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Edit Times

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Mike Bond
Edit Times
on Mar 30, 2008 at 6:29:12 pm

I hope I'm in the right forum to post this question... my apologies if not.

Is there a general rule of thumb for editing times? I produce video shoots of live music performances and we usually run 3 cameras. With that in mind, I'm curious what a fair amount of time to edit down a 5 minute song is.

Thanks so much!!!!

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Del Holford
Re: Edit Times
on Mar 31, 2008 at 12:47:34 pm

My rule of thumb for editing is 1 minute of video for every page of script. Oops, that won't work for you. If you are just editing the song from 3 isolated cameras it would probably take 2 - 4 hours, provided you had matching time codes on each tape and an editing system with the ability to line up all cameras on the timeline. Then you cut out what you don't want, leaving you the cut you do want. Any other mode than this will take a lot longer. Adding effects costs about 15 min. per effect.

Other opinions may vary. HTH

fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television
del underscore edits at wtvi dot org

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Mark Suszko
Re: Edit Times
on Mar 31, 2008 at 2:58:45 pm

There is no one size fits all rule for this question, so much of it depends on how much effort you want to put into the project, how much you have to work with, the particular features and problems in your footage, how much you want to experiment with alternative cuts, enhancements, etc.

The cynical answer is perhaps that it takes exactly as much time as you have before the deadline. I.E. a lot of folks just keep working at it until they run out of time, the saying goes: "a project is never truly finished, merely abandoned at some point". In news cutting, you definitely have a short deadline most times, and you just throw things together as best you can in the time alloted and that's all you can do.

The fastest I have ever cut on a linear system was exactly 2 times real time, that is, it took 2 hours to edit one hour, but that was extremely simplistic A/B cuts-only editing that was only shortening something that was already shot in story order and just needed the excess heads and tails cut off each shot. I have occasionally cut something faster than realtime on my old Discreet Edit* by scrubbing thru the timeline at faster than normal speed, and very quickly slashing thru some dead spots between stuff I needed. I don't recommend it, but it can be done, if you are pretty familiar with the material as it goes in and you have a good concept of what needs doing ahead of the job.

This would be for example in making instant highlight reels immediately after a live event. I'd be digitizing the footage as it was happening live, then run into the editing room and shorten the thing up right on the timeline with great big straight cuts here and there based on time of day time code and notes I took while live-switching the original feed. If you pace the live shot selections right, you can create a rythm in the shots, so you know for example that every major section of the speech is bracketed by wide shots, like paragraphs in punctuation, so you can scrub thru and mark those in and out in seconds, without even listening to them, just counting the wide cutaways as they fly by in scrub mode.

Many times the editing takes as long as the schedule will permit. Sometimes longer. I think Apaocalypse Now may hold the record for slowest edit; Walter Murch says that on a good day, they made one edit per day. That is, go one at a time thru matching shots for one scene from all the multiple cameras covering that scene, decide on the best performances and best angles, pick a shot, splice it in, review it in the context of what came before and comes after, then approve it, or not, and undo it and try something else. One single cut a day. Oy.

For something that's relatively linear, like a concert performance, I would synch up all the cameras and play it thru in real time, marking in the cuts on the fly as if using a regular switcher. For a one hour show, the synchronization and first quasi-live pass marking the cuts on the beat might take me two hours, plus an hour of digitizing ingest time for each camera used (this figure will be different if you don't use tape). So for three cameras on a one hour shoot, that's five, maybe six hours to the first rough cut, assuming normal breaks for food and etc.

But that's really just a first step. To make the thing better, I would then go back thru the master and play with dropping in extra cut-aways and b-roll, and sliding around some L-cuts as well as playing with dissolves, superimpositions, PIP, and any other special effects. That could take one or two days.

The I would go thru the whole finish cut again just to tweak the audio, and once more to make sure all the colors and picture levels were good.

So roughly 3 days to a week would be a comfortable schedule for doing this, but if you tell me it has to be ready in a day, I'll make it ready in a day. It just won't look the same as it would if I took a week. And if it has to be ready in 4 hours, I can do that, but again, it won't look the same, nor as good.

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grinner hester
Re: Edit Times
on Mar 31, 2008 at 8:50:21 pm

I'd set aside 3 days for a project like this.
In nashville, we use to cut misic videos in a day but everything was storyboarded out and usually just one camera was used. Your multicamming will take up some time...authoring, ect.
It certainly ranges but I'd quote this at $4,500.

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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Edit Times
on Apr 1, 2008 at 12:03:32 am

I'm with Grinner. Not knowing more about this, I'd say it could take between 1 day to a week, depending on how much color correction and compositing work needs to be done. Three days is a fair compromise.

As Mark said, it all really depends on how much you want (or need) to do with it. Using multi-cam edit, you could have the first rough cut done within 15 minutes. When I'm working on something that needs to be very *creative*, I really like the luxury of sleeping one night between what I think is the final cut and the *real* deadline. Sometimes it's REALLY worth it to see the cut after you've taken your mind off of it for one night.
That's not always possible, but when it is, I'd take advantage of it.

