10 Replies Latest reply on Apr 18, 2008 9:14 PM by (Marc_Trzepla)

    Over-the-Estimate Amount

      Hey, everyone. I was asked to do a job. The client wanted a bid first and usually if I'm asked to estimate the time/cost I'm spot on, but I still work by the hour so if there are overages I have no reason to complain - I get paid.

      But I used this project to learn a different technique in After Effects that without it the project would be missing the production value the client was originally looking for. Question is, I can never charge for how long it REALLY took to do the project, but I feel I'd like to get what I can for the result. So what's a morally/ethically appropriate percentage to charge over the estimate? I know, there's a reason for an estimate in the first place.

      Any opinions? Like I said, I've never run into this before, so I'm in new territory.

      Thank you.

      Marc
        • 1. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
          Level 1
          Marc_Trzepla@adobeforums.com wrote:
          > Hey, everyone. I was asked to do a job. The client wanted a bid first and usually if I'm asked to estimate the time/cost I'm spot on, but I still work by the hour so if there are overages I have no reason to complain - I get paid.
          >
          > But I used this project to learn a different technique in After Effects that without it the project would be missing the production value the client was originally looking for. Question is, I can never charge for how long it REALLY took to do the project, but I feel I'd like to get what I can for the result. So what's a morally/ethically appropriate percentage to charge over the estimate? I know, there's a reason for an estimate in the first place.
          >
          > Any opinions? Like I said, I've never run into this before, so I'm in new territory.
          >
          > Thank you.
          >
          > Marc

          I suppose you might look at it as asking a client to pay you for
          learning something that they assumed you knew how to do. They hire you
          because they don't know how to do it. Or, another way to looking at it,
          is that you now know more techniques that will assist you in future
          projects.

          If the situation was that what you had to do was so specialized that it
          would have limited future application, then asking for some additional
          compensation for work that was over and above their original request
          could be in line. Of course, you will want to make sure the client sees
          the work and says - Wow - before broaching the subject. :)
          • 2. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
            Level 1
            I see what you're saying about them 'paying me to learn' .. I thought of that too. To be more specific, the job was a 3D look but my bid for Softimage was too high for them, so I thought, "you know, I could probably pull this off in After Effects with rudimentary objects built from planes...' and they bought into it because my After Effects bid was lower. Which by all accounts it would be because the render overhead for AE is substantially less than XSI. So they weren't going to be paying for watching grass grow.

            So here I am in AE with a somewhat 3D look relatively close to the production value of a true 3D scene .. kind of .. but 3D workflow in AE is tedious so everything has taken a lot longer than expected. I guess I phrased this wrong .. I'm not learning, per se, because I know how to do things in 3D in AE, it's just that it's a dog with workflow.

            Again - such a muddy area.
            • 3. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
              David Wigforss-Hv1BNN Level 2
              Hey Marc. This made made laugh - "render overhead for AE is substantially less than XSI." Yeah..... That's the main limiting factor for me at work...

              No answer to your question, but I was wondering, as a fellow XSIer, do you live in LA and are you going to the Softimage User Event tonight? Really looking forward to see how Moondust has progressed since Siggraph!
              • 4. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
                Level 1
                No, I'm in NYC. Forget Moondust, I just want 6.5 on Vista to WORK. I can see why people are clamoring for 7. Though you're right - a particle system that doesn't need a small degree in physics to do even the most basic stuff will be welcome.

                I saw the LA advert on XSIBase .. I hope they post a followup on what gets shown. And Mark Schoenagel (sp?) is always good for a laugh.

                Marc
                • 5. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
                  David Wigforss-Hv1BNN Level 2
                  Marc, you'll be happy to hear: "Vista will be the prefered OS for the next release of XSI"

                  Also, no more Moondust... It has changed its name to ICE (forget what it stands for). There's HUGE speed increases coming to XSI in next release... Apparently all of the deformers are only single threaded currently. Mark showed us the source code to the Push deformer.. Huge long file, then also the code needed for the spdl and some other file... He then demonstrated how you can construct your own push deformer via: Get point, set point, add, normal, and a multiply.

