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zach b

how many hours do you work?

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I have a question about how many hours should be expected of a freelancer to work at someone else's shop or post house.

 

I am working on a job this week and have been staying for about nine hours, but the rate i charged is based on an 8 hour day

I wasn't told how many hours the job would be but its spread out over 4 days so i assumed when they asked for my rate that i would base it on an 8 hour day

So for future reference what are some tips to protect myself? should i just bill them for the overtime? can i even ask for overtime?

any feedback would be appreciated

thanks

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I have a daily rate and sometimes I work idiotic hours for a while and the I take a lot of time of.

My rate is my risk and I found a good average as not to be disappointed later.

 

On big jobs, a lot of days are quite relax (approx.4/5h of real work) and towards deadlines this takes off to 12 ... 16 or more.

And then the slow days compensate for the rush days, so it is quite OK

 

If I would do only rush/deadline days I would ask a lot more then I do now.

 

Oh and btw it is quite important not to die on a job because people tend to find that very untidy.

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For me, most of the time is about the dynamic of the studio/project.

 

I dont think you get in this field, to go and count minutes behind the desk.

 

8 to 10 in LA it`s pretty normal, but sometimes it get`s crazy, and other times super slow :)

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I myself bill for a 10 hour day (every so often I mark down if the client is a regular and I don't work that much), But like @base80 said some days are 4 hours and some are 14. They tend to balance themselves out. If your working on a project and your there for 12+ hours everyday then you might need to switch to hourly

 

Good Luck

~Florio

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I'm a staunch supporter of an 8 hour day. I've asked before on these forums where this 10 hour day comes from.

Honestly, I don't care if a client brings me in and all they have for me to do totals up to 4 hours. That's their problem.

Now if they go over the 8-10 hour agreement, they're gonna have to pay me. Producers and directors should know how to schedule time, they shouldn't be cramming 20 hours worth of work into a 10(8) hour day, yet most producers knowingly and deceivingly do that. It shouldn't matter that there are slow days and busier days. You're brought in on a day rate with an alotted number of hours(which should be agreed upon before working). If it's a slow day then fine, but those hours aren't rolled over to next day. In my opinion, that's just not how it works. And of course this isn't the end all, be all, of rules, depending on the producer and how i'm treated i'll play it accordingly.

 

I'll say this again, freelancers, please do yourself a favor and use deal memo's.

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Honestly Oeuf... you must be joking. Have you never put yourself in ones position where one has this huge task to make in a determined time. Or have you never been one of those people yourself.

Nobody can exactly calculate the tasks at hand, nobody. And there is this idiotic obsession with perfection that a lot of us and of the people above us have.

Perfection is not counted in time. Making finishing touches is a painstaking work, and at the end it has to be done and I feel strongly responsible.

8 hours are not always enough. But if you start doing the bureaucrat thing, sorry, but you will not get the job.

I work in big shows with projection and all and there is no way any of us would even think about our hours at the end of the trip. Show is in two days, that is 48 hours and we will do the best show in the universe.

 

And btw I still do all my rigging for all my clients (apart from the shows) on a no cure no pay basis.

 

There is one more thing I want to say, I worked in the states last spring, and I was appalled by the working ethics. People are there, working for at least 10 hours a day, and at the end of the week the results are completely disappointing (no, not all of you, sorry). The ethics ask a lot of people, they have to give all they have and be there and such, but at the end of the day it is a mouse-moving theatre. The work has not been done.

 

This bring me to the next issue, my job is to solve problems, and very often I can do that sitting on a bench in a park or by scratch my balls. But colleagues or people I work with have great difficulties to understand this concept of thinking without moving the mouse. The whole thinking thing has become taboo, something not to be seen or to be done in private times.

When I write in a post above that I sometimes work only 4 hours (in a production environment) I mean that those are the mouse-moving hours, the rest of the time is still involved in the goal we have set to achieve.

