Editors Note: I'm resending this email since some of the links were completely wrong!
I'm breaking this Newsletter's format. Again.
Why? Yesterday I was on-site doing pre-production on a new training series for the Tao of Color and I ran out of time to curate the newsletter.
Instead - I'm going to launch into a topic that's near and dear to my heart. It's a topic I'm thinking about as a result of a special deal being offered to the Tao of Color community (a deal I'm just passing along while getting zero compensation).
The topic? How to be more valuable to your clients.
As I type this, I'm specifically visualizing freelancers... including small one- and two- person shops (who tend to be freelancers with fixed overhead costs).
The key to being successful is providing value.
If you're not providing value you're simply an expense. Expenses need to be controlled. Expenses need to be minimized.
You definitely don't want to be an expense.
Being valuable means you're an asset. Sure, you still cost your client money but you offset that expense by eliminating other expenses. In other words - we can become valuable by saving our clients money.
The problem is: How do we convince our clients we provide value? What can we do to save them money?
Here's an idea: Show up with something more than a smile.
Show up with something of value...
The 'Value-able' Freelancer
For example: Learn every keyboard shortcut. Anyone who tells you they're as fast on a mouse as they are on the keyboard is too lazy to have learned how to use their keyboard shortcuts. Every editor that I mentored who took this single piece of advice to heart is thrilled when clients keep calling them back because they're the fastest editor their client has ever worked with.
Not sloppy-fast. Efficient-fast.
Keyboard savvy artists get more done in less time... saving their clients money.
How about something more tangible?
Back in my days as a freelance editor I used to carry 'The Producer's Toolbox'. It's a (2) CD collection of audio tracks sorted under such titles as 'Swooshes & Wooshes', 'Hits & Stings', 'Beds & Drones'.
I knew that collection inside-out. If a client expressed a desire for a sound effect but didn't have a library accessible to them... in minutes I'd have the CD loaded, an effect located and edited into the piece.
Guess what? Producers asked for me. Not only was I fast (keyboard shortcuts) I was the guy who showed up with assets.
Actual. Physical. Assets.
My value as an editor was increased because of those assets.
'The Producer's Toolbox' was valuable for two reasons.
1. It's extensive - but not beyond my ability to learn and navigate it. That was key. I needed to be as fast finding the sound effect as I am today on a colorist control surface doing my initial primary grade.
2. It's royalty free. I could carry in my bag and use it on any job at any time... which is a HUGE asset.
Flash-forward to today. As a full-time colorist, audio assets aren't quite so valuable to me anymore. So what are some assets that I can use to provide value to my color grading clients?
For freelance colorists, here's an obvious example: Show up with a control surface. A control surface you know. The one you're super-fast on.
Unless your client already has a $15,000+ control surface, they'll love the fact you've got enough pride in your reputation and enough respect for their time to bring your own tools.
I do this with the few clients for whom I freelance. Sure, they've got their own surface - but it's not the brand I usually use and I'm waaay faster on my surface (JL Cooper Eclipse).
And the point of the control surface is: speed. By being faster I meet deadlines while also being more meticulous with each image. Clients never feel like I've only done 'half the job'. Often, they feel like we've explored every option without feeling rushed.
That's being valuable.
Admittedly, walking around with your own surface isn't for everyone. And even if this something you're already doing - here's an idea for another asset you can carry around with you.
Assets for colorists (and editors)
How about the visual equivalent of 'The Producers Toolbox'?
Instead of 'Swooshes & Whooshes' there's 'Dirt & Scratches'.
Instead of 'Hits & Stings' there's 'Flash Frames'.
To recap: Just like 'The Producers Toolbox', 'Cinegrain' is a collection of assets.
You're buying a collection of ProRes clips grouped into folders with names such as: 8/16/35mm Grain, Dirt & Scratches, Flash Frames, Optical Filters, Looks and more.
These clips are authentic film scans recorded at 2K & 1080p.
And the beauty of these assets? They live on a small hard drive that can literally fit in your pocket.
A Plug-in In Your Pocket
As a freelancer, these clips do exactly the same thing as plug-ins. But they have one advantage most plug-ins don't... It doesn't matter what NLE you're working or what color grading package your client owns if their software can play back ProRes - these clips can be used. Anywhere, anytime.
But if you read my original Cinegrain review - the licensing terms made the package very difficult to justify the purchase price.
Cinegrain licensing is based on the budget of my client's job - which they rarely tell me. And if I buy the full no-budget-limit version, the footage is locked to a single CPU... again, killing its usefulness for the roaming freelancer.
