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

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Old April 21st, 2004, 10:46 AM   #1
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Questions about filming a wedding...

Hi, I'm a graduating senior in high school. I have made about 5 films ranging from 10-30 minutes. I own a Gl-2 and know pretty well how to use it. I can film with a steady hand.

Recently, someone contacted me about filming their wedding. I don't know them. They know that I am just a high school student and not a professional.

The question is, how much should I charge them?

The wedding will be from 2-5pm on a saturday. They want me to film the ceremony and reception and edit it into a 1.5 hour DVD. I will be giving him and his family a bunch of dvds dressed in nice quality cases with inserts. I will be charging a flat rate, not by the hour.

It will be a semi-professional effort.

I will also be doing some handheld footage with a lower end Canon model so I can intercut between that and the tripod Gl-2 shots.

If possible, I would love to have some advice on how I should film the wedding.

For audio, I was going to place my XLR mike near the bride and groom during the ceremony and have a cord running it back to my GL-2 on a tripod.

Is this the right way to do it?

I know some of you are very experienced, you advice would be most invaluable, thank you.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 11:58 AM   #2
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An hour and a half! Thats a long time. Well I've only done a 10-15 minute 50th Anniversary video other than my bmx videos before so I can only tell you what I've learned from that experience and what others have told me. You should do it for free or for cost of the supplies. It seems like it won't be worth it but it is. Think of it as free advertisement. They will tell everyone they know about you and word will get around.

As for shooting it, make sure you get their vowes. Running the wires to the camcorder will do okay but just tape them down so nobody trips. The best way usually is to record to a seperate device and then sync it in post, but that usually costs a good chunk of cash. DAT and minidisc recorders can be expensive. So for a strict budget, running the wires should be okay.

I've watched a few wedding videos where the videographer plans a day with the couple to go out on a walk or a picnic or something similar. Try doing that so you can get some good footage of the couple before the wedding. And while you are at it, get some interviews of each one of them. Ask them questions about their soon to be spouse.

Take lots of photos. Sometimes the most dramatic parts of wedding videos are the photographs that are interlaced with the video. When I did the anniversary video, I toted my girlfriend along with me to take all the pictures with a digital camera.

Get lots of footage of people dancing and having a good time after the wedding. Sometimes you can get alot of humorous shots here. Which is a good thing. Gives the video even more of a "happy" feel to it. And try to capture the toasts that the anyone might want to make to the couple. This is sometimes difficult due to all the ambient noise around you (or at least in my experience it was).

Also, you might want to plan a time with the parents, friend, etc. to interview them. And get photos of the couple from when each of them were growing up.

Also, since you dont know these people. Make sure you sign a contract with them.

Hmm. I guess thats pretty much all the help I can provide you with. Sorry if I wasn't of much use.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 12:39 PM   #3
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Here is a link to a thread that will probably answer most of your questions.

Remember it is a once in a lifetime event for the B/G so I know you'd want to do the best

Don B.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 03:33 PM   #4
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I would disagree about doing it for free. While it may be your first effort, you should do it professionally. If your work is good, you will get referrals whether you charge or not. You may want to give a "reduced rate" in exchange for permission to use some of the footage in your portfolio.

Tape is cheap - shoot lots of footage.

Take business cards or 3x5 cards with your name, services and phone number. Make sure all the wedding party gets a card.

Do a Google search on wedding videographers in your area and see what they charge. Use the pricing you find as a guide. You can't demand top dollar, but your clients are asking a lot and you deserve to be compensated.

Above all, regardless of what you charge, ignore the clock and put in what it takes to give a high quality product.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 05:01 PM   #5
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that wedding thread got kinda brutal when it came to lighting, lol!

i've had to shoot catholic weddings in big churches that were a complete p.i.a., because the preacher wouldn't let anyone near the couple, and you sure as heck couldn't bring in lights... so be sure that you know how use manual exposure!! never shoot a wedding on auto exposure, or auto focus for that matter.

i would also tripod mount both cameras, put one in back with a wide shot on a real tall tripod for cutaways, and for when they turn and start marching down the isle at the end of the wedding... turn it on before the wedding and leave it running... the minute they start marching towards the door, pull your main camera off it's tripod, and run around the pews to get the couple coming down the isle with the main camera... don't shut it off!

the main camera must be on a tripod where it is facing the bride... you may have to hand-hold it long enuf to step around to get the family coming down the isle, but the camera in the back of the room will give you the cutaway you need to cover things up.

call the church ahead of time to see if you can hard-wire a mike like that, wireless on the groom is really the only way to go... you might attend the rehersal to see where everyone will be standing, and if the wired mike is feasible... i've seen weddings where people didn't end up standing where they said they would, tho, be careful.