 

So, Oeuf, I thing that if you are a free-lanncer or even if you are working for a job, it is part of the deal to be very flexible with time. Take what is not needed but always give what the job needs.

 

Good night, base

 

and if someone needs me, please wait until the beer settles down, cheers

 

ps can someone explain what a "deal memo" is?

Edited by base80

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base80-

I see where you're coming from, but I think perhaps you've misconstrued what i've written. I, like you, think of the task given me by a client long after I've stepped away from a keyboard. As a graphic artist, I think we all eat, sleep, think, design and motion. And you're right, it's near impossible to give a time estimate for certain tasks, but have you never been asked by a producer "How long do you think that's going to take?" or "You have a day to get these styleframes done for the pitch"?

I have a feeling we're touching on different things here, I'm mostly speaking of clients taking advantage of freelancers and not about completing a job half assedly.

 

And the deal memo i'm speaking of is just a written contract outlining things like the job task (animating, design, and/or job name, i.e. HBO promo , etc), dates of booking, day rate, overtime rate, cancellations/kill fees, payoll/payment methods, interest, etc. I have my client sign one as the last step to booking. And again, i'm flexible with my deal memo, the most important thing it does is it gets a dialogue going between freelancer and client to talk about these things that most people tend to assume(like the 10 hour workday:).

 

Where do you mainly work base80? And when you came to work in the States, where specifically?

I'm based in NYC.

Edited by oeuf

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Yes Oeuf I've had clients asking me for impossible things, or for and estimate of something impossible, and yes I have had many occasions where I make mistakes or they do at making the right estimation. On the other hand it has been some time since a producer puts unreal pressure on me. Often it is the case that I can define the time in which things are feasible, it is part of my responsibility to finish a show before the deadline.

I am probably quite lucky not to be in a situation where people are taking advantage of me or my colleagues. And I have not yet made any "deal memo" ever, I tend to make quite loose deals where trust is the main aspect for further work.

I have a short list of request when I work abroad (what kind of hotel/logging, what kind of workspace/screen/computer, and I want to smoke at my desk and preferably have a fridge for beer) and I love to work abroad when those conditions are met.

In the last two years I have worked on large scale projections in South-America and Mexico for a client in Paris, so I travelled a lot down to Paris from the Netherlands and I have done the work on location.

Appart from that I do a lot of rigging or whatever name is suitable for c4d xpresso/mograph/TP... stuff. And I have never come across any disproportionate relations with any of my clients.

At the end of the day I think I have less difficulties with payment stuff or hours and such because my skills are quite rare and that means I can either be more grumpy or have less discussions about the amount of time spent or payed for a given job.

 

oh and I was in Santa Monica and New York last spring and I am still underwhelmed by some people I worked with.

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I work in corporate video.

My day is usually 9 hrs long not including my lunch break.. (if I get one) Sometimes... its longer depending on the nature of the project and when its due, I typically dont work 12 hr days.

 

Currently the biggest slow down for me.. is just figuring out how to make what I envision in my head.. then attempting it on C4D.. AE Im comfortable with, c4d is my new learning tool.

 

Some days depending on my work load. I can "play and figure out c4d" all day.. other days Im on a shoot or working on other tasks. Then theres the thorn in creativity.. the "knock at the door" I hate the knock at the door.

"Umm the projector isnt working in this conference room." "did you turn it on?"

I dont have the luxury of working on 1 project till its done. I have to balance that with everything else I do. from editing a simple music montage, slide shows, setting up AV gear for a presentation or producing webcasts.. training, safety, ethics videos galore. anything in video from av, camera tracking, editing, directing, producing, to general grunt. I do it all.

Then there's the travel.. I'm usually on travel a good percentage of the time supporting my customers on location.

So 9 hrs can easily be 12-14 hrs.. but that's not just playing or working on c4d is my point.

 

On the plus side I get holidays and weekends (mostly) off. I better damn well be sure my tasks are done before I leave the office. but that's just the way I am.. I hate leaving things hanging. Oh and I usually get every other Friday off.. yay for 3 days weekends. soo its a balancing act. I just have to keep spinning the plates so they don't fall down..

