Remember when it used to cost $25,000 for a 3-5 page html website for your business? And now it costs about $25? The same thing is happening in video editing.
Even as recently as five years ago, most people without extraordinary resources or time could not be involved in video due to the expensive processing speeds, software and other hardware required to get started. Of course that’s all changed and the barrier to entry is really low.
After editing almost all of the first year of Rocketboom myself, I knew that editing was the first creative job I had to get out of. For me personally, it wasn’t what I was meant to do. I still do do it from time to time but it takes me a really long time and it’s pretty draining. I still use iMovie when I can. [Aside: Blush]
One thing that is important to know about creative artists is that the time they spend “on” or in creative mode, can easily lead to twice the exhaustion of most other work which is typically linear and not “mentally intense”. Editing is a very creative job and requires allot of focus for a long period of time, especially due to the complexity of options and the amount of steps it takes to try an option at every moment.
What I immediately found a few years ago was that most editors who were fast with Final Cut and had a few years of work experience were asking $250/hour but would settle for $150/hour because they were “inbetween gigs”. This is really another world and we’ve never been able to pay those rates. I knew it would take most editors 3 to 4 hours at least, that would be over $1000 a day, sometimes $2000 or more on complicated episodes.
After working with over literally dozens of editors now, having tried to work with dozens more, it’s extremely difficult to find a creative editor. Pretty much anyone can do the edit, but not very many people can be really creative.
Nevertheless, there are so many people now that edit because it’s accessible to have an editing system (i.e. a laptop and final cut pro) that the drop in pay for editors has gone way done. Way down. Editors are still out there charging $250/hr but they are competing with editors who will work for $25/hr [NY/LA]
This is bitter and sweet. Of course it really sucks for the professional editors who have spent their lifetimes editing because their value has gone down. While some pro editors enjoy earnings well beyond any figures I’ve mentioned here, there are only just a few of them in work.
On the other hand it’s sweet because this means that more people have access to the medium to utilize it for all kinds of positive purposes and essentially there are more people working with video in the world.
So being a master at Final Cut Pro is allot like being a master at programming in HTML. That’s really great that you can do it, but not all that outstanding or rare. The editors who are the most creative and always pushing the boundaries may earn the highest value.
With regards to video startups, opportunities for editors to become a part of the company are becoming more and more common where the incentive is based more on stock options than actual project royalties or work-for-hire fees only.
Interesting consequences of a growing and changing new media work force.