How Long Does It Take to Edit a Video?

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Howl long does it take to edit a video?
Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

As a video creator, it’s a question you’ll face sooner rather than later: How long does it take to edit a video? 

You might be a newcomer to the world of video production, just planning your first project. Or perhaps you’re an established YouTuber thinking about outsourcing your video editing

In any case, it’s crucial to know how much time it takes to morph hours of raw footage into a captivating, polished end product. 

Here’s the run-down on how fast you can have it done.

Editing Time vs. Turnaround Time

First off, we’re going to be talking about professional video editing. 

If you’re new to video editing and are learning from scratch, that’s a different matter entirely. (In case you’re wondering: you might be able to master the basics of most programs in a few days. To get to a pro editing level, though, you have to factor in at least six months of continuous editing work.)  

For professional video editing, you have to distinguish between two different time frames: editing time and turnaround time. 

First, editing time refers to the time that the editor spends on the job itself. How long do they actually sit in front of their screens? This includes everything from skimming through the raw footage to rendering the final product. 

Second, turnaround time includes a lot of other factors, like the availability of editors and transfer times for files. If you’re outsourcing your video editing, this is the time between sending the source material and getting back a first draft of the finished video. 

Also: Neither editing time nor turnaround time will include any revisions you may request on the basis of a first draft.

How Long Does It Take to Edit a Video?

In general, editing time depends on the quality and length of your source material, and the complexity of the edits you want. 

As a rule of thumb, expect 30 minutes to an hour of editing time for each minute of finished video.

If you want to produce a vlog-style YouTube video, and send a concise amount of high-quality footage to your editor, you can expect a final result fairly quickly. Especially if you also include a clear storyline, and request only basic jump cuts. 

In contrast, if the editor needs to sift through 10 hours of raw footage, it’s going to take much longer. Particularly if they also have to attempt to fix low audio and video quality, and add sophisticated special effects, transitions, voiceovers, and music.  

That said, higher-quality footage doesn’t always result in faster edits. If you use a high-end camera, your files will be larger and take much longer to transfer and render. The same is true for color profiles that might look stunning in the end, but require additional color grading steps. 

Finally, editing time also depends on the experience and skill of the editor. This is something to keep in mind when brushing up on your editing skills – or looking for someone to outsource your video editing to. 

What Does Turnaround Time for Video Editing Depend On?

When it comes to turnaround time, it depends on what kind of video editor you’re working with, and what your working agreements and conditions are. 

Most professional video editing companies have guaranteed turnaround times at the end of which they’ll deliver a first draft. These usually range from two to seven business days for short videos. 

In addition, some companies also offer express options at 24h or 48h, though these usually come with extra charges. 

Once you receive the first video draft, you can usually request a limited number of edits. Generally, these take another 24-48h to implement. 

If you hire someone on a subscription basis, turnaround time may depend on the subscription tier you opt for. 

Apart from that, turnaround times also depend on factors such as the time of day and day of the week you send your raw material. Plus, if you give your editor a heads-up, they can block out time for your project. 

The Bottom Line

All in all, how long it takes to edit a video depends on the quality and quantity of your source material, and the type of editing work you want done. Generally, you can expect an average of 30-60 minutes of editing work for each finished minute of video content. 

Turnaround times vary depending on the editor or video editing company you work with, though you can usually expect it taking a minimum of two business days until you get a first draft. 

Ready to give professional video editing a shot?