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


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Old May 18th, 2005, 09:17 AM   #1
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Raw Video & Duration of Final Video

It seems as though many in this forum are delivering a very condensed final product with only fragments of the key events. Perhaps I'm mislead by some of the threads I've read over the past months but they have made me wonder how much raw video the customer is getting? By raw video I mean, the video in real-time with original sound.

I consider the age of linear VHS viewing dead (I've not had one customer out of 40 or so request a VHS tape and thus I dropped it entirely) and it is my believe that customer's ability to cue to any portion of the wedding day makes the goal of a condensed format less relevant than it has ever been.

A theory I have goes like this - the more story telling I try to do - the more dated the video will look over the long run. After all, take a look at your relative's 1987 wedding video on VHS. Gee, those graphics and text animations looked outstanding at the time and everyone was impressed - and now your beside yourself, giggling, when your watch it. That is why I believe the journalistic approach will hold up over time better than the story telling approach. After all, DVD menus are a library of events and they do a bit of story telling in their own anyway.

The raw video is something I provide as much as possible of. My customers want it, they ask for it without being prompted, and they ask how much they will get. The first two wedding videos I ever produced were approximately 2hrs!, and I got questions like "how much video did you record?" "why didn't we get more?" "what do you do with the video that isn't on the DVD?" "she would like to see what she missed" "can we buy the rest of the video?" From that day on, I've supplied 2 DVDs in a dual case with about 3-1/2hrs of raw video and one music video recap (which I spend 6-8 hours on). I've never had a customer say "that was too much video - we wished it was shorter."

I don't think I have all the answers - but I'm curious to hear some other points of view or if others agree with me about anything.

Thank you all for your input.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 11:02 AM   #2
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Craig: I take a similar approach to yours and have also never had a customer say I gave them "too much" video. But it does appear that many videographers are producing condensed wedding videos of as little as 30-60 minutes in length, which seems to work fine for them with their customers. So perhaps the best advice I've heard is to actually discuss this with your clients, and find out whether they want a short video they can show to their friends without boring them, or whether they'd prefer to see lots of the original footage. And of course you can meet both needs if you do a long video with a short highlights segment which is accessible as a separate DVD menu item. That's my preferred solution.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 10:03 PM   #3
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Most of our wedding videos are about an hour. Some as short as 45 minutes and some as long as 1:45. There are so many things that determine the length like having a Love Story or Growing Up Photo Montage, as well as the amount of coverage time on the day of the wedding. Typically 4 hours of wedding day coverage will result is a shorter video than 8 hours of wedding day coverage.

Other considerations are the length of the ceremony and how much the Bride wants us to compress the ceremony. We have compressed 45 minute ceremonies down to 8 minutes at the Brides request. We always do at least a light compression. Does the Bride really want to see all 15 seconds that it takes for each person to walk in during the processional, or would she rather see the best 5 seconds of each person. Does the Bride want to hear all 5 minutes of that song during the lighting of the unity candle? Maybe she does, and maybe she doesn't.

How important is the dancing? Does the Bride want a 8 minute version of the dancing that lasted 2 hours. I have actually had a Bride tell me that the dancing coverage was too long. I beleive her dancing coverage was about 30-40 minutes long. Because she spent a lot of money on the band and everyone really enjoyed the dancing, I just assumed she would want to see a lot of dancing.

And what about those toasts? Does the Bride want to hear every word of that 15 minute toast or not? Maybe she does.

These are questions we discuss with the Bride during her consultation. Then we will contact the Bride if we have any questions during the edit.

Sure, the DVD will help navigate to the portions of the video they want to see and that is great, but our goal is to make the video intersting enough that they don't constantly have to skip around to see the "good parts".

I'm not saying the short version or the long version is the only way to produce a wedding video. Our clients determine the length of their video by their desire to see things compressed or not.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions, Inc.
www.TulsaWeddingFilms.com
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Old May 19th, 2005, 10:47 AM   #4
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I really appreciate your input Mark and I respect your opinion greatly.

When you say "our goal is to make the video interesting enough that they don't constantly have to skip around to see the good parts." I struggle to believe that on the biggest day of their life with all their friends together and families bonding that there is not 3 hours of interesting video if you shot for 8hrs? I think some of what is not interesting to us is interesting to them.

