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Being a VFX freelancer includes being able to judge the amount of work a task might take. Usually, that’s a thing artists loathe. After all, who knows how much nitpicking by the supervisor(s) and/or director there will be before a shot is approved as “final”?

There is, however, a simple way to train your judgment and get some experience for free: look at a shot you’ve finished a few weeks ago and pretend you’ve just been asked for the number of days you’d think you need to finish it. Then, compare this to the hours you’ve clocked in your studio’s attendance sheet or timekeeping system.

Pick appropriate shots.

Don’t pick the one you know turned into a nightmare because halfway through a simple rig removal the director didn’t like the dress of the actress anymore and requested a CG cloth simulation. Don’t pick the shot that was used to develop a CG character’s shading because that probably took way more time for reasons that had nothing to do with the shot itself.

Just judge your workload.

If you only did compositing, don’t make up numbers for matchmoving, lighting, shading and matte paintings. Except if you also did some of these tasks.

Don’t cheat.

This exercise assumes that you have no clue how many hours you’ve really worked on a shot. If you have only worked on shots one at a time and are completely aware of how many days it took you to finish each, it’s for the birds.

Add 50%.

I’m not kidding, just add 50% to whatever number you came up with.

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