                  Advantages: Created a torus, ramped up the values to max, something like 240x240. Applied push deformer and animated it. 8 core machine = ~24fps. Duplicated it and had 2 going = ~11fps. Next, he used his ICE "MarkPush". 60fps with 1, 40fps with 2.. I think all 8 cores were running at around 60-70%. I guess they showed it to Intel and AMD at GDC and they were blown away at how well it's multithreaded.

                  Ice nodes can be private or public compounds. All deformers will be eventually converted to ICE, and they will be public, so you can tinker as you wish.

                  No new particle examples from what I saw at Siggraph.. No video/photography as it was a tech preview.. Hopefully there'll be a more complete write up on the Base.

                  Oh yeah, Blur Studios announced they were making a new Heavy Metal movie in 3d, 9-12 shorts, and David Fincher is directed 1 and producing movie!
                  • 6. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
                    Level 1
                    Thanks for the Review. XSIBase didn't have a follow-up and the XSI LA site's last "next meeting" was for ... 2006.

                    Very exciting news. Thank you.

                    To everyone else - sorry this got off topic.

                    Marc
                    • 7. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
                      Joey Morelli Level 1
                      Back on topic:

                      You gave an estimate...then want to charge the client back for learning a technique to help his project? You should have known you were going to have to do that at the beginning and figured it into the bid. IMHO it's not morally correct to "up the price" just because you decided to teach yourself a new technique. You MAY lose work from this client.

                      Massive client revisions are one thing... I would always up the original estimate in the middle of the project if things are entered into it from the client side... but I would stick to the estimate because the extra work was not the client's fault... it was your choice...and then you go to the client at the end and in detail explain the extra work & effort you put into his piece that you didn't (but could have) charge him for. Tell him what it WOULD HAVE cost him with the extra work. You will remain in a nice light with the client.

                      Joey
                      • 8. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
                        Level 1
                        But I see it like the plumber. I get an estimate for a job but it's exactly that, an estimate. I know I phrased it wrong with the word "learning" but I already knew what I was doing and wanted to exercise the technique, but the implementation took longer than expected. So the plumber turns to me, says, I estimated that this would take 8 hours but in the end it took 16. But I'm going to eat some costs here and only charge you for ... x hours.

                        The client knows the estimate was just that, an estimate, and also knows it's taking longer than planned and knows that the final cost will be greater than the estimate, but I'm looking for the halfway-in-between of "wow, this bill is lower than what I thought it'd be with all the work I know you did, thank you.." and "I got a few extra bucks for my time.."

                        So how far have others extended final bills that went over the estimate but didn't want to charge the actual? Zero percent? 2 percent? 5 percent?

                        I'm hearing Zero percent so far, and that's fine - I came here for input. I can always apply what I've learned with this job the next time I do a bid for something similar...

                        Thank you,

                        Marc
                        • 9. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
                          Level 1
                          As you gain more experience your estimates should become more accurate. You should never surprise a client with extra charges. If the project is truly running over budget then you have to talk to the client immediately. Put language in letters of agreement or in contracts that clearly state the scope of work and clearly state the maximum number of revisions. Only clear and concise language will protect you.

                          It sounds like you way under estimated the amount of time you would end up spending on the project. If you planned to "donate" X number of hours to the client for the opportunity of learning a new technique, and it ended up taking X +10 hours, then you don't have much of a right to charge extra.

                          If, on the other hand, there were additional requests for revisions, changes, or additional work not covered in your estimate, then, and only then, are you in a position to negotiate for additional budget.

                          My dad was a general contractor. He built huge buildings in Seattle. In every case, he was tied to a budget and a timeline. The only time there was an adjustment in the budget was when the cost of materials went up or there were changes in the specifications. If the crew couldn't complete the job on time, there were penalties. His company was successful because they were constantly under budget and they consistently finished the job before the deadline. I see no reason why designers shouldn't follow the same practice. Work hard to be productive. Bring projects in under budget (that means the final bill is discounted) and finnish them early and you'll work all the time. Start squeezing a few extra dollars out of most every client because it took longer than you expected (estimated) and you'll find it difficult if not impossible to stay in business.
                          • 10. Re: Over-the-Estimate Amount
                            Level 1
                            Sage words from all and I appreciate all of your input. I've decided to stick to the estimate, grin and bear it and promise myself to get it right next time. The consistent theme I'm hearing is that I'll get more work in the future - as opposed to none at all - for my approach to the overage on my part.

                            Thanks.