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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old March 16th, 2009, 11:23 AM   #31
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I don't think there is any right or wrong way to shoot a wedding video. There are obviously lots of opinions and styles to choose from.

There are also no two weddings or couples exactly alike either.

I believe the age of the videographer dictates what the videographer offers or percieves should be offered, just as the age of the couple dictates their expectations of the videos coverage. Older couples and videographers tend to be more interested in the attendees than themselves, and the opposite is true for younger couples.

I bet the younger (35 & less) and unmarried videographers shoot much different video than the older married guys. Not better or worse, they just have a different life perspective.

I think Don Blooms advice is solid, no-nonsense advice that should be listened too. His advice will provide a video that the B&G will watch 10 or 20 years later (if DVDs last that long) and enjoy more than the the first time they saw it. And remember, a bunch of dizzying glide cam shots and cuts every two seconds thrills the kids, but makes the old folks seasick.
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Old March 16th, 2009, 02:32 PM   #32
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Jeff you are certainly correct that no one video or no one videographer is "correct". I felt (at first) that I was getting looked down upon for having the mentality like that of Joe's where you don't have to have the whole ceremony in the final edit, but a more condensed and powerful version.

Age may have something to do with it, but I wouldn't say that it's set in stone. I am 30 with a wife and two kids. Joe (I'm assuming from the video) is in his 30's and married with a kid(s). I think it's more in how you grew up, what you did during those years that influenced you, and what your overall artistic side is. Joe and I are in fact similar in the area of being involved in action sports growing up. I have been a skateboarder for 19 years and I still skate. Maybe it has something to do with it?

Even before seeing some of Joe's filming technics I've already thought about using my skateboard with some larger soft wheels (meant for cruising-quiet and rolls over just about anything) and getting some really smooth dolly style shots. Even at 30, I have better balance and board control than I did at 18. It's unreal. haha
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Old March 18th, 2009, 03:36 AM   #33
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My longest wedding film to date is around the 15 minute mark. If there is extra footage that for some reason didn't fit the story of the main feature I'll include it as an extra.

So far each wedding I've shot has been a totally different edit. For example, one wedding I only wanted to show the bridal prep from the moment the bride was dressed and looking amazing. I don't know why, it just felt right. So, all the footage I shot at the hairdressers and while her makeup was getting done, I edited a nice little 2 minute clip together from that footage and included it as an extra.

I'm only new and my finished product keeps evolving ... but I'd like to get it down to 7-10min for the wedding film - all shot by me with one camera. I'm tired of the stress and workflow of multi-cam edits.

Ultimately, what I'm after is a bride coming to me because they like my style, not because they're after a 'wedding video'.


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Old August 10th, 2011, 03:30 AM   #34
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

Hello All!

Seems that this topic is a bit suspended for a while, but I hope I'll get some responses :)

I am about to start a wedding business and would like to get some opinions / thoughts about section's length and duration.
Here in Hungary habits as follows:
1.---> Preparation (3-6h long)
2.---> photographers round (Couple goes to somewhere for shooting some photos) 30-60mins long
3.---> so called "Civil Ceremony", 15-40mins long
4.---> Church Ceremony , 30-80mins long
5.---> and the wedding "fun" itself 4-6h long

I think for optimal length for each part of the whole event shall: 1: 2mins, 2: 2-3mins. 3: 2-3mins. 4:3-8mins. 5:5-10mins Total: 15-25mins as a final edited product. I am about to go with the more cinematic style.(nice shoots good music, ocassionaly original voices)
My questions shall be: of course there will be more "raw" material but would you give that uncutted version to the customer or you edit a bit, and how long this should be?

What do you think about lengths/durations?
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Old August 10th, 2011, 03:55 AM   #35
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

Szia Ecker,

I think you're way too short - a vital part of video is sound, the couple want to hear their vows and speeches.

for most couple the ceremony particularly is a blur - it's hard to remember much of it - my videos of the ceremony are as long as the ceremony but that's a documentary style. in the end it's your call, talk to your brides or any bride and find out what they expect, what is the normal offering from competitors in your area
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Old August 10th, 2011, 04:33 AM   #36
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

Hi Ecker.
To some extent local expectations will be very different, though it seems the durations that you've given seem very excessive, the traditional one not yours and by contrast yours seems excessively brief. I'd suggest asking around to find out just what is expected, remember that the DVD may have to satisfy the family almost as much as the bride and groom. If they are expecting the full deal, your offering my fall somewhat short.

My suggestion would be a combination of both, the 'cinematic' one you want to do plus a separate full day disc. That of course depends on how much you are expecting to put in to the day to acquire the footage for the short form, will you have enough to cover 6 hours of prep !!!!!.

