Heres a question that will elicit completely subjective answers. But have at it. You have 25 hours worth of raw documentary footage. How many hours to edit into an hour long piece? There may or may not be a rough script.
Adrian Smith: Do you at least have a story arc? Perhaps pointers that suggest a beginning, middle and end? I regularly edit down much larger amounts or raw footage. But I generally know what Im looking for and what I need to tell the story. I can usually turn a rough cut around in a couple of weeks (without going mad doing it). But thats a very rough cut – and presumes all the video is already ingested. transcoded, transcripted, etc.
Paul Hartel: Full time? 40 hour weeks? From how much footage? I havent seen anything. I know what I would say, but with everybody under-bidding these days, I want to get an idea what people think is a reasonable amount of time to complete a polished edit on that amount of material.
Brian Kotowski: One month.
Michael Phillips: Do you have transcriptions? Is it logged already? etc.
Paul Hartel: Nothing logged. Dont know about transcriptions. I would bet not.
Paul Hartel: Yes, lets figure 25 hours just to get a look at the material, etc. Once that, then…?
Michael Phillips: So you have at least 25 hours of just watching and taking notes to start with.
Paul Hartel: Yup.
Adrian Smith: In that case at least a month. l aways work from transcripts and a decent log.
Paul Hartel: Adrian Smith And you mean a month of full time work, right?
Michael Phillips: That sounds about right – also some familiarity with the topic or not may affect overall time, etc. I would say 4-6 weeks after review
Paul Hartel: Fine. Im not crazy. Or slow. 🙂
Adrian Smith: Paul Hartel Indeed yes. A month of full hard labor to get a first cut.
Michael Phillips: And does that include revisions, etc, with producer(s), etc.
Paul Hartel: That would have to be factored in. Everything but the sound mix.
Michael Phillips: Yeah – so 4-6 weeks for locked picture cut.
Paul Hartel: Thanks. I appreciate it. Ive done this all before, but the world, as we know from other posts here, is changing, and I wasnt sure if I was thinking reasonably.
Mike Wech: Being realistic:Organizing Data, creating bins, logging, syncing sound = 3x the amount of footage 50=70 hours to get this set and ready to edit.Editing: Just looking through all the footage and assembling usable footage on a timeline: 25-40 hours…See more
Rex Perkins: to transcribe while watching expect double the time. 50hrs or 5 days at 10hrs/a day plus 15 days editing to get to first cut.
Adam Reynolds: 80-100 hrs of solid editing time from my experience but thats also me cutting my own footage with a solid producer by my side. Most my projects are for PBS so obeying the Red Book of guidelines added on a good 10 hrs:)
Adrian Smith: Ah PBS. All the pain and none of the money.
Paul Hartel: Well, its independent, but thats a potential outlet, and Id like to structure it according to their guidelines ahead of time to be safe. Dont want to have to go back and make changes.
Adam Reynolds: Adrian Smith true that. Im lucky to be freelance on the outside and can bill sustainable day rates and mailbox money on Amazon sales on a couple DVDs so they worked out but it takes an amazing producer to raise the $ from investors…something I want nothing to do with…haha. Ill stick with storytelling.
Adam Reynolds: Paul Hartel lot of logistics that often shape the program. Pbs.org
Program Guidelines & Policies – The Red Book
Paul Hartel: Adam Reynolds Thanks, Adam. I have it. Its a lot of material.
Paul Hartel: Theyd like to pitch this to PBS after its done, so yeah, Im going to have to adhere to the Red Book.
Shane Ross: This is VERY hard to judge…because the footage can be anything. You have to create the story..you dont know what all the pieces are. And POLISHED FINISH? How many rounds of notes will that take? How drastic are the notes? Not sure this is something you can say it will take X amount of time, because they might try to hold you to it. YOu can give a rough estimate. But still…there are so many variables…when all you are given is 25 hours of raw footage. How much is interview? B-Roll? And really…you need to sculpt this.
Paul Hartel: I know, Shane. Thats why Im debating the whole thing. The opening offer is ridiculous, but I dont know what their ceiling is and I dont want to box myself into regret.
Robert Landau: 6 days to review and log footage. 1 to 2 days to write a treatment for structure. 12 weeks to rough cut. 4 weeks to fine cut. 1 week for online and mix concurrently. This is just an average estimate based on my experiences. Good luck Paul. Feel free to call me.
Paul Hartel: Thanks, Bob. Nice to hear from you!
Asher Contreras: I feel like this schedule is the most realistic Ive read. Especially since you may or may not have an outline.
Jaime Meyers Schlenck: I agree with Robert as well.
Laura VanZee Taylor: Yep. Id say 5-6 months start to finish to be safe.
Casey P. Chinn: Im cutting a feature doc right now, and the producer was hoping for a 10 week edit. I told him I was willing to try to edit it in that amount of time, but ran down a number of reasons why I could see it not being doable. Im now 24 weeks in with a 2.5 hour rough cut and still a few scenes I havent even touched. Thankfully the producer has been happy with the work, and okay with extending the edit. Even I thought itd be close to done by now, but the more we watch the rough scenes the more were thinking of a non-linear sequencing. Between that and needing to lose an hour, Im sure Ill be into this for 30 weeks or more.
Paul Hartel: Thanks, Casey.
