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Charge for FTP upload?

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Marut KapoorCharge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 30, 2010 at 5:11:45 pm

I work at a small shop. I just finished a short HD piece and uploaded it to the client's FTP site. The upload took about 2 hours on a workstation that does virtually nothing else.

The boss hates computers and is scared of the internet. I notice on the work order that he's trying to itemize a charge for the FTP upload. I think this is ludicrous - like charging them for the kilowatt hours that the overhead lights used while we were editing.

...But I could be wrong so I figured I'd ask. Does anyone, anywhere, charge to slap something up on FTP and walk away? I imagine a client looking at that charge and just shaking their head in disbelief.

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Nick GriffinRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 30, 2010 at 7:25:08 pm

It's very normal for employees starting out and people new to their own business to not see the bigger picture and to overlook or disregard costs and operational aspects. Your comparison to the lights used while editing is an excellent example.

Who pays the bill for the electricity used by these lights? Who pays for the replacement light bulbs when they burn out? Who pays for the heat and air conditioning which makes your edit suite habitable? Does the rent or mortgage payment get suspended during the time that an FTP upload is running?

You mention that the computer is doing nothing else during the upload. Does that mean any of the costs associated with purchasing the computer magically go away for that period of time? And if its a computer to which you are assigned does your pay stop for the period of time that the FTP upload takes?

I think you should see my point by now. While some charges may be seen as ways to "nickel and dime" the client, every business has to decide what can contribute to the bottom line versus what gets considered as part of operating expense. There are many, many different ideas on this. No one way is necessarily wrong.

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Todd TerryRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 30, 2010 at 8:00:24 pm

Yes, we charge for FTP uploads... and I know several others who do as well.

Basically, we charge just as if we were making a dub for pickup rather than digital delivery.

It takes time to make the proper file for digital delivery, it takes time to start the FTP upload, it takes a bit of monitoring to make sure that it went properly, it takes the brainpower of a computer that we had to buy, and it eats up bandwidth that we pay for.

Some people choose to give it away, and if they want to do that, that's fine. But there is also nothing wrong with charging for a service rendered... just like any of the other services that we offer (and charge for).


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Rich RubaschRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 30, 2010 at 8:35:16 pm

Since most of the time we encode as well as upload we combine them into one category which is encoding and we charge $80/hr for that service. But we also have a 1/4 hour minimum, so it could be as little as $20 to encode to a YouTube format and upload for them to download it. Not exactly gouging the client and it is all wrapped in one category.

Now, if it takes 2 hours to upload a file and I'm not using the file to do anything else....and if it took 15 minutes to prepare the file, in my fair minded thinking I might charge .75 hours to encode and upload, figuring that 40 bucks is probably fair to upload a super large file. Over the course of a project if we are editing multiple videos and we encode and upload numerous versions and revisions plus the final encodes we might have a line item on an invoice of $600 or more just for encoding and uploading. But the total invoice might be $8000 so it is still a small percentage of the whole.

If I cut a 1 minute HD video in an hour (simple cuts) and it takes 2 hours to upload I don't think it would be reasonable to charge $200 for the edit and $160 (2 hours x $80/hr) for the upload. I wouldn't do it anyway.

Is the amount he wants to charge a large percentage of the total bill?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production and Post

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Richard HerdRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 30, 2010 at 8:42:07 pm

What are on earth are you uploading that it takes 2 hours!?
How short is short?
How big is the file?

When my vendors charged me for FTP, I forced them to use yousendit, the free side of it, and I forced them to use the codec I demanded: :60 MPEG2 HD is 180 MB.

I agree with your notion of charging them to use the electricity. This is an easy place where you can say "value added."

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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:57:42 pm

Hey Marut,

I tend to use our account as a free valued extra to the service. Unless it is very large files or we get 50+ downloads - had that happen before Christmas, and our account rightfully so, stopped working...

However, I am aware that we for some of our overseas broadcasters are saving them at least $500 in satellite fees by using ftp instead of the old fashioned way. The only problem we tend to hit is when a client why our uploads are not any faster - that is where it becomes an issue of cost to the end user.

One other neat trick to use is that if you're job is not urgent, do the transfers overnight instead of having people and pc "sitting idle".

