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


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Old February 2nd, 2005, 07:11 PM   #1
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My first real wedding gig

Hey DVinfo, long time user here...But this is one of the rare times I post. I am 18 years old and this June I will be doing my very first wedding gig. It is for someone who saw a DVD I created for a swim team that I sold to the parents. One of their nephews were in it, so they e-mailed me and asked if I could do the video for their wedding. I said OK, as I had done some work with weddings in the past. (two, to be precise).
Everything is already worked out, contracts signed and all that...However I would like some general feedback on how I am going about this.

My equipment:
Canon GL2 outfitted with Canon WD-58H
Bogen Manfrotto Tripod
Glidecam2000 Pro
One wireless lavalier microphone
XLR Box (Allows me to use XLR inputs like microphones, audio feeds etc.)

I am charging them
250 dollars for filming
250 dollars for editing
35 dollars for utilities (tapes, tape cleaner, lense cleaner, transportation)
30 dollars for 10 DVD Dubs (and 5 dollars for each DVD after that)

I think my prices are very cheap and undercut all of the competition around my area - but at the same time is a great deal of money for me being a first-year college student. It is certainly enough money to be worried about getting the correct shots and especially good sound.

Could you guys please respond with tips/ideas of the best way to shoot this? Improve my equipment list? Change my prices?

Thank you, Corey
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Old February 2nd, 2005, 07:36 PM   #2
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Corey. If this is your first professional shoot. Congrats! That's an impressive list to start. I had a GL1 with a tripod when I first started.

I think you have a good start on the equipment and don't really have any recommendations for a change.

Your pricing is nice. For my first wedding, I did it for cost (tapes, gas, etc); I needed experience. I think your prices are very aggresive and should get you a lot of business.

Of course as you grow your experience, you'll be able to bring those prices up and add some more equipment (like a 2nd camera).

Are you all set on your editing system/DVD creation software?
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Old February 2nd, 2005, 08:12 PM   #3
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Corey: if you end up doing weddings on a regular basis I think you'll quickly find you'll want to raise your prices, and there's a good reason why established wedding videographers charge a lot more money. Your price is fair for someone who's just getting started, but as soon as you can demonstrate your ability you should consider charging more.

Regarding what to do: attend the rehearsal if possible to get a sense of what to expect and get some footage of that event. On the day of the wedding, plan to arrive at least 60-90 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to start and get shots of the bride and groom getting ready, plus get your equipment set up for recording the ceremony. You'll need to think ahead to be in the right place for each phase of the ceremony to get good shots, plus you'll have to deal with shooting over people's heads when they stand up--and figure out what to do when the photographer walks in front of your camera at a critical moment. Try not to get flustered no matter what happens, and remember you can do a lot to make up for any mistakes in editing. At the reception things are generally less stressful than the ceremony, but you still need to plan to be in the right place at the right time. Good luck!
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Old February 2nd, 2005, 08:14 PM   #4
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Fortunately, yes...I have two computers, a mobile editing station with Premier 6.5, and a Desktop system with dual Apple monitors and Premier Pro... I also have a Sony external DVD burner with Adobe Encore...Not the best DVD authoring system in the world in my opinion...But it does the job that I need it to do. I've been doing video for about 4 and a half years now. I wish I had some space to post some of my stuff, but that's forthcoming.

Thanks.


Kevin, Thank you...I was planning on showing up early, but not THAT early! Certainly that is a good idea, and I did want to get some 'getting ready' shots afterall. I know the church they will be having their ceremony at so at least I have an advantage there. The price? I really would feel guilty charging anymore than that. However, I know that a lot of the wedding videographers around here are of equal or lesser skill than I am and charge WAY too much for what they offer. iMovie doesn't deserve a 2500 dollar price tag!
Thanks again, Corey
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Old February 2nd, 2005, 09:00 PM   #5
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1st paying gig

Wow, I did my first 5 for free for friends and family. We started charging after that point. Demo footage goes a long way.

We started with 3 cameras, fluid tripods, two wireless mics, a shotgun mic and camera stablizer.

We now charge between 1k and 3k depending on the wedding. After our first wedding trade show we booked 8 weddings. Trade shows are expensive but worth it when you get exposure and work. The last show I signed up for was $900 for a 10X10 Booth for a 2 day show. My first trade show was 600 for 1 day.

Good luck,

Jon
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 03:47 AM   #6
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---The price? I really would feel guilty charging anymore than that. However, I know that a lot of the wedding videographers around here are of equal or lesser skill than I am and charge WAY too much for what they offer. iMovie doesn't deserve a 2500 dollar price tag!-----

What you need to remember Corey is that the wedding as far as you are concerned as filmaker doesn't end on the day of the wedding. You then have all the editing time to consider. $600.00ish may seem a lot of money as a student but if you get into doing weddings regularly and are having to work all week editing then dividing the $600 by the hour, is n't going to be much!

If you are turning out a really good product then charge a lot more. You will find initially you don't get as many bookings, but you only have to do less weddings for the same money. Once you become established within the higher class circle then you're on a home run.

A lot of people make the mistake when setting out of under pricing themselves, it then becomes more difficult to suddenly increase your prices. Also some of the higher end of the market won't book you purely because you don't charge enough, even if your work is better than someone elses!.

If you are good, charge for it, your skill and expertese deserves reward.

