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What is the value

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Brett FrameWhat is the value
by on May 3, 2008 at 4:43:59 pm

Hello All,
Here is a link to a spot we just finished for a local Credit Union.
Credit Union Spot

I know the value here in my local area but I am not sure how the work stacks up in Phoenix or San Diego or regional market. It has been posted that designers charge from $60-$250... or more per hour.

We did everything from the ground up... developed the concept, scheduled things, shot it, did the editing and motion graphics as well as wrote original music and did the voice over.

Is this a $2K, $5K, $10K etc. spot?

We would like to grow into doing spots for the areas mentioned above and we are trying to figure out where we stand with others. We have seen a big flux in pricing as well as quality from shops in those regions and are not sure where we are in this.

Thank you,

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Timothy J. AllenRe: What is the value
by on May 3, 2008 at 6:15:01 pm

Since I don't know your local rates for talent, it's a tough question. I would put that one towards the high end of your spectrum, but it really depends on how long it took you to complete and your production costs.

Rates are getting cheaper every day, but if this is a $2k spot, your musicians and V/O artists are most likely eating Ramen noodles or potted meat for lunch to survive. ;-)

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Todd TerryRe: What is the value
by on May 3, 2008 at 9:48:39 pm

Hey Brett...

Decent spot, very clean.

Yes, it is hard to say what it is worth, because of course "your mileage may vary" greatly depending on where you are and what the market will bear..

But I can make some guesses based on our little corner of the world.

Here in our shop, we deal mostly with broadcast commercials (some industrials, but mosty commercials)... that typically range anywhere from about $4K on the very low end to about $14K on the high end. Your particular spot would be about mid-range for us.... probably in the $6-7K neighborhood.

I based that on:
Couple of hours of concepting/writing
Half day shoot on stage
Couple days of edit/motion/animation
4 on-screen talent
1 voiceover talent
Music composition

Actually, my specific total was $6,750. Now, as I said, yours could vary greatly. We are known to be extremely fast for both shooting and editing, which can drive the cost down. However we are also known for paying talent very well (much more than most anyone else in town) which can drive the budgets up.

Also of course, different shops price things in very different ways. We have the reputation as one of the better (I like to think best) production houses around here, but we are also very definitely the most cost effective. One time not too long ago when we went head-to-head with our major competition bidding on a job, our quote was less than half of theirs. And ours was for 35mm production, theirs was for 16mm... so you can't always go by us.

I personally like to keep rates as low as is comfortable, to keep clients happy and coming back. The downside is that we don't get to bill as many very big jobs... but the upside is that we stay very very busy. It's not unusual for us to be booked up quite a few weeks or sometimes even months in advance, whereas you can visit other houses in our region that literally look like ghost towns... with dark rooms and a couple of employees waiting for work to come in. They do good work, but have priced themselves out of the range that the typical client can afford.

Add that on top of the fact that the majority of our clients are advertising agencies (although we do occasionally work directly for a client), and since agencies almost always mark up production costs (sometimes a lot, anywhere from 15%-100%) it's easy for production costs to skyrocket to the point where the client balks.

It would be interesting to hear what your final production bill is, if you care to share it when the time comes....


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Brett FrameRe: What is the value
by on May 3, 2008 at 11:38:13 pm

Hello Guys,
Thanks for taking the time on a Saturday to reply and provide some great insight.

We are located in the south west corner of Arizona. We billed out $5100 for that spot. For the city that we are located in, that is a pretty hefty rate. Lucky for us, the company had used a company out of San Diego in the past and our quote was in the ball park of what they had paid for in the past. We made the contact with them so there wasn't an agency in between.

We are only several hours from Phoenix and San Diego and would like to begin to work with in those markets, attracting more 5K-10K jobs. Working with agencies out of those areas would be nice, as that would eliminate some of the time we spend searching for new clients. Not sure the best way to get in with an agency though.

As a note, we created the music and did the voice over ourselves and piled that all into the quote. We have seen were others adjust those rates depending on audience reach. This might be a way to adjust our quotes.

We would like to be paid fairly for the work and creative effort we put in so your input gives us an idea on where to position ourselves as we try to stretch out.

Thank you,

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Todd TerryRe: What is the value
by on May 4, 2008 at 1:04:12 am

Hi Brett...

Thanks for sharing your numbers.

I think the $5K+ for the spot was very very fair... for both parties. For you, not enough to get rich off of, but nicely compensated for your time/talent/effort. For the client, a decent bargain but not exactly stealing it either. I think it's a pretty good balance.

For us, yes, agencies are the way to go. The difficulty is getting your foot in the door with them, especially ones that are out of town. Do whatevever you can to ingratiate yourself to the creative directors in those shops, and get them to see your reel. It is a bit of a domino effect... once you begin working for one agency, it's easier to begin working for others.

