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View Full Version : 3D freelance rates, help!



hopper2k
April 12th, 2005, 07:43
ok, this is something that i am having trouble with. when someone is interested in hiring you, and asks what you charge, what do you say? ok, that sounds stupid, but when you're new in the industry and have never done any work for pay, i'm stumped.

i don't want to say something too high or something too low, and i actually don't even know what too high or low would be.

i got an offer doing some freelance work (modeling and character animation) over a period of "several months" and it sounds interesting, but they want me to let them know what i would charge, and said they'd even send me storyboards so i could see exactly what i'd be doing. should i say something that's by the hour, or for the sum of the total project? i still need to email them back to find out more info on the project, such as the exact duration.

you can answer here or email me at hopper2k@go.com.

thanks.

Sam Treadway
April 12th, 2005, 13:24
decide what you think you are worth per hour, determine how many hours it will take to complete the projects, multiply that time by 2 then multiply by hourly rate. with that product charge a quarter up front, do half the work and show progress....if they like it ask for another quarter to half to continue working, then charge the remainder upon delivery.

(this is just to give you an idea of a formula, this is what I use anyways)

set total price and scope up front and have them sign...in the contract include your name, their name, the type of work you will be doing (specifics), any timeline given, and payment arrangements. if they add anything in after the fact...make an addendum to the contract or make a seperate contract just for the additions and keep the additions seperate whenever showing progress so it is understood always that their are two contracts running. since the main contract is he main chunk of the pay, finish it completely before working on the other. if you run short on time and need an extension don't be afraid to ask but do it early. YES, extensions do exist, but you'll probably be doing that work for free.

as far as the hourly rate goes...How fast do you want to pay back those student loans?

hopper2k
April 12th, 2005, 16:25
i did a bunch of research and asked around and got a bunch of information on this after i made the first post.

thanks for that info though, anything is still helpful.

ProfClayton
April 12th, 2005, 17:42
I saw Prof Watkins in the hall after we talked this morning and he should be responding shortly.

hopper2k
April 12th, 2005, 19:02
yeah, he emailed me earlier. it's ok if he doesn't respond here, i got the answer i was looking for, thanks.

things are looking A-OK for now.

Otaku_Zero
April 14th, 2005, 08:35
ok, for the rest of us, what would be a range of what our time should be worth?
I do this same thing when I do some kind of yard work for someone I haven't done before, but I usually end up pulling a number out of my butt.

Professor Watkins
April 14th, 2005, 08:49
Once you've graduated, the number would go up considerably. It's a tough call, because on the one hand, you're still in training - but on the other, you have skills. Although this isn't an official declaration, if I were still in school, and was looking at freelancing (which means I OWN the software, etc.....), I'd be looking at between $15-$25/hour.

This is because they have no overhead, they aren't paying for a computer, a seat, or a software license - I'm covering all that. However, it's not only unethical, but illegal to take on any freelance gigs if you don't own the software. Take the money from the first gig and buy the stuff.....

Otaku_Zero
April 14th, 2005, 09:00
I've heard the philospohy behind owning the software and I totally agree.
I'm just glad someone finally asked this question, but I personally hadn't even really thought about pricing and everyone was beating around the bush and wouldn't give a number. Thanks Watkins.

Bucket
April 19th, 2005, 02:55
Once you've graduated, the number would go up considerably. It's a tough call, because on the one hand, you're still in training - but on the other, you have skills. Although this isn't an official declaration, if I were still in school, and was looking at freelancing (which means I OWN the software, etc.....), I'd be looking at between $15-$25/hour.

This is because they have no overhead, they aren't paying for a computer, a seat, or a software license - I'm covering all that. However, it's not only unethical, but illegal to take on any freelance gigs if you don't own the software. Take the money from the first gig and buy the stuff.....

What does that mean? Own.. Own a student version or a commercial version? I already bought an xsi fnd com license but you make me wonder what I would ever do if I was going to buy maya complete. Thats like $2200 at the moment. Maybe learn animation master. Or get a real job at a studio?

ProfClayton
April 19th, 2005, 06:21
What does that mean? Own.. Own a student version or a commercial version? I already bought an xsi fnd com license but you make me wonder what I would ever do if I was going to buy maya complete. Thats like $2200 at the moment. Maybe learn animation master. Or get a real job at a studio?
You gotta spend money to make money.

Commercial version for commercial work.

Education version for educational work.

Simple as that.

Professor Watkins
April 19th, 2005, 09:23
$2200 is not a hard amount to make up in freelance gigs. If you do quality work, other work comes quickly. If you can do that quality work quickly with Animation Master, drawing in the sand, claymation, or lines of spit - great. Sooner or later it becomes a matter of using the tool that works the best for you for the job at hand. If Maya at $2200 does this for you, it's well worth the $2200. If it doesn't, it's not worth $5 to you.

