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


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Old July 9th, 2004, 11:02 PM   #1
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filming weddings...

i know that this is a lot to ask, but you hear at dvinfo are some of the nicest folks, so i thought id give it a try. firs of i am 17 years old, just out of highschool and have passed up buying a car to get an xl1s. i have a few gigs lined up many of which are weddings and i just wanted to know a few things (actually its alot of things..) first what are the must get shots from start to finish. and really the content ( in sections) that go on the dvd...any help with this would be great.
thank you so much in advance.

-alex b.
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Old July 10th, 2004, 01:08 AM   #2
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"first what are the must get shots from start to finish. and really the content ( in sections) that go on the dvd...any help with this would be great."


Well, I can't go through a video shot by shot, but the "must get" shots are fairly obvious ones:
(I'm sure I'll forget something)


Bride coming down the aisle
Rings
Vows
First Dance
Cake Cutting
Bouquet/Garter
Leaving

"Must get" shots will vary from bride to bride. Every ceremony and reception have their slight variations, and each bride has different priorities.

BUT, I will tell you right now, in my opinion (based on ten years of shooting weddings) that the single most important thing when shooting a wedding is the audio. Get the vows and get them clean. Audio is the key. People will forgive a lot of mistakes, but I don't think most of them would forgive missing the audio on the vows.

As far as sections of the video, it all depends how you want to edit. I know some videographers who like playing around with the timeline, but most edit chronologically. If you edit chronologically, then you would have an opening "preceremony" section showing the church, the bride getting ready, the groom getting ready, etc. Generally my 'preceremony' segments will go anywhere from 3 minutes to 15 minutes depending on the couple and the footage.

Then you have the ceremony.

Once the ceremony ends we generally do a small montage of the reception hall, showing off all the decorations, guest mingling, etc.

From there, well, it all depends on what happens at the reception.

My piece of advice, if you haven't done this before, is to contact (or have someone contact for you) the videographers in your area and ask for a demo tape. You can learn a lot by watching other people's work. Check around online and watch clips on people's sites.

Finally, when it comes to the reception, here's my only real tip.
Stick with the photographer.
People will forget to tell the videographer when something important is happening, but I"ve never seen a couple cut the cake, or toss the bouquet, without telling the photographer first.
If you stick by them, you won't miss anything.

Good luck,

-Luis
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Old July 10th, 2004, 04:01 AM   #3
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I'm not a wedding videographer, but have recently taken an interest in paying off my massive equipment debt as well as gaining more different experiences as a shooter and editor, and so am also thinking along these lines. Here are a bunch of links I've been reading and saving:

http://www.abcdv.com/article/articleview/99/1/77/

http://www.creativecow.net/articles/graham_doug/wedding_list/

http://www.bealecorner.com/trv900/wedding.html

http://www.dv.com/jive3/thread.jspa?threadID=300001183&tstart=120


Shawn
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Old July 10th, 2004, 11:03 PM   #4
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thanks guys, i really apreciate the advice, this will help me a lot, so thanks for taking the time to post all of that gret information.

- alex b.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 04:56 AM   #5
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Alex, you've opened one hell of a 'can of worms' here.
You dont say whether you intend to just shoot a few weddings, or make a career out of it.

To do it for a living, means you need to be good at it. Word soon gets around if you're not, and you'll find yourself struggling for work.
Filming at a wedding is not easy and there is no such thing as 'The Perfect Wedding', you're always in a situation where you have to make the best of what you've got to work with. and there are many problems that you have no control over.
Such as, poor lighting, vicars and priests who wont let you stand where you can get the best shot of the couple exchanging their vows, vicars who wont allow you to mic-up the groom, vicars who wear wireless mics on the same frequency as yours and the list goes on.
O.K. most of these probs can be overcome, but in most cases, not as well as you'd want.

Civil ceremonies are usually fairly easy as most registrars are easy-going, compared with the church, and to a great extent will let you do more or less what you want, as long as you dont pose a problem to them.

Planning your wedding before hand is absolutely essential and needs to be firmly embedded in the brain. Knowing what shots to get is a must, but it's also important to know when these shots are about to happen. If you miss an opportunity, it's your fault, at weddings you cant do re-takes!

You may think that because you've attended a few weddings as a guest, that you know the running order, I'll bet you dont.
Find a few weddings in your area. Ask the bride and groom if you can attend as an observer and tell them why. Most should be happy to oblige. And take a note-book with you, plan your shots and be one jump ahead of the proceedings at all times.

I dont agree with Luis that audio is the be-all and end-all. It's a bit like baking a cake. You have to get all the different ingredients right otherwise, the cake is a failure. In my experience, brides are not that forgiving. They might have been a few years ago, but not anymore. Video is quickly overtaking photography as a first choice, and brides know what they want.