One portion of video I provide to clients is "behind-the-scenes." Usually compressed to about 15-25mins it includes various scenes from the photo sessions. If you were to buy a Hollywood movie and if it was a good one, chances are good that you would be interested enough at some point to check out the "making of" or "deleted scenes" in that movie. In my opinion the photo sessions (raw video with original audio) are the behind-the-scenes video. I find many times during the photo sessions, it is a time when there is communication and interaction among the wedding party. Jokes are made, some people are taking direction, some are distracted, some are just giddy, and personalities come out. 10 years down the road, after they have watched the ceremony, reception and highlights over and over again, I believe it may be one of the most nostalgic portions of the video.

A little insight... after the 3rd or 4th 3hr+ wedding video I produced, the bride emailed me to order another copy. I didn't feel the need to query much about her level of satisfaction because I knew she would come by the office in person to pick up the additional copy. When she arrived I could clearly see she was "glowing" and I asked "did you watch all of it?" and she said that they and her side of the family watched it all and they really had a good time. She then volunteered this statement "Christy (her older sister) kept saying, I can't believe how much you got! Her (Christy) reception video was just 35mins." After a few mins of small talk it was obvious that a some sibling rivalry had survived to the day and that part of her glee was due to the fact that Christy's wedding video was bested - and Christy knew it. This barely mentions the fact that they LOVED the music video. Because there is only one music video - I don't find myself saving scenes for another, and the one video becomes "charged" with everything I draw from.

My experience has been that people value content and the more video you provide - the more content you provide. If by chance, they don't want to watch 5mins of video at any particular point, there is a little button on the remote with an arrow pointing to the right which will advance the video as fast as you can say "Farfegnugen!" I would not have the same cavalier attitude about VHS.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 12:16 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Craig Terott]I really appreciate your input Mark and I respect your opinion greatly.

When you say "our goal is to make the video interesting enough that they don't constantly have to skip around to see the good parts." I struggle to believe that on the biggest day of their life with all their friends together and families bonding that there is not 3 hours of interesting video if you shot for 8hrs? I think some of what is not interesting to us is interesting to them.

Hi Craig,

Thanks for your input as well. In the past I felt the same way as you. The more the better. Then as we talked with our Brides before and after the wedding we discovered that not everyone agrees with that line of thought. I already described the Bride that said the 30-40 minute dancing portion was too long. That was with two cameras and a very good live band and everyone really enjoying the music and dancing.


Craig said:
One portion of video I provide to clients is "behind-the-scenes." Usually compressed to about 15-25mins it includes various scenes from the photo sessions. If you were to buy a Hollywood movie and if it was a good one, chances are good that you would be interested enough at some point to check out the "making of" or "deleted scenes" in that movie. In my opinion the photo sessions (raw video with original audio) are the behind-the-scenes video. I find many times during the photo sessions, it is a time when there is communication and interaction among the wedding party. Jokes are made, some people are taking direction, some are distracted, some are just giddy, and personalities come out. 10 years down the road, after they have watched the ceremony, reception and highlights over and over again, I believe it may be one of the most nostalgic portions of the video.

Craig,
That's a very good point. Why not include the fun scenes when everyone is joking around from the photo session within the regular edit complete with some nat sound.

Our brides do have an option to buy the raw footage, but very few do.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying my way is right and your way is wrong. It's really up to what the client wants.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions, Inc.
www.TulsaWeddingFilms.com
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Old May 19th, 2005, 01:49 PM   #6
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I find this thread interesting because I'm working through this very issue as I start my wedding business. My inclination is to do the following: Provide highly edited, fun to watch video of the pre-ceremony, reception and a highlight piece, along with a photo montage if they purchase it. The ceremony will be very much dictated by the client as to the amount of compression. (10 minutes or the full ceremony) Then I was thinking of including a Chapter on the DVD that I'll call bonus footage that is not completely raw but close to it. I can throw in as much as they want to see there. Doing it this way, they can easily view the shorter pieces with friends or click over to the "bonus footage" for the longer lightly edited version. Mark, Craig and Kevin, what do you think of this approach? - Jeff
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Old May 19th, 2005, 03:34 PM   #7
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Hi Jeff,

Will the bonus footage chapter be standard on all of you packages or is it an option that they pay extra for? Either way give it a try.

