How would you quote this?
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and weigh in. I really appreciate it!!
A few questions:
1. How would you quote the following job?
A perspective client owns a large demolition company and has a terabyte of footage from a high-profile job that they did. He would like to have it edited down to 2-3 minutes for their website and possibly have a 10-minute version as well.
He wants to meet with him in a few days so I can see what I'm up against. He says that he's logged all of the shots in Excel with notes. There is interview footage as well as the actual demolition.
He has asked me to quote him for both long and short versions, mentioning that he thinks it will cost more for the long version, so he's not sure if he wants to do that at this time, but wants a quote.
2. Is my Avid MC 5.5 up to this?
It has the capacity to edit HD, but are there major advances that would make it inadvisable to take this job on without upgrading? I'm not too hot on the idea of upgrading since I haven't worked as an editor in six years and this may be the only gig I get for a long while.
Thank you! I appreicate you taking the time to answer and share your expertise!
For me, I would need to know the total running time (not the storage) of all the footage. 16 hours (as a guess) of footage has to be watched. Triple that time for the 10 minute video. Then you cut the shorter video from the 10-minute piece. and you can triple that again. This I feel is easily 50 hours--a whole week! Are you recording and editing voice over? What about music? These are both hard costs.
In general he has it backwards. It takes longer to make a short video, because the editor has to make more edit decisions.
I'd use his notes, of course, so that I can get a sense of what he likes, but that won't make the edit shorter or save him money. When we put a shot next to a shot it creates a meaning and feeling. We can't know that until we do it, and add the VO and music. So his notes of what he likes may or may not work in the edit.
You're running a business and trying to make a profit and keep your customer happy--aren't we all! After you agree to the price, you need 50% non-refundable deposit upfront. Then when you turn in the rough cut of the 10-minute piece, you get paid 25%. Then there will probably be changes. There are always changes. So you can cut those and that will inform you of what the 2-minute piece will be.
Please read this article: https://library.creativecow.net/wall_kylee/jane_tattersall_handmaids_tale_a...
and also this one: https://library.creativecow.net/lindeboom_ron/clients_or_grinders/1
Hey Richard.....how successful are you with getting paid any money "up front" meaning a check in hand before you even start editing? I ask because I don't think I can recall in 17 years that a client provided a check prior to the work being done/
Now I live in the Midwest and a gentleman's handshake still means something, so maybe that plays into it, but not one of my clients would cut a check prior to the work being done. However they do let me send a "prebill invoice" which is send at the time the project starts but almost always has a net 30 on it.
In the studio I sometimes get a check at the end of the day after the shoot for out of town clients.
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
[Rich Rubasch] "how successful are you with getting paid any money "up front" meaning a check in hand before you even start editing? I"
That's kind of a funny question. I'm 100% successful getting the deposit when clients agree to it. I'm 100% successful finding out which clients to avoid if they don't agree to it.
If your business has a different risk position, then that's cool too.
So I should revise my comment. Somehow, we need to implement a process to manage our risk position, and a deposit is one such way; a firm handshake is too.
For me, when Ms. Llamido mentioned he logged the footage in excel, that raised a flag. When he assumed a 10-minute video would cost more than a 2-minute video, that raised another flag. When it's roughly 16 hours of footage, the flags waving in the breeze meant it's time to bust out the Clients and Grinders article.
Rich, I would agree with Richard. We get a deposit 100% of the time. No deposit, no booking.
Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
Thank you for your detailed response, Richard! Exactly what I was looking for. I was really on the fence about this because I would say that this guy is definitely in the upper part of the 70% from your article. I don't think he will try to talk me down, but I do think that it would be possible to price myself out of what he is willing to pay.
You have given me very solid points to consider and I will definitely use them in coming up with my quote. It strongly defines the scope of work.
I also always get a 50% deposit up front, but I hadn't thought to also invoice 25% at first deliverable. Very good call at this price point.
Thank you for taking the time to answer and share your thoughts!
Also, this is simply my opinion: I would not change editing platforms because the learning curve will eat your profit margin. None of the buttons will be where you're used to. Some of the buttons will have different names than you're used to and that makes it even more difficult to find answers in the manuals and tutorials.
