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


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Old May 28th, 2013, 02:16 PM   #1
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Starting out- long form or short form?

I do video editing and motion graphics as part of my day job, and I've been shooting weddings with a photographer I know. I recently shot two weddings (for free) to build up a portfolio, using borrowed equipment.

As i sit down to edit these two pieces, I've realized my downfall is that I haven't made up my mind about what kind of wedding videos I'm shooting for. I pretty much fell into a trap of shooting in between a long form and short form video at the same time before I really figured it out, which i think affected my efficiency and quality. Both shoots contain a plethora of decent B-roll, but my A-roll is pretty bad (bad lighting, focus and camera placement) It was almost as if I sacrificed one for the other. Between the two events, I've shot around 180GB of footage.

What do you seasoned pros think? I realize that short form videos can require more work, editing, and at times equipment. Do you feel that if you're just starting out, would it be best to offer only long-form videos that can be done with a less eclectic variety of shots, and just concentrate on becoming really proficient at setting up for that? Heck, I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions. ;-)

Right now, my equipment mostly consists of:
- Canon XF100 on tripod (A-cam) and shotgun mic
- Canon 60D with follow focus on video monopod (B-cam) with 24-70 and 70-200 and Rhode DSLR mic
- Two Zoom H1n's, one lav mic, and one XLR>3.5mm adapter
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Old May 28th, 2013, 04:07 PM   #2
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

Clients want both nowadays.

A short form trailer and a long form documentary edit showing everything ...

You'll just have to practice and juggle both. Being able to do that is a skill that can be developed in it's own right to be honest.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 05:35 PM   #3
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

Indeed- and it's a skill I'd like to improve. I would love to be good enough to make gorgeous short-form pieces. I just don't want to get caught up in worrying about things that I don't need to do YET, until I get a grip on just making good, simple videos. I'd rather end up with a great simple video, Than a mediocre video where I tried to do everything at once. The video I'm editing now from one of the aforementioned weddings will never make a good long-form. At best, I'll be able to show it as a sample teaser a few minutes long, which is less than I had hoped.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 06:03 PM   #4
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

Agreed that many folks expect both videos... or at least a longer version of the ceremony to enjoy, though we always ask (both before and after) about what they expect and are looking forward to.

Really, you'll just have to figure out what kind of videos you want to make. Some more experience will help.

As for some other things you mentioned:
We use 3 DSLRs, and often end up with 100-150 GB per wedding, depending on how much of the day they hire us for, though we're not very disciplined about when we press the red button. To help, we've started carrying pad and pen and noting interesting moments so they don't get overlooked in the edit.

For us, 3 cameras give us the luxury of lots of angles and cutaways during the ceremony.

During preparation, the focus is on 2 people each with a camera, one for bride, one for the groom. Not that we're tethered to them, but it let's us work on the personal and very random things occurring, whether it's stories being told, or small moments, sometimes in very different places. To do this by yourself you'll have to communicate expectations clearly, like the groom not ignoring you and getting ready when you're not around.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 04:58 AM   #5
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Manford View Post
Clients want both nowadays.

A short form trailer and a long form documentary edit showing everything ...

You'll just have to practice and juggle both. Being able to do that is a skill that can be developed in it's own right to be honest.
I agree. Just like the photographer gives them a DVD with 500 images & then an album with 50 of the best images beautifully edited & finished. The highlights is our album. It's also fantastic marketing as even the most modest of weddings can be made to look wonderful for 3-5 minutes whereas 20-30 minutes of cinematic short form style would be like pulling teeth for some weddings & not what the clients want anyway.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 05:08 AM   #6
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

Have you seen this thread? ...:Shortfilm:... wedding
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Old May 31st, 2013, 01:49 PM   #7
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

That's a pretty nice video. I've been watching tons of AMAZING short form videos, but not really any long form because they aren't as easy to come by online.
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Old May 31st, 2013, 04:47 PM   #8
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

IMO ALL short form wedding videos (films...whatever you want to call them) start out as a long form! Why? Well, in the over 2000 weddings I've shot in my career, there are a lot of similarities but there are some differences in each one and how do I know exactly where those differences are going to happen. I live by the rule that I can't edit what I haven't shot.
I've done short and long form (today I do 99.9% long form doc style) and while the short form gets the juices flowing it can be a real PITA IF you only shoot for certain things during the ceremony and get stuck while putting the story together. Hell, you're there, the camera is there, the wedding party is there, why not record the whole thing and use only what you need to use to tell the story.
Back in the mid 90s when I started doing short form I did it as a lark to keep my sanity, I got tired of the 4 hour vhs tape so I did a 30 minute edit and gave both to the B&G. That's the one they watched. When I started doing that as a matter of course I got complaints that they didn't have everything so by doing both it solved the problem. Took a bit longer but worked out well so it's not a new thing to do both and I just don't anyone is going to pay BIG money for a 10 minute trailer type video only unless it's Sten, George or Martin doing it. Do both, you're already there, and already rolling.
Just my $.02 worth.
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Old May 31st, 2013, 05:44 PM   #9
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

I can't help but think that price should be a consideration as to what you offer and what you deliver? Is it not?

