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


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Old October 12th, 2010, 04:36 AM   #1
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Long delivery time.

I've noticed that many of you give delivery times of sometimes three to six months for the first view. Do you find that couples are happy with that? I guess that they are or they wouldn't book you.

The reason I ask is that I've had quite a few enquirers lately ask how long would it be before they get to see it. They were amazed that they had been told even six weeks or more, one said her brother had now waited almost a year and it's still is not ready.

I deliver mine in two weeks, though in exceptional times it may be a week longer. The longest has been a month and that was only because the couple hadn't decided on the music they wanted and didn't let me have it until a week after the wedding.
I can't envisage doing a run of weddings when I still have unviewed weddings on the shelf, as well as waiting that long to get my final payment. Some weddings don't even last that long.

How does your work-flow work? Do you just shelve it until you've got time, or start each one and work on a few simultaneously?
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Old October 12th, 2010, 05:17 AM   #2
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I think it totally depends on your market.

Right from the initial enquiry to the time we film their wedding we have never had anyone ask "How long?" or "How many copies do we get?". Its not until we tell them in the pre-wedding consultation that they find out the delivery time or how many disks they get when we just confirm it.

Our delivery time is 4 months and this is deliberate.

If you do some research you will find that after a wedding nearly everyone suffers from post wedding depression. No more planning, no more organizing, no more looking forwards to the wedding. Now, if you deliver inside this period the chances are they will watch it with a critical eye, looking for faults or bits missing rather than just enjoying the experience.

We used to deliver 4-6 weeks and would nearly always hear "I remember so and so doing this funny thing with their hands, can we have this, what about that, the shot of the shoes needs to be 2 seconds longer".

Now we deliver after 4 months people just enjoy the movie more. We speak to their photographers though who deliver in 1-2 weeks, who pride themselves on delivering before they get back from honeymoon and they nearly always have had some comeback.

Post wedding depression, always worth considering.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 05:33 AM   #3
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Hi Danny.
It obviously does depend on your market.
But my experience is very different to yours.
In over twenty years I've rarely had anyone ask about something they remember happening on the day, some may say "did you catch so and so" but It's never been a problem if I haven't, I hasten to add it's never anything important or expected, but I have had couples ring from the airport or as soon as they get home to ask if they can pick it up on their way home or call and collect it.

After the build up, the wedding, and then going away on honeymoon I find that most couples want to see just how their day went.

I still don't see how the work-flow works. Do you edit and then deliberately hang on to it for 4 months, or wait for a few months and then start editing, or have a few weddings on the go at the same time?
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Old October 12th, 2010, 05:36 AM   #4
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7-14 days maximum. Get a workflow! If you think several months is acceptable you are kidding yourselves.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 06:25 AM   #5
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Hey John

We think alike!! My normal delivery is 7 days unless I'm waiting for something special!! My viewpoint is that I like to get my plate clean before the next weekend shoot ... I really don't know how others manage to give a 4 month delivery time??? When do you edit...???? After 4 months I will have around 12 - 16 shoots done and if the first wedding is only ready at that stage it would mean that I already have a backlog of 15???? and I might have more shoots ahead.

I do understand that the more cinematic creative shoots need more edit time but I'm staggered when I hear figures like 80 hours of editing.... ??? At a very basic rate of $100 an hour that's already $8000 to be costed into a shoot JUST for editing!!! Our market just cannot support those kinda prices but I must admit I'm fascinated to know exactly how much editing goes into a wedding that has a 4 month delivery time????? and more importantly unless you are charging $10K ++++ how does one turn a profit.

A basic wedding here averages not more than $2500.00 ... take 12 hours for travel and shooting (at $100) and that leaves you a mere 13 hours for not only editing but also DVD creation, printing etc etc

Please tell me how you do it and how you cost a long delivery wedding!!

Chris
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Old October 12th, 2010, 06:56 AM   #6
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Hi Chris.
I too can't figure out how it works. I do a cinematic type short-form cut (though I don't call it that) after I have edited the main event. They get the short form then a menu to play or select sequences from the full docu' style product. Even with that plus the transcoding authoring menu, burning and quality checking the disc I still have it ready for them with personalise printing within 2 weeks. Quite often it's fully completed by the end of the week. And I use up to 3 cameras where necessary so it's not just scrolling and assemble edit.

If you shoot, then store, then edit you may do half a dozen weddings without realising there's a problem with the camera or audio. My nerves couldn't take that. I like to have viewed it through. The only time I can't is when I have a run of consecutive days. But even then if time permits I'll download as soon as I get back at night, looking in to see if I spot any picture problem.

