View Full Version : Guidelines for charging for VT Video Services

03-01-2004, 03:30 AM
Hello All;
Could some of you give me some guidelines of what's the goiing rate for Video production services with the Video Toaster ? I did a job this past week which involved on-location shooting with a DV camcorder, and then several days of production with the VT. I searched all over the internet and there are a lots of companies advertising video services but no one has given their prices. The final video was about 7 minutes long. Thanks for any advice you can provide.


03-01-2004, 11:39 AM
Wow, broad, wide open question, covered here dozens of times.

Depends on your market, your equipment, and your experience.
Shoot/Post prices could range from below $50.00 per hour to more then $250.00 per hour.

The length of the project is nothing but a VERY VAUGE idea of what's involved.

7 Minutes of playback time could be shot and edited in 14 MINUTES.
7 Minutes of playback time could be shot and edited in 14 DAYS.

What is it your producing and who for?

We average $225.00 per hour for shooting on Beta SP.
That includes a 2 to 3-man crew, (all with dozens of years doing professional production). We also have over 50 Lighting fixtures and dozens of lighting tools, i.e. flags, scrims, C-Stands etc. We also have a production trailer with a jib and dolly so everything is always on all locations.

We average $225.00 per hour for Post. This includes one editor and a GFX guy in Edit Bay 2 doing GFX at the same time.

I hope this helps, but more info would help.

P.S. I gotta add my rantů
Don't do projects by a set budget unless you have MAJOR overage clauses.
If you are charging by the hour, your client will be prepared and work to minimize your down time, or he'll understand why he went over budget.

If you say you'll do a 7 minute project for $xxx, there is no incentive for the client to be prepared. He can change the script forever. He can add and change shoot days forever, or have you work several partial days instead of a couple full days to meet their talents schedule, and he can make changes to the finished project for weeks.
Soon you and the client are fighting over how much time you're spending and both of you will feel taken advantage of.
Cover yourself so you and the client remain friends.

I wish you well.

03-01-2004, 11:58 AM
I struggle with that one myself. You can choose your rate based on a lot of factors including but not limited to: the local rates for such services (call around), your skill level, your equipment level (a recent client wanted to supply source on Beta, ever priced a Beta deck? Yikes!), how deep your client's pockets are, how much you want (or don't want) this particular job, how much time you have available, other karmic factors, etc. Then there are lots of options for how you charge (hourly, by job, finished minute), how you contract, how you're paid (before, after, or in combination)... I've seen good advice posted in other threads on those choices.

Since you didn't (?) arrange a price beforehand for this job, you may be limited in what you can charge after the fact. But I'd do some research, pick an hourly rate, add it up for what you did, and see if it feels right. Most of all, don't underprice yourself. This is a business where low rates bring out cheap clients; there are plenty of good clients out there so deal with them, not the cheap ones. You'll live longer.

I'm not going to post my rates since I haven't figured out much of the above yet (not that that's stopping me from working ;) ). But more established people around here have, and have posted that information in other threads here and in the Lightwave areas. (Search for "rate", "charge", "wedding", etc.) There has also been some good discussion (http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=50009562&f=599009962631&m=797007872631) over at Ars Technica's (http://www.arstechnica.com) new "Boardroom" forum.

Good luck! -MG.

edit: what Ted said! :D

03-01-2004, 03:10 PM
Good question, Tim.

I would come up with a rate card, with EVERYTHING a la carte. Your hourly rates for shooting, for editing, consulting, everything. Put in a travel charge if you have to go a significant distance for the job. Add to that your equipment rental rates, for you equipment and anything you need to rent.

For any equipment you don't have, call up your local rental place, find out what the equipment rental would be, mark it up 10-20% or so, and put that on the card. (let them know ahead of time what the daily rental on a betacam or whatever deck would be).

It's tempting to give someone a deal like instead of charging for eight hours, make a daily rate. That's ok, as long as your daily rate covers you for an "average" day, and not a 20 hr marathon session. Remember to charge for overtime, and have the client sign off on the overtime clauses ahead of time.

Put in charges for backing up projects. This is a biggie. Offer the client the chance to archive the project for an additional charge. They most likely will say no, but this way, they say no, then want some changes two weeks later, they had the chance to go back right where they were, but now have to pay for more work to get there. Depending on the project, just back it up to data DVD or set up a removeable HD, either through an IDE tray or firewire. (you don't have to buy new fw chassis's for every job, just get one and switch the drives out)

What to charge? What are you worth? You sound like you are just starting out on your own, but have you been doing this for a while? If you have the experience, I don't see anything wrong with charging $75 to $150 an hour, per person. I would start off high. If the client doesn't have the budget, and you need to make rent, you can always come down on your rates for a job. But it is hard to go up once you have negotiated a deal, and like Ted said, knowing everything ahead of time keeps everyone friends.

