by Stuart Sweetow of Audio Visual Consultants
Why Choose a Professional Videographer?
Your wedding day is perhaps the most important day in your life. Your family and friends are there to share in the love–the excitement–the beauty. It is a beautiful and joyous occasion, and it goes by all too quickly.
Only a professionally-produced video lets you see the whole wedding and reception as it really happened. You hear each word, see everyone in action, you can actually feel the emotion. It’s the closest thing to being there.
A professional video is the real thing. Only a pro can clearly capture the sound of your vows, the sharp details of your dress, the expressions on the faces of your parents. Professional videographers know how to skillfully blend together beautiful images reflecting the emotion of your special day and the love you have for each other.
Home video is a relatively new medium. It is really in only the last few years that households have had VCRs or DVD players. The impact of videos of family events and rituals is only beginning to be understood.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could see a video of your parents’ wedding? Hear your mom and dad’s vows. See them dancing at their reception. Our generation is lucky to be able to show our future children a video of our wedding. What better way to preserve family traditions?
An anniversary gift for yourselves–year after year!
Your spouse and you sit together, maybe with a glass of wine. It’s your anniversary night, and you are all alone. You slip your video into the DVD player, and relive the excitement of the day you pledged your love for one another.
“I never realized how important the video would be”
“The video showed so much that I missed at the wedding”
“We are so glad we got a professional video; it is better than we ever imagined.”
“Unobtrusive” and “discreet” are terms used to describe professionals’ style of wedding and event videography. Professional videographers promise to maintain only the highest standards in both production quality and demeanor. The videographer will be appropriately dressed, will not interfere with any of the proceedings and will minimize camera movements. Using new, lower-light cameras, lights are seldom, if ever, used inside churches and synagogues. If additional lighting is required, professional videographers are careful to use only the minimal level of light and they will keep lights inconspicuous.
Professional videographers work together with officiants, coordinators and other providers to make sure they all do their jobs in harmony with one another. Professional videographers plan out their camera locations to remain unobtrusive. Clients frequently tell us that they hardly knew the videographer was even there.
A Word About Pricing Your Video.
Professional services come in a wide range of prices. How can one videographer command a fee two to three times that of another?
The videotape of your special day will remain in your family for generations to come. After the wedding, the flowers will wilt, the food will be consumed and the dress will go into storage. All you have to remember that joyous occasion are the photographs and your videotape. The photographs are mostly posed shots with maybe a few candid moments thrown in. The videotape shows all the action, the sounds, the excitement, the energy. Professional videographers report time and time again the emotional reactions in brides and grooms when they view their wedding videotapes. Can a photo album really elicit that level of feeling?
Only a videographer with training, experience and creativity can capture the magic of that special day and preserve it on videotape. The more talented videographer has, not only the technical skills to create sharp images and clear sound, he has that certain sensitivity to know just when to get the right shot. Whether it is the groom’s reaction when he first sees his bride-to-be in her wedding gown or Mom and Dad’s holding hands during the couple’s first dance, the more perceptive videographer has the vision to capture these special moments.
A professional videographer who commands a higher price has demonstrated, through years of honing his or her skills, ways of capturing some of the subtle, but emotional moments of a special event. He positions the camera to create artful compositions. He looks for soft backgrounds to complement the main action. He will take that extra time during editing to blend your images together so they flow perfectly. He has developed a level of grace and style that only years of experience can form.
Additionally, many of these seasoned pros have developed their businesses to the level where they can afford to purchase the finest quality video cameras and editing equipment. The videographer who charges three times as much as the competition, may be shooting with a video camera that costs five times that of the others. Over the years he may have invested tens of thousands of dollars in broadcast-grade editing gear. Compare, side by side, tapes made on this high-end equipment with those of the lower-priced videographer who uses less expensive gear.
Visiting several video studios to scrutinize videographers’ work may not be as much fun as trying on dresses or sampling cake, but the extra time you invest in choosing the best videographer for your most important day will pay off for years and years to come.
