Potential client upset at my estimate.

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  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by CKPinson: Love seeing ppl with MacBook Pros who use them to surf the web.

Such truth bestows me.
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by x70: I'm just curious, what happened with your bid ? How did things get resolved? Or did communication just end?

Well I talked with them and found out they only had 4K left for VFX. so this is direct from my email I sent as a response.

"As I see it there are 3 options that will still get you something to show.
1: Do a kick starter for 25,500, pocket 7K and use it to fund your next project and pay me the 18,500k
2: Cut the short film to a two minute trailer.
3: Find another vfx house to work for 4k

I can not allow myself to work so hard for so little.
I still like you guys and will respect what ever decision you go with. An love the creative vision you have. "
* This part isn't in the e-mail *
In the meantime I have joined a team of VFX artists working remote on a sci-fi film. and the money is great! . Well my contract says it's great my first paycheck won't get here till a week and a half.
Man the Pillsbury Dough Boy is a sicko. He'll let anyone finger him.

Last edited by grundelboy : 01 January 2013 at 08:40 PM.
  01 January 2013
4K?!?!?! for 50 + full VFX shots?!?!?! BWAAAH HAHAHAHAHAHahahahah!

I stand by my previous statement that this guys has NO business in the entertainment industry...
Maybe as a street performer.

On a side note I'm glad you got accepted to the group
  01 January 2013
$4000 for 50+ shots? $80 per greenscreen, tracking, full cg bg and comp? He needed to do some research on that first. You're estimate was VERY low and kind. Fret nothing, you did well.
Mike Rhone
-VFX Artist-

Dust Rig - tutorial for Maya

Tonga the Fox - Free cartoony rig for Maya!
  01 January 2013
Pretty sure this isn't what you meant but option 2, knock it down to 2 minutes sure sounds like you'd do it at 4k. =) just saying. hahaha

Anyway, glad you didn't do it and he will crash and burn.

I've told clients before word for word - "Look, this is the price and I've been doing this for a long time. If you go out there, and you hire someone cheaper, I can almost guarantee they don't know what their doing (clearly indicated by a cheaper price) and or your schedule will run into oblivion and your going to come running back."

They tend to reconsider. =)
  01 January 2013

For $18,500 doing 50+ shots, that's $370 a shot. From what you said a shot would include keying, camera tracking, full CGI background, AND character animation? For $370 a shot?

While you may have some assets of your own, for "full CG backgrounds" there will be a lot more to custom build, rig, texture, animate. If you are a one-man shop, would you even be able to complete all this work form start to finish within the time allotted?

The client will want to craft and tweak every aspect of most steps in the process and the development time to establish the look and assets, let alone animate, tweak, composite shots? For $370 a shot... Likely this project time will mushroom to hundreds or thousands of hours and you would be working for minimum wage in a pressure cooker.

Instead of lowering your already low price, a negotiation basic is to take away something. If the client cant afford the project, you can discuss what they CAN get for the price by removing aspects of the project and reducing your involvement. Perhaps focus on what you KNOW you can do quickly and well, and say you can do THAT aspect of the show, like just CG background, and leave the composting and keying to someone else.

Edit: I see at the end they admitted they spent all their money leaving only $4000 for 50+ shots. No wonder he was mad. He was transferring his anger at himself for planning and shooting a VFX heavy project, without having the money to do it. He might be able to get a lot of volunteers to learn on the job with a mismash of styles and abilities, and the project will drag out for years of post work, and likely look cobbled together.

A lot of movie directors talk about how each movie probably eats up about 3 years of their life start to finish. By saying no (effectively by not working for next to nothing) to a bad working situation, it frees you up to take a better project. In business that's the "cost of lost opportunity." If you take a bad project, you are committed at various levels, and can't take a better project.

Sounds like it worked out well for you, and your gut was right about the first project. And it went down hill for the project from there. Failure to plan is planning to fail. How the project did not budget money for a main aspect of production is probably going to bleed through to every other aspect of the project.

Last edited by Joseppi : 01 January 2013 at 03:54 PM.
  01 January 2013
At this point you're teaching an upcoming director bad habits. That won't bode well for you or the future.

Everyone needs to bid what it will truly cost them (time, materials, overhead, profits, etc)
Be realistic with yourself. Have you been able to do the work ever before at the price being quoted? In the last year what was your aveage time for roto, 3D, green screen, etc? That's what you need to use as your basis, not you hopes or wishes.

If you lose a bid that you can't afford then you really didn't lose the bid.

Should you wish to give someone a special deal then show the full actual numbers first and then your reduced price. Some vfx companies bend over backwards to do things but never let the client know. This not only doesn't help you, it hurts you. The client have no idea they're getting a special deal. They assume you're ripping them off or charging full rate no matter what you bid.

If it is a special deal then put constraints on it and set the parameters. 2 takes, their deliver times, you define delivery dates as you can accommodate, etc.

If you plan to deliver reduced quality work (which I don't recommend) you need to show them examples before contracting. Know that the clients will always want ultimate quality (if it's a visible difference to them) no matter what they say ahead of time and no matter what their budget. The difference will be the lowest paying people will be unreasonable about it.

As noted, getting a rough guide on what they can spend is a good way to get started.

