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  • Charge for render/encode/upload time?

  • Ben Lithman

    January 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Hi, I work as a freelance cameraman and editor in the UK. I recently took on a job with hours and hours of footage that all needs to be transcoded.

    I just wanted to get a feel for what the consensus is on charging the client per day/hour for time spent transcoding/rendering and uploading? Is it ok and correct to do?


  • Mark Suszko

    January 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    If it is tying up your gear so nothing else can be done on it, you had better be charging.

    Where we’re likely to disagree is on the rate for that service.

    For pure rendering, unattended, you could charge less than you would for shooting, or editing, than for being present and entering metadata /logging footage.

    Personally, I think if you are present and doing logging on ingest, that’s really the first level of raw editing, and I would charge an editing rate for it.

    If I can do other productive work while keeping one eye on a render, that’s probably a discounted rate. But never free. I generally fold in the time to ingest and log as part of the complete edit quote, adjusting the hourly rate to include and pro-rate it.

  • Ben Lithman

    January 17, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the advice. So just as a rough guide, and to be consistent with the industry average, would you say about 50% of hourly rate for render & transcode? More/less?


  • Todd Terry

    January 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I certainly wouldn’t charge any less than 50%, that’s for sure.

    Here rendering, if any, is charged at full edit suite rate. But we’re not in a position or doing the kinds of projects that require hours of unattended rendering. At best it’s work for 10 minutes, stop and render for two, and on and on. So it’s all full rate.

    If it’s something you can literally start and walk away from and do something else (or leave cooking overnight), then sure, a discounted rate is fine and appropriate. But if it requires your babysitting to any degree, I wouldn’t discount it much… if any.


    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

  • Patrick Ortman

    January 17, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I have a client who just assumed all that would be free. You guys are right: you HAVE to charge for it, and if it’s tying up resources at all, you CAN’T go less than 50% your normal rates.

    I shoot people.

  • Mark Raudonis

    January 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    [Patrick Ortman] “I have a client who just assumed all that would be free.”

    I’m assuming ignorance here… not a grinder in action.

    Very few creative types (or producer types) really understand what’s involved in the transition from production to post. Producers used to be able to gauge how much they shot by the size of the box of tapes. Now, the difference between overshooting and “just enough’ is NOT obvious. THerefore, there’s no barometer for how much media was actually generated. Combine that with the fact that these producer types really don’t understand the process, and you have a tremendous opportunity for a colossal time suck that may end up costing you your profit margin.

    Take this situation (request for “free”) as an educational opportunity. I’d position it this way. Tell them,
    Yes, I’d be happy to do it for free under one condition. YOU MUST BE PRESENT for the entire time that
    the transcoding/copying/preparing/etc takes place. Let them experience exactly what is involved. I doubt that they’d ever expect “free” again.

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