Lightwave project), that the render farm companies don't offer the time on their systems for free."

That's a really good point.

Although the original post was an hourly question, I have no idea what my "hourly" rate is for a big 3D job. It's more in line with that $x/second quote.

I guess my first response was a bit short sighted. I do make money on my machines rendering. But I have never indicated "rendering" on an invoice.

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


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Mark Suszko
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 22, 2008 at 2:34:21 am

One other consideration: if you bill consistently for render time at whatever rate you set, occasionally "comping" the render time as "added value" under special circumstances can be a powerful tool in dealing with a client that's on the fence, without dropping your regular rate and billing.

I come from an analog linear background initially, where machine time of any sort ties up the next customer in line, preventing more profit opportunities. So I would always bill *something* for renders or encodes, though it would not be the same rate as active editing work.

"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"


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Rick Dolishny
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 28, 2008 at 8:09:34 pm

Another good idea.


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


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KC Allen
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Jan 31, 2008 at 5:22:02 am

There's no such thing as added value. I learned that a few years ago. If it's worth something to someone, they'll be willing to pay for it. I worked in radio and the sales gerbils always wanted me to throw ads on the website as added value. BS. It took work...layout, upload time, ISP rates and so on.

I charge my hourly rate for rendering, but I normally cut the time in half. Most times I try to render on the fly so it's built into the hours I'm working on a project anyway, but then I don't really do a lot of heavy compositing or 3-D work, either. If I'm rendering overnight I'll normally only charge for one or two hours.

$175 per hour? Jeez - I need to move to where you all are! I can't get more than $85 per hour most of the time, and even then I get the raised eyebrow when the bill goes out. Even at $85 an hour I get outbid all the time. It's frustrating. But, it's Ohio, not Los Angeles.

KC Allen
Allen Film & Video

"Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows?"


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mike gorga
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:27:47 am

I'm getting $150/hr in Northeast PA. Unfortunately its been $150/hr for 20 years now, right through the paradigm shift from tape-to-tape to non-linear, which we switched to in 1994.

I have less work than I could, but I get paid more when I am working.

Mike Gorga, Producer/Director
MEGCOMM Film & Video Prod.
800.816.1884


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kyler boudreau
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Feb 2, 2011 at 5:46:14 pm

Hey everyone....interesting post. Question for anyone available on this still:

I'm only charging a client $45 an hour for video editing. They gave me some horrible conference footage recently that was low lit. I had to use a grain removal tool in FCP (that they approved) and the render time for that and Color ended up at 170 hours.

I ran the jobs on my only Mac Pro - it is brand new, a six core Westmere using internal disk and more RAM than FCP will ever use. I have a PC laptop that I was able to do some other work on, but the MAC basically crunched for over a week straight.

Is it unfair to charge $20 an hour for the rendering? That is slightly less than half my rate. I think I deserve compensation for the equipment and time and office utils, but I want the bill to be ethical.

THANKS!

_______________________
kyler boudreau
http://www.theatereleven.com
ph.310.425.2231


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Billing for Render Time
on Feb 2, 2011 at 6:30:02 pm

[kyler boudreau] "Is it unfair to charge $20 an hour for the rendering?"

Hell no!!!

I guarantee you Kyler, there wasn't a single guy working on Avatar who took an unpaid break while the render farm was cranking away on his shots.

Heck, I ought to bill your clients myself just for turning you on to Neat Video Noise Reduction, cuz it saved their bacon. :)

[kyler boudreau] "I think I deserve compensation for the equipment and time and office utils"

Heck yeah!!! When your clients start buying your Macs for you it might be time to revise your billing policy, but until then you can't give them free lunch.

[kyler boudreau] "I want the bill to be ethical."

You're not even close to unethical... What you think is unethical is probably what you really should be charging.

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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