What does a Freelance Video Editor do?

“I need to find a freelance editor, but I’m not sure what I can ask them to do”.

The role of a video editor may seem self-explanatory, but depending on the level of input and technical ability you require, they can do a lot more than just basic video editing for you.  Welcome to Yellow Cat’s second breakdown of a tricky-to-define job role, helping you to book a freelance editor that’s a perfect fit for your project.

What is a freelance video editor?

The basic role of a video editor is to assemble raw recorded material into a compelling finished product. They combine footage with audio, graphics and effects to portray a clear narrative or message, and are responsible for making key creative decisions during post-production. For short form editing, they can work on anything from an advert to a piece of branded content for social media.

What’s in an editor’s job description?

What does an editor do to create a finished piece of content? Based on the requirements of your project, you can ask an editor to handle any of the following:

  • Creation, co-creation or following of a pre-provided storyboard, shot list or script
  • Initial assembly of files by determining which footage is usable and placing shots in approximate order for the finished cut
  • Reordering and fine tuning of content for the logical sequencing and smooth running of the piece
  • Creation of a basic ‘rough cut’ by trimming footage, and determining of the exact edits needed for final stages
  • Addition and editing of graphics, animations, special effects, music, sound effects and sound bites
  • Adjustment of picture and sound quality
  • Assistance with aligning final version of the piece to its appropriate distribution platform

What is an editor’s skill set?

Sometimes a freelance editor will be heavily involved with the creative process, while other jobs will simply require that they follow a set treatment to deliver the brief. Whatever the case, video editors must have experience with editing softwares such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Avid or Adobe Premiere Pro. They may also be qualified in additional softwares, such as AFX for adding graphics or DaVinci Resolve for colour grading. Overall, an editor’s talent lies within storytelling ability and meticulous attention to detail.

Client FAQs

  • Will an editor provide their own software and laptop to work on? 

Many editors are happy to work on their own kit, and some even prefer it if they have a good set up and fast machine. The majority will charge extra for this as a ‘kit hire fee’, to cover their costs for software licenses and general upkeep of their machine. Some editors won’t work on their own kit, or if it isn’t portable they may need to work remotely. 

  • How many hours will an editor work per day? 

Editors work ten hours per day as a rule, but some will choose to quote their rate based on an eight hour day. Be sure to check when someone is quoting their rate to you, and specify the times you expect them to start and finish each day.

  • What do editors normally charge per day?

This varies based on skill set and experience level. Here at Yellow Cat an industry standard editor will usually charge £250-350 per day for editing. If you require a freelancer who also has experience with graphics or colour grading, their rate may be slightly higher.

  • Do editors charge overtime? 

Yes, the industry standard is time and a half after the agreed hours, so make sure you keep track and check what their overtime rate is in advance.  Always check the above and specify what you need before booking someone.

  • How much input will the editor have on the style and message of the video content? 

This depends on who you hire and what you ask of them. In your initial brief or when talking to your recruiter, be clear on what kind of editor you need and if you want someone who can have a creative input.

  • Can the editor work with our client directly when editing? 

Yes, some editors are great at working alongside clients and taking on their direction. Again, make sure to mention in advance if the edit will have a client attending, as this may affect the type of editor you choose to hire.

  • Can I ask an editor to do additional tasks, like adding motion graphics or colour grading the edit? 

Of course, but as these tasks are additional to the basic editing process, you must mention in the initial brief that they are required. Editors who can do this may charge extra, so bear this in mind when getting a quote.

  • What if I need changes to a project after their work is finished? 

It depends on what needs changing, and how long it takes. If the changes will take time out of an editors day, or require them to travel into your office, they may wish to charge for their time. After an edit it’s always a good idea to retain all assets needed for future changes, so if the original editor is unavailable you can have someone else work on the project.

Why should you hire a freelance editor?

You may not need a permanent editor on your team, but when a piece of video content is required they quickly become indispensable. A freelance editor will be flexible to your brief, and their technical abilities will directly determine whether a video accomplishes its goals. While they might work alongside a production team or use a script, the overall tone of a piece is in the editor’s hands.

Tripod Brixton,
Lambeth Town Hall,
1 Brixton Hill, London,

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am – 7pm
Phone: 020 7580 7333