Over the years we have adjusted our extra features. Every video used to get a Reflective Closing, which would take about 6 hours to edit. We then started charging for the Reflective Closing and guess what, very few Brides bought it, so why should I go through all of that work if it's something that they don't have to have.

So in your case I say try it and see what kind of response you get.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 03:42 PM   #8
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Mark-

There's no misunderstanding. I been a thought provoking discussion. Thanks again.


Mark said: "Then as we talked with our Brides before and after the wedding we discovered that not everyone agrees with that line of thought. ...Our brides do have an option to buy the raw footage, but very few do."

I think that when a major component of decision making involves a cost factor you will get a very mixed message from your clients. Perfect example... I bought a new SUV last year and I didn't want On-Star. ummm yeah, I really did want On-Star - but not for 16.95 a month.


Mark said: "I already described the Bride that said the 30-40 minute dancing portion was too long. That was with two cameras and a very good live band and everyone really enjoying the music and dancing."

(in my opinion) This is likely because she felt that the long dance segment came at the expense of something else - this may not have been the case but because of the short format, it could reasonably have been her assumption.


This may sound negative but I find most of my customers don't know what they want. They struggle with the choice of how many copies to get and how their names will appear in the menu, never mind more in depth questions. When asked about which (distinctly different) highlight video they preferred most - I frequently get the response "I liked them all." Then I say well "no really, if you had to choose one which would you choose?" Then sometimes the bride & groom will choose differently. Then what progress have I made???

The only exception is the Love Story (bride and groom interview). I can't get anyone to do it. That is clearly what they know - they don't want to do that. It puts them on the spot. I have an excellent sample which is very well done and when I suggest that I would do at no additional charge it doesn't matter - I see fear in their eyes as if they were seconds before public speaking. "No thanks - that's not us."

Anyway, I think the more one solicits directions for post production (asking how long it should be, etc.), the more your results are subject to interpretation. "Why did you cut that out?" "I would have preferred to get more of the other stuff." You may say - yes but that is what we are all paid to do. ummm no - not me... I am paid to provide the service I outlined during the initial consultation and it was explained and written as such... "this is the type of service I provide." So far, I've not had anyone walk away from 3+ hours of video.

-Just my point of view - and I'm glad to hear yours.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 07:11 PM   #9
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Good question - I was just thinking about it the other day.

The weddings I've done so far (only 3 mind you) have included:

Bridal prep
Highlights of the Ceremony
Highlights of the Photo session

All up the whole thing goes for about 15 minutes.

Once people have seen an example the deal is sealed - they love it. I'm having to turn people away quite often - I've got a full-time job working in IT and am only doing video stuff in my "spare" time.

I tell my prospective clients up front that they are coming to me for a high quality, stylized and edited highlights video. I've found that most people so far love the idea - they're not interested in a 3 hour long video. They want something they can pull out when people are over for dinner, entertain them for 15 minutes and provide them with a great feel for how the day went.

Having said all that - in my area what I'm offering to clients is very different to every other videographer.

Also, I'd be quite interested in seeing how other people are capturing the entire ceremony. If anyone has the bandwidth and server space I would gladly download it and take a look.

Thanks.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 07:30 PM   #10
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Hi Matthew,

My ideas on the length are very much in line with your thinking. Maybe all IT guys think alike!

I haven't started marketing my shortened versions yet, but I hope I get the same response you're getting.

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Old May 20th, 2005, 07:18 AM   #11
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Matt Said: "They want something they can pull out when people are over for dinner, entertain them for 15 minutes and provide them with a great feel for how the day went."

My customers get a in a very cinematic music video. In that they also "see how the day went." And in my production, when they plunk in the DVD - they have a choice. Obvisously I know that not all guests would not want to sit down for 3+ hours.