There are of course upsides and downsides to working with agencies. On the upside, although we do work for hundreds of different end clients, we only have a few clients that are actually ours, those being the dozen or so agencies themselves that we work for. It's much easier to keep track of people, personalities, and billing with a few parties than with countless ones, and not having to deal with clients directly is usually a plus. On the downside, sometimes agencies can be a little stifling. Like you, we are a creative agency not just a production company so we often create spots or entire campaigns (not just TV, but print, outdoor, fleet graphics, radio, etc.)... but often with an agency the CD there will have already mapped out every minutae of all that stuff before we are even called. I much prefer being in on the creative end of the development rather than being handed a script and told "go make this."

We have found that the sort of mid-sized agencies (say those with mostly local or regional accounts ... maybe one or two national accounts... and say, 5-20 employees) are the best for us to work with. They are usually big enough to have great clients and decent budgets... but not so big that hey have any on-staff employees devoted to doing television (their staff is there for mostly print, outdoor, and sometimes radio). In those cases the benefit is that we know a lot more about TV than they do... and those that are smart enough to admit that (and fortunately, most are) will give us creative input and freedom.

I'm betting that Phoenix will be an easier sell than San Diego... I would imagine there would be easier to get in with the "right sized" agencies there than it would in San Diego where agencies/budgets/clients are bigger. Then again, it could easily go the other way as well... if you can get your foot in the door with an agency in San Diego, they might be mighty receptive to getting spots in the $10-$15K range that they were used to paying multiples of that for when using the "big city" production houses.

Another great client to look for are large corporate clients that probably should be using an ad agency, but for whatever reason they aren't. We have two like that, a gigantic credit union, and a hospital. Both clients have very large in-house advertising and marketing departments (big enough to be recognized as agencies and given agency rates by the media outlets)... and are very good at what they do. Yet they both know bupkus about television, and freely and wisely admit it. They turn to us for not only production but creative as well for their TV, and it's a great combo.

Good luck!... let us know how it goes....


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Brett FrameRe: What is the value
by on May 4, 2008 at 2:56:40 am

Hello Todd,
Thank you for the in depth reply. There were a lot of great points on subjects I didn't have a very good grasp of. I will take what you have shared and put it to good use in 2008.
Thanks again for your time,

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Rich RubaschRe: What is the value
by on May 4, 2008 at 3:45:51 am

Hi all; I live in Madison WI so we are a small market. Many of you discussed production and talent fees. No one mentioned the extensive time it must have taken to get good keys and plan out all the compositing. This spot could have been a disaster in the wrong hands! The combination of the objects landing in the talents hands, the swirling paint color lines and all that put this one much higher than $6K in this market.

There are the $3000 spots out there, but truly the creative and amount of compositing would be much less than this spot must have taken.

I am more curious how many hours of purely compositing this took because if the hours pile up it's gonna cost ya!

Nice work. I think a few of the edits were perhaps a little clunky especially at the end...I found it hard to keep up with the flow. But these kinds of spots are always a bear when you are bouncing between your editor and the animation program. But I liked the idea a lot and since I have done quite a bit of Credit Union work (CUNA is right here in town) this is more than most of our local CUs would do for their advertising.

Nice job,

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media

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Brett FrameRe: What is the value
by on May 4, 2008 at 9:59:51 pm

Hello Rich,
Thank you for your reply and for your insight into your market and where this spot might land regarding pricing.

Also, we appreciate the constructive criticism. Like you, and probably most on these forums, we are always striving to do better and criticism delivered constructively give us an opportunity to look at our work from another's eyes.

If anyone else reads this post and can chime in regarding what the value of this spot may be in their market, it's appreciated.

Take Care,

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grinner hesterRe: What is the value
by on May 4, 2008 at 9:00:52 pm

looks like a 5k spot to me.

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Bob ZelinRe: What is the value
by on May 8, 2008 at 5:25:51 pm

Brett -
your spot is excellent. If you wind up charging a total of $2000 for this spot (creation, production including stage and lighting, post, graphics, music, color correction, web encoding), I unfortuntely have to fly to your location and kill you, as the rest of the people on these forums need to be able to have some sort of decent life.

Bob Zelin

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Brett FrameRe: What is the value
by on May 11, 2008 at 4:14:59 pm

Hello Bob,
Thank you for your comment. We billed out $5100 for the spot. In our area that is on the high end. From what I have gathered from this post the spot could fall between $5k-$10k depending on the location.

These are very positive comments for us. We would like to continue to develop our skills, creative and marketing, and begin to expand out from our location. The previous posts have given us the information to help price ourselves correctly for our skill level. We do not want to over charge and we do not want to under cut ourselves or others by being too low.


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