All the Best
London, UK

Latest video to watch here:

Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing

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Vince BecquiotRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:49:30 am

Honestly, I wouldn't put ftp down as an itemized item, just make it part of general post production costs (unless the client specifically asks for a breakdown).

I actually had a client come to me once telling me how funny it was that a competitor was charging for FTP access (the other way around, as in the client sending the files).

It's not that you shouldn't charge for it, but you wouldn't expect the rental car company to charge you for a car wash either, yet they do it every time they turn a car around and somehow, you are paying for it.

Vince Becquiot

Kaptis Studios
San Francisco - Bay Area

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Tim WilsonRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 31, 2010 at 1:08:41 pm

I second the recommendation for YouSendIt. Muuuuch faster than ftp (you can read the technical details of how they accomplish this at -- but I can testify that it's absolutely true.)

It's free up to 100 MB, and you can do up to 2 GB for $8.95. Lotso security controls, easy tracking, including a return receipt when they pick it up for an extra $3.99. Pretty short money for faster-than-ftp, with features that most ftp clients don't offer.

That aside, seconding others, I treated it like dub time. Seems annoying at first, but a real service that takes real time to perform....


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Chris BlairRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 31, 2010 at 10:16:23 pm

You should definitely charge for it. You're providing a valuable service to that client plus the added convenience of them being able to just sit down at their computer and view the file after you've uploaded it.

As Todd points out, it takes time to encode it, it takes time to setup the upload, it takes time to send an email notifying someone that this has been done. Your time is worth something. Plus, you and your company have the knowledge and technology to provide all this. This is also worth something.

If you go through your business life giving valuable services away you're destined to lose out financially. It's hard enough in our business to make a profit when you DO charge for everything.

I also agree with Rich that you should also assess what is fair to charge, but it should at least be the same as you'd charge for a DVD for the client to view...especially considering the convenience factor for the client.

I learned a long time ago when waiting tables in college that if you charge people a fair price for every product or service they buy from you, virtually none of them will complain. But give them a couple things for free just once (like giving them a couple free cokes or not charging for that extra cup of alfredo sauce), and they'll complain every time they come in from then on if they get charged, because you've set a precedent for what something costs.

Using the same waiter analogy...I used to think that if I didn't charge for a few things, I'd get a bigger tip. WRONG. People tip based on the total of the bill and the quality of service...not on whether the waiter forgot to add something to the bill. Don't give stuff away...and if you have to...hide the cost inside another part of the adding it as a 1/4 hour editing charge or something else.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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Mike CohenRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:54:36 pm

Do you charge for FTP, rendering, blank tapes, etc?

Depends upon how you charge for work.

Do you charge by the hour or by the project?

If you charge by the project, then build these costs into your project cost. You should be charging enough to cover profit, overhead and your own or employee's salary.

Most clients likely don't want or need an itemized list of charges - they want their project completed.

Mike Cohen

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grinner hesterRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:25:00 am

short answer: yes.
Why would I not charge for this?

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Eric ChristiansRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Feb 1, 2010 at 2:59:44 pm

Not to hi-jack this thread, but what do guys (& gals) charge for an ftp upload?

FTP uploading and downloading is being used more and more, especially for tv commercials, and my department is finding ourselves devoting more of our time during the work week to uploading and downloading spots. So I was curious what you all charge.

Do you charge just for uploading or both uploading and downloading?

Do you charge based on per item or per alloted megabyte?
(Like 0-100 Mbytes cost $XX.xx; 100-200Mbytes cost $XX.xx)

My sincere apologies if I hi-jacked this thread, but this post got me scratching my head this morning.

Eric Christians
a.k.a. (KTTC-Redbeard)

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Chris BlairRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Feb 2, 2010 at 2:39:10 am

We have a couple of different ways we charge.

For previews that are just quick exports from a timeline, one encoding pass, then uploaded to our FTP for a client to view or emailed to them directly, we have a charge we call "digital file ouput." We charge a flat $25 fee for this as long as the project is a reasonable length...meaning under 30 minutes. On most projects, we can end up outputting and uploading/emailing half a dozen to even a dozen of these for client review.

If this sounds high..consider how much a client would spend of their time, traveling to our place, sitting in on edits etc., watching previews etc. if we didn't send them these? It would certainly cost more than the $150-$300 they pay to get a 512x384 video file delivered to them at their desk, to be able to watch at their convenience.