When we started our business we had the option of charging lower amounts, great loads of bookings, but the majority of the referalls are for people with little to spend or charge a higher price and the people who you are recommended to are in the higher earning bracket 'cos that's who they mix with. We went for the higher end, boy was it worth it. I have friends in the trade who have bookings every week, spend all week editing etc and charge just a few hundred pounds. We do half the amount of weddings and earn three to four times more. Think as a business not just as a hobby, because when it becomes a business you have to do it and as they say, time is money!

Good luck.
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 07:03 AM   #7
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Well, I don't shoot weddings.

At a minimum you should have a backup camera, or at least a plan to rent or borrow one on short notice. You have committed to recording a once in a lifetime event for these people. What happens if your camera freaks out right before or on day of event? Are you gonna just say "oops, sorry about that"? Your responsibility will be to have enough equipment on hand to cover Murphy's Law.

Same for backup microphones. With one lav, who is gonna wear it? Are you sure they will cooperate? Have you verified that it will not interfere with church sound system? Are you gonna shoot interviews? Is on-cam mic up to the task? Are you gonna wish you had a portable light? What if it rains? Are you capturing any part of other events, like photo session, reception, etc? Shooting outside you may want to have a reflector or other fill light, also plan for what kind of shots you want.

Do you have some royalty-free music picked out, have access to a library, or are you editing it without added music?

Use new tapes, put new batteries in everything, good luck.
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 09:57 AM   #8
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Yeah, I was trying to track down a secondary camera but have thus far been unsucessful.

Oh, and just for the record, I'm really not trying to get into the wedding business. It could be very profitable for me, and a good source of money to buy new equipment, AND be good experience, but I won't be doing it full time.

I talked to them about using the wireless microphone and XLR hookups, they did their job well by calling me sometime last year so we have plenty of time to work this out. I don't know who will wear the microphone...
When you guys say interviews, what do you mean? I don't see where that fits into a wedding video.

Thanks.
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 10:07 AM   #9
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It's definately a great way to do it part time to buy new equipment.

Interviews are for the wedding party and family to say something to the bride and groom. I usually get a list from them with important people, ie mom and dad, wedding party, etc. I usually use a boom with shotgun mic to pick up the audio for the interviews. The main problem with interviews done at the reception, is the very loud background music. I remember my first wedding, the people had to talk very very loud to overcome the dj's sound system, he had it turned up way too loud and I was using an on camera shotgun mic, it turned out ok but I have since improved 100%.

Jon
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 10:46 AM   #10
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I agree, interviews are great. I typically get to a wedding a couple of hours a head of time. And the point about attending the reherrsal is a good one. Of the wedding where I've attened the reherrsal, those have turned out much better. And I thought I was the only one that has ever had 'the photographer from hell' who jumps in front of your camera during crucial points. Gee, there's more than that witch who lives in Indiana? I find the relationship between photographer and videographer to be testy at best, and it's best to bite the bullet and try and relay some sence of cooperation. I've had a few that were really good, but other's who question my own value in my camera versus taking my camera and flogging them about the cranium. All jokes aside, I love doing weddings, I find the more personal you can be and really capture what's improtant to the bride and family, the better.
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 03:12 PM   #11
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You sound like you're well on your way. Try to put together a hold-harmless agreement and have them sign it before the ceremony (or a family of one of the participants)...this may sound like so much tripe, but you never know. People get grumpy if something goes wrong.

I filmed the interviews in a secluded part of the church where I could set up my lighting and green screen in peace and get nice quiet audio. I had my assistant funnel folks in after the pictures were done so they wouldn't just leave for the reception.

As for the reception, try to show up a few minutes before the wedding party and ask the dj is he has a line you can pipe into your camera to get the dj's audio. Then, since all the interviews are finished, you can just film the reception and use the piped in audio.
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 10:01 PM   #12
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<<< I thought I was the only one that has ever had 'the photographer from hell' who jumps in front of your camera during crucial points. >>>

In my experience, even the most cooperative photographers don't realize how much they're interfering with the video, and the un-cooperative ones just don't give a darn. I'm very tempted to start offering combined photo/video services, partly to get more control over this problem and partly because there's good money to be made in doing the photography.
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 10:56 PM   #13
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I offered to do both, as I have a canon 10D and am pretty experienced:
http://woffester.deviantart.com/gallery

However it seems when it comes to photography there's a whole other realm of professionalism that has to be attained I guess to really establish yourself. Video seems to still be somewhat of a novelty, and it is afforded some 'mess-up' room...But if the Photographs are messed up....ohhh boy.
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Old February 3rd, 2005, 11:36 PM   #14
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<<<I was planning on showing up early, but not THAT early! >>>

I usually find that it takes at least a good half hour to get organized, set up equipment, find out where the bride and groom are to get shots of them, etc. You want to get all that done before guests start arriving in numbers so you don't look like you're running around frantically right before the ceremony, plus they'll get used to having you around with your video camera. So a minimum of one hour before the ceremony to be on the safe side, and I'm finding that's not always quite enough.

<<<I know that a lot of the wedding videographers around here are of equal or lesser skill than I am and charge WAY too much for what they offer. iMovie doesn't deserve a 2500 dollar price tag!-->>>

Lack of skill is one thing, but a truly creative videographer should be able to make a good video with pretty much any editing software. And just so you know, there have been some business studies which concluded that a price of $1500-2000 should be the minimum fee for any competent wedding video if you want to have a sustainable business with this as the primary income. We can debate the exact number for that, but even on a part-time basis I'm finding that around $1200-1400 is the minimum that makes it worth my time and trouble. And below that price you tend to get people who basically want something for nothing, i.e. they give you more grief for the same amount of work and less money. Charge whatever you think is fair for your efforts, but don't second-guess the people who are charging $2500.
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