I am new to freelancing in After Effects in the boston area. I am an experienced user. I am planning on updating my system to an 8 Core 8 gig Mac System when the new AE is released. Could anyone advise as to what day rates are these days. Don't want to price myself out of a job, but don't want to charge to little. Any advice much appreciated.
This may not be the correct forum. Pardon if not.
I'm only half the thing I say I am, the other half are me.
Check the Business COW and the Broadcast Design COW. Search for "rates", that sort of thing.
Needless to say, that completely depends on your skill set. I am a Creative Director/owner of a studio in the San Francisco area, and I base the rates I pay on three tiers of skill level (entry-level to pro), with entry level paying $35/hr. or so, and pro level paying $50-$60/hr. I'm sure rates here are different than Boston, but that may help.
As an aside, when contractors are working from home I have never factored their rig into the rate, and to date no one has asked me to. I don't really care if you have a 32-core mainframe, as long as you can deliver quality work. Having a lot of processing power doesn't necessarily mean you will finish faster, better or be free of the risk of losing data etc... Another part of this issue is that having contractors work from home adds a LOT of extra work for me and the producer, so it's a bit of a wash.
Just curious... as someone who works from home, I'm curious about the extra work for you and your producers. Can you say a little more about that?
There are several things that seem consistent when working with remote artists:
- Communication is much more difficult, and therefore mistakes are more common
- I rarely feel like remote artists are working as hard/fast as they would if they were in-house. Not that I'm a slave driver at all, but remote artists are noticeably slower, especially once you get into the second or third week of a project.
- It introduces the need for file transfers/DVDs to get new assets to the artist, and to get their deliverables, which takes up valuable time.
- All the files for their portion of the project are living on their machine at home, and therefore we're forced to rely on their backup habits to ensure we don't lose everything and have to start over from scratch. The only alternative is frequent external drive swaps and such. It's a risk.
All of that said, I was a freelancer for many years so I know how it goes, but it does become more difficult from a studio perspective.
I appreciate beenyweenies taking the time to respond. I can't speak for the rates in San Francisco, or the personalites there, but thanks also to Ronaldo for his point of view.
well, you've heard from management. it's obviously a question of what the market will bear, how much you want the job, and how far you want to bend over for beanybabies, but if you're doing the design work and the compositing on your own system, (and you're good), look 'em in the eye, don't blink, and tell 'em $800/day. if they want you to work at their location on their machines, (generally this involves mayhem, chit-chat and BS) tell 'em $1000/day. stay away from bargainbabies paying "pros" $50/hour, especially in san francisco which is one of the most expensive markets on the planet. that's about half what you should charge as a pro to make a decent living. of course if you blink, or you're not good enough, or just need the gig 'cuz the kids need shoes, get in the car and drive an hour, crawl into the cube under the watchful eye of the "creative director/owner" and slave away. you'll apparently be much more productive :)
First of all, public skewerings are clever on sites meant for teenagers, but not grown-up sites like Creative Cow. This is especially true of the variety that aren't backed up by any data, facts or even anecdotal evidence to support the claims made. Would you care to at least list the studios in town that pay $1k/day? Because I've worked at most of them over the past 7 years and I don't recall hearing of any artist making that much, especially the ones with the really bad attitudes.
But then again, maybe you're right - I'm a cheap slave-driving jerk because my studio, only in its second year of operation, can't afford to pay After Effects artists $260,000/year (aka $1k/day).
We do not condone these kinds of personal insults at Creative COW, Ronaldo.
This is a warning that if this persists, your account will be closed.
The Mistress of Mmmooooo!
Although I agree that perhaps ronaldo was less than diplomatic, there is much truth in his post. I've been working as a single person corporation for 18-years and have watched (in horror) as rates have declined to the level where a house painter can make more than a great, imaginative and responsive designer.
When asked for advice from young start-ups, I quickly acknowledge that what you charge is the most difficult aspect of establishing yourself. If you decide to work for $25 to $50 per hour, that's how much YOU say your worth.
As far as working on site, it's my personal opinion that it's fraught with significant problems. Not the least of these are out of date software, poorly maintained or inadequate computers, poor selection of plug-ins and fonts and often baffling storage. And, god forbid if you're taking over someone else's work as he or she goes on to another project that pays better or is unavailable for future revisions. You'll often spend at least a day trying to unravel and reconstruct a project, or worse, fix an amateurish, mistake-ridden one.
