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

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Old March 6th, 2006, 09:23 PM   #1
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First Experience as a beginner in weddings

I would like to ask you guys what were your experiences when you did your first wedding video?

I am pretty much a newbie and I just did my first wedding few months ago. I thought I could do a better job but I find A LOT of flaws in my video and I am not sure Im am comfortable to show to my next prospect clients not until I have a really good demo.

I am currently waiting for my next wedding shoot on May and I promised myself that I will do a better job so I could use it as a demo.

Did you guys go with the same state as I was? Would you mind sharing your other experiences?
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Old March 6th, 2006, 09:46 PM   #2
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For some reason, a tune Mac Davis did years ago comes to mind.

"Oh Lord it's hard to be humble..."
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Old March 6th, 2006, 10:49 PM   #3
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Boy, my first shoot was an all day Catholic event. It came out pretty my opinion it came out really good for a fresh beginner. I was shooting a lot of it with the express purpose of getting some good demo clips. I think for your very first wedding video (or more, even) it's a real good idea to way overshoot your footage to give you as many options as possible in the edit.

As far as what you've already got, are there not "any" (would be in itallics if the forum software allowed) good "clip moments" that you could pull from it to use as demo material? Honestly though, for your first two or three weddings you shouldnt even need a demo to begin should just try to get any booking you can for any price you can get by just being completely up front and saying that you want to get into the business and need to get some experience and demo material...believe me, there are enough cheap (or just budget challenged) couples out there that would love to get a wedding video from someone whos trying as hard as they can to make it good and are doing it for next to nothing! If you actually mention that you need to do it for demo material they will know that you'll give it everything you've got because they know you'll be counting on that footage to get more should be easy enough to get a few more gigs like that. If you have to just go to some bridal shops and actually openly advertise that fact under your real name (save advertising under your business name for when youre ready to price yourself...make the quick and dirty ad unrecognizable from what will soon be your real deal ad).

When you get three weddings done with a handfull of decent clips that cover each of the main parts of your wedding video you can then build a pretty good demo.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 11:30 PM   #4
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My first wedding was a 3-camera/3-operator (one of whom was completely inexperienced) shoot for the ceremony. I also shot the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner the night before, as well as the girls and the guys getting ready during the morning and afternoon.

Oh, and it was an hour out of town.

Needless to say, it was stressful, but I got pretty good footage from it and learned a lot in editing to make the rest of it look as good as possible.

In your position, if the footage from your first wedding doesn't feel worth showing to your next potential client, then don't. I would say you are better off talking to them rather than showing them a really bad video. I think that's what you were looking for advice on.

You can explain that you have shot a wedding before, but that you don't have anything to show them. It's a tough sell, unless you're doing it for free for someone who wouldn't even have video otherwise. Regardless, it's better than showing a bad video I think. Hope that helps.
Black Label Films
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Old March 7th, 2006, 04:03 AM   #5
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ALL of my wedding nightmares involve inferior wireless mics. My first wedding was with two consumer hi-8 cameras and a cheap consumer wireless mic. I have some sound experience and was friends with the bride and groom. I volunteered to save them $400 and supplied a small PA system for ceremony and reception. I put the receiver at the mixer and recorded the signal on tape. I got to the location in plenty of time and set everything up. It worked flawlessly. I should add that the wedding was on Maui and I live on Oahu, so I spent significant time and effort lugging equipment around.

Amidst the groom's vows, after the mic being on and working perfectly for about an hour, the mic started dropping out and broadcasting static over the PA. I had the speakers way in the back of the courtyard with the volume down low, just low enough for the people standing to hear the bride and groom. I was careful to avoid feedback conditions. The batteries were fine. I did everything right in advance, except for purchasing a good mic. I admit that I panicked a bit and missed part of the vows with my primary camera. There was a waterfall in the courtyard, so the on-camera mics had useless audio. I eventually just shut the PA off. Fortunately, the volume was low enough that it didn't disturb the wedding party.

The reception was fine and my PA with a XLR vocal mic worked perfectly. Fortunately, I had so much great footage that I was able to accentuate the good and limit the bad. The bride raved about the video and her mother sent me a letter of thanks! Regardless, I'm sure I generated several new grey hairs that day.

I guess the moral to the story is that you should not have any bottlenecks in your video system. A great camera with a crappy mic is a bad combination. Don't get anything but a professional wireless for at least $450. Also, don't panic. Things may just turn out fine if you compensate for what didn't work as planned.

I found the email she sent:

"Dear Marcus,

Sorry you didn't receive our original e-mail message. This one will have to
come via Susan as I no longer have your address. I said we had viewed the
video twice with some very dear old friends on our recent trip to NY. The
women were reduced to tears and even I was weeping though I knew what was coming. The voice over was so affective and gave everyone a clear
understanding of the beautiful sentiment being expressed. One of the
comments was that it could be used as a travelogue. Many thnks for such an
outstanding job done with such feeling. It will be a treasured memento of
one of the most important occasions of our life.