I was prompted to post this as I had a couple at a wedding show say that they were not going to have a DVD for various reasons but one was that her brother was still waiting almost a year since his wedding for his DVD which she didn't think was acceptable (a year is excessive). After that amount of time they get concerned that there must be a problem and they'll never get it. It did transpire though when I asked who had filmed it that it was a hobbyist - though paid, for not a friend - who can only work on it during his spare time and he had managed to get a lot of weddings last year but hadn't the time to work on them.

I think as a professional you have to have more than a good sales technique and the ability to shoot and edit a good DVD but you have to deliver. I thought that it was only furniture stores that made you wait six months for something you'd bought.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 07:35 AM   #7
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I'm afraid i'm with Danny on this one and believe that the build up and suspense of waiting for their finished film only adds to the excitement.
As long as you're honest and tell them that it will take X amount of time I think you'll be alright. And if they get in touch to check progress before then, just don't tell them 1 week when it's going to take 3.

As for pricing, I have never priced a wedding film at the same rate I would price a corporate/commercial job (and i'm sure there can't be many that do), simply because I don't think couples will pay for it.
I'm in a position now that even though I personally film pretty much each wedding, I only edit maybe 1 in 5, with the rest being handled by a couple of editors that I employ on a freelance basis.

Although this means my wedding film profit margin is cut a little, my pricing structure means I still make a nice profit from each film, but more importantly have the time to concentrate on the corporate/commercial side of things.

Maybe i'm slow as it can easily take me a week or 2 to edit a wedding.
An important part of the process for me is once it's been graded and rendered out I leave it for a couple of days or even a week then watch it again and will probably make more adjustments that at the time you just don't notice.

Chris, I would love to see a film that can go through the entire post production process in 13 hours.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 08:00 AM   #8
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We do more than just weddings and in the UK we find most of our work is in the summer months. Meaning we have to cram an entire years worth of wedding income into a few short months. For this reason we do a wedding a week, sometimes 2. Coupled with our other shoots this leads to an edit queue. Not a problem as were now entering our winter months which means no filming but lots of editing :)

I know some people believe that any delivery time over a week is unacceptable. But its never been an issue. We show them our work, we tell them if they ask how long it takes to deliver and not one single person has ever had a problem with it. There happy to wait for the quality of production we create.

No, it does not take us 4 months to edit and we have a very efficient workflow, often creating one of our showcase edits in 1-2 weeks.

As long as you tell them, as we do in the pre-wedding consultation there are no surprises.

If your unique selling point is that you deliver in a few weeks then thats what works for you. John, I find your comment a little odd considering we are in different markets in different parts of the world. If 7-14 days works for you then good for you. However we have found the 4 month mark works a lot better. Just our opinion.

If you tell your couples that 7-14 days is acceptable and anything more is not, then thats your sales pitch. We tell them 4 months is acceptable, they listen and accept that.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 08:21 AM   #9
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Hi Danny and George

That makes sense I guess to shoot first and edit later if you have months of no shooting. Our "slack period" is a mere two months and quite often I still do weddings in June/July!!!

I'm still with George in the fact that I like to see what I have shot and if there are any problems so it's not carried forward to the next shoot. I do admire you guys for shooting first and then tackling a mountain of data at a later date...I must admit I prefer to get each wedding out of the way completely before the next one is due.

Oh, and Andrew.. we don't do wedding films..all our shoots are documentary style so there is often very little editing involved on most clips ...most of the events are single camera and only two cam for the ceremony and speeches normally. I was weaned on analogue cameras and we learnt to "shoot for editing" in camera as linear editing was a nightmare in the SVHS days...most of my event clips will sometimes need just a start and end trim and a quick audio runthru to make sure that the audio is all around -6db.

Two mornings are usually the norm for a wedding for doing all the edits and then a couple of hours to author the DVD.... as was said in the beginning ...it depends on your market!! I shoot budget weddings as I would rather have 10 weddings at $1500.00 each than fight to sell one at $15,000.

I'm quite sure that making a cinematic film would involve at least 40 hours of editing, colour grading and the like and I do admire you guys that make them for your tireless hard work...just not my market and I do better with simple docs that reflect the day and more importantly are easy to sell and make me money...the bottom line is that we do run a business !!

