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Defining rounds of revisions

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Greg BallDefining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 15, 2015 at 12:47:36 am

I've recently added in revisions into my agreements. Usually I say that it includes 2 rounds of revisions. I just had a project that seemed to have excess revisions beyond simple changes. They wanted a new sound voice narration track, a new music track, and several additional images added to the video. That meant that I needed to move many shots, lengthen or shorten them to fit the new voice track by a different announcer, and re-edit a new music track. This was definitely a change in scope.

I'm wondering how best to word this the fact that we'll do 2 rounds of minor revisions.

Mark S said something similar to this a while back. You would get to see a first rough cut, where the a client can approve it or suggest minor revisions, then they get to see the adjusted version to confirm that the changes were made as requested, and once they approve it, we make the final version, adding transitions, adjusting the colors and audio levels.

Re-edits after that are billed on a per hour basis. Of course if we've made a mistake, we do not charge to fix it. For example, if we misspelled something we'll fix that at no charge.

My problem is defining what a minor revision is and what a round of revisions is. How do you guys handle this?

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Todd TerryRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 15, 2015 at 1:08:32 am

I think one of the issues might be that you are offering X number of rounds of revisions. What's a "round"? Your client is obviously going to interpret that in the widest way possible. A "round" can indeed be replacing a single shot. But... as long as they are done at the same time, replacing 50 shots, re-organizing an edit, changing color grading, replacing a narrator, and re-scoring the whole thing could be viewed as a single "round" in your client's eyes. And given the opportunity to take advantage, most definitely will.

I'd suggest that you offer X number of hours as an available revision, before the clock starts again.

That's more of less what we do. We live almost entirely in the 30-second commercial world, so I imagine our timeframes are much shorter than yours but the same theory applies. We usually budget a day (8 hours) of suite time to cut a :30 project, maybe two if something is especially complicated, has a lot of effects, laying, or motion graphics, etc. When that's the case we are usually totally comfortable giving away an hour or so of suite time for revisions. More than that?... we bill for it.

Some of it has to do with the type of revisions that are needed. If they are aesthetic revisions, those tend to fall in the freebie category. If a client doesn't like a color, or the size or style of a graphic, or a music track... we'll, that's not math so there are no right or wrong answers, and the customer is always right. We can't read their minds in advance, so we are (usually) happy to make those changes (as long as they are minor) gratis to keep them happy and get a project wrapped and billed.

But script revisions are different. If a client wants a revision that involves a change to an approved script, well that's a different story. If they want to change a line, the order of some elements, add or subtract an element that changes the edit, or any of that voodoo that renders the project different from the exact approved script we were working from... well, none of those are freebies. That all gets billed.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Greg BallRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 15, 2015 at 12:43:57 pm

Thanks Todd. I agree that's my problem. It's tough to define what a "round of revisions" is.
So what it I said something like this:

We include 2 rounds of minor revisions. Minor revisions are usually about 1 hour of editing time for each round of revisions. After that we charge $___ per hour.

By the way thanks for suggesting I speak with Don. He was a wealth of information and a good guy.

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Todd TerryRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 15, 2015 at 2:21:58 pm

Cool, glad you guys were able to connect.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 15, 2015 at 2:37:39 pm

If your process included a stage where the client saw a Creative Treatment and Script and signed off on those before production went ahead, then a change to the script or treatment after shooting starts should be treated as a significant change. The whole reason for the treatment stage is to iron these major bugs out at the stage where all it takes is a pencil eraser - not an edit suite with billable time - to make the changes.

I'd say you could define the rounds of free changes as meaning "aesthetic changes" in the appearance or timing of the existing material, in the manner Todd describes - and define as "change in scope" of the work as billable extra time spent on anything that requires a script or treatment revision, including re-shooting a scene or shooting a new scene.

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Greg BallRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 15, 2015 at 5:38:40 pm

Thanks Mark,

This was just an edit job, as they provided the script, images and footage. This next one falls into the same category.