It seems as though price has gone out of the window nowadays. Seems the only consideration is how much equipment and hours I can throw at this?
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Old May 31st, 2013, 07:14 PM   #10
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

Of course price is a consideration that has to be figured in and it will vary from area to area. Here in the Chicagoland area for the most part we are one of the least expensive major markets around but of course there are folks that are getting a very high price for their work and honestly some aren't worth it. The same is true of other areas. I know a guy on the east coast who has been getting 12 to 15K for his wedding for many years while much of his competition is getting far far less.
Naturally the pricing needs to be worthy of the work that is produced and the work has to be worthy of the price being charged.
One could throw 10 cameras at a wedding, spend 100 hours editing and still not be able to charge more than $1000. I'm sure you've seen them just like I have.
Lots to think about for a young person (or anyone) starting in the wedding industry.
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Old May 31st, 2013, 07:19 PM   #11
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

It seems to me from this forum that the wedding videographers seem to be plunging like lemmings over the cliff in a shower of dslr cameras, lenses, audio recorders, steadycams, gliders, cranes and large debts.

Everyone seems to be in pursuit of high paying glamorous weddings, where cinematic shallow dof shortforms and trailers seem to be the holy grail. Never mind the fact that dslrs seem to be patently unsuited to wedding filming with their dof, short video length and crap audio, plus awkward shape and balance for hours of wedding work. Multi dslrs are the order of the day if you want continuous ceremony footage and of course multi audio recorders to mic everybody up as the camera audio won't hack it.

Everybody seems to be seduced by everybody else's work, rather than what the punters actually want. As has been frequently pointed out, only a tiny percentage of weddings actually bother with a video at all. Perhaps it is partly because it is perhaps one of the most important and emotional days in a couple's life and although a short video might be painstakingly, beautifully and artistically crafted and wonderful to watch, it just isn't what most people want. So the market for what most are offering remains painfully small compared to the number of weddings out there.

Like Don I have filmed weddings for the best part of 30 years getting on for 2000 weddings. My experience in the UK is that when I talk in depth to prospective clients both before and after the wedding, they want to see every detail of their day. Not a creative masterpiece over a few minutes with musical emotion and glide cam beauty, but the real atmosphere of the day. You do not need to manufacture beauty and emotion, it's there already! All you have to be able to do, is see the wedding from the couple and the family viewpoint and capture it. You may want crystal clear background free vows, but when they say afterwards 'why didn't you get my Sister's new baby screaming it's head off during the vows, we thought it was hilarious', then you have missed an important part of their day.

Most wedding videographers here seem to want to offer their artistic interpretation of a wedding, I want to offer them a detailedl documentary of that one special day that they and their families will watch over and over again for many years to come as part of their family history. This is also my busiest year ever!

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Old May 31st, 2013, 09:40 PM   #12
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

While my schedule this year is about 1/3rd of what I normally do EVERY single bride asked me the same question before booking and again as we communicated before the wedding. "You are going to capture all of the ceremony right? Oh yeah the introductions, toasts, cake cutting, and first dance, father-daughter dance and mother son dance right?"
IOW, they want it all. Some even said that while they would enjoy a short version or trailer to perhaps email to out of town relatives that couldn't make it but they wanted a DVD of everything so they can relive their special day in full. Well OK maybe those weren't the exact words but the same idea applied. While some of it is the fact that they feel they're paying X dollars and they should get THIS for that money mostly it's the fact that most brides don't see or remember many of the events of the day and we not only see things she didn't but we're recording them. We may only use 5 seconds of a particular clip but that's more than what she might have seen with her own eyes. This to me is especially true with parents and grandparents who might not be around in a few years. Over the years I've had numerous couples email or call me and tell me how grateful they are that I got some footage of Granny or Gramps or Mom or Dad because they passed away and now they at least have some footage of them dancing, laughing or whatever. Like I said, and I'm not knocking short form, I was doing it before many were and even before some knew what a videographer was, but if it looks important, it is but if you don't record it then it's passed thru the eye's of history and will never be seen again and then it will be forgotten. As I get on in age, I realize this is something that shouldn't happen which is why my focus for this year and next is video biographies but I digress. I'm not saying not to do short form but I would include that in a long form doc package. Make sure you charge enough to cover yourself but you can justify your price by offering a superb product that the B&G will WANT to watch for years to come.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 12:51 AM   #13
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

People who offer long form will tell you that their clients want long form.
People who offer short form will tell you that their clients want short form.
Everyone is biased and will tell you that what they do is the way to go because it is what works for them.
The truth is that there's a market for everyone so you shouldn't worry too much about which way you should go.

So forget about what others tell you for a moment and start thinking about what YOU WANT to do first.

Whether it's short, long or both, what's important is that you enjoy doing it and believe in it.
Build your career around it and the rest is all about finding the right clients for you.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 04:29 AM   #14
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

I'm having a dilemma with this as well. Historically I have always delivered a (very) long form edit (full ceremony, one hour of reception plus a short trailer and highlights)

The last couple of years I've offered a short form film (about 30 mins) as well. I spend all my time meeting with the client explaining the differences between the two packages and sometimes they cant make up their minds!

It would be great to offer just one package again that catered for both but it would involve a lot more work for me without being able to up my price to match the increase in editing time.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 06:07 AM   #15
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Re: Starting out- long form or short form?

I often had weddings where they first choose a short form highlight only to realize lots of important stuff had been said at the wedding and after the wedding ask me, "is it still possible to have the ceremony completely?" so now I do film as if I do a long form edit capturing everything and then plan to ask the after the wedding if it's still ok to do the short of form with the highlights or if they want to have a longer form edit with all the important stuff but at a extra costs. This is something I discuss when we first meet, when I see they are in doubt I just tell them to take the short form but that after the wedding they can still decide to have a longer version, it gives them confidence I"m not after their last cent and I give them the opportunity to think it over and make a more conscious decision since it will only be after the wedding they realize how important certain parts where which they did not know before.
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