I understand that managing work in-house is often easier but I would quickly point out that a good outside designer will very likely be more proficient and will usually have a greater selection of tools to draw upon. If you're finding that "outsiders" don't even save their work I would suggest looking harder or paying more.
I totally understand where you're coming from, and as an ex-freelancer I agree with most of what you're saying. The problem is, those rate squeezes are coming form the top, as in the paying clients, not from the studios themselves. For any artist to attack a studio for these things is to completely ignore the realities and dynamics of the very industry they claim to have a such a handle on. Here's an article illustrating my point quite nicely:
As a production manager I push hard to get the budgets needed to perform the work properly, but a lot of clients are getting very hip to the fact that they can play studios against each other and put the squeeze on. If I fight too hard for a large budget, I risk losing the job altogether. A balance has to be struck as a result. It's very foolish for people to assume that all studios should pay top dollar on every project that comes around, or they are somehow "cheating" everyone. Ask around and just about every studio manager will tell you that few jobs have the budget to do that. You work with what you're given. I'd love to have high-dollar expert artists on every job, but reality is reality.
For my small studio, that balance is paying what we think is fair, and what most other studios in our area seem to be paying. At our current day rate, artists would be making almost $160,000 a year, which is 3-4 times the local median income. I think that's fair, but if there are artists who don't, they are free to hunt around until they get the rate they want. I suspect that the $60/hr artists are making more annually than the $100 artist simply because they are getting more work.
Another dynamic that people just HAVE to accept is that there is a literal flood of new talent coming into this industry that are young, hungry for work and very talented. They will often jump at the chance to make $30 an hour. If I then have to choose between hiring the hungry talented guy for $50/hr or the similarly talent artist who insists he is worth $100/hr, which do you think I will choose? That downward price pressure is all around us, from the client on down to the new entries into the talent pool, and again, to blame it all on the studio who is playing middle-man is ignoring the realities of the marketplace.
[beenyweenies] "The problem is, those rate squeezes are coming form the top, as in the paying clients, not from the studios themselves. For any artist to attack a studio for these things is to completely ignore the realities and dynamics of the very industry they claim to have a such a handle on. "
The proliferation of low-priced tools has guaranteed that the market has been irrevocably shifted away from the kinds of dollar levels that were once the case in this industry. The problem is exacerbated by low-priced tools that hold today's high feature-to-cost ratio. It is compounded again by the internet's ability to tie together productions across disparate continents, and thereby draw lower-paid creators into the equation.
Few artists that I know are making the kinds of money that they once did long ago when all of this was considered an arcane "black art" practiced by wizards in dark studios. Nowadays, many studios and corporations look at this as a commodity item and price it accordingly. I am not saying that I agree with the perception but it is clearly the trend.
That's just the way it is.
The path to better money as an artist lies in the ability to produce amazing *creative* and find someone willing to pay for it. Anybody can use AE, but what can you do with a one-sentence brief?
... and the path to the *best* money (in the business) is to *run* a busy studio with employees, then sell it.
Face it kids, it's not a high-paying profession.
No argument here at all. I can attest first hand to the pressure being applied by the top of the food chain. The salad days are over and anyone who doesn't recognize and react to it will be very lonely.
This kind of stress on the market has and will continue to create a significant shake out. Studio budgets have caused many places to shutter and others to cut margins to the point where extinction is virtually a monthly concern. At the same time, demands for quality, reaction time and creative control have increased exponetially. This way of doing business permeates corporate America. To expect anything less from the creative sector is naive.
I must argue though that extrapolating an hourly rate to a yearly income for a freelance employee is inappropriate. It's a convenient but innacurate device which makes it appear that your contribution to his/her salary is higher than you're actually paying. Remember freelancers don't receive any benefits and must depend entirely on their work, wits and networking to keep the jobs coming. I doubt many freelancers are working 40 hour weeks for an entire year. Add in the cost of living and not many of us will be left after the carnage.
At the very real risk of introducing even a particle of politics here, I encourage everyone who doesn't own a large corporation to closely read the "Guest Worker" provision of the current emigration bill. I can assure you that anyone who does own or run one is already familiar with It and cheering for its passage. It will make competition even more pointless.
"extrapolating an hourly rate to a yearly income for a freelance employee is inappropriate. It's a convenient but innacurate device which makes it appear that your contribution to his/her salary is higher than you're actually paying."
That's mostly true, especially once self-employment taxes and insurance are factored in. But the point remains that to keep my After Effects seats filled, that's how much I pay per year.
I insist on paying artists well because I respect and value good artists, but the term "good pay" is highly subjective as this thread has revealed.