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How To Determine Professional Video Editing Costs


Due to deadline pressure, it is not uncommon to work through a video production without accurately tracking video editing costs.

It is a good idea to track the real hours during video editing so that you can re-analyze the actual video editing time it took to complete the project. That way when it is time to estimate a future project, you will have a better handle on how much time the project might take and what it might cost.

So, how much does it cost to edit a video?  One way many professional video editors work is by estimating how many days a project may take to edit—for example, three to four editing days for every day of shooting. This ballpark estimate is good, but doesn’t take into consideration if the source video recorded on the shoot day was one hour or four hours. Tracking the amount of source video obtained may be a more important factor in estimating your cost than the finished video time. For example, based on a source to editing ratio of 10:1, two hours of source footage would require twenty hours of editing. Factors that may affect the shooting to editing ratio are: how many cameras you use when shooting, how many takes you have, and if B-roll cut-aways will be part of the finshed piece.

Video editing ratios for a 2 to 5 minute marketing video production range from 5:1 to 25:1. A video with long takes will edit quicker than one with many insert edits or cut-aways. Likewise, dramatized videos with many different angles and takes will require more editing time. A music video production with lots of rapid edits and intricate montage sequences might be more in the range of a 25:1 to 35:1 source to edit ratio.

A typical workflow may include the following video editing services:

  • Importing video and other source material, logging and identifying selects
  • Rough cut
  • Input and revisions
  • Color enhancement and sound mix
  • Final review and delivery of compressed video.

Another way to determine professional editing costs is to factor how many cuts per minute your finished video will have and multiply that figure by the finished video length. For example: a 5 minute video with 10 cuts per finished minute would yield 50 cuts. If your average implementation time is 6 minutes per cut, that would come to 300 minutes (5 hours). Consider that an average of 10 cuts per fished minute will take less time to edit than 20 cuts per minute. Factors to consider which may affect the cuts per minute calculation are: audio complexity, quantity and type of transitions, will there be motion graphics services required, how much color correction and finessing will be needed, are there complex montage sequences, how many rounds of revions are planned?-etc…

You can even use both systems together to refine your estimate. Consider the source footage calculation as more exploration & planning time and the cuts per finished more as implementation time. The following is an estimate of what a reasonable editing budget would come to using the combination of the source to editing time ratio calculation, and the cuts per finished minute factor. Depending upon the region you are located in and the level of experience of the video editor, professional video editing rates range between $75 to $150/hr.

This example is based on 2 hours of source recording edited down to a 3 minute marketing video with an average of 10 cuts per finished minute. Using a source video to editing time ratio of 15:1, that comes to 30 hours for the first element of the equation. Next, add in the cuts per minute factor. Let’s say your video has already been imported and had some preliminary editing done and that it takes an additional 8 minutes to implement each of the 30 final cuts you are planning for the video. This would yield 240 minutes (4 hours) for the second part of the equation. The total time for both parts of the equation comes to 34 hours. At an average rate of say $100 to $125 /hr, you could anticipate the editing cost to be between $3,400 to $4,250.

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