you will need additional lighting at the reception, even garage halogens pointed at the ceiling is a lot better than nothing... just turn 'em down after all the ceremonies, when everyone starts dancing.

i would not charge 'em too much, since you are new and need the experience.
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Old April 21st, 2004, 07:49 PM   #6
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You might also want to think from the couple's point of view. If you charge low, they will:
A- Have low expectations. So if you screw up (and it's your first time) it's not so bad.
B- They may think that wedding videographers come cheap and tell their friends about you. It's not a good idea to have all your future clients expect a low rate. One thing you can do is to put on the bill how much market rates are and after that their price.
C- Their concept of pricing is probably a lot different than yours. Some people can be willing to pay a lot ($5k) and others not that much. It may be advantageous to frame your pricing against the total cost of the wedding or the cost of a wedding photographer (I'm guessing most people would expect a wedding video to cost more than photos).
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Old April 21st, 2004, 08:02 PM   #7
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There are a lot of good wedding tips here:

If it's your 1st time, you should charge at least a couple of hundred bucks.
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Old April 22nd, 2004, 12:22 AM   #8
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Well, I have shot a wedding before, and with my GL2, my precious.

It turned out good. I fixed many audio problems in post and was able to capture the most important parts of the day. That was when I first got my camera, as well.

I was thinking of not charging anywhere over $500 but not under $300. I mean, this will take a long time to edit. An hour and a half? Plus extra features such as menus and picture slideshows. Yea, it will take me quite a bit of time. Plus, I'll probably be churning out 20 or so DVDs. I think that is a good price, eh?
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Old April 22nd, 2004, 08:05 AM   #9
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another wedding tip

In addition to all the other great tips on this and other treads, I always go to the rehearsal to meet the officiant and get their input. Some are very restrictive as to where cameras and mics can be placed, as well as your movement during the ceremony.

Managing expectations of the bride & groom are so important, so if a man of the cloth limits your capabilites, its good for b&g to know that in a private conversation with them later. I've been able to work within some pretty restrictive conditions and still have a good product because I was prepared after going to that rehearsal.

For audio, I use an external mic on a stationary camera for overall sound, and put a wireless on the groom for getting the vows. routed to the camera I am operating so I can monitor the audio. When you buy or rent a wireless, pick a UHF mic with a diversity receiver and some kind of tone squelch encoding. Always us a fresh battery. I mix the audiotracks from the two cameras in post.

As far as what to charge, for all you are doing $350 is certainly fair for a beginner in our market. In CA it may be more.
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Old April 23rd, 2004, 11:00 PM   #10
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$300-$500 is dirt cheap for all that, depending on the quality... for a somewhat experienced shooter/editor, more like $7xx-$8xx at the absolute bare minimum, would be the going rate i've seen... you also get dinged on price when you don't have stuff like a good wireless lapel mike, on-board camera lighting, etc.

some people wouldn't touch it for under $1500.

sometimes a reception will be at a seperate location, maybe even 60 miles away, 3 hours after the wedding! don't quote anything until you know the details.

dvd's can be problematic if you've never done 'em before... were you going to use a labelmaker?

just be sure that you get clean audio on the vows.
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Old April 26th, 2004, 08:07 PM   #11
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I just completed my first wedding video, where I used my Sony VX-2000 and my friend used his GL2. As my pre-wedding research warned, the GL2 was not as good in the (typically) poorly lit church and reception venue, whereas my Sony got usable, if not good footage more often.

I suggest that you take some video in the same locations (and at the same time of day) to see how it looks. Don't be fooled by how the image looks on the LCD or viewfinder as you shoot. Take the tape home and look at it on a TV/monitor.

I found that the noise/grain I saw in poorly lit shots looked even worse in the final DVD. Those merely noisey scenes on my NLE system's broadcast monitor did this very unpleasant pulsing and flickering on my TV when viewed from the DVD. I was able to minimize the problem somewhat by using one of the "film look" tricks of compositing the video track with itself and using a de-interlace filter (see Ken Stone's web site for details: This technique softens the look, which is not an unpleasant effect for a wedding video, but in practice a poor substitute for decent lighting.
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Old April 29th, 2004, 10:15 AM   #12
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Other good reasons to go to the rehearsal not listed are:

You find out how to get there without the pressure of missing something.

You can get uncrowded siting shots for the video if you need them.

You can look around without worrying that you should be unpacking your gear.

The B&G have a much easier time answering questions because they are not yet fully in last minute mode.

You can find out who some of the players you need to watch for at the wedding. Grandma and Grandpa usually show up. You can find out who the comic is. Etc.
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Old May 1st, 2004, 11:41 AM   #13
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"I'm guessing most people would expect a wedding video to cost more than photos"

Actually, from my experience, most photographers still charge more than the average videographer.

Doesn't seem like that's how it should be, but...that's how it is.

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