Since you know the software you know, in my view, stick to it because "upgrading" has hidden costs everywhere. Plug-ins may or may not work. codecs may or may not work. File permissions may or may not work. So many things. You'll be spending time chasing-down these problems instead of editing. It would then be natural to think "should I bill my client for me not knowing the software." And, "I'm not a good editor." And other negative stuff.
Lately, I have run into a bunch of editors who receive an amazing amount of coverage and then they wonder why their system struggles with the footage. They say I just spent $5,000 on the latest thing so why isn't my computer working. What am I doing wrong? Their solution is old school and it is what Media Composer is very good at: transcode the selects into intraframe (DNxHD). These new editors seem to dislike that answer.
In other words, the files from your client, in my (perhaps controversial) view, should always be treated like "digital tapes." Even though it sounds convenient to edit the "digital tape" on the timeline, with the amount of footage you have it is a nightmare. When a cut is made that is not on the I-frame, then the computer still has to render that picture-frame-color-data from the previous I-frame, store that information on your system, and render the footage that's after it, storing the footage again. There is no way around this render-new-media problem. So even though "updated" editing software seems like it does fancy stuff, it really doesn't change the fundamentals. I have not even mentioned color correction or cropping and reframing. Then when picture is locked, you render and compress...it can really take a long time.
You can be confident in Media Composer 5.5's workflow and transcode the digital tape to DNxHD, like we should be doing with digital tape and definitely need to do with huge amounts of coverage. You won't know how to treat the footage until you receive the footage. But you'll be able to find the codec and search the Cow for "how do I get [codec] into DNxHD." That's an easy solve compared to learning a new software platform.
I hope this makes sense. Wrote more than I intended.
Tremendously helpful, thank you!
I tried loading some footage with my 5.5 and everything came in without a problem, which was my biggest concern. I will stick with it exactly because of the points that you made. Why reinvent the wheel?
I appreciate your workflow comments as well. I haven't worked with this much footage before (it turns out that it's a bit over 30 hours) and understanding the challenges inherent with scale is tremendously helpful. I'm glad that you wrote as much as you did.
I appreciate it!
That is quite old software: probably running on old hardware too ...? Are you contemplating a refresh for other reasons? There is cheap or free software to run on stock hardware now that will do the job.
For this pitch, if you quote in a traditional "view and understand all of the footage before cutting" way, you are likely to end up with a very big number. The client has signalled to you that s/he is price sensitive, or at least price aware. A lot of footage from a pro outfit is one thing: sadly I've faced hours and hours of self-shot, amateur footage with nearly nothing usable ... it would be helpful for you to have a sense of what kind of footage is available.
I might be inclined to consider using the meeting you have to try to assess the footage for overall quality, and for you to lead the client into showing you his or her idea of "the best bits"! A second strand for the meeting might be to try to nail down a story idea or script for the short version - s/he want that first - and get the client to use their logging notes to take you to appropriate footage.
If that works, you may have established that you can work together to the client's brief, that the project is viable, and that you could cut a short to client desires without having to wade through all of the hours of footage, which might allow you to quote accordingly. Or it might show you and the client both that the footage is variable quality and a lot of editing time will be needed - paving the way for a higher figure (or a cancelled project) .
If you were a demolition company, what message might you want to be able to put over with your video - what would you need to show and say? And can you find the tools to do that with the footage you have, a short voice-over (maybe) and soubdbites from interviews (maybe) ..? And what commercial value to your company might a video represent ...? A cleint is not likely to pay more than their perception of that added value in their sales process, however well justified your method might seem to you, me or anyone else 😉
I might ask the client, if he's sensitive to costs, if there is any pre-prod work he wants to do on his own time/dime, before handing it off to you. If you can have him pre-filter that 1Tb of footage down to just his essentials, even if it's just circling the best takes in his spreadsheet, maybe that would save him some money. For SURE it would teach him that what you do must take time and time is money.
I was going to also add that you make the long master first and then a cut-down using that as the source is faster and relatively trivial.
As far as your gear, I have no idea. You could, however, afford a new imac, external drive, and copy of FCPX or Premiere or Resolve, for what you should be billing this guy. Get the advance deposit before you whip out the credit card and call Cupertino :-)
Added edit: Upon further thought, maybe you can offer him a deal where you don't bill ANY time for this, but he bankrolls your equipment upgrade. There's been times when I've seen that kind of deal work well for people.
