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

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Old November 5th, 2007, 06:35 PM   #1
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How do I improve productivity?

I just mailed out the DVDs from my second wedding project (man does that trip to the post office feel good!). I'm estimating I spent over 80 hours in post on each project. I love this work but at that pace, I'll be divorced or burned out if I don't figure out how to get this down to a more manageable number (40 hours?). I'd love to hear from anyone on any time saving or productivity tips you've employed to work more efficiently.

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Old November 5th, 2007, 06:48 PM   #2
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It's really hard to say what you did "wrong".

The odds are a big portion of that may be learning-- and that's good, time well spent.

However, 80 hours sounds just crazy for a project.

It's hard to suggest, as it seems the easiest answer is "don't spend so much time on stuff", but that seems to come at the clear cost of quality.

So, what can you do:

1. Well, it IS a wedding video. Certainly don't cut big corners, but maybe you were working too hard on some of the frame by frame cutting? Continuity matters in a feature film, but it'll be ok, probably, if you are just very close (not perfect), in some cases. [EDIT: I didn't mean to insult the "wedding video" community-- but just note that the audience-- B&G-- won't be as aware of minute details like the film community watching an independent movie-- they will be tuned into the overall feel though.]

2. Get better/faster with your system. Learn the keyboard shortcuts.

3. Remove any glitches. Is your harddrive slowing down? Computer stalling out? Buy a new HD, more RAM, whatever, and it'll pay for itself in time shortly.
Are you finding yourself stuck with the file organization? Figure out a new system before starting a project, etc.

4. Find the absolute most efficient work environment. This is absolutely what changes my speed. I'm an experienced editor, but my pace will change how I'm working. If I'm feeling lazy that day and sitting on the couch, editing on my laptop will be slow. But in the same way, it'll go slowly if I'm at a desk with a setup I don't like. Working with a monitor at the right level, keyboard that responds right, mouse that doesn't jump around oddly, and smooth processing-- well that really helps things. The chair, the layout, and the input devices seem to be the most important things there. It may seem trivial, but your environment will really make a difference.
Resist the temptation to turn on the TV, but perhaps play some music, etc. See what happens if you disabled your internet connection for a couple hours, too ;)

I have no clue in what way the above advice applies to you specifically, but it's some food for thought.

Ask yourself-- what was the hardest part? Why was it slow, and what could you do to make it faster? Did you figure out what you did wrong?
Leads to a simple (if simplistic) rule-- every time you do something pick the worst part, figure out why it went badly, and learn from it-- never do that again. Hence, you'll speed up with every project.

Also, consider your pacing-- how many breaks do you take? Should you take more to be less stuck? Less to get more done?

Personally, I like snacking while I edit. Otherwise I get bored. (Then again, if you're sitting there all day, might not the BEST idea... ha.)

Now, overall, what, exactly, took 80 hours:

1. Getting frustrated/stuck?
--Take breaks, or work on two projects at once [finish both in 80 hours, instead of just one, by letting your brain take a break from obsessing], or jump around in the project-- never work on one cut or one portion for too long or you'll just burn out.

2. Obsessed with detail and precision:
--Well, here's where you have to just work to find a satisfactory faster solution. Practice will help, and being a bit less obsessive will too. I know I'll get stuck on a single cut and work on it for an hour-- but that's not really worth it, especially for a final product not concerned with continuity.

3. Editing's hard! Just took forever!:
--Not to worry. Just means you need practice. Maybe editing isn't for you, but sounds like you like it, and I'd be surprised if you can't catch on-- just keep working. Experience is the most valuable piece in editing fast.

4. Too many bugs! System crashed, hard drive was sluggish:
--Update, clean/restore computer, etc.

5. Didn't have enough material; footage needed too much fixing:
--Work on getting it right in camera-- the most important part. Some B&Gs would be happy with the raw tape-- that's where it really counts.
--Or, maybe you were trying to make the cut too long. Maybe there's just enough material for 1/2 hour, not an hour. So, cut it. Or shoot more in the first place.

My advice in editing is to try and find a rhythm. You'll find yourself going fast and getting a lot done at some times-- try to keep that up. If you find yourself getting sluggish, definitely a time to take a break.
And, of course, like with my suggestion of work environment, be VERY organized. The hardest part about editing a wedding may be amount of material, depending on what was shot. A mess of files will absolutely slow you down, and though you may feel like it's slow and counterproductive, the best thing you can do is start by organizing.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 08:39 PM   #3
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Very good info above and some things for you to think about. The first thing that struck me was that you said it was your second wedding project. You're just beginning and it takes time to develop a system that is efficient and works for you. Over time you will find ways to cut down time and effort in post without losing quality. Everyone works differently and everyone edits differently. It's about finding what works for you.

I used to do weddings part time but went full time at the first of the year. Even that change required me to develop a whole new routine and work flow. I found that adding another computer and being able to multitask saved me a ton of time. Most days now, I have 3 computers doing something most of the time.

As Daniel said and I agree with 110% , You have to be organized!!!! That is probably the one biggest aspect of my business that I keep focus on. If you are organized, in your environment and your computer and files, etc., you will find it much easier to develop a workflow and get things accomplished!

If it is just your editing, you'll get better and faster at it. Everyone does! Just give it some time and certain aspects will become easier and faster and make your process better.

Good Luck!
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Old November 5th, 2007, 10:16 PM   #4
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I agree about being organized and disciplined with your shots. Shooting with the structure of your video in mind will significantly shorten the editing time. When I execute this properly, the video is already 80-90% edited in-camera. It's probably the most efficient way to increase your profit margin in comparison to the time spent on a project.

