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


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Old May 23rd, 2012, 12:50 PM   #1
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1st wedding video

I got a chance to film a friends wedding and I have to say, it was really fun. This 1st video is the wedding preview or lead up to the wedding ceremony. The 2nd video (that I'm still working on) will be the ceremony and highlights of the reception. I would love go get some feed back from all of you that have been at this for a while. This is my first wedding and I have a lot to learn.

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Old May 23rd, 2012, 03:38 PM   #2
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Re: 1st wedding video

I'm glad you said it was "really fun" - that's the real trick to all of this stuff! Video looks pretty good, I think you got lots of varied and interesting shots and cut together a nice progression. I particularly liked the staged shot of the bride turning to the camera at 2:35 or so.

A couple things I might consider for next time:

Exposure on the inside stuff seemed pretty dark. The window highlights were blown out, but in this case I would say it's better to just let them go and expose for "brighter" skin tones and faces. A wedding is a happy time, so the shadowy look doesn't appeal to me as much. Might have been a bit blue as well - keep that dress white! :)

You did a lot of camera movement, but it looks like most of the time you didn't have any kind of rig to support it. Make sure your movements are intentional, rather than just panning across the action. Use editing to get the different angles you gather from several individual shots. I like to use a monopod to keep things steady. Having a camera on a tripod or monopod will also help keep better focus on shallow DOF shots.

I'm sure that editing this first one you've realized a million things that you liked, didn't like, and should have done. Keep it up, it gets at least a little easier!
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 03:57 PM   #3
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Re: 1st wedding video

I think the shots you toke give sufficient material to produce a nice wedding video but I have the same comment as Nate. Just a monopod would have made a difference, I also see you used a dslr and a fast prime judging by that shallow dof but it seems quite soft, even when sharp. But there where quite a lot of outside footage that was out of focus and on a big screen that really shows. Shallow dof can seperate your subject from the background which looks cool but it has to be spot on, otherwise it just distracts, I suggest closing down the iris more so you have more room for focus on moving subjects. Do you have a magnifying glass attached to your viewfinder? It makes critical focussing a lot easier.

I'd say you have got the feeling for nice shots but you just have to controll your focus, exposure and whitebalance better to make it stand out but for a first wedding I think it looks pretty good.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 01:23 AM   #4
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Re: 1st wedding video

Thanks guys, I don't know when I'll do another wedding, but I will try and put more time into the details that you mentioned. I shot it with a Canon XHA1 with a Redrock adapter and never have gotten them fully dialed in. Thanks again for you help.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 02:14 AM   #5
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Re: 1st wedding video

That's like the size of a bazooka and you then filmed handheld? :) That explains the shakyness and sometimes out of focus images, the xh-a1 has one of the worst lcd screens to accurately judge focus (I know because I use one), a camera with 35mm adapter and a extra lens attached to it should also be on a tripod all the time if you ask me. then you are probably better off just using a simple Canon T2i on a monopod as it will give you much more freedom to move quickly to stage your shots and you will have a much sharper lcd screen to view your focus.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 06:22 AM   #6
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Re: 1st wedding video

Focus and the wobbles are a definate issue there but an XH-A1 just on it's own and handheld is already a handful without a DOF adapter on the front!!

During preps my 2nd shooter has strict instructions to keep her backside against any open window so at least there is no backlighting issue so it's probably a good rule to keep. Even part of a window in shot in a darkish bedroom can throw exposure out a lot.

If I was shooting that I think I would have ripped off the DOF bit and just shoot it with the camera..bridal preps especially have little room to manuoever and certainly no room for a tripod !

I'm sure the bride will be happy as remember you are always over critical about your own work looking at exposure and focus while the bride just looks at the action and people!!

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Old May 25th, 2012, 01:43 PM   #7
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Re: 1st wedding video

bazooka... that is the perfect description. It is a lot to manage in a room full of people. this was the first time I tried to use it hand held. After looking at a lot of wedding videos to find the look I liked, one common factor was that they were mostly hand held.... maybe I went a bit over board. I also think I over color corrected, the good news is that is an easy fix, unlike the over exposure.
Chris, thanks for reminding me of the right perspective. I have been picking this to death. It's good to the extent of wanting to do better next time, but not when it gets to the point I get discouraged about future projects. Your right, the Bride and Groom love it, and don't even see those things.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 04:02 PM   #8
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Re: 1st wedding video

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
I'm sure the bride will be happy as remember you are always over critical about your own work looking at exposure and focus while the bride just looks at the action and people!!
Times are changing, many years ago when I was shooting with just one Sony vx2100 and a cheapo tripod, if you didn't nail the focus exactly of if you footage was noisy or underexposed, when viewed on a small 4:3 crt tv, it all looked good enough. But then came those big *ss lcd screens and my letterboxed 16:9 vx2100 footage looked like crap.

