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

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Old July 29th, 2004, 12:47 AM   #1
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Opening Scene

Here in the UK we watch very closely what goes on in the US regarding new idea's etc. We regularly trawl the Internet seeing what you guys are offering.

Here in the UK is was very popular a couple of years ago to start off with a photo-montage of the B & G but now we have many brides who are firmly against this intro as they see it as 'naff' and old style.

Brides here can be very demanding in wanting something that resembles a TV programme, as oposed to wedding video's that chug along for 2-3 hours.
Our normal run-time is about 60-75 minutes for an all day coverage.
We've tried a 2-3 minute flash-back sequence and copying opening scenes from a few movies.

What are you guys using for openers?
David Phillips
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Old July 29th, 2004, 07:10 AM   #2
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I do more of a "pre-scenes" montage (maybe 2 minutes long) showing the church, decorations, a few people milling about, and, if they want, end it with the bride and groom saying "last minute thoughts" just before the ceremony starts.
Edward Troxel [SCVU]
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Old July 29th, 2004, 08:09 AM   #3
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I used to open videos with a short vignette from shots throught the day. I have since ceased doing this as I think it gives away shots I don't want seen until they actually occur.

It depends on what kind of coverage and options the couple chooses but I've opened up with a baby pic montage which montage goes right into the bridal prep footage. If you do a photo montage I can't see a better time than right in the beginning to show it- it's sort of a pictoral back-story on the couple.

Once couple chose a really basic package that didn't include preceremony coverage (bridal prep) or photo montage. I opened it up with shots of the church I aquired the night of the rehearsal. I got there over an hour early and got all my shots taken care of. You'll be suprised- a lot of brides are really into seeing beautiful shots of their church.

Another way I've opened up videos is with credits....a quick handfull of shots of each member in the bridal party/groomsmen with titles etc. Kind of like the beginning of a sitcom. And then there is times where I add this sort of thing at the very end following the highlight vignette.
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Old July 29th, 2004, 08:22 AM   #4
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Just a thought, from one who has sworn off weddings... How about meeting with the B&G, days before the wedding, and getting some simple "together time" of the couple walking hand in hand, holding each other, etc? These shots could be on the beach, in a wooded park or garden- someplace romantic. Mix in a few candid pics of the couple and some soft music. This could dissolve into a tasteful opening shot of the church, then the "last words" before the ceremony.
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Old July 29th, 2004, 11:11 AM   #5
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Yeah, what you described is your typical "Love Story montage" or "Engagement Video". I don't sell too many of them, but they are fun to do because it's not unscripted. There's actually an element of control and direction. Similar to shooting a short.
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Old July 29th, 2004, 12:04 PM   #6
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In general the videos I've edited open with a stylized 2-5 minute
piece. The specifics all depend on the footage, and the audio
gathered throughout the day. I think that audio is generally
underutilized in wedding videos, and audio is the one thing that I
think will most make a video seem individual, and not cookie
cutter. I try to find sound bites in the footage, live audio of the
ambience, etc, to overlay with the shots. Generally I can get
some great audio from the groom, as he is wearing a wireless
mic before the ceremony, and I will generally roll on that up to 5
or 10 minutes before the ceremony starts.

So, usually I'll try to open with a piece of documentary style
coverage, or maybe some macro shots of things throughout
the day (i.e. rings, cufflinks, etc). Over that I will overlay any
meaningful sound bites I have gathered, and from that point
I will bring in the music. I think it helps to make a video seem
unique to the bride and groom if the first thing they hear is the
live and raw audio from their day, something they said in their
words, as opposed to hearing a song off a cd right off the bat.

Once the sound bites have rolled for a few seconds, then I'll
bring in the music . And, sometimes, I'll start the videos with
only audio, over a black screen.

Most videos are at least well shot. But audio is the main thing I
have seen that seperates the acceptable videos from the great
ones. That's just my opinion of course.
Luis Caffesse
Pitch Productions
Austin, Texas
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Old July 29th, 2004, 02:17 PM   #7
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Not an opinion- it's the TRUTH. As Spot always says audio is 70% of what you see. Audio drives video- audio sets the tone even more so than the actual shots your showing the viewer.

I've seen the inclusion of atmospheric audio even on peices that are set to music. Definitly add dimension to a vignette. Like hearing a fountain splashing lighting under the music (as your filming a fountain of course), and the light sound of murmuring by guests as you see shots of them mingling. Just adds an extra degree of depth to the peice.

In general I feel the majority of realtime audio for wedding production is for vows, blessing/toast, DJ during the bouquet and garter, and candids if you shoot them. The rest of the video (at least in my videos) is primarily driven by music. So the inclusion of these atmospheric sound bytes are great.
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Old July 29th, 2004, 02:24 PM   #8
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Nice one Luis, I'll give that a try. A good original idea.
David Phillips
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Old August 5th, 2004, 10:16 PM   #9
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Audio is definetely the item that seperates the good from the great. And it starts at the beginning.

I usually go with just music at the intro with some of the most detailed b-roll shots. That sets up interest in the video and allows for titles to be overlayed. Then I go ahead add some voice overs with the music on the pre-ceremony portion. During the pre-ceremony I have the camera operators focus on getting some sound bites that will set the scene and they usually bring back some usable bites.

