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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old February 25th, 2008, 04:20 PM   #1
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Seeking advise from people already in the profession.

Hello Guys,

I am sure this question has been asked before but I believe my question is a little different. I am thinking about getting into the business of shooting weddings in the near future. I graduated few years back and am working full-time in my own field and financially i am doing well, so me getting into the business is not because of money, just in case if some are wondering. Lately, however, I have been fiddling around with the camera I just bought Canon HG10 and bought vegas pro 8.0 after hearing great things and am really getting into it and even though i have no experience in shooting videos or editing much but I know it is something I really love to do and am finding it very interesting. I created a sample video recently when I shot my nephew's b-day party and did some very minor editing but I know that with some practice and training i will be able to create great effects and videos. I was also looking into taking some courses that will teach me how to shoot videos properly and in handling the camera and lighting and other things. I did find a college that offers it but I am wondering if its worth spending money on these courses as they are not cheap. My experience is very limited in video editing but I know it is something I will be able to pick up very quickly.

What do you guys suggest will be good for me to start with? I dont want to quit my day job over this but try it as a part-time hobby and maybe, just maybe in near future I can think about making it a full-time career. I have been using the Vegas program for 1.5 months now and I am getting really into it and I am thinking about buying After Effects as well and learn that to give it some nice finishing touches. I dont expect to become a professional in this field overnight but its something that I think I would love to get into and make it a profession. I guess my main question is if its wise to take the courses or find a videographer who would be willing to help me out if I work for him for free on weekends and help him setup and he/she can teach me the tricks in shooting videos professionally?

Thank you.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 05:41 PM   #2
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I think the second option would be much better for you. There are no courses (IMO) that can teach you what you need to know to do weddings and events. Sure you can learn lighting and exposure but most courses are directed towards film(s).
Personally I look at weddings and events like i was shooting a fast breaking news event, things happen fast, you only get one chance to capture it and the magic happens in the edit suite.
If I were you I would find the most sucessful wedding videographer in your area and be up front about what you want to do. Ask that person if you could shadow for an event or 2 not to shoot or do anything but watch and decide if it's even something you want to do. It looks fun and glamorous at first but after doing about 40 a year it may not be so much fun. If you think it's still something you want to pursue then perhaps you could work out a deal with that person to be a go-fer and second shooter. You also want to learn how to edit-when you edit your footage it helps you become a better shooter.
good luck and have fun,
Don
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Old February 26th, 2008, 11:59 AM   #3
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Thank you Don for your input, really appreciate it :).

I also believe that following in someone's shadow first would be better than taking courses and I wil speak to a few videographers to see if I can shadow with them for few events. I will ask my videographer who I have already hired for my wedding in May and he is a very nice person but lets see what he will say when I ask him for help. There is so much to learn but to be honest I find it so amazing and interesting and I am not going into this job thinking its glamourous or anything like that at all. My reasoning for going into this is becasue I honestly enjoy it very much, more than my current job at the moment and I am very eager to get started but I know it will take me at least 2 years before I can really get into this profession as an amature. For me right now the learning curve seems long becasue I am trying to learn the editing software, just wish if I had more free time to dedicate towards editing but my day job and the upcoming wedding is not providing with extra timeframe. Hopefully the learning curve will be quick for me as I know once i learn the software at least at a level where I feel confortable using it and know how to create certain effects I can then start to learn on using video cameras.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 06:44 AM   #4
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The most crucial factor to your success as a videographer I believe is THE INTEREST. I had always dreamt of becoming a filmmaker one day though it had never been pursued. Moreover I have a decent paid job from my occupation in IT.
But it all changed on the eve of my wedding. It occurred to me that I may never watch my wedding video judging from my apathy to the quality of work that obtains in my neighbourhood. Although I couldnt do a thing to make a change then (for my wedding), I recognised the void waiting to be filled.
Through the internet (a veritable asset), I started researching on how things were being done elsewhere (came across the works of the "Masters of Event Videography" (mostly members of this forum) and started dissecting and digesting. I took a loan to purchase a Canon GL2, and started learning the ropes of videography with my new-born baby as a model. Shot loads of footage and learnt every step along the way.
I summoned courage and covered a friend's wedding last October even when I had never laid hands on a NLE. There the challenges, torture and tempests all came tumbling in through the door.
1. The learning curve for my choice (premiere pro) was so steep initially (damn!) but my background aided me to grope in the dark.
2. I discovered that my camcorder is NTSC while television broadcast in my country is PAL.
3. Time was elusive as I had a day job. I dont get home earlier than 9pm, so I have to edit till the early hours of the morning, a quickie nap, then off to day job.
4. All this discomfort was actually for nothing as I was offering a free service to a friend.
5. I became a recluse as all my free time goes to my computer and camcorder. Did my wife nag?

I'm still in the battle. But I look back and I see the ground I've covered, how far I'd come. Aint no going back as it is.

When you look at the works of these guys here, it's awesome. But I'm sure everybody has a story. I've read about some of them.

