October 8th, 2013
A while ago I was asked to write an article for the magazine Sunshine Coast Brides offering some advice and tips on selecting a wedding videographer. Hopefully it provided some good advice for prospective couples, so i thought i’d put a copy on our blog too.
Wedding Cinematography by Sam Robinson
I love wedding videos, in fact I would even go as far as calling them wedding films, movies or the very grandiose, cinematography. However for the moment I’ll stick with videos.
Very few times in life are we presented with a day where 2 families and groups of friends, put on their best clothes and behaviour (at least until the reception), to celebrate the chance meeting of a couple who cannot spend their lives apart. Camera…action: drama, tears, comedy, a ticking countdown. Is it any wonder Hollywood films feature so many weddings?
“People used to think that wedding videos are reels of long cheesy, footage when, actually marriages are fantastically dramatic occasions with the opportunity to film some stunning imagery”, explains the Wild Bunch Weddings cameraman.
With a tense build up, the fraught logistics of getting to the ceremony on time, and the inevitable drama of losing the mother of the bride at least once during the day, weddings can produce fantastic footage.
This alone is a great reason to book a professional Wedding Video service, to capture the events with a steady hand, a keen eye for detail and, some great audio equipment to hear the softly spoken vows and raucous cheers for the speeches, and also, enough wedding experience to be able to tell the story.
Wedding video technology has turned a corner in the last few years. When I started out as an intern at the BBC back in 2000, one of the cameramen told me he had re-mortgaged his house to buy his $70,000 camera.
These days it’s still an expensive process to set yourself up with all the kit, but nowhere near as much.
Also we’ve seen the advent of the Digital SLR camera (single lens reflex or DSLR’s)*, these are professional photographic stills cameras that can shoot video. A discussion about this technology will start most cameramen foaming at the mouth with excitement.
I can empty a room in less than 2 minutes with my techno geekery talk, however suffice it to say these have revolutionised wedding video production. Interchangeable lenses allows us to capture dramatic wide shots, portrait shots with blurred backgrounds and amazingly, the ability to shoot in low light , essential for capturing the speeches and ‘Dirty Dancing’ moments, without lots of bright artificial lighting.
They do have their shortcomings as they are primarily designed for taking still pictures, which is why at the time of writing this article I think a professional video camera is still a ‘must have’ bit of kit for shooting any wedding. Essentially a Wedding is shot ‘on the fly’ as a documentary, but with a film-like end product and SLR’s have still not quite bridged that gap alone.
It’s not simply the equipment used to capture the footage thay has changed, but also the means of editing and distributing it: Blu-ray; DVD, wirelessy, hard drives and the internet now allows us upload HD quality footage to You Tube, Vimeo and other video websites.
This means you no longer have to duplicate hundreds of discs, you can simply email a link around to all you friends and family even if they’re in Outer Mongolia.
So what does all this information mean for someone who is thinking about having there wedding filmed?
Well, first of all it means a lot more talented people have access to creating video, this is why You Tube is now the second biggest search engine in the world, and also why’ we’ve seen ‘art-house’ and low budget films going mainstream. But it also makes it all the more important to ask a few questions before contracting the services of a Wedding Production team. Have a good look at a few clips of their work, not just the one ‘best-bits’ clip. Check they have wireless microphones, fluid head tripods or steady cams.
Pick a style. There are a few styles out there now. I find the combination of candid, mixed with a few directed shots works well. When I say ‘directed’ it shouldn’t look too staged in the end film, it’s just a cameraman might move you into a place where the light works really well and then ask you to kiss, or jump or walk out of shot.
Let them know about the venue: is it a small church; a windy beach; a rainy field or a dark room. Most professional cameramen should have the equipment to deal with a variety of conditions but they may not carry it with them all the time, the more information you can give them about your day, the better.
Details. Weddings are big events and sometimes the intricate details of a flower arrangement, some beautiful décor, or special necklace can go unnoticed. Many of these small details will be picked up by a good wedding video company, but let them know if there is anything that holds particular importance to you.
A highlights clip, beautifully put together to a great song can be very emotional. Having a mix of a voice and music can work really well in telling your story too. In some wedding mini films or highlights, we hear the vows and a speech over footage of the bride and groom getting ready or during their photo-shoot.
Some wedding video companies offer the option to film you prior to the wedding to hear your ‘love story’. Part of the footage or audio from this can be used in the final edit. Alternatively you can ‘trash your dress’ after the wedding and get really creative.
Guest comments can be fun. Ask the person filming to grab a few brief comments from guests. Some words of advice? Where do they see the couple in 10 years time? Thoughts on the day? Which team will the future kids support?
A highlights clip or ‘mini-film’ is a fantastic compliment to your full-length wedding edit. Let me be honest, I don’t enjoy sitting through my friends full length wedding films, however I have quite happily watched a 5 to 15 minute long highlights clip several times. They’re amazing. I even watch other peoples wedding highlight clips that I’ve never met. As I said, I really do love wedding videos.
Don’t leave Wedding Video until last. Book early. Good Wedding video companies are popular and have availability snapped up fast.
Photography and a Video? Wedding photography takes a split second in time, which has it’s own beauty and story. Video compliments that story and then adds audio, shows the incredible changing emotions as a bride walks down the isle towards her husband to be, shows the tears being wiped away and hears the quiet hush of family and friends as the vows are spoken.
It’s an amazing day and deserves to be re-lived. Enjoy!
*This was written in late 2011, since then we have moved from DSLR’s as our main cameras to some really quite special cameras made by Canon called the C300′s and C100′s. Basically What the DSLR’s lacked for video needs have been added to these beautiful video cameras.