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How to Generate TV Compositing / Animation Quote

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Jeff PattersonHow to Generate TV Compositing / Animation Quote
by on Jun 24, 2010 at 4:32:08 pm

Hi folks,

I run a small VFX / post-production company and a client who we've been working with has just had their show picked up by OLN (meaning it will be broadcast in Canada and the USA)

They have asked for a quote, and I was hoping to get some suggestions from you guys on pricing. They would like me to quote them a flat rate based on each show, here are the specifics:

- 2-3 minutes of 2D (After effects) Animation / VFX per 22 minute show.
- Post colour - correction, so it adheres to broadcast standards, skin tones, white/black levels, etc.
- Closed captioning transcribing / embedding.
- 13 episodes total


- 3 years of experience with photography/animation/web/graphic design (NOT broadcast)
- College film graduate (specializing in VFX/animation), but still learned the fundamentals of broadcast. (I'm attempting a 'fake-it-till-you-make-it' approach)
- Average / Good portfolio (they were happy with the work I completed on the pilot)
- This show would be a big deal for my career and portfolio (I don't want to scare them with a large number, but I also don't want to undervalue myself)

I know this isn't nearly specific enough to generate an exact quote, but some numbers would be excellent. I have no idea whether to charge them $500 an episode or $5000!

Thanks very much,

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Joseph W. BourkeRe: How to Generate TV Compositing / Animation Quote
by on Jun 24, 2010 at 5:35:18 pm

Hi Jeff -

Since you've already done the pilot, I would hope that you tracked your time on that phase of the project. One way to do the quote would be to decide what you're worth an hour (it varies depending on the market you're in, but you might want to charge anywhere from 75 to 125 dollars an hour for your time), then figure out how much time you spent on the pilot, and add about 25 percent to it for contingency purposes (client changes, color correction changes, mistakes in the closed captioning that aren't your fault, etc.).

You don't say whether you're doing the edit, so I assume that you're part of a team, and are providing the "look", or graphical toolkit for the show, as well as doing color grading and CC. If you've been carefully tracking your time, you may want to bill out at different rates for the motion graphics design, the color correction, and the captioning aspects of the project.

I would think that anywhere from 3 to 5 thousand per show would not break the client's bank. Remember, this design work you are doing, is also being licensed by you to the client for usage in North America - that's no small thing, and is worth a chunk of change in itself. My last job was at a broadcast facility close to a major market (Boston), and before I started doing the on-air graphics packages, they were regularly paying upwards of 100 thousand dollars to have the package designed by an outside company, and this was just for usage in New England! It included opens for the various News franchises, graphic designs (lower thirds, OTS boxes, full screen graphics, transitions, etc.) and a "toolkit" which gave us the ability to do updates periodically. This is a big project, so don't give it away.

Also, make sure that you get a chunk of the money up front. 30 to 50 percent of the total is not unusual, and it will protect your investment of time. These licensing deals have a way of going south from time to time. Good luck!

Joe Bourke
Creative Director / Multimedia Specialist
B&S Exhibits and Multimedia

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Jeff PattersonRe: How to Generate TV Compositing / Animation Quote
by on Jun 29, 2010 at 5:40:38 am

Thanks for the detailed response Joe.

Based on your recommendations, I have the quote for the VFX / animation completed. Now I am trying to establish a per episode price for the colour correction / captioning (the client wants a flat rate for each service separately.)

Any thoughts on how much it would cost for a basic colour grade (broadcast standards, not stylizing)? I will be using Apple Color… no fancy grading suites. The footage has not yet been shot, so I don't have anything to reference for the quote. But, the client wants a ballpark before I move forward on their team.

For the closed captioning, I don't expect it would take longer than 6 hours per 22 minute episode, but if you had any insight on a flat rate for that, I'd very much appreciate it!

Thanks again for your time, your last post was enormously helpful.


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