As much as I love the assets Cinegrain is selling, it didn't have much value to the professional freelancer.
Apparently, a bunch of you agreed with my analysis and contacted Cinegrain about the potential for 'freelance friendly' licensing.
The folks at Cinegrain heard you. For a limited-time they're offering two different collections that remove their budget restrictions.
This Cinegrain collection can be used on any project, at any budget, on any computer.
The only restriction: You can't go around copying the contents of the Cinegrain drive to your client's hard drives. This is a restriction I can fully support. After all, you've made the investment and part of the purpose of this purchase is to set you apart from other freelancers. Once you give up the contents of the hard drive you've given up part of your added value.
Cinegrain: The Tao of Color 150 Clip Collection
When discussing this Freelance Collection with Cinegrain, I suggested they offer a sub-$500 package which focuses more on Effects that the full range of film grains.
My thinking? Most freelancers would use this package for 'Looks' rather than emulating specific film stocks. I've never had a client ask me to emulate 16mm Reversal grain. But imitate a Silent Movie look? You bet.
This is exactly what Cinegrain did. They put together 125 clips with an emphasis on visual effects, including their 'Optical Filter' set (previously only available on their more extensive clip collections).
They've also included 25 clips from their 4K Collection. These are 4K film grain clips from 25 different 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film stocks (including the 16mm Reversal grain).
And the cost? They cut the price to $350 (from $600).
Cinegrain: Tao of Color 425 Clip Collection
Cinegrain took this one step further...
They're also offering their entire Professional collection - the previously CPU-locked collection - under the terms of the Freelance Edition.
And they cut the price in half!
How cool is THAT?
They're offering their full $3000 collection under the Freelance licensing terms for $1,499.
Value for you and your clients
The Cinegrain Tao of Color collection removes the only barriers for me to whole-heartedly recommend it. Which I now do.
This collection is valuable to you, because you can use them both in our your boutique color grading setups as well as for your freelance clients. This clip collection is extensive but not overwhelming.
The clips are well-grouped, you can navigate them quickly. And you can master the contents of the hard drive.
This collection is valuable to your clients because these are truly assets. A client may only have one or two times a year they need something like this - and rather than buy it they can just hire you, knowing if they need it you'll have it.
A Limited-Time Value
The thing is, this is not an open-ended offer. Tao of Color readers have been pestering Cinegrain for more liberal licensing terms. Cinegrain has responded. But it's a limited-time deal.
Every Tao of Color Collection hard drive will ship with the full 1080p version of my original review and tutorial.
This is the unwatermarked, full resolution export from my screencast. I show you how to use this footage in FCP 10 and in DaVinci Resolve (including DaVinci Resolve Lite). Other NLE and color grading users should be able to easily extrapolate how to use this footage from those two tutorials.
That's not all
Since I don't want to turn this week's Newsletter into some mega-sales pitch, I've pulled a collection of links from previous editions focusing on Freelancers. From books to setting your rates, there's a little something in here for everyone.
Grade a short. Learn a Craft. Early Bird Special Ends On Tuesday
DaVinci Resolve, DaVinci Resolve Lite : Mac & Windows!
Also available: Colorista II | Apple Color | FCP 7
Freelancing Links from previous Newsletters
Final Cut Freelancer Hip Hop Song - Have you waken at 1am and blown the Cheetos dust off your keyboard? Then this Freelancer song is for you. (FCPUG.be via @Snowlinefilms)
Competition: Pros & Cons - "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery." This post is aimed at folks looking for Venture capital. But these concepts apply to any business (or freelancer). (AVC.com via @the99percent)
Hourly Rate Calculator: How much should you charge? This online Rate Calculator will help you organize the data you need to know to determine an hourly rate that will support your lifestyle. (FreelanceSwitch.com)
How Much Should I Charge For My Freelance Services? We've covered this before in the newsletter but it's always a good topic to revisit. (LifeHacker.com)
You've Gotten Your First Freelance Editing Client: Now What? - This article refers to editing words, not moving images. But it doesn't require much imagination to take this advice and apply it to our profession. (TomMangan.net via @mozhenko)
The Freelance Surge Is the Industrial Revolution of Our Time - Would it be more accurate to say the Freelance Surge is getting back to the pre-Industrial Revolution? (theAtlantic.com)
Th- Th- That's ALL Folks! See you next week. Happy Grading!
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Curated + Edited by: Patrick Inhofer, photon-wrangler & founder, TaoOfColor.com