May 24, 2015 admin

You get what you pay for

Since the commencement of FlowMotion in 2003, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with countless clients over the years about various video post-production projects. Some projects with minimal budgets and basic needs such as videos web and social media. Others with big budgets and complex needs such as commercials or informercials for national television.

Most conversations typically begin with our clients sharing details about their project (purpose, schedule, and creative ideas) and, while doing so, they express what they feel is their order of priority when selecting an agency (or freelancer) to execute the work:

1. Price
2. Quality
3. Service

The purpose of this post is to provide some feedback that my be helpful to this process and perhaps encourage reprioritization. Please consider the following –

Price:

The hourly rate for a post-production typically ranges from $35 – $250. Those willing to work at lower hourly rates typically have less technical and creative experience as well as less infrastructure (facility, hardware, software, staff, redundancy, ability to self-market). Here are a few things that you may want to verify during your evaluation:

• If possible, work with your editor on a test project to evaluate level of organization. I’ve worked with editors that are highly creative but equally disorganized. This can be difficult to identify so it’s important to watch closely and ask questions about file organization and naming convention. They may think and say that they are organized but simply don’t know any better. Organization is a critical part of the post-production process and if your editor is disorganized it often times leads to massive cleanup work in the end and/or the loss of assets. In addition, disorganization can lead to massive time requirements trying to figure out what file is what and in what folder it lives when changes to the work are needed in the future. And, if anyone other than the original editor attempts to work with a project that is not well organized, good luck! I’ve received projects from clients that have taken over a week or organize, track down missing assets, and get up and running again.

• If you’re able to work with your editor on a test project, also evaluate their pace of work. Just because they’re charging a fraction of what another might be charging, it doesn’t mean that they work at an equal pace. Snappy pace has a lot to do with strong project planning and organization, efficient use of the software and it’s keyboard shortcuts, and creative confidence/experience with the specific project at hand. If your editor is scanning through dropdown menus searching for edit features, that’s often times an indication they either need an immediate high dose of caffeine or they’re not highly experienced.

• Ask if work is being executed on a system that has data redundancy (RAID) so that if a drive fails there is little risk of data loss. Also inquire about daily project backups and project archival procedures. Disk failures happens and it’s highly important to know you’re covered at all times.

• Gain a general understanding about the hardware and software that the work is being executed on. New and powerful hardware is a requirement in order to run the latest and greatest software otherwise render times (processing) stack up and those are billable hours. This also has a heavy impact on the editor’s pace especially if the hardware/software solutions being used are not able to keep up with the demands of the editor.

Quality (audible, visual and storytelling creativity):

Quality of work, or creativity, can be a difficult piece to evaluate. When viewing the work being demoed by an editor or agency, be sure to ask specifically what portions of the work they were responsible for AND what was the original objective of the client. Many projects are collaborative and not all pieces are managed under one roof. For example, one company could have developed the concept, another could have shot it, another could have post-produced it, and another could have come up with the design or animation elements within. Often times, each of these companies are out there demoing the same video saying “check out my work” but are not specific about what portion of it that they contributed to.

Make sure you’re satisfied by viewing a portfolio of past work. Consistency in quality execution as well as volume of work speak loud. Depending on your level of experience in the post-production world, the more reassurance you can receive before cutting the check the better. Take your time and ask logical of questions.

Service:

Exceptional planning, organization and untimely communication are the most important parts of any project. If your editor is not able to thoroughly and accurately communicate throughout the project that often times will lead to confusion, frustration, errors, additional billable time, and project delays. Speaking of time, be sure to request a detailed schedule of the entire project prior to getting started. This would include details on when specific parts of the work is being executed, when rounds of proofs will be delivered, when feedback is needed back from the client, and when the project will be available for delivery.

At the end of the project, what is always remembered is the experience along the way. Next is the quality and effectiveness of the result. Then, finally, the price it cost to arrive at the result. And at the end, it will always be realized that the true order of priority is:

1. Service
2. Quality
3. Price

The price is the price and you will pay one way or another.