What’s New in Professional Wedding Videography? While your parents will enjoy viewing your entire wedding ceremony and reception, your friends might appreciate a highlights video that captures only the best scenes combined together in fast-paced and exciting manner. To entertain guests at their receptions, many couples have the videographer shoot an engagement session. They can produce either a concept video or a love story. This is a short video set to the couple’s favorite music that is projected on a large screen at the reception. Even if this short video is not shown at the reception, it makes a grand opening for your completed wedding video. A photo-montage of growing-up pictures set to music is an inexpensive way to entertain your guests or to place at the beginning of your video.
One of the most exciting developments in event videography, is the availability of professional quality, low-light camcorders. Guests don’t want the glare of bright lights during ceremonies and receptions. While a small light may be needed for most of the reception videotaping, ceremonies in even a dimly-lit church or synagogue can be recorded without lights at all.
How to Choose a Videographer.
A professional videographer not only earns his or her living producing videotapes, he or she knows how to create a video that you will enjoy watching. Furthermore, a pro respects the sanctity of a religious ceremony and knows how to remain unobtrusive. Meet with several videographers, look at their work and decide if you like this person enough to want to spend your most important day with him or her.
Here are a few tips to help you select a videographer.
When you look at sample tapes, view complete weddings, not just a demo tape with only the videographer’s best shots. You want to see how the processional was covered, you want to hear the wedding vows, you want to see how the reception was taped. Make sure the samples you view have been shot by the videographer who will tape your wedding, rather than by someone else at the studio.
Get names and phone numbers of the videographers’ previous clients. Call them to find out what they thought of the video quality and of the behavior of the video crew at the wedding.
Choose only a videographer who has been shooting weddings for several years. Videographers who shoot news for television may have impressive credentials, but unless they have taped weddings, they may not be the best choice. A still photographer who also shoots video or who may hire a videographer may not be the best choice either. Choose someone with professional training and experience in event video production.
While a good videographer can do more with low level equipment than a low level videographer can do with good equipment, make sure that the videographer you choose will be shooting your wedding with a good quality camera. A broadcast camera will get you sharper pictures than a consumer camcorder. Make sure the videographer will use broadcast-quality editing equipment Finally, will your videographer bring a backup camera and other backup gear?
We hate to think of accidents or damage at a joyous occasion. That is what insurance is for. Videographers should be covered by professional liability insurance.
WEVA stands for the Wedding and Event Videographers Association, a professional association of videographers worldwide. WEVA members pledge to uphold the highest professional standards in both videography and demeanor. WEVA members have access to continuing education to upgrade their skills and keep abreast of the latest technological advancements.
Will my wedding video deteriorate after a certain number of years?
The best way to preserve your wedding video is to have your videographer make a copy onto the latest video format every few years. With VCR technology changing so rapidly, the problem may be finding a video machine to play your old videotapes. You may want to consider transferring your video to DVD.
In addition to hearing the officiant speak, will I be able to clearly hear my vows and any readings or toasting?
Make sure your videographer uses microphones located close to where people will speak. Many videographers ask the officiant and the groom to wear wireless microphones. The videographer will place additional microphones near the podium and any other areas where people would speak or sing.
How much should I spend on a wedding video?
According to Deborah McCoy, author of “The Elegant Wedding and the Budget-Savvy Bride,” “Your video should cost no less than your photography. In fact, if you were to analyze it, there is no doubt it should cost more.” She says that video should be one of your top priorities and that if you are on a budget, to scale down on the photography, and “put your money in your video.” Rates vary from region to region, and the number of cameras used at the ceremony and the sophistication of the equipment dictate different rates. Watch out for wedding videography that is priced cheaply; you probably will not get a sharp video that flows smoothly when edited.
Do I have to have my tape edited? I’m worried that the videographer will cut out something I want.
The term “editing” in video is a little different than editing of printed materials. When editing a video, the entire service may be left in. In the editing process, the videographer combines images from two or more cameras, or if the video was shot with a single camera, shots are combined to create a smooth flow of action. In the editing process the videographer can create a montage with scenes of guests arriving put to music. He can cut out shots of waiters walking in front of the camera and he can make the cake-cutting move along without a hitch. He can add reaction shots of parents and guests to add to the level of emotion. Professional videographers spend an average of 20-30 hours editing weddings. This is the finishing process, and a professional videographer isn’t finished until the video is perfect.