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I am probably quite lucky not to be in a situation where people are taking advantage of me or my colleagues. And I have not yet made any "deal memo" ever, I tend to make quite loose deals where trust is the main aspect for further work.

See, that's great. I can't say I have such luck, more 50-50. For the places that treat me nicely, I'm very flexible with, and for the ones that are trying to pull on over on me, I try not to work there.

 

Next time you're in NYC, let's go grab a beer.

By the way, the stuff on your site has saved my ass on more than one occasion :)

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Sup playas,

 

I'm skipping around, so maybe somebody answered this, but 'deal memo' is generally a film term, but it can apply to anything really.

 

I finally set one up loosely based on the motionographer template. I also bill on a 10 hour day, but the one thing I added . . .

 

OT

 

In my mind, if we don't start breaking through the wall of Overtime, we can continue to expect producers to take advantage.

I know we generally don't work 'hourly' wages, cause we're so artistic and all, but most producers do, when they bill their clients.

So your nice day rate at 10 is not so great at 14, (and neither is your overall performance, in my opinion)

 

This is not the case for some people, esp guys like Base 80 that have some nice respectable gigs, but there's a lot of 'bread and butter' work out there,

and we're not all in that niche.

 

Another reason the OT thing is never broached, is because most people in this field are young party kids that just roll to the bar after work, at any time,

in some cases the later the better.

 

Guess when that changes, when you have a family to not only support, but one you'd like to spend time with.

 

I'm not an expert, I just know that life is short, bill what your worth, and stand up for yourself and your rights as a worker in general.

All you have to do is look at the 'real' VFX industry, where only now are they beginning to murmur about their rights, and get organized.

And right about the time that they finally get more working unions, guilds, or work standards, Singapore and India will have already taken over their industry.

 

Guess which one is next.

So you might as well swing your dick while it's long enough.

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This is how I see it - you only really earn the right to shortened hours if you're on a longer contract or have the luxury of full-time work. At the moment I am not allowed to work overtime because it'd cause headaches for the agency having to submit purchase orders for the extra hours - which is nice but I still put in an extra hour, because after 6pm I can smoke more, drink beer, and work more to my style without the distraction of banter, phone calls and office hotties averting my eyes. It makes more sense to have this final period every day where I mentally wind down and fix little niggling issues, than to jump Pavlov-style out of my chair and run home to my super-exciting home life. If I had a life outside of work I'd be more inclined to leave.

Edited by iline

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I always charge 8 hour days. If a client wants me to work more hours per day the rate goes up - quite easy, quite logic and it worked out well for me over the last ten years. And why should a client want me to work more than eight hours, as long as i get the job done? In my experience long shifts during production often lead to mistakes, wich require even more extra time for corrections. And during conception / layout phase they tend to lead to a creative blockade - i rarely get good ideas while staring at a Computer display at night...

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In my experience long shifts during production often lead to mistakes

 

 

Yessum.

 

Nothing like hamming up a perfectly good project in the eleventh hour after a week of 14 hour days.

 

I've tended to not estimate / charge by hour like some mechanic referencing a service billing manual - but on the commercial market value of the work, attitude and organization of the client, and perceived awesomeness of the potential end result. Less awesome is naturally more expensive. And by more I mean a lot more.

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I think that while the harm/good factor has yet to be debated, all of these posts point to the fact that our industry has no real set standard.

 

In my own humble opinion, dividing your pricing based on 'feelings' and 'coolness' is a novice approach, and will

eventually expose you to your clients as having loose standards and childish expectations.

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I started freelancing myself recently and I already made the mistake of undercharging. It kills (financially & creative) you when you realize when you can ask more. Not going to make that mistake again.