If it helps my full edit is typically 75-90 minutes with a 3-5 minute highlights. The variation of duration is usually determined by the length of speeches and the actual event on the day.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 04:56 AM   #37
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?


Actually I was just thinking in case of i would be requested of a friend of mine to see his/her wedding video, what would be than the length if i would be still interested. I believe longer than 15-20 mins would be boring for anyone. Of course this 15-20 mins is a highlight of best shots etc.
I agree to have a golden way to give also a longer version, but if you think further what to show, what do they expect to see? how the others talk? how the others eat? camera moving around talking groups? + games+speeches+special guests/productions? of course
I truly believe after a (short9 while even the couple will not watch the longer version
Documentary style 2 hours + movie style 20mins.
what are your expereinces regarding durations? (independtly of geographical/cultural) differences
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Old August 10th, 2011, 05:14 AM   #38
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?


I don't think by considering what you'd personally like to see in the way of a programme is the right measure. In broadcast terms very few documentaries are longer than 26 minutes but that's for a general broadcast audience, again, the wrong measure.

Your viewers come in two "flavours", a) the bride and groom and their mothers and b) their friends. Actually that's a bit harsh because the first category often includes family and close friends - why? Because with 20+ chapters a 2 hour programme is not necessarily viewed at a single sitting nor even as a single video. However, friends can usually only stomach one song's worth of programme.

And that's what we give them. Up to 2+ hours of documentary programme with 20+ chapters and one of their chosen songs ideally 6+ minutes long of the highlights.

BUT, neither timing is rigid - we've just completed a 1 hour main programme because it was a wedding at which there were no extras, the ceremony was brief, there were no readings, the speeches were brief to the point of non-existent and the first dance was 3 minutes. The highlights were set to a track almost 7 minutes long and the clients were ecstatic and approved the first edit.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 05:21 AM   #39
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

Hi Ecker

My DVD's are divided into actual clips so it's easy for the bride to use the menu and see the ceremony from start to finish and no more. She can also just watch the Best Man's speech which could be only 2 minutes or 10 minutes!!

The point is, the longest clip on my disks is a Catholic Ceremony ..around 40 minutes if they want everything included during the service...otherwise clips are no longer than 10 minutes usually...I agree that the average viewer has an attention span of 15 minutes or less so by giving them the option of watching everything sequentially or just watching what they want to watch helps this issue. It's also a know fact that given a few seconds break "resets" the attention span, so my clips each have a beginning and an end and the tiny break in-between allows the viewers brain to "reset" before the next clip begins.

Just for reference I struggle to watch a 100 minute movie on TV, no matter how good it is, BUT I can easily watch 4 x 30 minute sitcoms in a row only because they have breaks!!

For documentary shoots it makes an audience more alert and they enjoy the program a lot more!!

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Old August 10th, 2011, 07:13 AM   #40
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

"I bet the younger (35 & less) and unmarried videographers shoot much different video than the older married guys. Not better or worse, they just have a different life perspective"

Indeed , im 27 , the only reason i got into this business was after seeing a wedding film for a 1 hour and it made me almost tear my eyes out. 2 hours i would run away and if a wedding film was over that id smash the TV.

I think its old hat, its boring and people my age hate it. Its all about short form stories and emotion. I saw a documentary with Ray Roman and he summed it up perfectly, if a hollywood film has 2 years for a movie to film the most interesting bits of a story which last only 1 hour 45 then how in a one day real time event can you get enjoyable, emotional footage to fill an hour, i mean where every-shot tells the story. You cant. You have to educate the clients. People my age are put off wedding films because of the reputation that they are 2 hours long and boring. People are afraid to pay £1500 for my films because of this reputation. They dont realize im not using this old skool technique. Its modern, its fresh, its full emotion, it looks amazing cause its all on 5d, it tells a story and not in the order of the day. My films have gone from 40 mins 2 years ago and now to 10-15 mins. My last one was 11 mins and the clients were in tears of joy. Speeches separate in their entirety. I have more bookings this year than ever before. If someone wants a 2 hour wedding films i tell them why its not advisable and if not then they can move on to find someone who films that way.

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Old August 10th, 2011, 07:33 AM   #41
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

I produce documentary style videos (none of that extremely long music video stuff most do where mist of the wedding is cut out) and my Badic Pkg is usually an hour and the Plus Pkg is usually an hour and a half. Never go longer than that.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 11:12 AM   #42
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?


These thougths perspectivity, - you are representing - i am about to build up and follow. Because this is what i like, and feel good. Therefore I CAN make it look good.