Freelance employers rare care what you're using (unless you're working with other artists) - they just care about the result.

But Mike's right. Commercial versions for commercial work.

Otaku_Zero
April 19th, 2005, 23:54
you've told us quite a few times that we need to be able to cross over into other 3D programs, heck just programs in general, but I'm just wondering if we're going to ever get some experience doing that at UIW? or is that something we should prepare for on our own?

Professor Watkins
April 20th, 2005, 07:44
If you're asking if we're going to teachh other 3D packages as part of the curriculum - no. We don't have time to spend time fooling around with other packages.....and frankly, neither do you.

There is the temptation that 3D folks have to say, "I can use this app, and this app, and this app. I spent all summer learning XSI, and then I'm working on learning Max now, and I'll do LW during 3D V." The problem is no one gets a job based on how many software packages they know. Richard Clark hadn't touched Max, and that's what they are using at Illusion studios. Tommy, at Matchframe (an XSI shop), hasn't found not being an XSI guy to be a problem.

So what I'm really saying is stay focused on showing modeling, texture, animation, and storytelling skills. Only the smallest shops will care if you know "their software." And usually, if you are the right candidate for them, they'll sacrifice a few days while you struggle through learning the software.

Content over tool.

hopper2k
April 20th, 2005, 14:02
how does charging an hourly rate while working from home work out with companies who have hired you for work? i mean, do companies like that? they don't really know how many hours you are actually working while you are at home by yourself, with no one monitoring you. If you say you'll work 40 hours a week, would they believe you? What if there comes a time to work overtime, how do those extra hours take into effect?

If a company wants you to model and rig 5 characters, and provide simple animations for each of those, should you just charge a lump sum per character and per animation (like say $900 per character and animation), and add together what all of them would be total?

This isn't anything I've done, just something I thought of right now and thought to ask.

Professor Watkins
April 20th, 2005, 15:18
Hourly rate for freelance folks is common practice. That's the risk a company takes by hiring someone freelance. If they hire a law firm, graphic design house, etc....they are often billed hourly, and they don't check up on those businesses to really see if they are putting in exactly the amount of hours that they bill. It boils down to ethics. You charge for the hours you work and no more.

This is part of the reason you always want to make sure you own the software. If a company is about to hire someone to do freelance work - they need to trust that they are getting an honest billing. If they know that that person is using illegal software, they'll know that this person's ethics, may be, well - lacking. And they'll know not to trust (or hire that person).

There are no overtime hours for freelance.

You can choose to list a lump sum for a project. Especially if that project is going to be very fast (as in completed in a couple hours); but if you don't know how long its going to take you and hourly rate is preferrable - it helps protect you.....although they will probably want to know how many hours you estimate it taking.

An hourly rate is especially handy if its clear your client doesn't quite know what they want. Then as they change the scope of the project for the 10th time, its no sweat since they continue to pay you for their wishy-washiness.

If they want a lump sum quote, do the calculations yourself and decide what kind of time it'll take you, your hourly rate, and how much they'd need to pay you to compensate you for that time.

hopper2k
April 20th, 2005, 16:05
An hourly rate is especially handy if its clear your client doesn't quite know what they want. Then as they change the scope of the project for the 10th time, its no sweat since they continue to pay you for their wishy-washiness.

that almost sounds like what's going on now...thanks.

Deb Fox
December 5th, 2005, 11:47
I have been freelancing for over 10 years and have found a book that is excellent for freelancers. I highly recommend everyone purchase it once a year. It is updated every year by the Graphic Arts Guild.

It has sample contracts, deals with with student issues and rates, just about anything you want to know about the business of design.

The name of the book is: "Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guidelines".
I have purchased the annual publishing of this book every year at art stores or book stores that have a good selection of books on Design. I think that Amazon.com has it. If not, the distributors are North Light Books, 1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207 Their toll free number is: 1-800-289-0963.

The Graphic Arts Guild's address is: 11 W. 20th Street, 8th Floor New York, NY 10011-3704. The phone number is: 212.463.7730 and their website is: http://www.gag.org It is a great organization.

The Graphic Artist Guild Pricing and Ethical Guidelines book will cost around $30.00. Just to give you an idea of what it covers I will give you the contents:
The Professional Relationship
Legal Rights and Issues
Professional Issues
New Technology Issues
Pricing and Marketing Artwork
Salaries and Trade Customs
Illustration Prices and Trade Customs
Graphic Design Prices and Trade Customs
MULTIMEDIA Prices and Trade Customs
Cartooning Prices and Trade Customs
Animation Prices and Trade Customs
Surface Design Prices and Trade Customs
Standard Contracts and Business Tools
The Graphic Artists Guild
Resources and References

Good luck and believe in yourself, you can do it and do it well.