Evaluating competitive proposals can be a challenging process, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the potential complexities of media production, or are unfamiliar with the vendors. We have prepared these simple guidelines to help you make a more informed decision.
1. Ask if the proposal allows for revisions, and how extensive revisions can be before additional charges apply. Some companies make unrealistically low bids to win the project, and then charge inflated fees each time the client makes even a minor change. The final cost can turn out to be much higher than even the highest of the original competing bids. Changes always happen, so be sure you have some room to accommodate tweaks.
2. Ask what you own when the project is finished. Paying a vendor to create a custom project for your company doesn’t necessarily mean that you own what they create. Some vendors consider the material they create for you to be their property even though you paid them to create it. When you need to revise or update your project, they may actually charge you for access to the material you already paid for, or they may require that you hire them to make the changes.
3. Beware of the “offline” edit. An offline edit is a type of rough edit that was common in the old days of linear, tape-based editing as a way to minimize time required in the more expensive "online" edit suite. However, computers have made the offline edit and online edit suites completely unnecessary. Any company that claims an offline edit is necessary is probably either inexperienced or is trying to exploit your ignorance and pad your bill. It is possible that the vendor has redefined the term “offline edit” to mean something unique to their operation, but if the term shows up in your bid you should definitely consider it a flag worth investigating further.
4. Ask what type of additional charges could apply. Bids should be comprehensive, but sometimes they lack specific details. Some vendors charge separately for every piece of equipment used on a video shoot or edit session, or every graphics application used during programming. This is a fairly common practice, and isn’t necessarily an underhanded way to increase your bill. Some vendors use this billing technique as a way to track the revenue generated by each piece of equipment and software they invest in. Find out if additional charges like this are possible. If the vendor suggests some improvement over the original plan, ask if it will add to the cost.
5. Ask about the people who will actually be creating your project. What kind of experience and training do they have? How long have they been in the business? Will they understand the goals and objectives of your project or are they just technicians and button-clickers? An attractive bid doesn’t mean much if the quality or effectiveness of the work is questionable.
There are many reputable vendors who don’t play games with their billing practices. However, if the vendor is new to you, make sure you feel confident about their answers to these key questions.
At Texas Pictures, you will find no surprises on your final invoice, even when a project undergoes significant revisions during production. Revisions are so common within this industry that we consider them a standard part of the production process. If a project does require a level of change that necessitates additional charges, we will let you know well in advance, and can often propose alternatives that will not cost extra.
When you work with Texas Pictures, everything we create for you is your property. We hold no material hostage. Our clients return to us because they choose to, not because they have to.