What are the different kinds of cameras– digital, 3-chip, 1-chip, broadcast?
Advances in video technology have brought down the costs of video cameras to the point where you can have a wedding video that looks every bit as good as broadcast television. Digital cameras generally have clearer pictures, and the colors are more accurate. Tapes recorded on digital cameras make better VHS copies and lend themselves more easily to sophisticated editing effects. Both digital and conventional cameras come in a choice of 3-chip or single-chip. The more expensive 3-chip cameras create sharper pictures than the single-chip cameras. The higher priced, broadcast-quality 3-chip cameras reproduce skin tones with all their softness, because they have a wider contrast range.
Will the videographer attend the rehearsal?
While some videographers will charge for their extra time, if the videographer has not shot at your ceremony location before, it is a good idea for him to scout the location. He might even videotape the rehearsal dinner. At the rehearsal he can speak with the officiant to discuss where the bride and groom will be standing and he can determine camera location(s). Show the videographer where the bridal party will stand, where readings and singing will take place, where the processional and recessional will start and end and where flowers will be placed. If you have a program or itinerary, give that to the videographer, and discuss any other details that he should know about. In the video industry we use the phrase, “prior planning prevents poor productions.”
Should I meet with the videographer a few weeks prior to the wedding to plan the day’s schedule?
Yes, even if only over the telephone, it is necessary that the videographer know well in advance what will be happening and when. The videographer will probably ask you such questions as: Are there any pre-ceremony activities, such as bride and groom preparation? Will you want a shot of you arriving in a limo? Will you want bride and groom interviews prior to the ceremony? Where will participants be standing during the ceremony? What happens right after the recessional? What is the itinerary for the reception?
Will the videographer interview guests?
Interviews can be a great way for family members and close friends to say something special. However, some couples do not want interviews. Discuss with the videographer how he or she conducts interviews. Shoving a microphone at an unsuspecting guest while he is eating should be avoided. Some videographers prefer to conduct interviews in a foyer or quiet side area. Sometimes it is a good idea to let guests know in advance that they may have an opportunity to say something to the camera; it lets them prepare their message and not be so surprised.
What about an engagement video session?
If you want to entertain your reception guests with a short video about your relationship, or you simply want to have a more powerful opening for your wedding video than growing-up photos, consider a Love Story or a Concept Video. A Love Story is a short video set to your favorite music that reflects the love you have for one another. Frequently shot at a pretty setting such as a garden or beach, a Love Story video employs video artistry, carefully woven layers of imagery, soft filters and subtle special effects to craft a unique and beautiful music video of the two of you in love.
A Concept Video could also be set to your favorite music, but it tells a particular story, such as how you two met. A Concept Video could use your growing-up photos plus live footage to tell the stories of each of your childhoods, culminating with the two of you together
With your entire family together for your wedding, it is easy to produce a Family History Video where you and your future children can learn the stories about your parents and grandparents. The taping might be done the day after the wedding, perhaps at a brunch. Ask your relatives to bring some early photos, and the videographer can include those in the Family History Video. This is a great way to pass on the legacy and traditions of your family to your future children.
How long will the finished video be?
That depends on the length of the wedding service and the variety of activities at the reception. If you and the videographer agree to shorten the processional and ceremony in the editing process, the entire video could be 60 minutes in length or shorter. If you want to include an entire ceremony and there is a lot of toasting and games at the reception, you could have a 120- minute video or longer.
Can I get a shorter version of the video?
Yes, this is a good idea if you want to show your wedding video to your friends and you want them to remain your friends. Parents love to view the entire ceremony and reception, but friends usually have shorter attention spans. A second edited version, sometimes called a “highlights video” that lasts about 30 minutes can show all the important actions at a pace that will keep most viewers interested.
Should I feed the videographer?
Yes, indeed. Videographers’ creativity is heightened with nourishment. Remember, your videographer(s) started gathering gear together several hours before the ceremony. By the time of the reception he is hungry. While the videographer(s) don’t need to be seated at a table with your guests, it is customary to have a table reserved for the vendors—musicians, photographer, videographer, etc. Try to seat the videographer in the main room so he can videotape any action that takes place while he is eating. Try to arrange for the videographer and photographer to be served first, rather than be the last to be served. He may never get a chance to eat if toasting and dancing start early. Avoid seating the videographer in a different room; he may miss toasting and the first dance.
