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Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down

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Bill KaminskiClient wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 12, 2008 at 2:29:51 pm

I did a video a few years back for a client who contacted me a week ago about creating a "political" video to be posted on internet movie sites. He wrote out a script that calls for professional voice over impersonations of well known celebrities and politicians. He also wrote out "ideas" for what the viewer will see, but not all the specifics - he wants me to create "something interesting."

I informed my former client all his ideas were "doable" using a combination of After Effects and 3D programs such as Lightwave (which I used on his previous project). After much discussion, the client told me he didn't want to spend too much on this project, and the quotes he got for the narrations ran from $500.00 to $1000.00. I warned the client he might need post production work on the audio, depending upon the file quality. He wants a quote from me based on keeping everything "simple" - although his script describes multiple scenarios that mimic TV show intros like Outer Limits.

My thoughts are if this new video starts with a professional impersonator, and the images are kept to a "slide show" level, it's going to really suck, not get a lot of play on the internet, and be a huge disappointment. I told the client I can't create the kinds of images described in his script without putting in real time and work.

The audio might be interesting with an impersonator talking; I warned the client if the video doesn't grab the viewer's attention, they'll click on something else to watch. I asked the client what he hoped to get out of the project, and he answered, "I just want to do it."

I don't want to be the fall guy here for a project that doesn't work out (i.e., not get plays on the internet); I also don't want to start something with the client hoping I'll throw in something "extra", which in this case translates to a whole lot of After Effects + 3D work.

Any thoughts or comments on how to follow up with the client would be appreciated.





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Mark SuszkoRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 12, 2008 at 3:44:00 pm

Do you want to do the project or not? Sounds like you can't decide. If you do, estimate time and materials and use your regular rate. You have to take a stand at some point and say "this is the lowest rate I can afford to do, and this is the quality level below which I don't want to do the project". Then it happens or it doesn't. Guys like us want to be the hero and always say "yes, I can do that" to everything that pops up, but sometimes it is better to say no at first, if agreement leads to too many compromises and unmet expectations. Or if you just don't want to be attached to something you don't approve of, the rate can be what gets you off the hook. As far as that goes, we like to help our clients get the best, most effective look we can. But in the end, it's their call, not ours, and if they want ugly, they pay for it, they can have it.

If you're looking for a simpler and faster way (thus cheaper rate-wise) to do this "Jib-Jab" kind of thing for this client, that still looks good, maybe you need to drop the 3D CGI for 2-d flash-based stuff like ToonBoom or Lost Marble Moho or something similar. Unless you're really good at AfterEffects and just do it all in AE. I worked on a talking animal concept for a spot once in my early days of learning Lightwave, and the time it would have taken to keyframe the lips for a good synch was going to kill me. What I did instead was keyframe a single sequence of three different mouth shapes over about a second. I hooked up a scan converter to grab the screen output of the computer live, and by putting my Wacom pen on the tablet and scrubbing back and forth on the animation timeline, I was able to puppeteer the animal's mouth live in real time, while listening to audio tracks, laying this and the audio feed off to tape in real time. At the time, it was considered a clever work-around, since the work got done in a day instead of a week. Was it optimal, no, but it met the client criteria well enough and sometimes well enough is the best you can do.

There's some more consumer-based PC software out there that's custom-made to take a shot of someone's head and automatically animate a mouth by morphing, based on a voice track, it was very cheap but has that quasi-South-Park look to it. Can't recall the name right now, maybe it will come to me later. But it sounds cheap and simple enough that you could just have this client go get it himself and play with it.

Then, when he's finally understood the limitations and wants to go back to higher production values, he can come back to you and pay what the job is worth. But there's no good going to come from racing to the bottom on rates or quality. Set a standard you can live with, whatever that is, and hold the line.


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Bill KaminskiRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 12, 2008 at 4:58:07 pm

You're right; I can't decide. I have a standard I want to maintain; I also have this gut feeling the client's hoping I just won't be able to do "hold myself back" from doing anything less than higher level, more creative work - for the price of something less complex. The other problem I have is the client's previous project had a definite purpose, and the video meant something to a LOT of people. I believe anyone describing a Lexus is NOT going to be satisfied with a Yugo.