Chris

Chris
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Old October 12th, 2010, 08:43 AM   #10
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Hi Danny.
I understand your business plan and I can see the benefit of keeping a work supply available until your quiet period and of course if your clients expect it to be four months before they get to see it and that works for you and them I'm not going to say its wrong, no more that me getting it done in a fortnight is right. I've just commented that a few people recently have asked me about my delivery time. I've been doing this too long not to know that there is no right or wrong way to go about this business as there is an infinite spectrum of expectations out there. But do you never worry a fault may have occurred in your equipment and you'll be shooting a few events before you are aware of it?
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Old October 12th, 2010, 08:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Knight View Post
7-14 days maximum. Get a workflow! If you think several months is acceptable you are kidding yourselves.
Yes, it is very acceptable. The couples will rarely bother us before the deadline (6 months) and that's because we let them know the times before they sign. As for the workflow, its pretty alright. as a matter of fact we work so hard that for a period of 5 months, wife sees my face for 1 hour every day. It seems simple to do fast, but its not. Because when the season starts and you have 2 weddings plus one or two christenings every weekend and also have the older projects like tv commercials, corporate videos etc running then you know that editing that fast is impossible, and we are pretty used to editing. So we have two options. We will either edit super fast, give a crappy DVD and take the cash or we will take it slow and have it ready when it will be ready. The couples respect that and I respect the couples and the money they pay me to give them something decent (at least). Ok, maybe we are slow or badly organised but the couple cares more about the result. At least most of our clients do.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 09:08 AM   #12
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Hi Dimitris.
I hope your not implying that work that is finished within a fortnight will necessarily be 'crappy'. I think you'll find that all clients expect (and deserve) a decent result. All I'm saying is that it doesn't take me four months to get there. But then I don't do tv commercials and the like.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 09:14 AM   #13
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Hi George, we actually capture and check all footage the day after a wedding. We then also perform an offsite and onsite backup. We spot check the audio files and the video footage. As we shoot all on DSLR's (again, not for everyone) we need to ensure the data is captured and looks fine before we format the cards for the next wedding. We have developed a very efficient workflow that ensures data is secure, equipment works and edits are completed rather quickly. But no matter how good your workflow is, there is no getting away from post wedding depression. We want people to watch our work without an eye which is just looking for faults. However, if they saw our work 2 years ago there is no way they would accept a 4 month wait when Joe Bloggs is offering the same quality work with a lot less waiting time. Our wait used to be 4-6 weeks.

We produce their highlights not long after the wedding, something to wet their appetite. This is because we are not yet producing SDE's so do the next best thing. We have been known to do a next day edit for the highlights.

This then gets emailed around, goes out on facebook and all over the place.

Back to your comment about customers asking about delivery time. The truth is there is no magic number. You say 2 weeks to some and I gurantee someone will look at that and ask why so short. Others will ask why so long. This forum is full of people with their own opinion, customers have their own opinions too ;)

If I could go back in time and tell myself 2 years ago that we charge what we do now, deliver after 4 months, shoot on photo cameras and no longer give them 10 copies I would have looked at myself as if I were mad. Come to think of it, If I saw myself from the future I probably would think I was mad,... but you get the picture ;)
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Old October 12th, 2010, 09:34 AM   #14
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Hi Danny.
You obviously have good secure working practices and a client approach that works well. As I said before there is no right or wrong way to approach this business, just good or bad. Good is what works and keeps work coming in.
I hadn't really thought much about delivery times before it was just the comment from the couple I saw the other day got me thinking that others had been mentioning it recently. I couldn't see how the timeline worked, you've now explained it. I've always worked to completing as soon as possible. Please note I say 'soon' not as quickly as possible; there is a difference. It's just that I prefer, and I'm in a position to, do that rather than have uncompleted work hanging around and money that should be in my bank sitting out there waiting for me.

Last edited by George Kilroy; October 12th, 2010 at 10:25 AM.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 11:06 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by George Kilroy View Post
Hi Dimitris.
I hope your not implying that work that is finished within a fortnight will necessarily be 'crappy'. I think you'll find that all clients expect (and deserve) a decent result. All I'm saying is that it doesn't take me four months to get there. But then I don't do tv commercials and the like.
Hi George. I am not implying that work that finishes so soon will be crappy. I am implying that OUR work will be crappy if done in such time. Maybe we're just incompetent in working faster and more efficiently, but I can't be really sure.

In the previous post, I was writing with Iphone, which although superb, isn't identical for writing easy and detailed. Now, I have to explain some more things I didn't say earlier.

Besides all the above, we also do photography. Not shooting, but because of my brother's previous job (graphics designer), we do the processing of the photography and creation of digital albums (not the printings of course) by ourselves. We could let the photographers do that, but they will never make an album layout like my brother does (and our albums are excellent). So, we also have the photo thing to do.

Now add the tv commercials, corporate videos, talking with customers, going out to pay bills and banks, do some Internet promotion, talk with more people for new (out of weddings) works, reprint photographs asked by couples that have already received their work, AND editing the videos, which takes lots of time, doing the cinematic and documentary versions, exporting, correcting errors we saw after render, re-exporting etc etc.

I believe a normal wedding video takes us a week from the moment I open my project in Premiere to the time thw Bluray is ready. A week, if everything around works fairly ok (which usually not happens)... I work 12 hours a day (at least), but in these hours there are much more to do than just edit. Now, imagine that for every week of editing for delivering a product, I have 3-4 new works that require editing, and you can see how far behind I will be after a month of shooting. I think it's inevitable but although I work a lot, I also have a life to live, and will not sacrifice that in order to go faster.
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