One tip: Create a list of the "must have" shots for each video segment in your final product and get those out of the way first. Once you know you've got the core shots you need, you can put your full focus on getting creative in the moment. This really helps me get the footage organized on the tape/hard disk, and makes it easier to review and organize afterwards. Shooting narratively also helps me save a lot of time. I always try to get the master shot first and then focus on the getting the details. It's not always possible in that order, but once again it helps organize the footage on tape.

If possible try to stop & start the camera for each camera "setup", it neatly breaks the footage into clips that are easy to organize. It's not always possible, but I find it's a very good habit, that saves me a lot of time in the long run. Works best if you have an HD recorder which lets you start recording instantaneously.

Another tip: Have a wife, girlfriend, significant other etc. available for feedback. It's easy to get lost in the editing details without a frame of reference outside of your head. Another person can help you get grounded and focused again.
"Ultimately, the most extraordinary thing, in a frame, is a human being." - Martin Scorsese
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Art Varga View Post
love to hear from anyone on any time saving or productivity tips you've employed to work more efficiently.


stop surfing the net and posting on forums :)
Get rid of your Internet and you will see a huge increase in productivity,
otherwise, join the club and create a backlog of angry brides that makes you envy the door greeters job at Wal-mart.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 11:16 AM   #6
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Thanks - you guys hit on all the key areas that I think are bogging me down

1.) Obsessive - I need to learn to stop at "very good" and not always push for perfection
2.) Organization - I got better on this with my second project. I use Vegas and it has a Media Manager tool that I haven't worked with too much because it tends to crash my system.
3.) Technical Issues - Vegas crashes killed me on the first project then I upgraded RAM and now much more stable. I like the idea of multiple workstations though.
4.) Get better with the camera. This should make it easier to find the good stuff.

How do you all handle the capture process? I've been doing selective capture on the fly as I am review my tapes. I'm questioning whether it would be better to just dump everything to the hard drive (using vegas scene selection to break into clips), then trimming everything in my editor. The problem I have with that is that I end up with bigger files and Vegas seems to not like having too much media loaded into a project library and takes forever to load. I guess this goes back to item 3 so I'll need to solicite some help in the Vegas forum.

Thanks- Art
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Old November 6th, 2007, 11:42 AM   #7
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you need to make a pre-shoot list. kind of scenario or story board.
Consider all the wedding are the same.
if you know what ou need, where you will place it in the movie. all will be very fast.
do not sort things by importance , everything will be important if you need it.
a kiss , a hand shake , a hand over a hand, a car coming in or out ... everything is available if you are looking for it.
then when you come into the wedding, you are not there to hope for something happens and pray to be lucky that it will happen in front of your cam. You will make happens for you...
then back at home, you just drop every pieces where it must go and the movie is over in few hours.
that is the difference between just popping over here and bring back 3 hours of shoot you have to painfully sort to get something out of it..
or get there, take what you want, just make sure you get a bit more for the fun, and go home to pack the thing.
..consider it is a kind of attitude....
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:33 PM   #8
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Some poeople organize as they shoot and make notes of what sections are good;
some watch the tapes and find sections they like, then use batch capture to import them.
Frequently, you are warned against just capturing the whole tape, but I do that, and I think it is the best way, if you have the harddrive space.
You can always chop out sections later, but being able to jump through footage and replay/review sections, compare it, etc. is so convenient.
You may want to try that.
Or just find a way to organize as you review and/or shoot (unlikely, there, as, for a wedding, your ideas will form in the editing process to some extent).
Also, it's tough to find stuff when just reviewing a tape. A completely unusable shot may still have 3 great seconds to fit in a hole in the edit. Doesn't hurt to have that available.

Also, I don't really organize in my editor. I find it annoying and sluggish. Capture to a folder and open the files in Quicktime, etc. Then you can review them just like reviewing the tapes, without the bulk of the editor. Then pull them in once you get some ideas.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 09:09 PM   #9
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You definitely do have to have the system to support the workload so maybe an upgrade / 2nd computer is in your near future. I use vegas and have never had a problem with anything crashing, even with up to 20 hours of footage in one project.
I have always captured all tapes onto the computer and then cut them apart in vegas. This is a much more efficient workflow than cutting it down initially. This obviously does take a lot of space and again, it will be something that you will build up as you go. I'm pushing 3 TB of space on my systems right now so I have plenty of room to store and work with footage, but I know that's much different than your case. Just take all this information and run with it. It takes time to build up a good system and process.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 02:26 PM   #10
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improve productivity

Also one other point, if you find a sort of templete to weddings (of course diferent weddings will require different set ups), you can use this same templete on all or most of the future weddings. Even if it is sort of "cookie cutter-ish" you will not be showing the same material to the same clients over and over. Meaning two wedding parties might get similar wedding DVD's (other than the people) but won't know it because they might never cross paths. This formula might get you headed down a good path, and along the way you can adjust or make changes.

I use a flow type templete; reheasal-pre-ceremony-ceremon-reception-ECT... and just drop the footage in the appropriate spots. I use "chapter menus" ( in the moie itself) to break up the different aspects of a wedding day. In between the pre-ceremony and the ceremony i'll have a little title screen with some motion, or some text moving, or what ever you like and this kind of breaks up the footage. But this also builds a template for future use.

Just food for thought!! Everyone definately works different.
Denny Gay- Passage in Time - Wedding videography in Tampa Bay area-
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