How Long Does It Take To Edit a Short Film?

Ever since my earliest years of high school, I’ve been shooting a variety of short films, music videos, wedding videos, and more. In more recent years, my focus has been on short films and vlogs, with my first feature film wrapped-up in 2016 — all but one edited by yours truly.

So how long does it take to edit a short film? The time it takes to edit a short film can take several hours, days, or weeks, and in extreme cases even months. Various factors can and do affect the length of time it takes to edit a short film completely, such as film length, amount of footage to check, software and hardware setup, and more.

A short film is basically any movie under 45 minutes in total run time or length, so you can see how editing a 5-minute short film that you and your buddy tossed together in one afternoon just won’t be as difficult to piece-together. For the novice or inexperienced, editing a short film can actually be a daunting task in the beginning, as there are many variables that they have never considered before.

For those of us who have edited films before, we (should) have a higher standard for what is clean, sleek, and passable, therefore we will generally spend a good amount of time tweaking the film footage to get it just right, therefore this can extend the amount of editing time as well.

There is always, of course, what some would refer to as “Murphy’s Law,” where the occasional setback or conundrum arises, which of course slows down the editing process as well. If you are like I am right now — working a regular, full-time job and making short films in your free time — then that can also limit the amount of time you have to edit your movie and thusly make it feel like it’s taking too long.

Now, let’s take a look at all of these things and more in greater detail so we can have a better idea about how long it takes to edit a movie.

How Long Does It Take To Edit a Minute of Film?

The best way to get a better understanding of how long it takes to edit together a movie yourself is to first consider what all you will or might do. Editing a movie isn’t simply about slicing and dragging and dropping digital video clips, adding a few transitions, titles, and music. These are basic aspects for sure, but as there is so much more to consider, no one minute of film editing will always be the same as another minute. I’ve had some minutes which required simple cuts and minimal coloring, while others required days of intricate editing and effects.

Here, I’ve done my best to create a list of the main aspects of editing you might consider and how they can affect your editing time.

What all steps are involved in editing a film?

The main areas of film editing are basically the same for any length of film, from 10-second short to 3-hour major feature. While not all films contain the same elements, they generally share the same basic steps and requirements. Here are some key ones:

  • Importing movie data files
  • Importing audio files
  • Converting file formats
  • Checking all of the video footage and audio clips
  • Syncing video files with audio clips
  • Editing and rendering a rough edit for reference
  • Basic color grading
  • Advanced video editing
  • Tweaking the colors
  • Building and integration of special effects
  • Optimizing the audio (sound mixing)
  • Selecting and mixing the music
  • Creating, obtaining, and adding sound effects
  • Rendering a higher-quality draft to scrutinize
  • Building and adding title and credit sequences
  • Rendering a first final draft version
  • Tweaking audio, video, and effects
  • Rendering a second final draft version
  • Second tweaks
  • Repeat render and tweaks and necessary
  • Test audience


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