Then came the first HD camera and any mistake would stick out like a sore thumb, very slightly out of focus footage suddenly became very obvious. Noise, that never seemed to have bothered anyone suddenly could cause a client to comment on it (happend to me last year with a sony fx1000/canon xha1 and sony xr520 ceremony shoot where it was too dark for the camera's - except the sony xr520 which produced the cleanest footage - but the fx1000 and even worse the xh-a1 had ants crawling all over the image because of the gain and the client made a negative remark on it, it was even more painfully obvious as the reception footage was shot with a dslr and that was a lot cleaner)

But like you said, it's more important to catch all those important moments, even if they are not perfect shot then miss a few but have cinema like footage, but it's no fun when a clients points out a mistake and they do these days. :)
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Old May 25th, 2012, 08:18 PM   #9
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Re: 1st wedding video

Hi Noa

Sadly we are way too over critical of our own work especially from a techical point of view. Remember that doing a wedding is also a business venture and there comes a time when you just have to say "Ok, that's good enough" I have a competitor here who was telling me the time I allow for edits is too short and he "spends sometimes 2 days just perfecting a sequence of a few minutes"

It's all very admirable to spend 60 hours on editing your bride's wedding BUT if you are expecting to make at least $100 an hour then allowing for travel, consultation, delivery and the actual shoot itself you must ensure that if you spend say 80 hours total on a job you are returning $8000 for it!! I would say 99% of my brides would be over the moon as long as the exposure and focus was good, colour balance was good and I took out any bit that had soft focus or the wobbles!!! After all we are running a business so we also need to be able to produce a product within an economical time frame ...otherwise we are making a loss!!

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Old May 25th, 2012, 08:52 PM   #10
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Re: 1st wedding video

Same goes for all 'art' run as a business and getting too bogged down with any of the mechanics is the reason many folk eventually just give up,
authors, painters sculptors etc.

One way to approach this, is to practice disciplining yourself and plan your post editing schedule, allowing say, 10hrs for editing and just try to do it in 10hrs. .. but over 2 days, so you don't get too tired and panic. You might write out an editing schedule, eg: arrival at the church - 60mins,
ceremony - 120mins etc.

Then go back and 'fix' any glitches. Once you get this down, it could flow over to the way you plan and shoot weddings too.

Cheers.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 10:59 PM   #11
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Re: 1st wedding video

Nice one Allan!!

Of course if you are doing it for fun then you can take 6 weeks to edit the footage but from a business POV you really do need to establish your hourly rate and divide it into your price for the wedding and that will give you an idea of how many hours you have "available" ....deduct the gig itself and the trip to see the bride and it's quite surprising how little time you leave yourself for edits and still stay competitive so being able to plan your edit as you say is vital..it doesn't have to be 10 hours straight of course but it's really pointless doing a shoot for say, $2000 and after normal expenses and the actual shoot and your 3 weeks worth of editing, find out that your would have been better off working at the hamburger joint down the road as you would have made a better hourly rate!! It really is also all about being organised too!!

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Old May 27th, 2012, 09:01 AM   #12
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Re: 1st wedding video

In my opinion, I think that giving yourself limits and settling for a given quality is what will stop you from improving the most. Both on a personal and business level.

There is only so much quality you can get within the limits that you give yourself. And there is only so much you can charge for the quality you provide.

A person who charges $2000 for his work and cares about making a decent amount by the hour will necessarily make sure that they don't invest more than $2000 worth of their time/effort/money. The finished product that they deliver will ultimately be worth exactly $2000 as well. The client will be happy to know that they got what they paid for and the vendor will be happy to know that they got paid a fair price for the amount of work they did. It all seems to be fair and make perfect logical sense.

However, with that mentality, we are bound to always stay at the same rate and will hardly be able to charge any higher than our current price. It is not a bad thing per say. If we're comfortable with our current rate and are happy with the way things are, then there is no point in trying to change a formula that is already working. We all have personal goals and a different definition of success.

I know the way I am and I know that I will always try to push my own limits. Therefore, I tend to always try to provide my clients with a product that is worth what I wish I was charging, and not what I am currently charging. I want my clients to feel that they are getting something of much higher value than what they expect to receive, and not only what they paid for.

I think it makes a world of difference when you compare a client who is very satisfied with your work and one who is completely blown away by it. From a word-of mouth point of view, it will turn you from being highly recommended to being the one people will regret if they don't hire. When the perceived value starts to raise, the actual value will also go up as well.