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Adam Rose Esq.
Re: Edit Times
on Apr 2, 2008 at 10:50:58 am

I remember reading, a couple of years ago at least, of that edit done during a flight, of an onboard Sheryl Crow performance. Was before solid state media, so was very fast when one includes ingestion. 45 mins in total IIRC, to have the edit ready on landing for display to the press.

was done using vegas, so is prob in their forum/s.

oh, was a multicam shoot, of course.

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Mike Bond
Re: Edit Times
on Apr 2, 2008 at 12:53:50 pm

Thanks for the input. I just wanted to make sure I have fair expectations and that helps me alot.


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mark raudonis
Re: Edit Times
on Apr 3, 2008 at 8:43:47 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Walter Murch says that on a good day, they made one edit per day. "

That's not exactly what he said. As I remember, he said that if you took the number of cuts in the movie, divided it by the number of days in post, it came out to around one cut a day in the FINAL film. The "cut a day" figure doesn't account for are all of the "dead ends" that they went down, scenes that never made it to the final print. If you've ever seen "Redux" you know that there were plenty of scenes that were cut, but didn't make it to the final movie.

The misnomer is that he sat around pondering just a single edit all day. That's not how it works. It's more like try this, try that, try this again. It's all about changing your mind.

So, to answer the original question: I always say, I can cut as fast as you can change your mind. Also, keep in mind the approvals process. If YOU are the final say, then great, you're done. If you need to submit to executives for approval... that can take days. Make sure that you're on the clock while waiting for them to decide.


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grinner hester
Re: Edit Times
on Apr 4, 2008 at 5:17:22 pm

I remember being a a newbie at TNN in '96.
Diamond P Sports was in the house to cut another NHRA Today show. It was my first NHRA edit and I was eager to impress. The usually booked a suite for a whole week and 4- 4.5 days was the norm.
I went out of my way to kick ass. I had that show cut to time in a day and by mid day on day two, we were polished and done. I hugged and high fived the client and strutted proudly to my supervisors office to boast the new NHRA Today time record.
Dude flipped. "no you are NOT done! You get in there and dance if you have to but Diamond P is booked for the entire week!"
at the same place, I was almost fired for not bagging Dick Clark Productions on a deadline to make a scheduling point.

Somtimes doing a good job is not the objective at all, man. Again, it revolves around who is callin the shots.

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Kevin Dearing
Re: Edit Times
on May 2, 2008 at 7:40:53 pm

"...The cynical answer is perhaps that it takes exactly as much time as you have before the deadline. I.E. a lot of folks just keep working at it until they run out of time, the saying goes: "a project is never truly finished, merely abandoned at some point". In news cutting, you definitely have a short deadline most times, and you just throw things together as best you can in the time alloted and that's all you can do. ..."

Oh how true how true!

I just shot a school play for my friend who is a teacher at the school. The sound guy there, well... not good. Fortunately I had a clue that this was the case from one of the rehearsals I attended and made some other arrangements

Long story short, my 3 cam edit took:

- Roughly 4 hours to capture (most of which was un-attended)(hour and a half run time)

- Roughly 4 hours to cut which includes synching the camera's and since I'm using Adobe Premiere these days, I just went through the whole thing switching it in real time. Then I went back and tightened up my edits, put a dissolve in here or there for a couple of the songs where it sort of fit and that's about it video wise..

- Putting the DVD menu together took a few hours because I was using Encore for the first time (I also was playing around in After Effects for the first time too) and I kind of over did it a bit (it's nice - not cheesy over done, but for what the project was I spent way too much time on it if you know what I mean.)

- Then came the audio. If I didn't have a deadline I'd still be working on it today! My plan was as follows:
- Take a line straight from the board which I did (too bad the audio guy moved my line to one of his aux outs which didn't have all of the mic's assigned to it)
- I had a shotgun mic and
- I put three of my own wireless mic's on the main characters and ran them into a field mixer and pumped them into my third camera.

Well, since the Audio guy was so... eh.. how do I say this nicely? Horrible at his job (in his defense he's just a techie type guy for the school district - not a "real" audio guy), anyway I wound up with the feedback in all of my sources (about every two minutes or so). Then the open mic's that kept rumbling and rustling around - constantly - hardly any breaks where you couldn't hear a mic rustling against clothes extremely loud or some kid whispering to another kid back stage) were being pumped through the speakers loud enough that again, they were an issue on most of my sources most of the time.

Alright, you probably got the idea and it was so recent that I'm starting to get frustrated again just typing about it so I'm going to stop posting about it right now. My point was that I'd still be trying to clean up the audio now (two weeks after I shipped the DVD to the duplication house) if I could.

But back on topic, like the others have said, it all depends. Real helpful huh? In my case, there really wasn't much creative decision involved - just switching and cleaning up. Your stuff is different - it'll take more time than my school play (video) did. (Here's hoping that your audio guy has half a clue!)

Once you've done a few, you kind of get into your own rhythm and at that point you'll be able to give more realistic quotes until then, if you can, allow yourself a lot more time than you think anyone could possibly need - just in case my audio guy happens to be your audio guy! :) And the more creative license you'll have with the piece, the more time you should expect to spend on it (at least that's how I tend to work!)


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