Charging them for a new VO track and new music is a change in the scope, since I had to virtually re-edit the whole piece as far as moving things into position and cuting the newmusic to fit.

I'm just thinking about moving forward, so I don't have to explain what a round of revisions constitutes. Typically if it's something quick, I'll just throw it in anyway, but I just want to state this correctly in my agreements.

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Ned MillerRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 16, 2015 at 2:42:06 pm
Last Edited By Ned Miller on Apr 16, 2015 at 2:46:41 pm

This thread is an interesting problem that I often run into. I usually have in my "Letter of Agreement" or "Scope of Project", since I don't have formal contracts, some nomenclature that states the terms "two rounds of reasonable revisions". Sometimes I spell out, or the client asks, what does "reasonable" mean, and to me it means: "You can't change what you previously approved and you can not ask for something more that wasn't in the estimate."

When I have a phone conversation with the client regarding changes I usually ask them to send the request in the form of an email so when it comes time to discuss overages I will often write: "As per your email of..." So I am giving them fair warning that this is not really a revision but a distinct change, addition, upgrade, etc. It is best for me to do this in advance of the final bill because some of the companies are so bureaucratic there was an original purchase order and it is difficult to change it upwards, very difficult.

But what I would like to ask you guys is a typical problem I have: I am not interfacing with the final decision maker. I can make a video that is then sent up the food chain for approval and they come back with changes, that should be an additional cost, but the person at the company I am dealing with is med-level or there's an unchangeable PO, so I have to eat the cost or start arguing with the client who doesn't want to get in trouble with their boss. They all claim to be working within a "budget". This is often the case with music, which may not be a big deal if the visuals weren't cut to the beat but what if they were? Or the CEO now wants a gravelly male voice instead of the softer female VO? My contact's hands are usually tied.

Some of my clients remind me of the children's book about too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth and when my "final" video is presented it turns out there were more cooks, some of whom never saw the script, several levels above my client contact.

How do you folks handle that? It's depressing to watch overages eat into the profit when my contact can't get me more budget.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer

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Mark SuszkoRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 16, 2015 at 6:31:09 pm

If it is a PO with a fixed amount, can you mark down the job as completed and delivered, and make the revisions a separate billing? This will at least get you paid *most* of the job up front.

As to the other problem, it's always incumbent on the producer or editor to find out who really has the final say on these projects and who signs the checks. Ultimately, nobody else matters, even if the intermediary you work with is a great person. They're ultimately just a buffer and go-between. You need that check-signer's name on the contracts, and on the treatment/ specifications document and the script, before you start, or it's worse than not having a deal. Worse, because you'll do the work and incur the costs without certainty of pay.

I've seen this problem many times. And the only other observation I can make is that, no matter what they tell you in terms of Purchase Orders and fixed costs, and "we have no accounting mechanism to deal with that", every big business client has an emergency or contingency or "petty" cash fund of some sort. They have to, in order to cover some immediate costs that pop up and can't wait for 30-60-net-90. Like rain water leaking above the server farm on a weekend, and the roofer or plumber wants payment on delivery. They have the money. They just prefer to hold it as long as they can. Your only real leverage is to point to your contractual language, to hold off on delivery and hope they have a hard deadline coming up to force their hand.

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Rich RubaschRe: Defining rounds of revisions
by on Apr 17, 2015 at 2:30:37 am

We actually put a number of hours for revisions in the proposal. If there are none and all the rest of the estimate came in as planned then we don't invoice for those hours that we specified in the proposal as revision hours. But if we consume all the hours making their fixes then we either stick to the proposal as is or see if we can invoice for the overage.

Since we hire talent it is an outside cost and is not negotiable. If they approve Narrator A and later change their mind and ask for Narrator B, I bill for both narrators stating that it is an outside cost that I have to pay so it is not negotiable.

Something like that anyway!

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage

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