Mike Wech: Just a brief glimpse says: 8-10 weeks @ 40hrs per week Organizing data, creating project bins, syncing audio, etc.. = 2-3x the amount of footage, so assume 50-70 hours to get the ball rolling properly on be set up properly for your final workflow and output.you dont know how many codecs, frame rates, etc… you may be dealing with. You have to think it all though and know what your final output will be before you start.Now go through all the material thoroughly, mark good footage and assemble a rough outline of what works: 40-60 hours:Write Voice-over, create the first cut, find music, add music, find and add sound fx, temp mixing, etc… 60-80 hoursGet a round or two of notes, create a fine cut 20-30 hours:Final Mix 8-12 hoursColor Correcting 12-16 hoursOutput and transcoding (depending on deliverables, M&E etc..) 4-8 hours… You are looking at 200-300 hours to get this done. And Id always go toward the high side. What problems with the editing system will you encounter, what technical issues will eat extra time? With this type of crap, you have to know what jobs they are assuming you will do. Some idiots shoot crap and think the editing job is the all-encompassing finish of their project. A Post-production budget on this should start in the 15-20k range. You take less than 10k and you will want to kill someone and regret everything. This will be a time suck of epic proportion, so know it going in and compensate yourself for the agony. You also dont know how long it will take to get notes, deal with the client, etc… there are so many time sucking variables in post it will make your head spin. So spin it with money in your pocket.
Paul Hartel: Thank you Mike. Beautiful layout.
Shane Ross: $10-$14K will get you 2-3 weeks of offline. Right…thats a START. Most people dont realize how much post can really cost.
Christian Glawe: 4-6 weeks sounds light to me… Things always happen, problems arise that need solving, etc. Id be thinking 8 weeks in my head, but say 10-12 weeks, just to protect yourself.
Paul Hartel: Chris, thanks. So nice to know Im being reasonable.
Christy Denes: Depends on the end market and complexity of the story. I generally estimate 1 month editing time per 10 mins of finished doc, so 6 months. In my experience cutting for clients like PBS, CNN, Lifetime etc this estimate holds true, even though the schedule doesnt initially budget for that time. One other factor to consider is how many people are giving notes that need to be addressed and how complicated will those be? And finally what is the experience level of the editor? A less experienced editor will take longer.
Roger Matthews: Glad to see the higher numbers as the comments continue.To me the biggest factor is how hands on the producer/director is. Am I getting a paper edit with transcripts or am I just watching raw footage with little guidance or transcripts available?Plus time for troubleshooting. Recently I ended up only getting the end of a shoot thinking that was all the footage, to soon realize a lot was missing, which resulted in going back and forth with the AE and post to get all the missing media.Doing shorter content I could say potentially 2-3 weeks for a 10-15min piece before going to color/sound depending on how much raw footage there is
Nancy Hower: Did you shoot it? Because otherwise…at least 25 hours.
Paul Hartel: Haha. No.
Cirina Catania: You are right, it is a very subjective question. What is the format of the show? Is it talking heads cut to b-roll, is it a hard-hitting action film with lots of effects and titling, is it a clip show (similar to Nat Geo Wild) where you are creating story based on clips/written narration, is it well shot, how is the sound, what is the pacing, what is the show clock, how many people will be involved in approving the cut, script would help, is it logged/keyworded as in did they have the forethought to use LUMBERJACK or at lease BACKLOGGER in Lumberjack System, how fast is the editor, does the editor have an assistant to prep the show….etc, etc…these are all questions that I have to ask when budgeting time/money for editing a show…so…to answer your question..incredibly subjective, but, if you are throwing a budget together, give yourself lots of wiggle room and leave at least 3-4 weeks. Remember you will have to look at all that footage (probably more than once) before you can really get started…Wtih that in mind, the time allotted will allow you to adjust down if you need to or up if the show is more complicated. (This estimate allows for prep, cut, finish, recut, approvals, etc..) Frankly, if they have used Lumberjack during production, you can probably budget half that time.
Steve Hullfish: Read the art of the cut interview I did with Steve Audette. With a completely locked script its five weeks. With no script I agree with something closer to 24 weeks. Im trying to do 90 minutes using only a very rough script and I think the offline alone will be eight weeks – with an assistant editor and interns – and I am not sure that will be enough. Well see in six weeks.
Paul Hartel: Thanks Steve. Appreciate the input. I enjoy the interviews.
Andrew Hassenruck: Well Im sitting here with over 30 hours rushes, no log, script or director, and there is still another 10 days of shooting the left. The producer just came in and said Well at least you have a generous 8 week edit. plus one week finishing. Not sure if we will pull this one off.
Mike Wech: tell Him to kiss your Hassenruck, pull out his pocketbook, lower his expectations and stay the hell out of the edit suite.
Steve Hullfish: You will not make it. Tell aomeone now. Seriously. I have done many of these. You will not succeed
Bob Sarles: Too many variables to say. Four weeks to six months depending on the project, expectations and the client.
Bob Sarles: I am about to cut an 80 minute doc with a reasonable 6 month schedule.
Peter Gamba: Here at the factory, 7 weeks to a rough cut with so-so stringouts.
Mike J Nichols: How many hours will it take for you to help me move out of my apartment?
Casey P. Chinn: Thats at least a six month gig.
Mike J Nichols: Right? Cause where do I live, where are we moving to, how much stuff blah blah blah… theres not enough info to make a good evaluation so its a comparison but still true…
Michael Phillips: How long is a piece of rope?
Steven L. Austin: Ive been working on a doc with 150 talking heads and tons of B roll that needed to be ripped from DVDs supplied by the copyright holders, perhaps another 10 hours worth. I took the gig because it is for a prominent cable studio. Ive been on this show since January. I was given a free hand to shape the piece, then we went to many revisions with studio notes. And the final TRT will only be 2 hours! So lots of stuff that I spent time editing will be left on the virtual cutting room floor. I think it will end up being very entertaining, but it was way overshot. It beats *not* working, though. 😉
Neil Goodman: someone is going to chime in and tell you they can do it in FCPX in a day
Paul Hartel: Okay. Thanks everyone. About time to move on?