Freelance Video Editor/Videographer - what to charge clients for?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by steveOooo, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. steveOooo macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    Ive recently shot for one week for 12x 40-50min fitness dvds which im now editing.

    IM fairly new to this (hence payment is bit low)- he has said hell pay £500 once its complete then another 1,000 once he sell the rights - i would rather have this 1,000 as actual payment as i see it as a good 3 week job which 500per week would be bearable.

    what else can i charge? im working from home, can i charge for electricity, rental of my equipment?, dvd burning, i used my camera to capture all footage (hdv) so rental of the camera? it took a solid two days to capture - i also used it as a locked off cam during filming
     
  2. P-Worm macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #2
    That sounds incredibly low for a job like that...

    P-Worm
     
  3. wkearney99 macrumors member

    wkearney99

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2008
    Location:
    Bethesda, MD USA
    #3
    This is just general advice.

    Like any other form of service you do yourself and your customer a disservice by not knowing your local market rates. Find out what that sort of work costs locally and charge rates near that. If you charge too much you'll obviously lose potential clients. But if you charge too little you leave money on the table and potentially paint yourself into a corner. When you start out charging too little it becomes very hard to raise your rates. That and you eventually find out why the going rates are higher... because it costs more to do the work than you might have estimated.

    Do the math on your costs. Your hourly wage, cost of equipment depreciated over it's reasonable lifespan, overhead and consumables costs, etc. Then look at what those totals divide down to over a monthly, weekly, per-diem and then hourly rate. This will help YOU understand what it truly 'costs' to do what's being done.
     
  4. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #4
    What I charge in my area may not cover what it cost you to operate in your area.

    I have the same overhead expenses that you do, but my overall electricity usage may be less than your's or my mortgage may be less than your rent...

    I've bid jobs for out of town producers and they were so pleased with my bid and then the work I did that they wanted to take me on the road for the rest of the project. Was my bid too low for what they were use to paying? Maybe.

    Then again, using the same pricing strategy, I've lost jobs to higher bidders that did less work than I had quoted for less money and they never saw my demo reel... go figure.
     
  5. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #5
    I've lost jobs that way. The reason is that clients don't trust that you can do the job for that cheap and that paints you as an amateur who doesn't understand the market. It's similar to buying anything cheap... you think it's cheaply made and therefore not reliable, so you don't want it. I catch myself now and then buying the more expensive item because it MUST be better than the cheaper version cause it costs more. Though, most often that turns out to be true.

    You can't directly charge your clients for overhead unless you need something exclusively for their project. The items you are mentioning are business over-head that you use to figure your rates. And don't forget to add some profit in there! But the way it's going these days, you'll be lucky to break even. :rolleyes:

    After you figure out what everything costs, then average it over the year, then divide by how many hours you are willing to work - that's your rate. Now if your area can't support your rate, then you'll need to adjust for the difference, get a day job, or move to a more lucrative market.
     
  6. jammiefreerider macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #6
    I like the "Costs x3" rule. Take your costs for the job (in this case your rate for the job) Multiply by 3.

    Multiplying by 2 covers your overheads and overrun time. Multiply by 3 and you have healthly company profit.
     
  7. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #7
    As others say, check our your local rates, but I thunk you may have a bigger issue - it doesn't sound like you've agreed on a price and you've already started the workout.

    You need to sort that out first b/c that sounds like alot of work for the filming, the editing and the DVD output. Plus, what about costs for DVD replication? Is he looking after that?

    Best of luck,
    keebler
     
  8. matteusclement macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #8
    SteveOooo

    Oh boy, it sounds like you have done what I did in the past and was it a headache.
    I took on a "large" project like you and wound up putting in a couple hundred hours of editting for what about about 50 pence an hour. LOL.
    I can laugh at it now, but it was frustrating at the time. Looking back, I hadn't set a price but that was because I WAS NEW. It sounds like you are too and you were eager to take on the project.

    IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT GETTING MORE MONEY FROM THIS GUY, STOP ALL YOUR WORK RIGHT NOW AND TALK TO HIM. NOT ONE MORE EDIT.

    but if my hunch is correct and you did this as a large project, just keep on trucking and keep this as a lesson.

    GET SOMETHING ON PAPER. You need some sort of contract.

    As far as costs:
    - transit time (even if on a bus or train). cuz carrying your gear sucks.
    - petrol
    - food on the road cause you can't eat
    - electricity (though kind of minor)
    - your time
    - the wear on your machine. all that capture time cuts down on your camcorders lifetime.

    PM if you have any other questions.
     
  9. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #9
    don't forget render time, just because your not doing actual work, your computer is and that's time you could be working on another job.
     
  10. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #10
    I try to figure it as I am being paid for my time and my equipment is being paid for it's time to recoup the depreciation cost for eventual replacement.
     
  11. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #11
    What if he doesn't sell the rights? What if he does and doesn't tell you?

    You need business and legal advice. Computer forums on the internet aren't good for either.

    "A minute takes an hour to shoot and ten to edit" is a maxim I like to keep in the back of my mind, especially when someone says it's a "quick, simple job".
     
  12. arjen92 macrumors 65816

    arjen92

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Location:
    Below sea level
    #12
    I guess you're pretty fast when that's how long it takes you to make one minute of video.

    It's a real bad comparison, but: I think the editors of a hollywood movie work longer than (120*10/60=20) 20 hours on editing a movie.

    But as someone said before, it's really important to discuss and set the terms and put them on paper before you start.
     
  13. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #13
    Well, duh, but no-one comes to them and says "edit this, it won't take long":rolleyes: (And your calculation is wrong. 120 minutes would work out to 1200 hours editing time)

    As one gains experience, the ability to estimate how long a job will take becomes easier and more accurate. A minute of finished footage may only take a minute to shoot and you spend longer importing and exporting than editing. Ramp that up to 10 minutes, two cameras and a few takes than you'll see longer shooting times and maybe 5 hours per finished minute to edit.

    It isn't a fixed formula to apply to every second of every production, from a single static camera job to LOTR, but a reminder of how long this editing stuff can take to do properly.
     
  14. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #14
    This is an interesting point and one I've debated often myself. On one hand, yes your computers are working for a long time, but on the other hand it's not the clients fault if you don't have the very fastest and latest computer possible.

    I usually end up adding some time In the transfer section of my invoice/estimate, buy it's never the full time.

    My other thought is that clients are usually unaware that some edits will take longer to render.
     
  15. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #15
    I'd love to hear what lethalwolfe would say for he time it takes to edit a full length feature or an hour tv show (which are really approx. 40 minutes w/o commercials)

    cheers
    keebler
     
  16. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    #16
    I think Arjen92 has just got editing time and the oft-quoted 10:1 shooting ratio mixed up.
     
  17. steveOooo thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #17
    yep its a bit cowboy esque - i have a email confirming it all - i think ill just invouce him for 1,500 after ive completed all the dvds as essentially thats what i want.
     
  18. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #18
    This is what you ask *before* you start a project, not after you've already agreed to terms and started the project. If you wanted more guaranteed money you should've negotiated more guaranteed money before you started the project.

    If you got in a cab and half way through the trip the driver said, "Oh, by the way I've decided my rates are triple what I said they were when you first got in" what would you do? Would you pay it? Would you be happy about it? Would you hire that driver again? Would you recommend that driver to anyone else? Would recommend to others that they should avoid that driver?

    If you agreed to 500 now and 1000 if the project gets sold then what you get is 500 and 1000 if the project gets sold. Finish the project, move on and learn from your mistakes.