I'll quote a price based on something I can live with regarding quality; with anything extra done at my hourly rate. I already recommended the client shop around for pricing to see what someone else will do & what they'd charge. That's when he requested a quote based on "simple."

For lip synching, sounds like you're thinking of something like Daz's Mimic. The client isn't requesting characters or cartoons in his script.



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Steve WargoRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 14, 2008 at 6:55:20 am

Figure how much time you'll have in it at the crummy level, a middle level and the really good level.

Have him pick one.

Get 50% down.

Do the job. Collect the balance. Buy a few gallons of gas with the money. Be thankful.

Move on to the next job.

Question: is it any of your business what he intends to do with it or whether it get Internet play? just asking.

When we are faced with his, we write "Crappy Quality" on the bid and then again on the invoice, just to keep things in perspective.




Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Gary ChvatalRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 14, 2008 at 3:42:36 pm

[Steve Wargo] "When we are faced with his, we write "Crappy Quality" on the bid and then again on the invoice, just to keep things in perspective"


Thats hilarious....I've got to remember that....


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Todd TerryRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 14, 2008 at 3:48:40 pm

... might even be worth it to get a big "Crappy Quality" rubber stamp made.... haaaa


T2

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






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Steve WargoHe who laughs last...
by on Jun 14, 2008 at 8:22:10 pm

.[Todd Terry] "... might even be worth it to get a big "Crappy Quality" rubber stamp made.... haaaa"

Go ahead! Make a joke. I get it.

I will have mine ordered on Monday.

Here's another one: A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine that I use for sound mixing was hired on a shoot with a RED camera. Even though they were recording second system sound which requires two people, the production hired 5.5 people to manage the camera and the CF card files, they only hired my bud for all of the sound chores. OK, enough of that dribble.. They were shooting in a restaurant where the owner wouldn't shut off some of the noisy equipment so sound was YUK. He told the director nicely and the director said that they were moving forward. The next morning, he caught holy hell because the sound on the dailies was unusable. He called me and asked for a pad of our "NMF" forms.

The NMF stands for Not My Fault. It's a form that says that we have a major problem and I don't want blamed for this later. It's a form with blank spaces where you fill in the problem of the moment and have the director or someone else sign off on the issue. 75% of the time, it's for sound, 20% for lighting and 5% for other stuff. Either they sign off or I don't proceed. It's funny how they think when they have to put their initials on a piece of paper that says "You've been warned. You are now 100% responsible."


Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Eric TempleRe: He who laughs last...
by on Jun 14, 2008 at 11:00:58 pm

NMF forms. I love it! Must get some!

Canyon Productions, Inc.
Bethesda, MD
XDCAM-HD (PDW-F350)
Final Cut Studio
Lighting and grip rental


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Bill KaminskiRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 19, 2008 at 5:02:09 am

I put my name in Google and this group of posts came up! Thanks for your comments, Steve. The client mentioned - actually specified is more like it, that he wanted this video posted on internet movie sites. I really want any client to have a "happy" memory of anything I do for them - right now the client has that & I don't want that to change.

After my initial posts the client told me he also planned to submit the video for possible major television network airplay. Doing it "crappy" won't cut it. So do I want a satisfied client or loyal client? I think if I do the client's new project, I won't have either one.



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Steve WargoRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 19, 2008 at 5:21:58 am

If this thing is going global, you'll need to decide how it could affect your future.

There is a small group of filmmakers here (Phoenix) that I mentor and also support financially. They just did a little video called "I'm voting Republican" and they are #1 on Google, have been featured on MSNBC and were featured on a national TV program last night. I think their budget was $100.

You don't know how far this thing of yours will fly but if you think it has legs (or wings) maybe you need to put more into it and see if it can't come back to you. Watch out for those copyright infringments though.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Steve WargoRe: Client wants professional voiceover "impersonator", but keep cost of video down
by on Jun 19, 2008 at 5:21:59 am

If this thing is going global, you'll need to decide how it could affect your future.

There is a small group of filmmakers here (Phoenix) that I mentor and also support financially. They just did a little video called "I'm voting Republican" and they are #1 on Google, have been featured on MSNBC and were featured on a national TV program last night. I think their budget was $100.

You don't know how far this thing of yours will fly but if you think it has legs (or wings) maybe you need to put more into it and see if it can't come back to you. Watch out for those copyright infringments though.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


Return to posts index

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