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Mark Dannunzio
Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 2:01:37 pm

Hello,

I am a videographer/editor for a technology company that serves our local school districts. I am attempting to put together a chart that explains editing estimates. Do you agree with the 1 hr per finished minute charge? How was that figured?
Any other suggestions as to how to estimate the length of time it will take to edit a video project?

greatly appreciated,

Mark

Mark Dannunzio


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david bogie
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 2:44:51 pm

This is a topic every producer faces with the same open-mouth stare.
How can an estimate be given for something that has no specifications?
How long doe sit take erect a building? Well, how big is the building? What's it made o? How big a crew do we have? what's the weather like at the construction site?
Your estimate is ridiculous, it's not even a good place to start. Your chart begins with a series of questions that determines the content, structure, and competency of the entire crew (producer/writer/shooter/audio/editor) and then moves on to an editing estimate.

bogiesan



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Arnie Schlissel
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 2:54:28 pm

By your rule of thumb it would take about 3 weeks to edit a 2 hour feature film. That would be a really neat trick.

Likewise it would take half an hour to edit a :30 second spot. Also pretty neat.

In one of his books, Walter Murch talks about his habit of tallying up the number of cuts in the final edit of each film he completes and dividing it by the time he works on it. He tends to average one cut per day.

That doesn't mean that he sits down on day one, agonizes over the first cut for several hours and goes home. What that really means is that after the first assembly is made a few weeks after shooting wraps, he spends a year and a half or more shaping and reshaping the film.

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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Don Walker
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 4:53:46 pm

I spent 60 hrs on a 60sec spot once. Layer on top of Layer on top of Layer, and that was before After Effects and non-linear editing.
Don Walker

John 3:16


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Shane Ross
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 5:07:11 pm

I have spent 2 weeks on a 24 min show. I have spent 1 week on a 24 min show. I have spent 3 weeks on a 24 min show.

I can cut an hour (44) min show in 3 weeks...oh, and 5 weeks...oh, and 8 weeks.

Like Bogie says...it all depends on they many many underlying factors behind the project.

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Dan Monro
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:37:47 pm

Several hours of that were because I forgot to reset the switcher for a pre-read edit.

Dan Monro
FCP, Avid, AfterFX, Atlanta
MacBook Pro 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2 GB ram
Mac OS X 10.5.7
GeForce 8600M GT Final Cut Pro 6.0.5 Quicktime 7.6
- OR -
2 x 3.2 Quad Xeon; 16 GB ram
Mac OS X 10.5.8
NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 Final Cut Pro 7 Quicktime 7.6.4



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Dan Monro
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:38:31 pm

That was on Don's 60 hours spot...

Dan Monro
FCP, Avid, AfterFX, Atlanta
MacBook Pro 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2 GB ram
Mac OS X 10.5.7
GeForce 8600M GT Final Cut Pro 6.0.5 Quicktime 7.6
- OR -
2 x 3.2 Quad Xeon; 16 GB ram
Mac OS X 10.5.8
NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 Final Cut Pro 7 Quicktime 7.6.4



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Mark Suszko
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 5:09:17 pm

Likewise, when estimating costs, some folks throw around numbers like $1k per finished minute. We used to bandy that figure around as a rule of thumb in the 80's but you have to understand that figure was based on very narrow conditions, and today there is too much variability in means and methods to just plunk a specific figure down like that, and have it relate to reality by anything more than coincidence. What was once a half-million-dollar analog edit suite full of complicated and cranky gear requiring experienced engineering support is blown away today by the likes of Sony Vegas or even just iMovie on a laptop.

Why are a Lamborghini Guillardo and a Trabant not the same price? Both cars will get you across town in about the same time, if you obey traffic laws. Why is a tar paper hunting shack and a 20-room mansion not the same price? They both keep the rain off your head.

The difference is in the details, in the craftsmanship, materials, construction methods, and amount of skill and creativity applied.

An estimate that works for editing comes from defining as many terms and specs as possible, knowing about how much time certain tasks will take, and applying a fudge factor or "windage" for the unexpected, or for some bit of experimentation time to get things really right. Not to mention changes and alternate versions dictated by the clients. You can't compare editing to assembly-line work, except in a very loose sense, say, in news.

