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Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist

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David Distinti
Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist
on Jan 3, 2011 at 3:58:24 pm

Hey,

I'm an independent producer who's looking for a motion graphics artist to build a look for a TV pilot that we've shot and is just
about edited. We just need a graphics package.

What can I expect to pay for an artist's time? I assume it's a per hour fee? I appreciate the effort it takes to design and build such graphics, however we don't have much in the way of a budget. What is a reasonable rate and where I can turn to find a possible candidate?

These are the elements I need:
1. 10 sec. animated open
2. loopable background animation
3. Animated Lower Third
4. Topic Bar that reveals
5. Cold Open Tease animation the reveals and loops
6. x2 aninmated wipes with show logo
7. Tease bed animation
8. a generic segment wipe I can alter, say an AE file, based on my needs.
9. Animated 3D show logo.

Any input would be greatfully appreciated.

Thanks,
Dave


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist
on Jan 4, 2011 at 2:39:20 pm

Hi Dave -

As Art Director for fourteen years at an ABC affiliate, I've done dozens of these packages, for everything from magazine format daily show packages, to a complete broadcast news package, which had basically your list plus a dozen or so "franchise" opens (weather, sports, health, etc.).

From the freelancer's side (I now do this as my own company), the smartest way to quote on these projects is to give a range. Something always gets added, and production values always tend to be pushed up. For example, your 10 second open would most likely by a combination of 3D elements and 2D composites, and since that's your money-maker, it had better be killer, which means more time.

An hourly quote would be expectd, with a range of costs (say, from 5 to 10 thousand dollars), with the promise that if the project changes by more than 10 percent up or down, the old quote would no longer be valid. From the motion graphic artist's side, it's a matter of quoting based on the knowledge of past projects and (hopefully) an accurate description from the client, and adding some contingency hours to the quote, knowing that there is always some major change once the client starts seeing the finished product.

It's a dance where usually one partner expects the most for the least, and the other wants to avoid getting their toes stepped on. Depending on the complexity of your logo, and the production values expected (are you pitching to a smaller cable distributor or PBS, for example?), you could expect to pay anywhere from 5 to 15 thousand dollars. A big production house probably wouldn't even walk out the door for less than 20 to 30 thousand (although the big production houses are drying up and blowing away these days).

If I were quoting on this, I would expect to put in from 40 to 120 hours of time (notice the broad range?), at $125. an hour. Once we discussed the project, the range would tighten up, since I'd have a better idea of the visual concept. Many of the projects I worked on essentially had no producer (they were as green as the grass), so I ended up coming up with the visual concept - that adds a lot of time to the project, since the client doesn't know what they don't want until they see it. I hope this helps out. The key to your keeping costs down is having a strong visual idea in mind. Good luck!

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media


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David Distinti
Re: Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist
on Jan 4, 2011 at 3:09:54 pm

Hey Joe,

I really appreciate your input regarding my posting. I've started compiling different images, etc, that best reflects the overall look I'm shooting for.

Your insight to the process will help to be very useful as I progress further into this aspect of our production.

Thanks,
Dave


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David Johnson
Re: Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist
on Jan 5, 2011 at 11:28:16 pm

One thing I'll add to Joseph's great advice ... before you start cutting checks to anyone, make sure you've seen their previous work and have verified through multiple sources that it is in fact their work ... this was much less an issue years ago, but nowadays every college student who has tinkered with Photoshop for a couple weeks is a "mograph designer" and an "editor" so it's very easy to get burned if you don't know what to watch out for.

The COW is a great place to find real professionals.


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist
on Jan 6, 2011 at 2:51:22 pm

Good point, David. A friend and I were just lamenting over lunch about the number of Cub Scouts who claim to be F-16 pilots these days. I still say that there should be a sticker on every graphics and NLE software box which says: "Talent Not Included!".

With the amount of footage out there that anyone can lay claim to, it's really easy to get ripped off by someone who's "borrowed" someone else's work to get their foot in the industry door.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media


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David Johnson
Re: Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist
on Jan 6, 2011 at 6:58:25 pm

Thanks Joe.

[Joe Bourke] "the number of Cub Scouts who claim to be F-16 pilots these days ... it's really easy to get ripped off by someone who's "borrowed" someone else's work"

I think that's always been an issue in our industry, but that it has grown exponentially in recent years due to relatively new occurrences like pre-made After Effects projects for sale on a wide scale, far easier access to pro or prosumer software and equipment, extreme ease of ripping off other people's work from YouTube, Vimeo, etc., an endless supply of free stock footage, etc., etc., etc.

[Joe Bourke] "every graphics and NLE software box which says: 'Talent Not Included!'"

Brilliant idea! You've got my vote!


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David Distinti
Re: Question(s) about hiring a motion graphics artist
on Jan 6, 2011 at 7:17:52 pm

Hey Guys,

Thanks for the input. I posted an ad on a popular job website and got many responses. I did see several folks who did indeed "borrow" material from stock footage sites that supply motion graphics material. I was somewhat surprised.

We're small-time and our budget doesn't nearly cover the cost mentioned earlier. I think I may have to do the(don't cringe) Digital Juice route just for the sake of time and money.

In the end, if our client is happy, our budget will balloon to a figure that is well within the numbers mentioned earlier.

Thanks for the info. I greatly appreciate.

Best Regards,
Dave


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