Style is important. Have a clear picture in your head how the finished production will look. Having a unique style that people like will build you a good reputation and, make you a lot of money.
Here in the UK we still have a lot of wedding videographers who produce out-dated rubbish. Locked-down camera sequences are just strung together in a boring display of incompetence.

We base all our wedding productions on 'Wedding Story', we produce as near as we can get to a T.V. programme.
It's brought us out of the category, Wedding Videographer', into wedding programme producers. And brides and grooms are willing to pay three times as much.

A couple more things.
There is always much talk about how your camera works. Forget about how your camera works and and concentrate on how to work your camera. There's a big difference. Learn what your camera can do and what it cant do. Learn to operate it blind-fold until it becomes second nature.

We've shot weddings at some great locations that haven't turned out as well as we'd hoped, why? People.
Weddings on their own are boring. People make weddings.
Dont be unobtrusive, dont shoot your day from a distance like someone shooting long-distance surveilance. Get in and get personal. Get people to react to you (the camera) and be part of their day and you'll shoot some great weddings.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 09:49 AM   #6
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"We've shot weddings at some great locations that haven't turned out as well as we'd hoped, why? People.
Weddings on their own are boring. People make weddings.
Dont be unobtrusive, dont shoot your day from a distance like someone shooting long-distance surveilance. Get in and get personal. Get people to react to you (the camera) and be part of their day and you'll shoot some great weddings."


This statement is paramount to a personal and FUN Presentation compared to the ol boring everyday wedding videos..

Hell, half the time, im on the dancefloor with the guests :)
And another thing is that if ur not having fun with working the day, it WILL show thru on ur filmin style..
Have fun with it and most importantly, GET ALONG with the photographer, as these guys are literally the co-ordinators for teh whole days proceedings.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 02:01 PM   #7
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Just curious.

Any of you guys ever had any worst case scenario happen in weddings, where you were unable to deliver a finshed product, due to cam failure or whatever?

What was the reaction of the wedding party when they learned they wouldn't get an acceptable video?
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Old July 11th, 2004, 02:54 PM   #8
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"I dont agree with Luis that audio is the be-all and end-all. It's a bit like baking a cake. You have to get all the different ingredients right otherwise, the cake is a failure. In my experience, brides are not that forgiving.

I may have overstated my point, but it was only because I feel that most people starting out are so concerned about the 'video' that they forget how important the audio is. I agree, brides are not that forgiving. No one is forgiving when something goes wrong. All I meant was that in my experience, brides have been less forgiving about audio problems (when it came to the vows) than they have been about any image problems.

Audio alone isn't going to make the video, but you can't make it without it. That was all I meant.

You are right David, there are many ingredients, and they are all important.

"What was the reaction of the wedding party when they learned they wouldn't get an acceptable video?"

As David also pointed out, it you plan on doing this for a living, you have to be good. If you are not, word will spread...and quickly.

When shooting weddings, it is simply not an option to not give the couple 'an acceptable video.' I know more than one videographer who blew one video, and shortly after that had to begin finding other means of income, because the word of mouth had spread. Weddings are mainly a referral business, and without decent word of mouth, you simply won't last. I've had problems here and there over the years, but never anything catastrophic (knock on wood).

If I had, well, I probably wouldn't be shooting weddings anymore.

-Luis
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Old July 11th, 2004, 05:08 PM   #9
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Of course, you are right Luis. For those of us who have made a career out of shooting weddings, know only too well that they're no where as easy as people might first think. It's a very fine line between a good and a poor wedding video.
Unlike shooting in a controlled environment, you have to get it right first time. I think this is what scares the pants off of most people.
I always get a slightly worried feeling before shooting a wedding, even though I've shot many over the last 5 years, and always hope that this one will be the best ever. I'm still looking for the perfect wedding.

Anyone shooting weddings must be resigned to the fact that mistakes will be made.
If I were to give a single tip to Rokta, it would be to never shoot a wedding with a single camera. Always use 2 and never stop rolling throughout the important bits.
We've never had a 'cant deliver' scenario, and I hope we never do, but anything is possible. This is a great argument for putting everything in a 'Terms & Conditions'.
Our's fills an A4 sheet and the bride & groom are required to sign it to say that they understand it and agree with it.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 05:14 PM   #10
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When shooting weddings, it is simply not an option to not give the couple 'an acceptable video

Very good point. People are very quick to find fault, but praise sometimes takes a bit longer.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 06:41 PM   #11
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i would really like to extend my thanks to all of you, it was very kind of you to anwser my long and multiple questions, i know that you took your time on my behalf and i thank you. so again thanks for all of the help with wedding filming.

-alex b.
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have you ever wanted something so bad you couldent stop thinking about it? a car, a girl, a skate trick? thats what this video was to me it started as an addiction but turned into an obsession.
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