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Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.

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andrew smith
Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 1:53:01 am

I am curious to hear some opinions about working freelance on an hourly pay scale as opposed to a flat day rate. Mostly just curious to hear what advice people have or time tracking apps/widgets people recommend using when grading by the hour as opposed to a flat day rate? I hope to make employers still happy with my work and my pricing while at the same time not undercutting my peers in this field and making a living that is decent.

Something maybe like $75-100 per hour w/ a 4hr minimum if its at a studio and maybe just by the hour for home-based grading sessions on Resolve where files are exchanged via ftp or Dropbox for example, baked out spots with edl or xml.

This would of course be in a fully calibrated professional work environment.

Thank you
Andrew




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Kevin Cannon
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 2:47:12 am

It's geared towards designers, and has nothing to do with hourly rates, but I wouldn't want to miss a chance to share this:

F**k You, Pay Me (NSFW language)

I love hourly rates. It gives everybody in the room an incentive to stay focused, and with iPhones, iPads, and laptops in everybody's hands, it's good to have that incentive... I don't even worry about a minimum (a different story, of course, if you are dry-hiring a space that has a minimum). If you charge hours of prep as well, it rewards clients that use reel #s on their clips and collapse to fewer tracks...

I keep very close watch with a pad and paper and triple check the hours are correct before sending an invoice. On longer things I like to send updates to the producer so that they can take issue with your hourly counting right away... and not when they see the final bill.

KC

Prehistoric Digital
PhD Grading Suite


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kim krause
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 9:57:52 am

it really depends on what the market will bear and in recent years that has dropped significantly. in most places the hourly rate for colorists has dropped by around 30% and in some places the day rate is half what it was a few years ago. it all comes down to lack of budgets and the increase in number of people selling themselves as colorists. right now you can hire a film student for $10/hour with a laptop and davinci resolve lite and he might even do an okay job. the industry is evolving and you gotta set your price based on what you think you're worth against what people are willing to or able to pay for the service. even after i cut my prices by 30% just to keep the jobs i have lost out to editors who do the grade for free with whatever tools they have just so they can get the work. most offer grading for free in return for you using them to edit. its hard to compete with free. i even had a post house throw in the grade for free if the sound mix was done at their place....how can one compete with that?


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Joseph Owens
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 3:25:50 pm

How can one compete? Gee, Kim... You of all people ;-)

Easy! Offer a cheap crappy, free audio mix with the grade.

Too obvious?

It's a good question, though, with commodity software and hardware having become the norm. I have an in-house rate that can be either hourly for a short run, or flat with a time cap that is mutually agreed, but it does include a discount for volume, and a flexible approach to house calls depending on whose software is in use, whether it needs a dongle or not, or if I am bringing along hardware that is either to my, or the client's benefit. Then it is a combination of operator freelance rate and equipment rental.

We work in a feature-centric, or at least feature-distracted, arena. What is important to remember, and it's a time-proven axiom, is that customers, whether they are buying polyester blouses or color correction, always choose 'benefits' over what 'feature' (button, when pressed does some gee-whiz thing or not), might be on offer. When you set your price, is it justifiable from a benefit standpoint to your customer? Would you hire you? When you say $75 an hour, what does that get you? A 'done' project at the end of the day, or some free newbie screaming on the Cow that they're on a tight deadline and the timeline is mysteriously corrupt? Who would be benefiting in that case?

jPo

You mean "Old Ben"? Ben Kenobi?


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kim krause
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:52:42 am

you are so funny mr owens but this is almost exactly what happened to me....i lost a job to a company that offered the grade for free if the client did the final audio mix with them.....pay for the mix get a free grade!
i figure i'll just have to start offering free audio with every grade or maybe even free chauffeur rides around cape town with the added bonus of a good shag in the back seat after every grade. the way i see it they could pay for the sexual favors and get the grade for free. then again clients are so accustomed to screwing us over for free maybe they wouldn't like the idea of having to start paying for it!


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Rick Turners
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 7:24:22 pm

I think we just need to look at offline editors to figure out how to handle the future game.

There are hundreds of thousands of capable editors now. What separates them from the rock star editors? Purely marketing and experience? Everyone has the same tools as they do now.. why do some still book jobs at $2,000~/day?

75-100 sounds appropriate to me..


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kim krause
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 6:17:46 am

who can live on 100 bucks a day....while there is no denying the industry is changing and not all will be the "rock starts" we still need to be paid a fair wage for the service we provide. once clients think that $100 bucks a day is the going rate this will kill the industry. we will all become redundant and like the animation industry and manufacturing industry, everything will go to china for cheap labor and we will all be screwed. it takes money and talent to grow and sustain any industry and once we start giving it away then we have killed the film industry as well.


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Rick Turners
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 6:56:03 am

I was saying 100/hr is appropriate. Not 100/day. That's borderline rape.


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kim krause
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 3:32:43 pm

$100 an hour! holy crap....you guys are way to overpaid. you would be lucky to get around 40 bucks an hour here. and you might only work 7 or 8 months as well during the busy season. i would think i died and went to heaven if i could get 100 bucks an hour even using my own gear. 300 a day is the going rate and most clients will expect a 25% discount on top of that. i gotta move back to north america where the real money is!


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andrew smith
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 3:44:38 pm

well but wait where do you live Kim??

Its all relative to the market you are in - I am in a big city so any of the facilities that charge $1000-1400 an hour my rates are actually VERY reasonable...




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kim krause
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 3:52:28 pm

now i'm really shocked...even our high end post houses only charge around $250 hour for grading on a base light or even pablo. then they gotta pay the operator out of that! i am amazed that anywhere in the world someone can charge $1000 an hour...and you find people with money who are happy to pay that? where are you? it's any wonder the industry is in such a nose dive when some people are making that kind of money and others can't even get their day rate. i even had one job taken away from me because the post house that was doing the audio mix offered the grading for free to keep the client in house. free!!!!!
please feel free to hire me..i have many years of experience. i'll be over immediately wherever in the world you are. for that kind of money i'll even let the clients sit on my lap....i'm in south afric by the way so i guess things are very different down here....


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Kevin Cannon
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 4:21:11 pm

Well they don't get $1,400 an hour so that clients can crowd around a plasma in an apartment... They get that kind of money cause they can valet park cars for 15 executives and seat 30 people for a review on a 40' screen, with a big space near the studios or on the west side. Not to mention security, vault managers, and the muffin wrangler. Plus all that legacy equipment - the "heavy iron" as one group of color folk around here calls it.

But figure out a way to meet those needs for less and you can have it all!

KC

Prehistoric Digital
PhD Grading Suite


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Mike Most
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 4:29:57 pm

>>But figure out a way to meet those needs for less and you can have it all!

Not unless you also happen to have the experience and talent of Stefan Sonnenfeld, Siggy Fersti, or any of the other guys over at Company 3.

Seriously, anyone who thinks it's all about creature comforts hasn't spent any time in a room with a colorist of that calibre. Because if you have, it's pretty obvious that it's NOT about those things. Creature comforts, and, as you say, things like security, location, all of those things play a part. But they're not the sole reasons.


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Kevin Cannon
Re: Hourly Rates, Billing, etc.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:35:29 pm

True, you still have to compete for it with some amazing talents... As colorists become more independent of facilities, many with their own suites, one has to consider the client experience - location, and security, and limited seating can definitely be disqualifying factors for projects that would pay $1,400 an hour, even if your color correction is borderline magical.

KC

Prehistoric Digital
PhD Grading Suite


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