So, get a price list, get the client(s) to sign off on everything ahead of time, charge for everything, and never give up the master until you get paid.

03-01-2004, 03:52 PM
Wow - Thank you all for all of your great responses. I will look further on here and other forum's for info. on this topic as well as additional pricing guidelines.

I will give you some additional info. on my particular job this past week ...

The job was for an associate at work for a personal project so I think that charging $75 an hour would cause her to have a heart attack.

I think I am pretty experienced but since this isn't my day job, I dont' feel I'm as good as someone who does it full time.

I did use a Mini-DV camcorder with a professional wireless mic. I also used VT-3 and included some voiceovers as well as some special effects and other cool things.

I will have to take everyone' s advice and develop a rate chart so that I can tell the client the cost up-front so they don't get any suprises.


03-01-2004, 05:00 PM
If you are using a VT3 then you are definitely worth over $75 per hour. I believe I have seen guys with just a miniDV camcorder and Premiere charge $75 per hour.

VT3 is a professional tool so I suggest charging professional prices whether you do it full time or not. Besides aren't you using a miniBOB with your VT system?? I hear that using a miniBOB will almost double your income..... ;)

Good luck Tim. Remember Friends can sometimes be your worst enemies when it comes to consuming your time on a simple job.

03-01-2004, 05:44 PM
Well, your first mistake was in not being up front with your client. Yeah, sure, in this case it was a friend/associate, but if you value your time, so should they.

I think $75/hr is a minimum to start at. Look at what your system is capable of, and think if a wannabe with an I-Mac and Final Cut is worth more than you.

Don't underestimate your worth.

03-01-2004, 05:47 PM
You can always start out by quoting $150/hr, and give her the "friend" rate of $75.

Remember - Just because they might be a non-profit organization doesn't mean that you are!

03-01-2004, 06:14 PM
If you've already given them discounted quote, don't go back and try to recoup your loss.
Keep the friendship. Your integrity is more important then a few dollars.
Besides, you've already gotten a lesson more valuable then a few extra dollars!;)

I quit doing weddings years ago because I had more "friends" then weekends to "do a quick simple job"! (There is NO such thing).

After this job, tell them you'll give them a discounted rate. But like others have said, discount from your $150.00 per hour rate. Then at least they MIGHT appreciate your time more.

I wish you all the luck. Never stop learning.

03-01-2004, 07:00 PM
Thanks for all of the suggestions, everyone. No I didn't provide a quote yet since I waited to hear from each of you. I will provide a quote in a few days, though. $75 an hour sounds like a good starting point before a discount but I may call around tomorrow to see what others are charging in my community.


03-01-2004, 07:20 PM
Personal projects are a bit different than commercial ones, but "charging" a base rate minus whatever discount you think is appropriate sounds like a great idea to me (it certainly prevents future "but you charged less last time!" problems).

I've done a dozen or so weddings, but only as wedding presents for friends. (I don't do that anymore, for the time it took, it was a heck of a present!) But I did get some great referrals from those clients. A happy client, whatever you charge them, is the best advertising you can get.


03-02-2004, 10:56 AM
I would add it also depends upon your own situation and the client's situation.
For example I have a client that I normally do 2 editing jobs per month for and for them I will normally charge them like $500 per job (which they turn around and bill upwards of $1500 for (these jobs are normally taking some footage doing very minior edits and outputting to DVD all done in a 12 - 24 hour turnaround) In all it normally takes me abour 3-4 hours of labor to do it (they think it takes me like 8-10 hours)

On the other hand I had a client that was refered to me to bring my system to a local hotel and do an edit session for them... the call came in at about 9 pm at night and I was on site and set-up by 10:30 pm. I spend about 5 hours editing and burning a DVD for them total bill was $2,500, they thought that was a great deal I later found out as they were thinking it was going to cost them more like $8000. (oh and I had the flu and was running a 102 fever)

So make up a rate card and go high because it is a whole lot easier to give a discount than it is to raise your price. Heck for that matter you can give a discount and if the project starts to get out of hand you can remove the discount.

03-02-2004, 11:09 AM
Brett, your client called today and said they saw your post about paying you for 10 hours when it only took 4. They're POed!!!
Just kidding!:p

Never leave money on the table when negotiating prices. Been there done that!:(

03-02-2004, 11:22 AM
They bring the jobs to me even though they own 3 AVID edit suites, and 2 FCP suites but I can do the work faster with my VT3.