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We present a framework for the systematic analysis of video encoding complexity, measured in terms of the number of motion estimation (ME) computations, that we illustrate on motion compensated wavelet video coding schemes. We demonstrate the graceful complexity scalability of these schemes through the modification of the spatiotemporal decomposition structure and the ME parameters, and the use of spatiotemporal prediction. We generate a wide range of rate-distortion-complexity (R-D-C) operating points for different sequences, by modifying these options. Using our analytical framework we derive closed form expressions for the number of ME computations for these different coding modes and show that they accurately capture the computational complexity independent of the underlying content characteristics. Our framework for complexity analysis can be combined with rate-distortion modeling to determine the encoding structure and parameters for optimal R-D-C tradeoffs.