[Tig] Colorist Salary

David Lindberg david.hj.lindberg at gmail.com
Tue May 7 17:46:44 BST 2013

Thank you so much Jim and Jack for your detailed answers! You gave me some factors to think about which I didn't include in my counting before. 

Thanks again!

On 7 maj 2013, at 16:00, Jim Houston <jim.houston at mindspring.com> wrote:

> I agree with Jack's thinking as a general rule.
> But I will add a few more thoughts…
> All personal services that you provide for a job exist in the
> context of who else is around who can provide similar work --
> compare to how much would it cost to have someone "better'
> fly in and stay for a week (if that is what it takes).
> Second, it is useful to find out who is considered "the best"
> in a local market and what they charge either as salary or staff.
> Next, put yourself in the shoes of the production company as much
> as you can, and think, that they are willing to try an untested talent
> because they can't afford the "going rate" for freelancers or
> the cost of flying someone in.  See if you can find out what
> post houses charge per hour for the type of service you are
> performing.  If a prod company is hiring you directly, they can't
> afford that rate either. To figure out how much you might charge for just labor,
> take a facilities hourly rate and cut it to one-quarter to eliminate
> overhead, equipment, and their profit margin.  Looked at another
> way,  if a company can make 4-5X your salary as enhanced revenue
> because of your efforts, they will consider themselves profitable.
> Consider that as someone starting out that you may only make
> a third of someone who has been doing it a long time,  then
> ignore that fact and go for the average 'market rate' (!) minus maybe
> an attractive 15% discount.  Don't worry about numbers you 
> hear for superstars who have their own client base, that is something
> for your future. They get those rates because they bring in not 
> just a service but the actual revenue opportunity.
> All of that said,  you mention a price of what you are doing as
> around $80/hr -- $3200/wk.  That actually seems reasonable
> to me given your current experience.  But is important that
> you get a certain minimum daily or weekly hours.  As a freelancer,
> you do not want to be in a state of perpetual 'call' for a couple
> hours here and there.
> I think it is also very important to take a longer view as well..
> if you plan to continue living and working in a certain geographic
> area, it is important that the few places that do the things you like
> to do think of you as good, easy to work with, and affordable
> and are willing to call you in as much as possible.  
> It is always better to get the company to describe what they are willing
> to pay for a job before you mention a number… of course
> you may or may not want to believe what they tell you..
> cause some companies lie to save money :-)
> Lastly, some solid numbers for the L.A. market, and completely
> useless as well…. I've had cases of freelance colorists hired anywhere
> from $35 per hour to $200 per hour, and there is no average number
> that works in all cases.  These covered situations from directly
> billed to an outside client to working room rates of $1000 per hour.
> Hope this all helps and best of luck.
> -----------------
> Jim Houston
> Pasadena, CA
> jim.houston at mindspring.com
> On May 7, 2013, at 4:42 AM, Jack James <jack at surrealroad.com> wrote:
>> Sohonet www.sohonet.co.uk sponsors the TIG.
>> Support from Digital Vision www.digitalvision.tv
>> Support from MediaCloud www.MediaCloud.cc
>> =====
>> I've been freelance (but not a colorist) for a long time. My advice is not
>> to look at what others are charging.
>> How much do you need to do the job? What are your overheads? How much work
>> are you likely to get (in other words, do you need to charge more for the
>> times when you won't be working)? How reliable is this company? How likely
>> are you to get paid on time? How likely are they to change the goalposts in
>> the middle of the job? Do you need to use your own equipment (and thus make
>> sure you have enough to cover any repairs etc). What other work will you be
>> turning down for the duration of the job?
>> Ask yourself those questions. Come up with a price. You'll definitatly get
>> it wrong the first time. That's ok, that comes with experience. Never try
>> to charge based on what others are charging, you have no idea of their
>> circumstances. I've personally charged a lot less than some other people on
>> some projects and been told I did a much better job. I've been told that I
>> charge too much in other cases, and as a result turned the job down flat.
>> I've worked for nothing/little on other jobs because I felt that they were
>> worth doing. I've been paid far too much money to do other jobs that, to be
>> perfectly frank, required me to do very little, but got me out of a
>> financial jam.
>> I don't think I'd ever go back to full-time employment though.
>> Jack
>> On Tue, May 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM, David Lindberg <david.hj.lindberg at gmail.com
>>> wrote:
>>> Sohonet www.sohonet.co.uk sponsors the TIG.
>>> Support from Digital Vision www.digitalvision.tv
>>> Support from MediaCloud www.MediaCloud.cc
>>> =====
>>> Hey,
>>> I don't know if this is something you find appropriate to discuss in here
>>> but since it's Tuesday I feel it's worth a shot at least. Feel free to
>>> ignore if you think this is wrong of me to ask.
>>> I just went to a meeting with a big production company here in Sweden that
>>> were interesting in hiring me as a freelancing colorist in most of their
>>> coming productions. But when they asked me what I charge per hour I said I
>>> didn't want to mention a solid price this early but instead that could be
>>> something we should discuss when the info about the projects were more
>>> accurate.
>>> I'm only 20 and not very experienced at all, although I've graded a lot of
>>> music videos, some commercials and spent 3 years learning color theories,
>>> several grading apps (mostly DaVinci) etc. With that said I mean I'm not a
>>> beginner but still not a multi-years-experienced master in color grading.
>>> With THAT said, I mean I absolutely don't think I'm as good as probably any
>>> of you but I still think I'm good at this and it's truly my main passion
>>> which I want to do for living.
>>> But what I'm wondering is if any of you can tell me a somewhat average
>>> price for freelancing colorists. I know it varies depending on the project,
>>> the company you work for, the experience level, the quality of your work as
>>> well as the quality of how you handle clients (I've spent 6 months as a
>>> Smoke operator so I'm not completely new to having troublesome and
>>> pain-in-the-ass clients either). But is there some examples or prices you
>>> can tell me? I have never discussed with another freelancing colorist about
>>> what the salary should be so I've actually no clue. On the stuff I've done
>>> this far I think I've worked way too cheap though my price has been like 80
>>> dollar/h.
>>> One thing to consider is that I won't be offer a grading suite with
>>> expensive monitors and that kind of stuff which would be included in the
>>> price, since they wanted me to be working in their own grading suite.
>>> Another thing worth mentioning is they mostly work with TV commercials.
>>> Don't know if it helps but if you want to get a hint of my knowledge you
>>> can watch a basic breakdown I made on my latest commercial work:
>>> https://vimeo.com/64989025. I know it doesn't say much but it still shows
>>> that I know what looks are and can create one, and not just that I think
>>> grading is changing the contrast. (Although that can be the case sometimes
>>> as well of course.)
>>> Hope you didn't think any of this sounded cocky or anything, I just wanted
>>> to give you an as clear picture as possible about my situation and
>>> knowledge.
>>> Thank you very much,
>>> David
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> http://reels.colorist.org
>>> http://tig.colorist.org/wiki3
>> -- 
>> Jack James <http://about.me/jackjames>, Surreal Road
>> Limited<http://www.surrealroad.com>
>> Download Synaesthesia <http://synaesthesia.surrealroad.com/download>
>> <http://synaesthesia.surrealroad.com/beta>www.surrealroad.com
>> _______________________________________________
>> http://reels.colorist.org
>> http://tig.colorist.org/wiki3

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