In news, time is the tyrant, there is a deadline to make, and thus all editing decisions defer to whatever gets the best product in the time allowed. If the editor was also the shooter and already knows what all the footage is like, and he or she has the script already written, and the footage and audio has already been loaded into their system, then they can predict that they can pull off a 90-second VSOT package with two quotes, an establishing shot, some b-roll, two ID keys and the reporter's voice-over in say, 15 minutes if they are literally on fire and about to go to air, but more like 30 minutes to an hour if there is time to finesses the cuts and make the most out of the shots.

But lets be clear; they make it in only 15 minutes because that's all they have, not because that's the best way to make a good product. If you were tot ry and apply that dynamic to non-news work, you would A: do crappy work, and B: burn out very quickly.


Videos are hand-crafted, they are wrought things, custom-made. If they are any good, that is.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 7:05:25 pm

I agree with all the above. Quality of the footage is a huge variable that can't be accounted for on a chart, and IMO is the single largest factor in the amount of time it takes to post something.
Perhaps making a chart of things that contribute to a more efficient post experience might be more worthwhile instead of try to quantify it.

Here's few off the top of my head, that influence length of post

Amount of editing experience
Editors familiarities with the system
Quality of the footage
How much of it need repaired/CC
Are all the takes there/will I have to repair continuity problems
Complexity of the basic visuals
Complexity/amount of FX
Quality of audio
Number of audio channels
Complexity of the audio
Quality of logging
Amount of Pre-viz/pre production, if any
Amount of font compose
Motion Grfx
Editing codec
Ingest/capture time of footage
Output format



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cowcowcowcowcow
Christopher Kinsman
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:05:05 pm

Hey Mark,

Tell your client about the production triangle -

a) Good Quality

b) Fast turnaround

c) Cheap price

- then tell them they can pick any two.

If it's good and fast, it's not cheap.

If it's fast and cheap, it's not good.

Get the picture?

Your best bet is to give them your day rate and a rough estimate of time you think it should take. Then keep an email trail of all changes they ask for and ALWAYS TELL THEM IN WRITING "I'm happy to do this, but it will cost extra" - and then get them to sign off on the extra expense. This will save you if you ever have to go to court.

A pay schedule that works to your advantage is highly recommended. Can't tell you how many people never make the final payment once they have the product in their hands. A 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 payment schedule is best and make sure your time, materials and rentals are all covered in payments 1 & 2. Try and trade the final product for a final check.

Best of luck!

Kind Regards,

Chris

PS I know it's tough in this economy as everyone wants to know to the penny. Don't let clients grind you - cause if they get away with it with you - they're going to try it on the rest of us.



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Scott Sheriff
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:43:02 pm



Tell your client about the production triangle -

a) Good Quality

b) Fast turnaround

c) Cheap price

- then tell them they can pick any two.

If it's good and fast, it's not cheap.

If it's fast and cheap, it's not good.


Ah, yes the triangle. Glad you brought that up. I have used it many times, and it works.
Your 1/3, 1/3, & 1/3 is more good advice.


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Christopher Kinsman
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 12, 2009 at 12:03:45 am

Sounds like we've walked the same path with our clients. Best wishes for you in 2010!

Kind Regards,

Chris



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david bogie
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 12, 2009 at 5:40:35 pm

[Christopher Kinsman] "Tell your client about the production triangle -

a) Good Quality
b) Fast turnaround
c) Cheap price
- then tell them they can pick any two.
If it's good and fast, it's not cheap.
If it's fast and cheap, it's not good.
Get the picture?
"


I'm working with a new version of that old paradigm: Pick one.

bogiesan




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David Roth Weiss
Re: Editing Estimate
on Dec 12, 2009 at 6:16:45 pm

[Christopher Kinsman] "Tell your client about the production triangle -
a) Good Quality
b) Fast turnaround
c) Cheap price

- then tell them they can pick any two. "


This just goes to show how low the standards of the industry have dropped, because the original paradigm used the terms: "faster, cheaper, better." There's a huge difference between the two sets of adjectives.

For example: a "cheap video" and a "cheaper video" are two completely different things. A 35-million dollar project, that has $1000 lopped off the budget, is cheaper, while a $500 video is simply cheap video. Notice a slight difference?

A movie with music by Mark Isham is "better" than one with music by your cousin's seventeen year old kid, while a project with synthesized midi tracks might be considered "good," at least by someone.

And, a year-long project delivered a week early is "faster," but it's not the same as "fast turnaround," which tends to sound like you're flipping repossessed homes rather than creating a television or video production.

So Christopher, be careful of what you offer your clients... Among "good, fast turnaround, and cheap," none is actually a good thing to offer a client, and asking them to pick two is even worse. Certainly, never offer all three...




David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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