It’s Time To Change Our Post-Production Model.


We have a deeply ingrained idea that post-production is just like production. We show up, we do the same work, and we get paid for our time. 
It’s not! 

We are chosen among many contractors for our unique way to solve creative problems..
Whether you are an editor, a sound designer, a colorist, a motion graphic designer or a music composer, you impact the story.
With time and experience, you work better and faster. You learn to anticipate challenges and design solutions before they arise. 

You gain mastery. 
No one cares how long it takes. You deliver results! 
Charge for the results, not for your time. 

I will say it again: start selling your creative talent. I mean it! Your world will change, your relationships will transform.

While the following article is for all self-employed and creative solo-entrepreneurs, working in the post-production industry, it applies to all creative work. 
This is a series of articles so you might need to read in order starting with this one!

Time-Based Pricing Made Sense When We Had To Use Someone Else Tools.

There has never been as much content being created in history as there is today. There has never been as much profit generated, and we certainly haven’t seen the peek yet either. This should be great news for all the creative talent in the film and television industry? Right?

Then why are rates going down? Why is high paying work so hard to come by?

One reason is that the value of TV shows are going down due to the increasing number of low-cost subscription-based platforms that produce content at a high volume at a lower and lower cost. They know they can’t change the price much or else you may cancel your subscription, so sadly this trend will most likely continue for the foreseeable future.

This other reason is you are probably charging a day rate, you can only raise it with new customers who are probably choosing cheaper contractors. You might feel that your time and experience isn’t rewarded. Because you are selling your time clients ask for less of it. You then agree on a flat fee and you loose control over the scope of the project. There is better way. A way that will make you more creative, more efficient and valued. But first let’s consider what happened and why it is different now.

The traditional large post-production groups who rent their services and their tools are thriving and raising their prices:

This could be great news for all the artists who are riding the gig economy wave. A revolution is quietly taking place in the creative workforce. It is already happening in the marketing service industry, and it is happening in the post-production industry too.


What is Changing: Our Tools.

We have all we need to deliver high-end post-production work to exhibitors.

Let’s briefly track back in time:  The Media Composer Revolution

In the 90s, the post-production industry was revolutionized by the invention of Non-Linear-Editing (NLE) by creating software that allowed editors to be faster, work intuitively, with more creative tools than ever before. Avid doubled down by releasing the Open Media Framework (OMF), into the public domain as well. This allowed Avid sequences to be exported from their own system into other systems (for example, ProTools (Audio) and DaVinci Resolve (Color/Finishing).

Leading the revolution was AVID Media Composer systems. While their turnkey workstation cost between $50,000 and $80,000, which sounds outrageous today, it was 10x cheaper than their analog rivals. When Avid went public, their revenue jumped from $1million to $112million which quickly positioned itself as the Broadcast industry leader.

Avid’s innovation disrupted the entire post-production industry. For less than $100k the Avid film editing system offered film editors more creative freedom, at a faster pace and a cheaper cost. In 1996 Avid was worth half a billion dollar.

Smaller post-production facilities were now able to purchase editing systems and get a foot in the door of the film business, which was previously reserved, to the big Studios.

What is true for editing software is also true for color and finishing software, sound design & mixing, as well as VFX later on. In 2010 a turnkey color and finishing solution cost about $100K.

Studios quickly realized they could be more profitable if they changed their entire business model from being all-in-one large movie factories, to focus on development and outsource most of the production work to smaller size companies.

But even by 10x cheaper, $100k remains high for creative artists to go off on their own.

They had to work in facilities that own the equipment and rented it to producers. Facilities had to compete in price by offering the latest technology. As a result, facilities lowered their cheaper editing suite as a loss leader to encourage producers and filmmakers to finish their film with them.


Time-base pricing is great for facilities who run like hotels (they lower their price in low season and charge more in periods of peek).

Finally, the need for prime real estate space in the world most expensive cities was a must have. Because of the high cost of entry and the high burn-rate of those companies, the pricing model for facilities was Time-Based Pricing. Clients buy time; could be a day, a week, a month, a year.

Along with the purchased time came an operator, usually creative artists and many assistants.

Unions also use time as their primary currency, protecting minimum rates by the day and by the week.

But if time-based pricing is a great model for pricing repetitive physical task with equal value, like most production jobs, rental services, and full-time employees, who must show up at the same time every day), is the second worst pricing model for self-employed creative artists work.

Time-base pricing is terrible for creative businesses.

Time-based pricing is convenient; it is an industry standard, it is easily understandable and negotiable. The downside is that it prevents creative people from scaling and growing. It punishes both experience and creativity. If you work fast, you make less. It fosters a race to the bottom where the lower rate wins. And finally, it is in the interest of the creative artist to not speed up the decision process.


This article continues here: 

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Hadrien Royo

Hadrien Royo

Founder and CEO of Round Two. Hadrien is an award-winning filmmaker and producer who grew up in Paris, where he graduated from Law School before moving to the United States to pursue a MFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He is also an editor and colorist at Round Two.

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