When we do final exports/encodes for the client's use in their website, at presentations, trade shows etc., we charge differently because we spend more time processing and outputting the file. For that we charge:

$50 setup fee for up to 10 videos.
$35 encoding for each video to a specific format (30 minute maximum length)
$5 for each additional pixel size, bit-rate of the SAME format.
$2 for every additional minute over 30

So if we had 15 vignettes of client tesimonials (under 30 minutes each), and they wanted an H264 file of each and a windows media file of each, we'd charge two $50 fees for setup, and 30 fees of $35 for encoding to 2 separate formats.

If they wanted 15 videos encoded to 2 different sizes/bit rates of H264, we'd charge the same setup fees ($100), but charge 15 x $35 for the first H264, and 15 x $5 for the second set to the same format but different pixel size/bit rate.

Videos over 30 minutes get an extra $2 per minute over 15 added on. So a one-hour video would be a $50 setup, $35 encode, $60 for the additional 30 minutes. Total would be $145. Pretty reasonable in my book to get a one hour video encoded for the web or other use. If we have to capture video prior to encoding, we charge standard rates to capture it.

It might sound complicated, but doing good quality compression, (producing high-quality files at small sizes) is time consuming and almost always involves lots of testing prior to doing the final encode. We typically upload tests to our FTP and embed them in flash players to see how they'll perform from a standard website for playback. We'll test them on lots of different computer platforms of varying speed using various operating systems and browsers. If they look good and play back reliably in those tests, then we encode the batch.

It ends up working out to about $125-$175/hour for the work, which is what we need to generate most of the time to make money. When we get down to below $125 while using an edit suite or one of the stations that is fast enough to do encoding, then we have a hard time making a profit.

We've never had a client complain about these charges either...primarily because they're about the same or less than what other video hosting companies charge for compression.

Could they get their compression done for less? Probably, but I can guarantee you people doing it for less wouldn't be as thorough as we are, plus we often help their IT or web people get the videos up onto their sites. This is an important step because you'd die if you knew how often web designers and IT people take your "ready to use" web videos and recompress the crap out of them (often making them LARGER in size), because they think they have to to get them work in Flash or whatever other player they're using.

Of course one thing that is beginning to put a kink into being able to charge these kinds of fees is hosting companies that don't charge anything to compress your files for you. Of course you have to upload a high-quality digital file FIRST for them to even if clients used these companies, they still need an exported/encoded file from you first! One such company that does this is Bits on the Run. They do a great job, but I personally think they're hurting the industry by not charging a dime for really high-quality compression. Companies like YouTube and Vimeo are different in that they're social sites, Bits on the Run is strictly a commercial video hosting site that makes money by charging a hosting fee.

Hope that helps.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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grinner hesterRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Feb 2, 2010 at 3:26:04 pm

I simply charge by the hour or bid flat prices for turn-key projects and work this stuff into that bid before hand. I don't change my rate for doing different things. If I can't go bill full rate because I'm booked... that's at full rate.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Feb 4, 2010 at 3:02:48 pm

Chris you really seem to have this worked out to a fine edge.

All I can add is; compare the costs of the FTP to physically dubbing and MAILING tapes or DVDs. Digibeta stock is not a trivial cost if you're sending out a lot of them. FTP is faster and cheaper generally.

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Chip OniumRe: Charge for FTP upload?
by on Dec 26, 2013 at 4:08:07 pm

In this day and age, the FTP service for larger businesses should be rolled up under the original contract, not set aside as an additional fee structure.

We were just quoted $500 setup fee with $50/mo charge for a file to upload that is only 1MB. It takes 2 mins to upload via their web browser, and we are looking to automate the process with FTP.

Not at this ludicrous rate. The painful process of logging in to their webpage, click on the upload file link, find your file to upload and then sit and wait for it to go through, then validate .... is annoying.

But $500 setup fee for someone to designate a user/directory on their systems and to monitor the files on a daily basis is a ripoff. These costs are/should be part of that business overhead structure. Period.

I'm thinking their host provider, if they are 3rd party is charging for their file uploads. Otherwise, I don't think companies would really think twice about offering the convenience of file transfer to receive the data immediately. This is not 1995.

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