Ben Lynn
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Old August 27th, 2004, 10:47 AM   #10
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I've never really bought into the baby photo montage in the video deal. To me, it has always felt tacked on. Part of the problem, I think, is that the photos are usually not great looking photos. So regardless of how well you crop, and stuff, you're starting your video with static images shot by someone else.

All photo montages make it to bonus feature section of the DVD.
Same thing with Engagment videos. This allows them to have their own styles.

I start off my edits with what happened. If we had bridal prep, then just jump right into it and let it take you through into the ceremony. I personally like to pick music that ties in well with the ceremony music. This way there is no hard break between the intro and the ceremony. I always try to have all my the parts of the edit flow smoothly into one another. A little music mixing is key here. It's like playing DJ. I'll try to post an example tonight of how I went from one type of song to a completely different type, in what I think was satisfactorily smooth.
Cana Video Productions, LLC
Manchester, NH
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Old August 27th, 2004, 02:32 PM   #11
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Depends on how you look at it. Most of the time older pictures aren't very high quality and their colors are faded or tinted. That's why I include the price of color correction and repair (tears, etc). You'd be suprised how good these pics can look with a little TLC. Now images that are out of focus...I plead with the couple that it will not look good blown up on the television and to exclude it. If they really want it I'll keep it in. Though, so far, I've never had a couple chose the latter.

One example of how I blended the baby pic montage was to Shania Twain's "From this Moment" starts off all dreamy and slow...then at one point picks up with a beat and vocals. During the dreamy sounding part I did slow zooms and pans with the baby pictures...during the part it transitions in the song to the vocals I brought in shots of the bridal prep, etc. Listen to that's perfect for this type of thing.

However the wedding I'm currently working on (the clip I most recently posted..WAS the opening)...there's no WAY to open with the baby picture montage and thus will, indeed, end up as a clip on the "bonus features" section of the disc.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 12:05 PM   #12
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Actually, I stole a couple of techniques from a cool Hugh Grant movie untiltled "Two Weeks Notice". I pretend that all of my wedding videos are not really wedding videos but, rather, mini movies. My openings are rip-offs of popular movie openings using wipes, dissolves and still photos. I also introduce the wedding party by having them step into frame, turn towards the camera and smile. Then, stealing from fabulous British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, I freeze the frame, fade to monochrome and superimpose his or her name and title (i.e. "Groomsman" or "Best Man" or "Maid of Honor" or "Ringbearer", etc etc. To get a good idae on what I am talking about, rent the Guy Ritchie DVD "Snatch" and watch the trailer. You'll get an idea of what I mean.
Interesting, if true. And interesting anyway.
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Old September 16th, 2004, 06:29 AM   #13
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my stuff is really different i gues..

I dont like being normal and i dont like documentary style (even though people request it.. )

i think it comes from my audio background, where if i was to get bored.. i wouldnt want to watch it.. like music, if the first verse doesnt do it fo rme, i wait for the chorus.. if im still numb, i'll trash it..
Much like video.. if u cant hook them in the first 15 seconds youve lost them...
when demoing to potential clients u really cant afford to be the one to have to point out elements to them..
the work should speak for itself without any commentary from u.

music for me is paramount.. if the tune of choice doesnt go with the footage, i wont use it.. ie, if the couple say i want this song or that song.. if it doesnt go with the flow of the day (and cut) i'll change it.. usually when i tell them im going against their specific request theyre a lil wary, but when they see it, they change their minds.. my contract actually allows me to use my discretion on any element, its jsut a courtesy that i allow them to make suggestions.. in the end im the one puttin it together and if i get bored watching it, they will too...

my stuff is very out there.. very cinematic.. dramatic slow shots, many different cam routines, post effects and synced cuts.
Theres no formula to the way i do it, i jstu go with the flow, and as most photographers hog the time i have with the bride, i let them arrange most of the compositions..
I then work around that and get my footage

the way i see it.. teh photgrapher has to get the subject from pont a to point b (point B being the actual image he/shes' taking... ) My work is the IN BETWEEN point between those shots... the movement..

theres alot more to it....
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Old September 18th, 2004, 01:36 AM   #14
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Like a movie

I open like a movie -- scanning over pictures (of the couple dating) lying on a desk while credits fade in and out. A little dramatic music and BAM! ... a sweet opener. I usually invite the couple to watch the footage in my theatre so I can see their reactions and I get the same response each time: "Wow, I'm getting chills just from the beginning!"

I meet with the couple a month before the wedding and do an interview of 'how we met'. The funny thing is that the bride and groom's stories are always very different ... and I harp on that.

I have 2 crews of 3 people that follow the bride and groom around all day from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed. We also get the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

When we're done we usually have a total of 20 hours of footage. We whittle it down to a 60 minute video split into sections that are set to the theme of flipping through the pages of an album ... each section opens up with the video floating out of the book.

There's a bunch more but I won't bore you. It seemed to be well-liked because wedding coordinators would buy dates from us ... and people would call us from all over the country. Our basic package started at 15 grand.

I quit doing weddings (to persue television series production) and only do them for friends and family now (by myself). But I sure do miss 'em!
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Old September 18th, 2004, 01:31 PM   #15
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I have done only one wedding video so far. It's not my strong suit but I enjoy the idea.

My question to the group. Do you use any lighting set-ups for let's say, the bridal prep, or groom prep? I know you can light the 'how we met' stuff and probably can't with ceremony and reception. But what about the other elements?

Thanks for any feedback you have.

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