With appreciation, Barbara"

Re-reading the letter, I remembered that I HAD TO DUB THE VOWS! Even after all those problems and getting the bride and groom to re-record their vows, the lady that probably paid for the wedding goes out of her way to thank me. Yes, the post-production was a nightmare due to bad footage, but even a disaster can work out in the end.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 06:45 AM   #6
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First Experience as a beginner in weddings

You guys have a good points and very interesting experience.

I do have some clips that are really done good so I can turn into a 4-5 min. demo.

I guess it would a tough sell if my next prospect would like to see the whole video of the wedding I shot. Which I probably would not show.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 07:22 AM   #7
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The most important elements of a demo reel are shots of gorgeous brides. The bride wants to know that you will make her look beautiful.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 08:51 AM   #8
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Hey Billy, as another newbie wedding videographer, I have to remind you that even a fair wedding video is still precious to the B&G. Sure, we can all do better, but just do the best you can do, and charge fairly. Don't charge $2500 when you feel your work is still at the $1000 stage. BUT... don't sell yourself short. Show your existing videos around and solicit opinions. What you think is sub-standard may get rave reviews from "regular" people.

I occasionally watch the first wedding I shot and cringe at the poor camera work and sloppy editing. Yet, just yesterday, the parents of the bride were in my office to hire me for their parent's 50th anniversary video montage. They still go on and on about how much they love the video. They're not looking at the technical details - they're looking at their family and remembering the wonderful day.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 08:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by John Bennett
The most important elements of a demo reel are shots of gorgeous brides. The bride wants to know that you will make her look beautiful.
Ditto. Forgive me for the crass remark, don't make older brides and less-than-beautiful brides the focus of your demo. It's not bad to include them briefly to show the diversity of weddings you've done, but make sure most of the time includes beautiful, young brides.

One of my competitors has a demo on his web site and the only B&G are probably in their 70's. The old guy is actually missing teeth... It's not a very effective sales tool.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 09:13 AM   #10
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My first wedding video was shot with a Sony MiniDV Handicam, handheld, using the on-camera mic. Talk about camera shake and weak audio! I learned TONS just from that one experience! But, I was able to eek out a pretty good DVD. Not bad since I didn't charge them anything....

Second wedding was with two cameras: Sony Handicam and a Sony 3-chip. When you can afford it, I HIGHLY recommend a 3-chip. What a difference in picture quality. I also got a nice shotgun mic.....but forgot to TURN IT ON during the ceremony. Fortunately, I had another one on my Handicam, so I had a backup. <phew!> Yeah, no stress to this at all... Three months after the wedding, the bride's mother tells me she still enjoys watching that DVD.

You'll learn more and more with each event experience. It seems that when one project is done, I'm eager to get started on the next. I haven't made the complete leap into weddings, but I'm close. This forum has been a gold mine of learning resources.

Have fun!
Edward Slonaker
El Pilon Productions
San Patricio, Texas
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Old March 7th, 2006, 03:32 PM   #11
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You know, Daniel, you made a great point that I haven't thought of... using your regular name instead of business name when soliciting for free/low cost weddings to build a portfolio. Makes sense that your business name not be associated with a free wedding.

Billy, I'm in the same boat. Even though I've shot about 20 ceremonies so far, I have very little that I have done myself, and can therefore show as my own work to book weddings. I'm working for another videographer in town to build experience, and I'm learning a ton. My first wedding experience was terrible compared to what I have learned over the last year! Like others here have said, though, they still love it and just a few months ago requested more copies for family. I shot it with a little Panny 3-chipper (I think the GS-120) and an old, worn-out XL-1. The audio was terrible... the video was shaky... the image quality suffered from the 1/6" chips in the Panny... but they just loved it.

Believe me, if you really love doing this, you just keep getting better. There's some good tips in here!

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Old March 7th, 2006, 04:33 PM   #12
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I was very proficient in camera operation and editing prior to producing wedding videos which helped A LOT. I would be really nervous if i had to figure things out in the middle of shooting a wedding, but like said in the matter how many wedding you shoot, you will be thrown a curveball or two from time to time so just stay aware out there. Currently i am fortunate to have a partner that "rocks" so we split up responsibilities within the comapny.....this also makes us a little more efficient than many who are solo's. Working with other quality wedding videographers prior to starting your thing is at the top of the list for "how to get into wedding video business"'s just plain smart.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 08:26 AM   #13
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do you guys show a 3-5 min demo to your clients or do you show a the actual wedding (assuming you compressed it to 15-30 mins.)?
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