Many of us born in the 80’s & 90’s will remember the videographers from family wedding’s. They would have a camcorder resembling the picture below with a spotlight that would literally blind you if you looked straight at it. These cameras were also big, extremely heavy and lacked any sort of mobility.
These cameras were built for studio work and were in no way suitable for the hustle, bustle, movement and chaos of a wedding.
The results were underwhelming for couples and usually consisted of a 5 hour film which was recorded on a tripod in a corner of a room.
Photographers on the other hand were able to get some fairly good shots at a wedding and as a result was a far more prized asset at a wedding than a videographer.
Thankfully technology has moved on for videographers and now we have cameras small enough and powerful enough to capture your big day in stunning detail. Thanks to Michael Meade for the picture below which shows me with a new style camera set up for weddings.
Despite being way smaller and lighter than the old school camcorders, the small cameras will produce 4K images on a full frame sensor (in non technical terms this means that the newer smaller cameras will produce images 100’s of times better than old school camcorder pictures).
So what should you look for in your wedding videographer to ensure you get the wedding film of your dreams?
I will go through several points below to try break this down as best I can.
Weddings are expensive and it is often tempting to go for the bargain basement offers on a videographer. You may come across offers for €200-600 for a full days video but you have to ask how can they offer such low prices. Personally I have spend several thousand Euro on cameras, another 3K on lenses, 2K on a Drone, 1K on audio equipment, 1.5k on equipment such as gimbals, tripods, monopods, memory cards etc. On top of this I have a high end laptop and Desktop with 4K monitor which cost another 4K.
I would estimate that 12K to 20K worth of equipment would be needed to shoot a wedding film to a decent standard. Let’s say that you have 12k worth of equipment, which would be enough to do your wedding justice, how can you do it for €500.
€12,000 equipment divided by €500 per wedding = 24. That means that a videographer would have to do 24 weddings to break even and that is before they have paid for PLI, car insurance,a car, fuel, tax etc.
In all likelihood they are probably using a consumer camera that skimps on quality and they probably lack the other equipment that is essential to making a beautiful wedding film. Best case scenario the wedding is half decent but unfortunately I have heard of many horror stories where the video is severely sub standard or worse still never received by the bride and groom.
In conclusion my advice would be if the wedding film is important to you don’t gamble by trying to save a few hundred Euro plus on a sub standard videographer.
2 Finding Your Videographer
There are a number of great ways to find wedding filmmakers. You can find them by google search, wedding fairs, recommendations from friends and relatives, fantastic wedding help sites like www.weddingsonline.ie and Facebook.
The next step will be to wade through at least a dozen plus sites to find which ones you like. Try not to focus on the price too much and rank 6 in the order that you like them. Make contact with your top three by e-mail to establish availability, remember the months of May, June, July & August & post Christmas can be booked out solid up to a year in advance for some videographers.
Once you have established availability with your top 3 choices the next step in the process is to phone or meet up with them to discuss their style of wedding filmmaking. In a nutshell there are two types of videographer. The hands on type or fly on the wall type.
A hands on type of filmmaker will often work independently of the photographer for the day. So for example the photographer will take shots of things such as Bridesmaids doing up the wedding dress, putting on jewelry, cutting the cake, walking hand in hand etc. A hands on filmmaker will often want to film these scenes again. So he/she may ask you to do up the dress again, cut the cake again, walk towards him again, kiss again. It can feel a bit forced for the couple but the results can be very good on the wedding film.
A fly on the wall style videographer lets the day flow and will often piggy back on the photographers shots and won’t ask for any staged poses or shots throughout the day. I would be in this category because I feel that the day is short for the Bride & Groom and by doubling up the amount of posing & staging eats into their big day. I also think that because they are not staring or looking directly at the camera it looks more natural and relaxed and adds to a feeling of realism in the video.
There are benefits to both styles. Hands on types can capture amazing shots that a fly on the wall type couldn't do. The problem is these shots can take a long time to get right and the couple become actors in their own day.
