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Specc'ing out what to charge for concert edit

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Robert Campbell
Specc'ing out what to charge for concert edit
on Sep 15, 2012 at 11:40:09 pm

This is what I know so far:

It's supposed to be a 45-minute concert of an R&B group that was big in the 90s, and is comin' back.

5 HD cameras, but the angles and general camera work that I've seen from a 10-minute quick edit weren't so great. Probably needs a lot of editorial finessing.

I don't know what make of camera so I don't know which codec was used. I also don't know whether the footage is still in its native format, or has been transcoded to ProRes (assuming it wasn't shot in that).

Color correction will definitely be needed. I can do enough to make it broadcast safe, but I'm not good enough to create moods and whatnot. However, it's concert footage of an R&B group so my guess is the mood is gonna be funky and soulful from start to finish.

Final deliverables will likely be Web and TV (assuming the cameras had the minimum bitrate).

I won't be doing the sound sweetening beyond raising and lowering levels.

The client/group manager is NOT technical, and not really "artistic" so all of those questions will likely be need to be answered by me.

I work in L.A.

And that's about it.

Thanks a ton for any insight. I did a huge five-camera standup event (15 comics doing sets between 10 and 50 minutes), a couple of years ago, and I WOEFULLY underbid the project. The damn thing took months because of all of the things I didn't know would be needed, and the problems with the camera crew (frequently missing entire angles for 5-10 minutes at a time, out of focus/frame, etc.).

I don't want to gouge my client, but I don't want to gouge myself either.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Specc'ing out what to charge for concert edit
on Sep 17, 2012 at 2:13:02 pm

If you have about five hours of raw footage, hm, ingest/convert/log would be 1-2 days. Assuming you synch it all up in multicam and do a live-to-timeline on the fly "switcher cut" as the initial basis, say one day for that, then 2-3 days to massage the live cut by adding more cut-aways and adjusting timing and start adjusting levels in sound and image. One day for the color correction pass. One day for the audio sweetening, as far as you are able. So maybe eight full days at day rate. I dunno, you have so many unknowns here. It could be fewer days, After it's loaded and the multicam hooked up, I could maybe crash thru it in 2 days, but you always have to give up something for speed, usually quality. But I might start with eight days as a rough, conservative estimate.

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Mike Smith
Re: Specc'ing out what to charge for concert edit
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:00:02 pm

1990s so very early days for HD ... probably HDCAM or DVCPro HD ...?

Why would you put a total figure on the task, unknowns unknown, rather than bid a time rate plus a loose estimate, and look for the client to provide a guide on ceilings for your costs, or your artistic and technica aspirations ..?

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Mark Suszko
Re: Specc'ing out what to charge for concert edit
on Sep 17, 2012 at 4:33:47 pm

Well, he wouldn't, but his client certainly has a budget limitation of some kind. I think the better thing to do first is ask what range the budget is in, then decide what amount of work at what level of detail and quality can be executed for that amount. If there isn't money enough to finish the project, best not to start yet.

Clients are notoriously cagey when asked to pin down a figure for their budget. They always fear that if they honestly tell you their top number off the bat, you'll just take it all as the price, with no reoom for negotiation. And sometimes, if the project is big and the budget small, that's how it has to work out. But not always. Often, a client has no concept of what things cost in this business, or has inflated expectations based on erroneous examples. If uncle Ned can edit his cousin's wedding for x dollars, certainly, his corporate job should cost about as much, right?

It takes a bit of diplomacy and hand-holding for sure to get around this and get into an honest discussion of what level of work is affordable to them. I use the metaphors of a car or house purchase to explain that you can get a "good-better-best" kind of range. A tin shack and a mansion both can keep the rain off your head. The cost differences come from the details and crafstmanship and materials applied to the job, as well as the overall size of the project and the intended use. A Lambo and a Kia will both get you to the grocery store in about the same amount of time, assuming you follow the traffic laws. The cost difference is in all the details. Every video edit is a custom job, even the most routine kind have individual nuances. You can't really commoditize hand-wrought artwork creation. Okay, maybe you can, for those 20-dollar knick-knacks churned out by poor third-world schoolkids and sold at Pier One or something... but not video.

So, you ask the client now: are we building you a Ferrari, a Caddy, a mid-size sedan, or an econo-box? What are you willing to give up, to stay inside your budget range? What must stay as an absolute deal-breaker? Now you apply your experience to estimate if you can do that kind of work in x amount of hours based on your hourly or day rate. If you can't, then tell them sorry, no deal. Let a competitor try to break themselves meeting those specs while you work on a more realistic project. That's business. if you take on the job for a too-low rate, you're just losing money and not gaining customers.

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Richard Herd
Re: Specc'ing out what to charge for concert edit
on Sep 17, 2012 at 7:55:41 pm

I had success recently by budgeting as a series of deliverables.

The client liked it because they could see progress. I liked it because I got paid at every point along the way. There's traditional words that describe the creative process and also manage client expectations:

-- Transcode
-- Assemble Edit
-- Rough Cut
-- Picture Lock
-- Audio Edit

(Hard costs might include storage.)

It wise to invite the client to the transcode session because it's boring and technical that surely they have better things to do, but also it gives you a chance to explain some technical details with regard to codec and such. It's also a first hand experience for the client to see how detailed a pro editor actually is.

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