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


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Old July 13th, 2010, 06:20 PM   #1
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In one ear and out the other

So, a few weeks ago, I sat down with a client to explore what type of coverage and presentation she was looking for in her daughter's wedding video. Over the course of this hour long meeting, she decided that she just wanted the basic package with no highlights. Just make sure we get the ceremony and all of the main events at the reception. I confirmed to her that this basic package would be presented to her in a "documentary" fashion....two camera edit of the ceremony and reception main events.

About a week later, I submitted the contract via email, detailing the coverage and final presentation.

She sent me an email today with this request..." I would also like to have a final say with the music for the video because I have seen so many wedding video's where the music was down beat and morbid"

At this point, I responded to her with a splash of cold water, figuratively speaking, "Since you did not want any highlight video's the only music in this video will be what was actually used at the ceremony and during the first dances".

Am I missing something here? I wasn't aware that documentary wedding video's, without highlights, utilized music tracks. Do clients get music video's in that kind of edit or did she not hear what I was saying? I thought I did a good job of explaining what a documentary edit was. Have things changed since I went to bed last night?
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Old July 13th, 2010, 06:45 PM   #2
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Two things...

1. Anytime I use a particular 'term' in talking with a client, I find that I need to clarify exactly what I mean by it. Whether or not your definition matches with others' is not the issue, so long as the client understands what you alone intend for it to mean.

2. Even if a client perfectly understands what their film will include by the end of a meeting, I can't expect them to remember it all come next week. What we do and how we package it in our individual styles is overwhelming for laypeople. I liken it to sitting in on a one hour class on quantum mechanics and then trying to recall everything that was thrown at you one week later...without any review.

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Old July 13th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #3
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Hi Tom
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Sessions View Post
Am I missing something here? I wasn't aware that documentary wedding video's, without highlights, utilized music tracks. Do clients get music video's in that kind of edit or did she not hear what I was saying? I thought I did a good job of explaining what a documentary edit was. Have things changed since I went to bed last night?
Even my documentary cuts include background music, there just isn't the level of integration with the visuals that there is with a cinematic edit. With cinematic the audio goes down first, and with documentary it goes down last.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 07:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alec Moreno View Post
Two things...

1. Anytime I use a particular 'term' in talking with a client,.........
Alec Moreno
Wedding Art Films - Southern California - Los Angeles - Orange County - Video
This reminds me of a job change I had once going from B2B to Consumer and a discussion I had with my supervisor when he heard me use "a term" from "the biz".

Basically the conversation covered what Alec brings up, "terms" can have whatever meaning someone thinks they do. Where as, a description eliminates much of any doubt of what you are trying to convey.

My supervisor knew exactly what I was saying, and what "I said" he had no problem with. It was the choice of "the term" and lack of a complete undeniable description of what "I said" was what he wanted to bring my attention to, and have me correct for the future.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 07:41 PM   #5
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I can see within our own professional community of videographers, the term "documentary" has a broad interpretation. However, I was very specific in my description of our coverage and final DVD presentation.

One other question....how do you insert additional music in ceremony that wasn't there in the first place?
If it is truly a documentary edit, the only music used should be the music that was used in the ceremony; not some contrived videographer's interpretation. That is almost as sanctimonious as standing next to the bride and groom with your video camera in their face, don't ya think?
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Old July 13th, 2010, 10:12 PM   #6
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Hi Tom,

For the ceremony and reception toasts and special dances the music is what was recorded by the cameras. For the prep, post-ceremony and reception candids I ask them for music, which they provide. The visuals are cut for those bridge sections and their music choices are laid over the top. Its a step that adds practically nothing to the editing time but adds a lot of production value. In comparison how I handle music in 'cinematic' edits takes a lot more time and thought, mostly about the story structure and how the spoken words interact with the music and the visuals.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 11:24 PM   #7
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Joel, I don't include pre or post ceremony candids in a "documentary edit". It doesn't make any sense to include a music video of pre and post ceremony activities when the client only wants (to pay for) a live camera, no frills account of the bride and groom's day. To throw in a music soundtrack along with random footage of the day is a bit cheesy. In my opinion, you must be able to differentiate and convey to the client the difference between a documentary and cinematic shoot and edit. Both require a different approach to the overall project. If a client wants to pay for a little 5 minute highlight video to go along with their documentary account of the day, that's ok with me. However, If they want something more elaborate, with music intros to the video, music video's of the reception, a cinematic presentation that incorporates DP sliders, Glidecams, and camera cranes, then they must understand those things cost money. My client seems to think if she wishes it, then it shall be done.

How she came to that conclusion is beyond me. The only thing I can think of is that someone else is telling her she can have her cake and eat it too!

As to adding a "bridge" section, that seems a waste of time and a bit distracting, especially if it is just a few seconds of music and video used to move on to the next scene.

Just my opinion, Joel. On the other hand, you may be a master at scene transitioning and I may need to take some lessons from you ;-)
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Old July 14th, 2010, 11:54 AM   #8
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Hi Tom,

I think we may just have different approaches. I cover every day exactly the same way regardless of what they may choose as an edited product. They only contract to have me there and do what I do. Editing options are chosen after the event. I base my documentary vs. cinematic pricing on the time it takes to complete both. The doc cut takes half the time of the cinematic version and is usually done by an associate editor. So I guess what I'm saying is that the field production is the same, the shots included in the edit are the same, but its the time spent editing, i.e. story-telling, color correction, filters, integration with music, voice overlays, time-shifting, time-compression of the longer events etc., which determines the cost.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 03:11 PM   #9
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Politely explain to the client that the type of video she hired you to do does not feature any additional music.

Even if you felt you explained it well, she is still confused and you might want to try explaining it differently?
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Old July 14th, 2010, 09:21 PM   #10
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Two things occur to me.

Number 1 is that your client maybe talked to a friend or relative who had (or showed them) a different kind of wedding video which the client is now thinking of as "typical." For example, in some of the amateur wedding videos I've seen, they've run music behind scenes from the more formal parts of a ceremony like prayers and sermons. Sometimes this is just their artistic version and sometimes they couldn't get usable audio. Some of my clients think that is what they want until I explain why we don't have to do it that way (i.e., we have good microphones and etc.) Depending on what she says, you may need to explain why you have to charge more for doing the kinds of things where musical overlays may be appropriate.

Number 2: Maybe your client has seen another wedding video which has been done like my basic package. My basic package includes a brief (two to 4 minute) introduction/prelude with titles listing the participants while music plays in the background. Sometimes, my prelude rolls a bit of the setting-up and decorating; sometimes its some clips from immediately before the ceremony starts; sometimes, I've got clips from the rehearsal. Mostly, Its just the area and the venue (we're in the mountains near Yellowstone Park and people often want to see some landscapes in their videos.) This is basically a vehicle for getting everybody's name "in lights" and giving the video a soft start. My contract tells the clients they can: (a) pick a song they want as the audio backdrop for this; or (b) have me loop something from the day (say, if they have a string quartet playing before the ceremony, most of which they don't get a chance to hear); or (c) they tell me a type of music and I generate something in that vein with my soundtrack software (I use Sonicfire Pro.) If they e-mail me the file for the program or give me a printed copy (which I can scan and OCR), it is all very simple and very easy to put together.

So, if your client is expecting this kind of thing, you need to find out now. If she has other expectations, you need to explain that you have to charge more when there is more work and make sure she understands what you will be giving her when its all done.
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Old July 15th, 2010, 12:38 AM   #11
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Tom, all the advice here about terminology is right but surely you showed her some examples of your work? I can't believe she booked you without seeing what you do and how you do it.
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