The fly on the wall style videographer just lets you get on with enjoying your guests and friends and uses the real time happenings of the day to produce their wedding film.
You need to decide which style you want to go with.
I would also strongly advise that if during the day you have had enough photos taken by photographer or video taken by the hands on style videographer that you tell them firmly that you have had enough. Remember they work for you and not the other way around.
3. Videographers Personality
One of the things that might surprise you is that outside of your partner the photographer and videographer will be the people you spend the most time with during the day. It is in our nature to like and feel comfortable in the company of personalities we like. This is why I feel it is very important to meet, Skype or chat over the phone to your potential videographer. They might might produce wedding films you love but if they irritate you or make you uncomfortable during the day it will not be the experience you were hoping for. You don’t have to be their best friend but you should definitely feel a rapport or connection with them.
4 What you want filmed on the day
It is very important to discuss what you want filmed on the wedding video with the videographer to a) get exactly what you want and b) to make sure he/she can capture what you are looking for. For example if you want to future proof your film and have it in 4K the videographer may only film in HD this can be a problem. Here are a list of some common issues that can occur between the client and the videographer that need to be discussed before the big day.
General Audio: We often get requests from couples who would like us to capture just general banter and chit-chat throughout the day. This is practically impossible to do for a wedding film. Capturing good audio requires putting microphones or lav mics on people. People will also be less likely to have frank chit chat and banter while being recorded. Instead we focus on capturing great audio from the church, speeches, guest messages and sentiment recordings from the couple.
Greeting Line after the ceremony: We obviously film the couple walking down the aisle leaving the ceremony and then rush out to try capture them being greeted by the Bridal party and parents. We usually look to film more candid stuff around the church/ceremony venue after this. However we have heard retrospectively that they would liked to have filmed the greeting line in full. It is not something I recommend for a film but if you want it we are more than happy to film it. We would remind the couple that on average a wedding of 160 guests will take over 30 minutes to filter out of ceremony and greet the couple. Do you really want to spend 30 minutes watching people shaking hands with you?
First Dance: We like filming different angles and compositions during the first dance. So we may start with a full body shot of the couple, then get a closer in shot, then maybe focus on feet if they are rocking out a good dance, follow with close up of hand on shoulder/waist etc. To do this we have to move around and reframe shots. We usually include about 40-60 seconds of a 3 minute dance. I personally like this style. However if you just want the dance recorded in full with no frills again the videographer should be able to do this.
Overlaying the speech onto the Wedding Film: We often get requests to overlay audio from the speeches onto the wedding film. We do this anyway but what couples don't realise is that the speeches tend to be very story/narrative lead. So it will often be a case of we meet in ‘x’ year, in ‘x’ place, then we traveled/worked here and then did A,B,C. It works for the speeches but as an overlay for a wedding film it usually does not work as well. Also because the audio quality is compromised by crowd laughter and applause it is difficult to use. What we strongly advise is a short letter to be written by the couple to each other and opened and read on the morning of the wedding. Later on in the evening we get the couple to record what they have written onto a microphone in a quiet/ private room. This works far better on the audio overlay for the video but outside of how it improves the quality of the wedding film I think it is also a lovely thing for the couple to open in the morning before the ceremony.
Special Events: If something is happening outside the norm on the day please let the videographer know. We have often had to scramble to film things that the couple would clearly want in the film but have never informed us of. Examples would include fireworks, singing by friends or family, singing waiters, special dances, comedians etc. The more we know about the run of the day the better.
In a nutshell the more the videographer knows about your big the day the better. Make sure to communicate exactly what you want in as much detail as possible.
I hope to produce a blog on a monthly basis outlining some helpful pointers and information for couples. So if you are interested by sure to follow us on here.
If you have any questions that you think I can help with please feel free to contact me at anytime on 085-1118666 or firstname.lastname@example.org