My advice is that you go headlong into it, so long as you believe it.
All resources especially quality time invested will make the difference.
All the best.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 05:15 PM   #5
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Dotun, That is some great advise and right now I am in the same position as you were back in October and it is a great coincidence that you realized right near your wedding that you can also create something like that but much better. I always loved photography and videography but never paid attention to it as I didn't take it very seriously until few months back when I did realize that this is something I find very Interesting and something I love. The only difference is that it took me near my mid 20s to realize that and I already feel that I am so behind and the learning curve seems so long but everyday when I use the editing software of my choice (Vegas 8.0) I get so into it and the time just goes by and I dont feel as if I am wasting my time. I have come to realize that this is what I should have been doing from the beginning. I guess its right when they say that you should always do something you love instead of something where you are not really happy but just do it to make ends meet. My current job is not bad but its not something I look forward to in morning and I have been trying to figure out what is it that I really want to do. I knew that what I am doing in my current job is not something I see myself doing forever and I was looking for something that I look forward to when going to work or working on a particular project.

I only wish if I had started maybe 5-8 years ago but I guess its never too late. At the moment I am trying to learn vegas and following the gazillion tutorials from youtube and at the sametime I am learning After Effects. All this at the moment seems very overwhelming but I am willing to put time into it and learn it and hopefully within a year or so, most likely 2 years, I will be able to shoot some weddings or events.

So Dotun, how are you doing so far with your friends wedding video? Is it completed? I would love to see your work.

Karim.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 06:57 PM   #6
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"I only wish if I had started maybe 5-8 years ago but I guess its never too late"

The only time it is too late is when you are dead. Anytime is the right time to start doing what you want and love to do.

I've been doing video for 25 years and for 12 years before that I was a still photographer. If I had to do it all over again, I'd would probably do it the same way.

As I say to my wife "I wish I had been born rich instead of handsome" (sic)
She also tells me she wishes the same. Hmmmm. Anyway to stay on point, if you feel the video business is where you want to be, NOW is ALWAYS the best time.

Don
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Old March 1st, 2008, 03:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
"As I say to my wife "I wish I had been born rich instead of handsome" (sic)
She also tells me she wishes the same. Hmmmm. Anyway to stay on point, if you feel the video business is where you want to be, NOW is ALWAYS the best time.
Now you got me curious... what will MY wife say when I say that :)

I'll have to find out now :).

Dave
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Old March 1st, 2008, 01:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
"I only wish if I had started maybe 5-8 years ago but I guess its never too late"

The only time it is too late is when you are dead. Anytime is the right time to start doing what you want and love to do.

I've been doing video for 25 years and for 12 years before that I was a still photographer. If I had to do it all over again, I'd would probably do it the same way.

As I say to my wife "I wish I had been born rich instead of handsome" (sic)
She also tells me she wishes the same. Hmmmm. Anyway to stay on point, if you feel the video business is where you want to be, NOW is ALWAYS the best time.

Don
Mine says "Well one or the other would have been nice. Both would have been even nicer."
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Old March 1st, 2008, 02:03 PM   #9
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Hi Karim.

As I have come from a path similar to you; I thought I'd share a little of my story since your post reminds me of myself.

I don't know if this will help you but this ended up working for me.

- be educated in the fundamentals. I started off with the desire to learn more about film & tv, and started off shopping around at film schools. I ended up @ Ryerson Toronto evening program for 3-4 nights a week for two years while working F/T in the IT industry. Obviously film school does not prepare you for weddings or even making movies but the goal is to grasp the solid fundamentals so that you can maximize growth with even minimal
experience.

When you do start shooting weddings of your own and showcase it to potential clients/employers. You will have the basics covered, in many ways you will be on par with the average peer in the industry. This may sound trivial but you would be surprised.

Film school & the film community also opened my eyes to how difficult it is to make a solid living in the film/video industry. It is completely different compared to cookie-cutter industries like IT where you graduate and have recruiters looking to plant your butt in an office cubicle.

- learn practically; Shoot for yourself (if possible also others) and watch EVERYTHING (good and bad) you can, with the goal to always learn something from it.

It would be nice for all of us to have zero experience in the field and have the best local vendor hire you for free so that you can learn; but I'm sure that vendor has many applicants with considerable experience also wishing to help them for free; also to learn.

- invest into whatever gear you can comfortably afford but don't go overboard. i started off buying the most affordable hd cam, a tripod, and a computer. I could have bought more when I started but didn't want to jump the gun in case I'd completely never find work. In retrospect limiting myself with the tools (being cheap) taught me how to squeeze the most out of the most basic tools.

I could go on forever but I need to cut this short. I would suggest if you want to grow as fast and far as you can, keep all your bases covered and learn both through educational and practical means.

Best of luck!!!

Michael
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Old March 1st, 2008, 02:54 PM   #10
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Michael and Donn make very good points. I think it is very important to find a few videographers around the world that you personally really like and study their work. Its going to be hard not to copy certain techniques but eventually your own style will emerge. I think it is equally important to find several photographers work that you really enjoy and study their work as well. Never stay satisfied with your own work....keep evolving.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 08:48 PM   #11
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Karim,
Several have already given you great advice. Here's my 2 cents.