I will definitely offer him the option of trading his time for his money. And thanks for seconding the long to short approach. That's the way that I've worked before and it certainly makes more sense.
I will have to contemplate the software upgrade, but if I have to, I have to. We shall see.
Thank you for your comments!
Thank you for your thoughts, Mike.
My hardware is older, but robust enough to run whatever I need. I spent quite a pretty penny on it years ago and it's still holding up well. Do you have any recommendations for the "cheap or free software" you mentioned if I can't work with what I have?
The footage is very high quality, but you make a great point about getting a client brief that would eliminate a lot of the grunt work. That gives me a great option for making it cheaper by having him invest more of his time. That way he can decide which is more valuable: his time or his money.
In the end, it's all about the hours and being able to offer the client options to cut down on my hours is very helpful.
Pretty penny - I love it ! I had thought of that as a British English only idiom.
Of course if your kit is working well there's no need to change, though my reading is that MC 5.5 dates back a long way - 2011 - and there have been big advances in software and hardware in that time. I'm guessing from your posts that you invested in a hardware accelerator at that time - maybe Adrenaline? Nitris? I'm guessing that usage of the system involves ingest or transcoding of footage before editing can begin? And no playback of mixed HD formats natively in the timeline? And that the hardware accelerator is needed for any kind of realtime edit playback? I'm guessing you are tied to keeping an older host computer running, for driver compatibility?
Lightworks and Resolve are both capable editors with free versions, and full-price versions at a few hundred dollars. I don't know if they will run on your hardware. Lightworks has been used by one veteran editor I know (more than 20 years of MC experience, as well as lots of time on various versions of FCP and latterly Premiuere Pro) for the last couple of years, and reports on the most recent version of Resolve are largely favourable. HItfilm is another contender with a free version, though I know less about it. And Avid of course is reportedly launching another free version I think, though I couldn't find it on their site just now.
On the Apple side, FCPX has lots of devotees and is low cost. On Windows, Edius Pro from Grass Valley is solid and slick, if a little more costly (still probably under $500 - cheap to an old-time Avid buyer?!) , and Vegas has a quirky approach but a decent toolset and some fans.
Bob Zelin's recent NAB review does a good job of sketching out a little of where video editing is now and is heading, at https://library.creativecow.net/zelin_bob/NAB_Show_2017/1
Just wanted to say, I read some good things in this thread. And to the person who can't get %50 percent up front. yikes. That is like industry standard. I don't move or get booked unless I get my %50 percent upfront, and then the remaining on delivery. I don't ask for %25 percent when sent a first draft. That's interesting.
I also shot the stuff I edit so for sure %50 upfront, As a matter of fact, one of my clients, we have a good relationship that they give me %100 up front due to my previous reliability etc.
Thanks for the software recs, Mike! It looks like 5.5 is working fine with the test footage, but I always like to have options in my back pocket in case I run into a problem.
I got the drive from the client and found out that there was more footage than expected, closer to 30 hours! So I followed Richard's guidelines for how long it would take and added a bit more (x4), then added time for the "hard costs", all itemized.
I submmitted this to the client, with an email letting him know that he could cut his costs by eliminating clips that are unnecessary. I also added that if it was completely out of his budget, I could make a cut that fit any dollar amount that he wanted to spend, but it would mean sacrificing the time and care that I take in selecting the cuts. It would still be good, I assured him, but not AS good.
i added a sales pitch about me as a creative artist and what he would get by investing in my skills. (I have found that this is often what finally influences the client and creates an emotional "gut feeling" that says that they should hire me.)
Then I sent it and breathed deeply for a while, trying not think about how extremely cool it would be to get this gig and how sad it would be if I didn't.
He called me in the morning and asked some quesitons, mostly about what was included and I could hear him wavering. "Is this a worst-case scenario? " he asked, "is it possible that you'll finish earlier than this?" "Oh sure!" I told him. "It's definitely possible. But I think that it's probably pretty accurate." "Let's do it."
Thank you all for your input. I really, really, really wanted to cut this project and I was afraid that I was going to undervalue my time. Giving me guidelines to work with really helped and now I feel confident in my quote.
Oh, and I bought the Avid upgrade on the last day of the special. It will have a bit of a learning curve, no doubt, but it's Avid and I get it so it shouldn't be too bad, I don't think. But this job definitely made it worth it to upgrade.
Thank you everyone!
Well done ! ☺