Obviously, it doesn't always go up at the same rate. You will have time you feel like you're not getting paid much for all the work and effort. But I think it's part of what will eventually make your situation improve.

It's no secret that if we had to name the top 10 most successful people/companies in the wedding industry, they are all the ones who keep pushing limits and I am sure that they have all worked extremely hard to get where they are.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 07:25 PM   #13
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Re: 1st wedding video

Hi Long

It's always good to think that you can do better and if you do better you can, of course, charge more for your services. It's however still a tough issue to decide whther you can now charge double your normal price ... who makes that decision...do you say "I'm twice as good as I was last year so I deserve twice as much" or do you base your raised prices on what your friends and family believe or is it purely that you have more clients than work so you can afford to raise your prices...I understand that it's like art as Nigel says but who/what actually determines that your mromal $2000 wedding video is now marketable for $10,000??? Gosh I would love to charge heaps more BUT my market probably wouldn't handle it!!

Chris
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Old May 27th, 2012, 08:38 PM   #14
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Re: 1st wedding video

Hi Chris,

To me, I think the best way to determine the price that we charge is really by looking at our own work.

I always look at my current work and compare it with what I did in the past to see if I am really able to see a noticeable difference. I also compare myself with other companies in my area. It serves as a good benchmark to see where you're positioned in your market.

I always think that if I need to use words to explain and justify my rates, it simply means that my work is still not good enough for the price I'm asking.

I may not be very knowledgeable when it comes to cooking, but when I go out for dinner, I can generally be able to tell why one restaurant charges more than another one. I may also not know everything about cars, but I can definitely tell why one is more expensive than another one.

I believe that the same theory applies to our industry as well. Brides may not understand every detail about videography and filmmaking, but when they shop around for videography services and compare portfolios and pricing, they should be able to tell when the difference is obvious and noticeable.

I think the best answer to your question is really to look around you. Do you think that your work is obviously standing out from the crowd? If it is, then brides should be able to understand why you're charging more than others. If the answer is no, then it's all about finding ways to get better until the answer becomes obvious.

And I don't really believe in not having a market in your area. It's more about being able to reach the desired market than not having one. Even in the poorest areas in the world, you will always find people who can afford eating out at nice restaurants and driving nice cars. Why wouldn't there be people who will be willing to pay more for better wedding videos as well? If you haven't found them yet, it could be because you haven't found a way to get to them yet, but it doesnt' mean they don't exist.

On a side note, when people talk about pricing, it always reminds me of a scene in Super 8 when the kids saw the train coming and screamed "PRODUCTION VALUE!!!". I think a lot of it reflects the reality of wedding filmmakers, let alone the entire film industry.

Last edited by Long Truong; May 27th, 2012 at 11:19 PM.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 12:40 AM   #15
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Re: 1st wedding video

Like the "dual branding" thread, we are really talking two things here - one is "value" (or "unique selling proposition" in marketing speak), and the other is "market".

There is a wide range of clients that might be "in the market", with wide ranges of "budget", from $0 to ?? So too there are offerings at various price points, with various "value".

A "wedding video" consisting of a fixed camera set up at the back of the room is STILL a video, but what is the value? With practically every consumer device currently sold being able to produce "video" of some quality or another (some quite good), what does a "pro" bring to the table?

On the one hand the prospectve client must be convinced that they WANT a video (one could argue this is the first and largest hurdle), and that they can fit it into their budget. On the other side, the videographer must provide a service at a price that the prospective client feels is acceptable and within their budget (presuming hurdle one has been cleared.

From a VERY practical standpoint, if a business is to become/remain viable, there's a certain amount of "profit" that must be brought in, otherwise you may as well be a Wal-Mart greeter or a barrista... loving what you do only goes so far, and in the end, bills have to be paid. Your quality of end product may be the best, and maybe you can get $10K once in a while, but unless you can "sell" enough of a product in that price range, it's not going to make ends meet.

Realistically, particularly in this age of "infermashun", there's likely to be an expectation of price point (I believe this is typically quoted in the $1.5-2K range "average"). You probably need to at least have SOME package that meets the lower end of the market (to get 'em looking), and then it's up to selling skills and whatever superior quality product you can show off to convince them that your "champagne" offering is what they really want.

If $2k is "the market", and you have to do 5 weddings instead of one at $10k, plus there will be 5 more right behind them at that price, but none at $10K... you do what it takes to keep cashflow going.

And right now, frugal is "in" - take a look at the budget for the Zuckerberg wedding... considering the multi-billionaire status of the groom, it was "modest" and low key. It's all fine and good to improve your "craft", and seek higher $, but there have been more than a few postings about how business disappears of you go past the "ceiling" that brides are expecting...
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