If they have limited budget then they will have to design and write accordingly. Everyone would love to have Brad Pitt and stop traffic in the middle of New York while using a cable cam system. That's not going to happen. If they have limited funds for vfx then they will have to be smart and redesign or re-write. You might be able to provide suggestions.

if you place a low value on your work the clients will as well.

Everyone wants to make a film or a tv show and they want everyone to work for free and all camera houses to provide them free gear. if only other stores took this 'free credit' for things like food that would be fine. One of the problems for vfx artists is others don't have a clue. Donating a day or two to a short film for free isn't a big deal. But doing vfx for free can mean you're donating a couple of months of work, not just a day. But as long as no one points that out they don't understand.

If all vfx companies charged what it actually costs the industry would be much healthier.
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by Joseppi: Instead of lowering your already low price, a negotiation basic is to take away something. If the client cant afford the project, you can discuss what they CAN get for the price by removing aspects of the project and reducing your involvement. Perhaps focus on what you KNOW you can do quickly and well, and say you can do THAT aspect of the show, like just CG background, and leave the composting and keying to someone else.

Regardless of this specific situation, this is an outstanding suggestion. As a freelancer, it's a win-win scenario: It makes you look interested and wanting to help (which you genuinely are), but limits your involvement and/or liability to realistic levels.

  01 January 2013
Sticker Shock

Hi Everyone,

I think many would agree that the hardest part of an cg project sometimes isn't doing the actual work but managing the client and their expectations.

I'd like to encourage the original poster and any artist to have faith in themselves, and the clients, especially a 'newbie'. I don't know the details of your situation but I encourage you to review your quote with your client, giving them the full breakdown and explain how much work it is to them. As well, if you can think of any workarounds or work simplifications - stuff that would get your costs down - ask your client if they're open to these suggestions. Many new cg producers and especially live action directors simply have no idea what they're asking for or how to simplify the work. Helping someone new to this aspect of production is wonderful but don't fool yourself into thinking that Client Education is going to take up a huge amount of your time (and make sure you count that in your calculations). Final advise: do not allow this review to turn into a session where they chop the budget down unless they're also chopping the workload. At the end of the day, that never works out as planned and everyone winds up losing something.

Good luck to all of us!
TracyG (of the Supersocks team)
  01 January 2013
Thank you all for the support. My bid was biased on time in months. I figured that it would take me just short of 2 months to do the initial 2 min trailer. I had an internal production schedual that I was confident that I could meet. But when I found out it would be 4 times the work, that also meant 4 times the time as well as 4 times the money. This is because I am a 1 man shop (although I do hire my friends from time to time as needed).
Man the Pillsbury Dough Boy is a sicko. He'll let anyone finger him.

Last edited by grundelboy : 01 January 2013 at 06:41 PM.
  01 January 2013
The old "This is what we have left for VFX" line...

There are only two contracts in over a decade that I feel I got burned on and one of them was negotiated with such a line. I should have asked, what do you mean "Left over". That's like going to dinner, ordering an expensive drink then telling the waiter you only have $2.73 left to pay for the steak your ordering!

The budget was laughable for what they were asking for. I caved at the time due to light workload, interesting project and knowing the client was well connected combined with assurances other gigs would follow with more appropriate budgets. They loved the work, paid my little bill and I have never heard another word. He knew they had nothing to offer $$ wise which is why the whole things started with, "Look, we don't have a big budget for this...." Not doing that again. If the $$ is no good I'd rather spend the time developing my own projects. Like ones where we plan ahead and don't short change anybody just Cuz.
  01 January 2013
Glad it worked out well in the end.

I worked for free for a startup once. I believed them when they said they were two months from funding. Then, I noticed that *every* time they hired someone they were told that funding was "only two months away." Maybe we would've gotten funded...but it became evident that I was the one working the hardest to make the project real, and everyone else was treating this as a "work for free" job, so I realized we were never going to get anywhere. Couple that with massive feature creep, and it was time to move on to a real job with pay and benefits.

Also, it's not quite the same as working for *free*, but I've worked at big-name studios who lowball salaries, and then tell everyone that they are giving you "unique opportunities to work on awesome projects" that people would sell their soul to work on, so shut up because you're lucky they let you work here at all. Second on the agenda, why is morale so low?
  01 January 2013
For me the scariest part wasn't the offer/response to the quote, but the 'just starting out.'

The first thing I think when I read/hear something like that is that you are going to have NO IDEA what the quality of the shots is going to be when they get to you. If this person is just starting out, and doesn't agree to have you there to help setup/coordinate shots (and PAYS you for that time), then odds are they are going to dump a bunch of crud on you - and some of these shots will be easy because they just happened to get things right, and others will cost you days trying to make up for what they did wrong. End result is that without that ability to consult and guide the inputs, I would honestly have no idea how much to charge even if they had full storyboards and descriptions of each shot. Watch as I spend twenty five hours on a four second shot trying to tweak things to make up for bad green screen work/lighting.

It's like people hear the term 'comp' in this industry, and don't realize we mean composition.

A whole industry of little CG Berry Gordys.
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by grundelboy: I feel like I was giving a HUGE price break because this guys is just starting out and I want to see him make it.

If you want to hook them up, charge more and then say i'll give the family discount and show him the price you quoted him.
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