Matt, Mark, Kevin, Jeff - I think we've figured something out in this forum! We all THINK we know what the client wants and our record of sales is good (I've sold to 58 of my first 59 clients) and the truth it this... IF YOUR WORK IS GOOD - THEY WANT WHAT YOU JUST SHOWED THEM.
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Old May 20th, 2005, 07:40 AM   #12
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Craig,
You're right. Being new at this, I've been paying close attention to this and other forums. It's amazing how all these professionals have such different approaches - and most of them are working fine. It doesn't matter what the question is: "How do you guys handle such and such.....?" You'll get a complete range of answers every time. Interesting. - Jeff
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Old May 20th, 2005, 07:32 PM   #13
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First of all I think that slamming the VHS format by calling it dead is totally out of line and it is a disservice to the consumer. First of all not only is VHS
very much alive but ever since it has been upgraded to the D-VHS format it simply blows DVD out of the water. Many D-VHS decks are not only fully digital but they have the ability to record and to play back high definition video and are an acceptable means for the distribution of high definition vide for the wedding videographer. Even when the Blu-Ray DVD format is introduced D-VHS will always remain as a low cost alternative to Blu-Ray DVD and the price will be even more attractive when compared to the more expensive Blu-Ray DVD recorders that are more expensive than players alone. With D-VHS you get firewire ports and a built in ATSC digital tuner capable of recieving free high definition broadcasting signals something that I have never seen on any DVD deck or on many of these so called HD ready television sets. For many Hollywood movies like the Passion of the Christ and Terminator 3, D-VHS remains the only format available for high definition viewing. and D-VHS is so good that all the Hollywood movie studios use the format for their daily viewing of their movie shots.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 07:28 AM   #14
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wish it was that easy..

when doing this for a living, u pretty much have to offer what they want...

most of te time they give the go ahead for artistic freedom which is always a good thing, but theres a point to how its presented.

usually the full feature has styalised pieces entwined with "unedited" elemetns such as the ceremony... mind u if i do that, im usually runnign two cameras or intercutting previously shot crowd scenes, to make it look like 2 cameras...
the main even usually runs for 2 hour to 2.5 hrs.. depending on the speeches and ceremony. Ive done a wedding where the speeches went for an hour and 40 minutes, so u really cant do much when the client requests that everything remain intact...
another one, such as an indian wedding, went for a 4 hour ceremony... and its just some guy doing the sermon while everyone just sits.. there is NO activity.. so tryin to make that interesting.. well.... lets just call it another challenge..

they then get a highlights dvd, or special features as i call it, which has slideshows, dvdrom data (with now architect 3 ;) ) deleted scenes, which are edits that just didnt fit into the main, outtakes, boopers etc

I considered offering 2 audio tracks on the dvd, but to tell u the truth, theyre not paying me enough to do that..

personally id prefer a 40 minute cut for the main and a 5 minute highlight.. but im yet to come across a client who wants that. Ive had afew people ask for raw footage, but like negatives, i tell then that its not representative of our work as a whole. It plays a major part, but i tell them to not judge the work based on raw footage, as we film in certain manner with editing in mind. Some people fail to realise that a professional is nto only thinking about what hes filming, but hes also thinking how this particular shot will go with the other elements....
and working non-linear, there are many things which just dont make sense when shooting.. such as keeping a camera rolling while ur running upstairs.. they seem to think that you should save tape (for them that is, as they pay $$ per tape) by stopping.. but they dont realise that youve kept both cameras rolling for easy sync in post..
So if ur gonna give them raws, make sure u tell them whats involved.

me, i dont give it.. its a general rule.. if they really want it, they pay for a 3 hour cut of "unprocessed" footage on 3 tapes. thats it.. if they want more they have to pay for it
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 08:09 AM   #15
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By "raw video" - (edited) video with original audio. I don't know any other way to put it except compressed down slightly. Example: Best man is about to make a speech, the DJ has a problem with the microphone which takes 3 mins to resolve - that 3 mins is edited out. The speech will be on the video in it's entirety with original sound.

I don't ever provide completely unedited video. As you said - it's not representative. Non-professionals don't understand the "keep the camera rolling" concept and not matter what you give them - you are being judged - like it or not. The advantage to the 3+ hr format is that since I switched to it - I've not had even one issue with any customer regarding content, which stands to reason.

That Indian wedding- I read this other videographer did one and the B&G didn't even smile once for the entire ceremony... like it was a sin to look happy or something. Yes, it would be tough to make that interesting - on that we agree. "ummm... sorry I'm already booked for that date."
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