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£££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing

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Matt Barone
£££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing
on Apr 13, 2010 at 9:35:18 pm

Hello guys and girls.
I'm writing here as I hope that one of you experience editors will be able to give me his/ her opinion regarding the following budgeting/ estimate issue.

I'm based in London and have been asked by one of my clients to do some editing. I just wanted to hear from you guys whether the following quote I am about to send him makes sense financially.

So he has given me footage of a 2hour 10 minutes west-end musical theatre performance. It was filmed on 2 Sony EX1's. The footage of 1 cam has been copied to a harddrive, the other cam footage is on 2 DVCPRO tapes, so will have to be captured/transferred.

He wants a multicam edit of the entire performance + titles. I guess I'll be doing some colour correction and then export to DVD.

I am thinking of asking for £2000 (about 3000$). This includes hiring deck, capturing 2 hours footage, transfer footage to FCP, multicam editing of 125 minutes footage, basic colour correction (only fixing blown out highlights and overall luminance etc.), some titles (maybe a little design) and export to dvd + mastering.

I got to about 56 hours work at £25/hour (£1400) + £600 equipment cost (hire deck, computer, screen, harddrives, office etc. etc. etc)

Sounds about right? Any suggestions as to why higher or lower? Your advice is very much appreciated.



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Craig Seeman
Re: £££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing
on Apr 13, 2010 at 10:48:08 pm

[Matt Barone] "So he has given me footage of a 2hour 10 minutes west-end musical theatre performance. It was filmed on 2 Sony EX1's. The footage of 1 cam has been copied to a harddrive, the other cam footage is on 2 DVCPRO tapes, so will have to be captured/transferred. "

Why the heck did they do THAT?

[Matt Barone] "I got to about 56 hours work at £25/hour "
That's about $40/hr depending on the exchange rate. I don't know what your personal cost of living is but that would be way too low for me in NYC.

[Matt Barone] "fixing blown out highlights"
That would certainly be a challenge. If it's truly blown out it's about the one thing you can't fix. If the detail is gone it's gone.

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grinner hester
Re: £££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing
on Apr 13, 2010 at 11:38:49 pm

You could offer two options... the cadillac model or the chevy model.
A: double your bid and edit as planned. (but dont count on fixing washed out shots)
B: your current bid price and rent a little A/B switcher when you rent the deck and switch it on the fly while capturing. That would give you your cut in real time then you could just hop in with some titles.

I'd not mention the B option here. I just throw it out if his budget doesn't allow you to do it right.

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Burt Hazard
Re: £££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing
on Apr 14, 2010 at 3:52:52 am

And definitely download the Captain's Blowout Filter if you don't already have it: (courtesy of Patrick Sheffield and Captain Mench).

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Mike Smith
Re: £££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing
on Apr 14, 2010 at 9:42:16 am

Hi Matt.

It's not too clear from your post whether you have much editing experience - which could affect answers to your question. If you're new to it, doing a decent job may take you more time.

First rule of editing ... things often take longer than you think. Second rule ... the more people have a say in evaluating and contributing to the edit before it's accepted, the longer the edit will stretch. Are you sure a fixed fee is more appropriate than an hourly rate, and if so how do you plan to control the edit and review cycle?

Then, crucially, let's hope and assume the footage was legally acquired. The improvised shooting arrangements suggest some client resource, but not all that much. If this is a pirate shoot, you'd be well advised to stay entirely clear. If they have the rights, it's surprising to shoot a high-value event in the way indicated -

You don't say whether the material is captured in high or standard definition. Hi def will increase your processing needs, probably your editing time and perhaps your budget.

I'm a bit a surprised by choice for the transferred material (Panasonic SD codec from a Sony hi-def-capable camcorder). It may be wise to check whether two different models of camera were used, and to reassure yourself about how much of a colour match there is between the two sources - how much of a colour correction challenge you are going to face specially if you do go for an all-in fixed fee and not a time rate.

Things that might give concern: how good is the music recording? Is your client realistic about what you can achieve - is s/he expecting a BBC multicamera live shoot look from two semipro cameras and you?

The compression format of your hard drive material isn't indicated. For choice of editing route / format, balancing the speed and convenience of editing in standard def (like the DVCPro stuff) against the more compressed and harder to handle hi def formats is a tricky choice.

Then you actual question: your hour allocation is possible but you may turn out to need much longer. £25 per hour would be a good rate for the client for a pro freelance editor in London - possible, if on the less-pro or lower end. Your edit equipment hire costs seem unrealistically low. I see no mention of software costs so assume you hope to hire a working system from somewhere. If you hire a system in a facility, your dry hire bill is likely to go over budget (specially as your days spiral.)

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Matt Barone
Re: £££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing
on Apr 14, 2010 at 2:35:47 pm

Ok guys,

thanks for your responses. Very insightful. I'll specify some of your questions:

@Craig and Mike: I'm not sure why half the footage is on the drive and not the other half. The footage on the drive is xdcam straight from the camera, still with all the sony folder structures etc. It's high definition footage.
I start doubting whether the footage on the DVCPRO tapes is SD or HD. Won't be able to find out until I hire the deck (unless someone tells me it can only be SD?). Also, the 4 tapes have written 'bla bla ARCHIVE'(bla bla being the name of the production).

@Craig: The quality of the footage is good, very crisp. But they used auto iris, so sometimes the highlights are hot. I think it can be tuned down.

@Burt: Thanks for the suggestions regarding software. Will definitely check out.

@Mike: I'd do a fixed rate as the clients wants to know the cost. I have done a very similar job for a less established client and out of experience the multicam editing has taken me about an hour per 5 minutes of performance, so 25 hours for editing only. Then, of course, the round trip to Apple Color and back to FCP took AGES. Will try to minimize colour correction.
Footage is definitely legal. Filming was commissioned by the production company that produced the west-end musical.
I was given DVD's with low-res reference footage and the cams used seem to be the same. Colours match, resolution looks similar.
Again, the footage on the drive is high-def, not sure about resolution and aspect ratio on the DVCPRO tapes.
Sound is good, straight from the sound deck I believe. That's no probs.
And lastly, equipment use would not require additional hire apart from the deck. the £450 should cover mac, screen and drive for 6 days.

uff, that should be it. Thanks again for your replies and looking forward to reading more from you.


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Mark Suszko
Re: £££/$$$?-Musical theatre performance edit pricing
on Apr 14, 2010 at 5:12:55 pm

Don't color correct anything until you have a master, then color correct only that footage.

Even if they want a flat fee quote, base your calculations on hourly rate and costs. Compute all that for a worst-case scenario as far as the hours you might have to put in, add a hefty profit margin, THEN give THAT as the flat fee. If they balk at that point, you could counter-offer that the flat fee is based on estimated hours, and if you come in at a certain number of hours LESS, you will refund or pro-rate a portion.

Also, you want a third to a half paid up front; the second third usually is due at first screening of the approval version, then final pay-up due at delivery of the finished master & Dub order. Explain this not only makes it easier for them to pay, but that it protects them since they don't pay for work that hasn't been done yet, only for each stage of completion. Remember not to float their debt on your accounts: you are NOT a bank; this is a cash on the barrelhead business.

I would estimate the DVD job as a separate job, and charge separately for it.

My Spider-Sense is tingling about whether or not the client has obtained ALL the necessary rights and clearances. If this is an all-original production, probably so. If this is a revival of an Andrew Lloyd Webber or Gilbert & Sullivan or anything like that, most likely they have NOT obtained all the various licenses and clearances, etc because that stuff can take a year to untangle.

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