1- Check out different wedding videography forums in addition to this one. Find videographers' work that you really like and desire to do. Don't copy them, but learn, study, and heck pick up the phone and talk to them! They won't give away all their "secrets" but can steer you and give you some insight to how they do things.

2- Find at least 1 videographer in your area and see if you can intern with them. Be upfront and honest in your desires. Echoing this... don't immediately work for them as a shooter, shadow them. Then start shooting and follow their critiques.

3- Buy a good camera. Sorry, the HG10 is not what you'll want to use when shooting a wedding unless its a "hidden altar cam" or something like that.

4- ALWAYS remember you are only as good as your tools and knowing how to properly use those tools. I started out with "cheap" equipment and regretted it because I ended up buy proper quality equipment and wish I started out "right". Whatever you buy, READ THE MANUALS and LEARN that equipment/software, etc.....

5- When you are ready to go on your own, find friends, family or aquaintances that are getting married or know someone getting married and do a few freebies to get a nice wedding demo reel. Make it nice too... you mentioned "great effects"... great effects can equal cheese (not sure what you are talking about but I'm assuming the star wipes and crap like that.) Shoot and edit well... capture the emotion... tell the story... Clients will love it, and that can make a solid demo piece. THEN, when you get that, create your brand and market it. DO NOT give away the farm when you are starting out. Yes, people need to start somewhere, but if you learn and execute well, your demos will speak for themselves and you won't have to charge pennies for full day's work.

6- Listen to others on forums... take everything with a grain of salt, find the common demoninators and execute to your style.

7- Don't ever be afraid to ask for feedback from either your peers, clients, family and friends! The last 2 will always say "its great" but others will view it differently. Take the good and bad comments and evolve from them. It will never be personal, but some people take it that way and get feelings hurt....

Anyways, that's my 2 cents... good luck with your new endeavor.

OH, one more thing... BUY things that will either make you money or create a drastic change in your product or service. Don't buy the latest and greatest toys. Too many people fall into this trap.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 09:01 AM   #12
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Thank you so much for you advise :)

Wow guys, thank you for the great advise, tips and suggestions. I very much appreicate it very much. I was at first very nervous because the information seemed so overwhelming because of the learning curve but I have learned a few great things so far and as many have suggested to find a videographer near my area and shadow them. I will contact my own videographer who I have hired for my wedding and see what he says. I have contacted few others but am waiting for their response.

One thing I know I dont want to do is copy someone else's style or techniques. I want to create my own style of shooting videos and use my own techniques because I want my work to be somewhat distinct and I already have an idea as to how I will shoot my videos and one thing I have noticed is that the videographers work I have seen so far while I was hunting one for myself and they do not tell any story in their video whatsoever. It's just plain shooting video editing minor effects to a few clips and slowing some motion on one or two clips and thats it. There is no story telling whatsoever and that is what I want to eventually do.

I know I have a lot to learn and at first it seemed so overwhelming and to be honest a little intimidating, but that is not the case anymore. I have gained a lot of help from this forum and few others forum by reading what others who have been in the profession for a long time and hopefully that will help me make the correct choices if I want to progress in this business. I know I will also need to buy a proper camera as well but I will do that after my marriage as I cant afford to buy one right now. I will most likely buy a proper camera in August 2008 and will ask for your suggestions for it. For now I am hoping someone can be kind enough to allow me to shadow them for an event or so and my main objective right now is to learn vegas and After Effects right now so I am comfortable with editing and using special effects.

Thank you guys.

Last edited by Karim Amanali; March 2nd, 2008 at 09:38 AM.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 09:17 AM   #13
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Karim - I must mention something that has been hinted at above, but not really brought out. The single most important factor is starting a successful business is... MARKETING. Not equipment, not technique, not editing, not style, nor even experience, nor personality.

You need to be aware of, and know how to handle:

- customers (how to find them, what they want, your relationship with them)
- service (as in: what you will be offering - and what you won't - and how it comes across to customers)
- pricing (yours, your competitors, alternative services from the customers' point of view)
- promotion (how, where, when, the cost, the effectiveness)
- how all these things are changing into the future.

All else is frankly re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Sorry to be harsh, but I strongly believe it is the single most important aspect, and always the single most over-looked aspect of starting up a business that has any chance of surviving.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 09:20 AM   #14
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The single most important factor is starting a successful business is... MARKETING. Not equipment, not technique, not editing, not style, nor even experience, nor personality.
But you have to have a product and service to back up all your marketing. Take a look at "A Solid Gold Sound"... heck of a marketer, but just crummy.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 09:32 AM   #15
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But you have to have a product and service to back up all your marketing. Take a look at "A Solid Gold Sound"... heck of a marketer, but just crummy.
Very true - and that's even more galling - people who get the marketing right, but actually supply a cr*p product/service. Paradoxically, it actually supports my assertion that marketing is more important that anything else - you can sell rubbish if you're good at marketing.
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