How can I make sure the photographer and videographer work in harmony?
Frequently photographers and videographers know each other and have worked together before. Make sure the photographer knows you will have videographer(s) there and to allow room for the videographer to work. Ask the photographer to avoid standing in front of the videographer during the ceremony or walking in front of the videographer at key activities during the reception. Just as professional videographers strive to remain unobtrusive, so should photographers.
My Uncle Charlie has offered to videotape my wedding as a gift to us. What should I tell him to make sure he gets the best shots?
It is wonderful of Uncle Charlie to offer you his time and talents on your special day. If Uncle Charlie is a member of WEVA or is a professional wedding videographer he will know how to document the day. However, a once-in-a-lifetime event should not be left to videotape by anyone other than a pro. Too many things can go wrong. If Uncle Charlie does not use a tripod, the picture will be too shaky to watch. If he doesn’t use wireless microphones you won’t be able to hear the vows. If he doesn’t get a good camera location you may see mostly backs of people’s heads. Uncle Charlie will probably enjoy your wedding more as a guest. If he wants to give you a gift of video, perhaps he could purchase an add-on such as an engagement video session, a photo montage or a highlights video.
Technology that includes the newer digital camcorders and editing equipmen. Digital camcorders produce sharper pictures than their conventional analog counterparts. However, a high-end analog camcorder is still better than a basic digital camcorder.
A series of short shots usually accompanied by music. Montages are created during the editing process. They are used to enliven church arrival sequences and cocktail hour coverage. Photo montages are photos transferred to video, usually with music.
Shortened versions of weddings and receptions. Averaging 30-minutes in length, they show key scenes of the major activities and are better appreciated by friends than the longer versions.
Concept Videos (Engagement Video Session)
Short tapes that tell a story about the couple. They frequently incorporate music or interviews and tell a specific story, such as how the bride and groom met or something that the bride and groom have in common. Concept Videos make great reception entertainment and are a good way to start off a wedding video. A Concept Video could use your growing-up photos plus live video footage to tell the stories of each of your childhoods, culminating with the two of you together.
Similar to concept videos in that they show the bride and groom, but the Love Story relies more on music and beautiful imagery and less on storytelling. If you want to entertain your reception guests with a short video about your relationship, or you simply want to have a more powerful opening for your wedding video than growing-up photos, consider a Love Story or a Concept Video. A Love Story combines shots set to your favorite music that reflects the love you have for one another. Frequently recorded at a pretty setting such as a garden or beach, a Love Story video employs video artistry, carefully woven layers of imagery, soft filters and subtle special effects to craft a unique and beautiful music video of the two of you in love.
Photos transferred to video, usually synchronized with music. Frequently, brides and grooms will have their growing-up photos precede their edited wedding video. Reception guests enjoy seeing the photo-montage projected on a large screen.
The process of combining together the shots the videographer wants to use. In editing, music, titles and special effects are added, and the finished product is created. Montages are created in the editing process. Broadcast-quality editing equipment is used by professional videographers to accurately compile the various shots into a smooth-flowing finished videotape. Consumer-quality editing equipment lacks the accuracy to produce montages in beat with music or to mix audio tracks.
Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc. About the size of a CD, it plays high quality video on a TV or on a computer. DVD players have come down in price, and video stores such as Blockbuster rent DVD movies. Wedding videos may be transferred to DVDs. DVDs provide random access so you can quickly jump to your vows and then go to the toasting and then to your first dance, rather than have to slowly search as with videotape. DVDs are said to last longer than videotape.
These produce sharper pictures than consumer or industrial cameras. They accurately process colors and have a wide contrast range, so skin tones are reproduced in a flattering manner.
These generally produce better pictures than conventional camcorders. Digital camcorders may be consumer, industrial or broadcast camcorders. The digital broadcast camcorders produce the sharpest pictures. Broadcast digital camcorders are designed to operate well in low light, while most consumer and industrial digital camcorders do not perform as well in low light as conventional camcorders.