On the other hand: this means that you just give them only the edited version, no longer uncut version or something?
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Old August 10th, 2011, 11:50 AM   #43
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

Everyone has a differnt slant on the right length a wedding video should be. Years ago in the era of VHS tapes and lineal editing they were long-3 or 4 hours and the only way to skip was the fast forward button.
Today with DVDs and proper chaptering you can still do a long doco style and be OK. Remember these videos aren't for us, we, the video producer for lack of a better term are not the audience. Personally I like something in the 30 to 60 minute range but then I have the attention span of my 3 year old grand-daughter, but again, we aren't the ones who are going to be watching the finished product.
In my own case, my clients want something longer (chaptered out of course) so I keep everything under 2 hours, give or take a little, but that's what they expect and many equate length of video to price. "Why should I pay $X for a 30 minute video when I can pay $Y for something longer". You and I both know that that makes no sense. When I do a short form it takes me a lot longer to edit than a doco style as I'm sure it does for most people. However in my answer to the original question, IMO there is no proper length. It depends on your area and what everyone else does, if for no other reason than to have a benchmark, it depends on your markeiting and how you market yourself, it depends on your clients and as long as they know what to expect from your product whatever length of finished product you deliver is fine.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 11:50 AM   #44
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

On the DVD menu they receive the 10-15 min film ( play main feature button ) and full speeches in the entirety unedited ( play speeches button ) . The main film does not run in the order of the day, its edited the same as my trailers ( see one mono pod and one 5d in the films examples ) and painstakingly color graded with music that sweeps the films along for an emotional ride. Music is key and composition I think. Any one with a camera can film a wedding and make a 2 hour wedding film, try and make a 12 min film. The main films are edited in the same way to my trailers. I tell my clients what I do and how i do it before they book, no group shots, no posing for the camera, all natural. Nothing that has been staged by a photographer, cut out all the singing and god worship from the film. I focus on the vows and that is it for the church. Unless there are emotional heart felt readings these will be cut in, and the same with vows, honest and heart felt, but most of the time its all bible readings that you hear over and over, keep it real and honest, the love of the couple.

But im still learning ive only been in this business 2 years :) But it was the long 2 hour wedding films that got me into it. They were sooooooooooo boring.

I think they should take as long as it takes to look through the photo album. 10-12 mins. Boom.

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Old August 10th, 2011, 12:45 PM   #45
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Re: What's your typical wedding video duration?

What YOU want to watch may be very different from what the CLIENT wants. Even a "short" can be so boring and turgid as to make one wish for a fork to poke in one's eye...

Two considerations - first, as one records the events, do you make sure you've got GOOD footage (not just artsy fartsy slider shots of buildings and flower arrangements...)? Did you get PEOPLE doing and saying fun and interesting things - weddings are about the family and friends, most of which the B&G will only get a few brief moments with on that day. Did you get the aging grandmother, the beloved aunt, the slightly wacky groomsmen goofing around, the bridesmaids joking it up? Does anyone really want to watch more than a few seconds of "glamour" shots of plants and buildings?? But put the practical joker best man with the "personality" on screen and let them ham it up, now you might have something... Think about the sorts of videos that go "viral", think about what keeps an "audience" interested (whether it be for 30 seconds or 2 hours...).

OK, so some weddings are about as exciting as a stuffed shirt, and may not give you much to work with... but most people have at least SOME interesting moments, as you shoot, you've got to find them AND get them on your raw material pile. This is while you wear the cameraman/director/producer hat...

The second and more tricky consideration is EDITING - chopping 6-8 (or even 3-4) hours of raw material down to something watchable and that flows is an art - you have to know what to cut and what not to cut, and even big time Hollywood producers struggle with this - I've watched "outtakes" on disks that REALLY should have been in the movie to make things make sense, but were cut for "time", and other clips that seem like they shouldn't even have been shot!

As EDITOR/producer you have to know what goes in and what stays out - and yes, an HOUR of most any "event" on average may have only a few minutes of really compelling and watchable "stuff", but again, how well did you seek out and shoot GOOD footage?? Some events may leave 15 minutes of usable clips, others may leave you struggling with how to pack it onto one or two disks, but much comes down to how well the shooter/director made sure to get things on record.

You can't just put a number on these things, it will vary from event to event, much depending on the participants, but even moreso depending on your skills as a shooter/director.

Job #1 = capturing as much of the special moments and people as humanly possible, keeping cameras rolling and moving as needed to get everything "in the can"

Job #2 = thoughtfully and carefully cutting out all the "dead time" and then molding the best clips into a watchable sequence - chaptering is your friend, and I believe a short "highlight" (or "trailer") that they can show to friends quickly is a good thing to include, BUT you also should include "real time" parts of the event so they can relive it just like they were there (minus any "dead time" of course).
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