 

I've also realized that some people charge themselves even less then a plumber each hour (and that is without the equipment and the rest that the plumber needs). So if you are below that price, you need to consider getting your prices up. If you are above, good for you. (All respect to plumbers tho)

 

About the working extra hours:

Every Motion Designer knows that you spend sometimes more time on something then you expected, completely normal. It is up to you if you charge it or not.

If I would work 8 hours and eventually I have to work 9, then so be it. I love the job so I don't mind, but it shouldn't get a habit either.

Working beyond 9 hours is a no go because that is simply something I can't keep up and it will decrease my quality drastic.

Client needs it fast/in a hury or it is giving to much work? Then let them pay more so you can justify working 12h or you can hire a buddy to help you out.

 

Also This:

 

320px-Project_Triangle.svg.png

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Thanks for all the great feedback I f eel like this is a crucial aspect of being a motion graphics artist and

It doesn't get discussed enough. I now know what questions to ask for future jobs

So thanks for all the good advice

 

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If you freelance, this whole thing can be even less straightforward.

 

Common Example: Today I was talking with a studio about doing some frames over the next few days. Turned out they needed basically a truncated 4 frame storyboard to pitch a show open for a show with no assets, no branding, no logo, etc. Concepting, creating assets, designing and refining the frames, creating a logo and incorporating it into an endframe... seems like a 2-3 day project for something relatively small like this (just some reality show no one's ever going to care about and is cheap as shit).

 

Studio is aware of my day rate, but this is an unpaid pitch... uh oh. So the studio wants to know if I can do it for half. Well, of course not. You don't go to the store and ask them to give you 50% off on milk just because you budgeted wrong. But you MIGHT ask them to give you half as much milk instead. That might work. So I could have said "I'll do ONE day of the project at my normal day rate." But here's the problem: I know that when I give them the result of that one day, it's not going to be good enough. Despite having explained that the project needs 2 or 3 days but knowing that I worked just one, they'll look at the work for what it is, which is incomplete and sub-par. Well, I got paid for one day, as opposed to none, but now I have a dissatisfied client, regardless. And I don't really come away with much to show either.

 

Kind of a stinker, this one. But unless you're in financial crisis mode and need the money or you're gonna be homeless, the best solution is to gracefully bow out. Because the alternatives are either that you misrepresent yourself and subtly sour your reputation, or you get paid X to work 2X or 3X. You either end up looking like you suck, or that you can be had cheap. That's lose-lose.

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Pitch work is always a pain in the rear. I think there are two solutions for the unpaid pitch dilemma:

1. Insist on your normal rate (and don't get the job in most cases)

2. Work for your usual rate -x but insist on a bonus (usual rate +x) if your design wins the pitch.

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Pitch work is always a pain in the rear. I think there are two solutions for the unpaid pitch dilemma: 1. Insist on your normal rate (and don't get the job in most cases) 2. Work for your usual rate -x but insist on a bonus (usual rate +x) if your design wins the pitch.

The whole "contest" approach is usually pretty sour, though. Especially in this case considering that the judges of the contest are clients, who typically don't pick the best boards/ideas. So the reward to the freelancer wouldn't necessarily be merit-based. Clients also tend to want a little of this one, and a little of that one, like asking for the salmon filet but stuffed with the rustic mac n cheese, with ketchup gelatto to wash it down. So you could do a beautiful, thoughtful board, and I could shit something out that happens to be just the shade of awful that the client's wife adores and suddenly we've got two winners. It's a slippery slope from there because money is involved.

 

Both the money issue and the time/hours issue come down to the same problem, which is that business people (read: money people, non-creatives) operate on predictability of outcome, but there's little predictability in what we do. They need to be able to forecast costs and schedules so that they can plan for profitability in each job. But an investment in you is a gamble. Your work may or may not pay off. So they want to minimize the cost of that investment. If they can get you cheaper, they will. If they can pay the same for more work, they will. Your responsibility to yourself, and all of our responsibilities to each other, is to 1) consistently prove that you're a worthy investment and 2) push back against the devaluing of what you/we do.

 

Hold up your end of the bargain, and make sure they hold up theirs.

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