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Post-production refers to the end stages of production for projects that can include films, television productions, music productions, and photography. In photography, post-production often refers to loading raw images into software, cutting objects in the images, and cleaning the images. In music, post-production might include the process of compiling several takes into one quality take (comping), adding effects, and pitch correction. In television, post-production processes usually include sound and video editing, visual effects, and animation. In filmmaking, post-production involves editing visual and audio materials.
Film post-production is extremely popular because there are so many aspects of the process that require professional input. Also, films often promise longer-term gig opportunities since their processes can last for months and sometimes years. Stages of film post-production typically start with picture or film editing then move on to sound editing. Next, the film is scored with original music or existing music for which recording and publishing rights must be secured. Other stages in post-production include sound mixing, adding visual effects (VFX), color correction or grading, and adding titles, credits, and graphics. Before a film is finalized, it usually undergoes distribution preparation, film advertisement, and trailer creation.
Individuals interested in working in film post-production have plenty of opportunities to choose from. Here is a short list of job opportunities:
In the film industry, the music composer is responsible for creating the score – or music written and produced specifically to accompany the film. The composer ensures that the music aligns with the plot and is able to enhance the mood of each scene in accordance with the director’s wishes.
The editor, particularly for films, takes on the role of condensing what could amount to thousands of hours of footage into less than two hours of story. Since scenes in a film are typically shot out of sequence, the editor’s job is to put them in chronological order. The editor also plays a major part in choosing the appropriate camera angles and deciding which footage to keep or scrap. In most cases, editors for modern films are skilled at using professional editing software like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
When a film wraps, the sound editor takes on the role of adding audio. An editor known as an automatic dialogue replacement (ADR) recordist might replace dialogue that has become unusable due to microphone placement or other technical issues. In film, sound effects editors are also used to include noises like the sound of a zipper, a car driving out of a scene, or explosions.
A foley artist is a person who works with the sound editor during the post-production stage to recreate sound. In the previously mentioned example of unusable audio due to microphone placement, a foley artist will come in and re-record the original sounds to make them clearer for the film.
Other positions in the world of post-production can include motion designer, technical manager, production supervisor, photo editor, digital video colorist, color assistant, and junior editor.
Since there are so many areas of post-production to take part in, you might find yourself working in a variety of jobs and fields based on your education and areas of expertise. Depending on the type of job you choose in post-production, you might benefit from different forms of billing.
What to consider when billing:
Additional factors to consider when billing your clients include the costs of paying for professional dues, advertising your services, and health insurance.
When creating an invoice for post-production, you want to include important components so that you and your brand are easily identifiable, the services you’ve provided are evident, and your payment terms and methods are clear.
Consider creating a personal logo and adding it to your invoice so you’ll be easily recognized by your clients. If you need help creating a logo, think about hiring a graphic design freelancer.
Every invoice you distribute should have a singular invoice number. Invoices are usually distributed sequentially; however, you can use any strategy you desire. For instance, many businesses start their invoices with a number like “00001” with their next invoice number being “00002,” and so on.
Name and Contact Details
Your invoice should also include your contact name and information near the top. Be sure to include your full legal name or business name for tax purposes and also your business address and telephone number.
Your client’s business or legal name should be prominently featured on your invoice along with important contact information like their address, telephone number and/or email address.
Important Invoice Dates
Every invoice should include the date you send the invoice to your client (invoice date) as well as the payment date. For your payment date, you can choose a date that you have agreed upon with your client, or you can choose other terminology that reflects your discussions. Some include “Due on receipt” or “NET30,” the latter meaning that payment is due 30 days from the invoice date.
Invoice Line Items
Line items allow you to list the individual projects for which you are billing. For instance, if you worked as a sound editor for a TV production for two hours over four days, you can list each day you worked, the project(s) you worked on those days, and the rate per hour for those projects.
If you’re not sure how to create your own invoice, Indy offers a database of invoice templates you can browse until you find one that suits your desired look and feel. Our invoices are customizable, enabling you to add your logo and personal details. Once you’ve selected your top choice, you can automatically generate invoices and repeatedly send them to your clients.
You can also utilize our online invoices to benefit from modern-day electronic payment tools like Paypal or Zelle. Tools like our Time Tracker can help you do the math for your time worked.
The specific post-production field you work in will help determine how much you should bill for your services. You can also determine your rates using factors like your level of experience, years in the field, ability to produce references that can vouch for your work, and services you plan to provide.
First, it’s a good idea to find out the average rates of post-production professionals in your local market. A video editor in Mississippi will likely average a different rate for their services than one in New York or California because of differences in the entertainment industries and costs of living. Also, consider the specific industry in which your expertise lies. If you’re vying for a post-production gig in photography, your work might merit a different rate than if you sought a position in film or TV production.
While pay for different post-production jobs can vary greatly, it’s good to look at some average rates of pay to get an idea of how much you should bill your clients. In the bigger markets, it’s common for editors to earn from $750 per project to more than $1500, if experienced. Assistant editors might average about $19 per hour for their services, while a colorist with experience in the field might average around $27 per hour.
A person who focuses on mixing and recording could charge as much as $62 per hour. If you work in the digital media aspects of post-production, you might be able to charge an average of $24 per hour, while a production supervisor could request rates averaging about $19 hourly. Individuals working as post-production engineers might earn about $50 an hour at the national level. Someone who works as a post-production assistant might earn about $21 per hour or more than $800 per week.
Since these are averages, how can you determine the rates you should bill your clients? It’s important to consider the projects you’re working on and the type of company you’re working for when setting your prices. If your client is a small independent company in a small town, you might not expect them to be able to pay you as much as a major production company that brings in millions from their projects. Also, consider if the client has equipment and tools for you to work with. If your client is able to provide the software you need or supply you with a studio to work from, this can be factored into your cost.
When negotiating your rate, it’s also good to take a close look at rates in your area to make sure you’re not overpricing yourself compared to your peers. On the other hand, you don’t want to undervalue your expertise and efforts. A good way to gauge the pricing landscape is to join professional groups that focus on your area of expertise. They can provide tips in pricing as well as negotiation tactics so you can feel confident in your ability to charge the rate that accurately reflects your skills.
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