    Some would say if your machine is busying rendering for Client X though then you have no means to make money from Client Y or Client Z. This is the same reason many people charge full rate for travel time and won't give discounts for half days. If what you are doing for Client X prevents you billing hours to other clients then Client X pays for your time.

    Obviously this isn't a hard and fast rule or anything like that and different people have their own way of doing things based on their own clients, needs and business models.

    As far as how long editing takes... how long is a piece of string?:p

    IIRC Walter Murch said after all the trials and tribulations surrounding the post of "Apocalypse Now" they averaged one or two edits per day. Obviously they didn't just show up to work, make one cut and leave, but with all the footage to sort through, re-edits, etc., it worked out that Days In Editing / Edits In Final Film = 1 or 2 edits per day (I don't remember which). The documentary "Standard Operating Procedure" spent 7 or 8 months in editing while "Jesus Camp", another doc, had production and post all done in 12 months. A half-hour TV show I work on that gets all post done in about 7 days by 3 editors (plus one AE, one guy for audio and one guy for color correction) and I've worked on reality shows that took 4 editors (plus 3 AEs, audio and color correction) 6 weeks to get the first episode done (subsequent episodes were done quicker as the first usually takes the longest because you are establishing the 'look and feel' of the show).

    It all just depends on the unique complexity and difficulty of each project.


    Lethal
     
  19. matteusclement macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #19
    5 hrs per minute it about right

    I'd have to say I am in about the same time as the poster.
    Example of a project i did:
    4 days of shooting = 40 hours (not shooting the whole time)
    36 tapes = 36 hrs of transfer (times two on the heads of your camcorder)
    76 hours and I haven't even edited a splinter.
    2 Final DVD's were 3 hrs each
    76 divided by 6 hrs = 12.6 hours per DVD hour

    That's with out editing. Some people don't count that time. I do as I had to go through 2 camera angles and file naming and picking best camera.
    I think I banked about 130 more hours into editing since the client wanted it just right. This "client" I feel is similiar to the OPS situation:
    "Start out casual, then realize there's 100's of hours."

    Another tip:
    NEVER EVER EVER be baited by what "might" happen with a client, such as selling rights. Cash in lump sum only. 50% deposit.
     
  20. steveOooo thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #20
    should i charge for usage of my equipment? i guess in future i should just factor this in - my poor sony hdv cam has had 25+ hours to capture
     
  21. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #21
    Definitely - it should be built into your hourly rate along with your time and product costs (DVDs etc...)
     
  22. anthemus macrumors regular

    anthemus

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2009
    Location:
    Denver
    #22
    500 now and 1000 later if its gets sold? Now your relying on his sales skills. He should pay the full amount. If he believes truly in the project you are doing he should have now problem paying the full amount up front or upon completion.
     
  23. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #23
    I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of the film/TV market in the UK, but it's pretty universal in most cases to avoid deferred payment and/or back-end as a freelance editor, especially if it's conditional. Essentially, you're inviting the client to get potentially free work. If the project doesn't sell, you essentially did £1500 worth of quoted work for £500. Like Lethal said, you already agreed to these terms with the client, so the only thing you can really do at this point is complete the project, learn from your mistakes and move on.

    Some pointers:

    1. As far as rates go, find out what others are charging in your area and establish a rate sheet based on fair market value. Underbidding jobs screams amateur or start-up company and clients WILL take advantage of you.

    2. Always factor in materials and operational costs (equipment maintenance, power usage, etc.) into your base rate. Itemizing these costs isn't necessary.

    3. Get your contracts in WRITING, clearly outlining how and when you will get paid. No handshake agreements!

    4. Accepting a deposit on work is okay, but never release completed work to a client without receiving payment in full. Think of it this way: a grocery store won't let you leave with a cart full of groceries without full payment, so why should you?

    You may think this outlook is crass and cold, but there's a lot a clowns out there in the film/TV world that think that just because quality production and post equipment has become more accessible to the general public, skilled labor should cost next to nothing.

    Good luck!
     

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