The Language of Wedding Videography
Everyone knows what wedding photographers do but does anyone have any clue what to expect from wedding videographers? Let’s clear this up. It can be a confusing topic for a lot of couples and being ill informed can lead to bad decisions.
What is wedding videography?
Wedding videography specifically is quite simply capturing your wedding day or events on video. When visuals are recorded on film it’s called “cinematography” and when it’s recorded onto a digital format it’s called “videography”. However, that line has become blurred as film and digital have clashed in the movie industry. Film is nearing extinction; film cameras are no longer being made, film stock is expensive and developing facilities are hard to find and very expensive. So the industry has become almost all digital but nobody wants to lose the distinguished history of film which is why words like cinematography still exist and have almost become synonymous with videography.
When looking for wedding videographers you find companies using words like cinematography even though they don’t shoot on film because it has a very distinguished sound to it. I admit, it does sound pretty cool but don’t buy into thinking that they offer anything more than videography. Companies might call themselves so-and-so studios, productions, pictures, cinematography, video, or my personal favorite: films. They are all videographers. If a company goes by so-and-so films you can be assured that they have nothing to do with film.
What goes into good videography?
The most important element is good editing. A good editor can make a beautiful day look beautiful. A bad editor can make a beautiful day look horrible. It doesn’t matter how fresh or tasty the ingredients are if the chef burns the final dish (don’t judge my awesome analogy).
Video is obviously key. Visuals can help tell a great story and if the videographers have experience they know what and how to capture an event to make it memorable. Not any goon with a camera can do this. It takes a solid knowledge of the camera and composition combined with planning and experience. This where many videographers fall short. Don’t settle for a boring company because they will produce a boring visuals.
This is the dividing line between professional and amateur. Pros will have microphones and multiple ways of capturing audio both wireless and on-camera. They should have backup audio sources as well. Watching a video of the best man’s speech will be completely worthless if you can’t hear what he’s saying.
I’ll emphasize that audio and video go hand-in-hand. You can’t have a good video if one of them is bad. I’ve found that people can learn to forgive bad video quality but they are very unforgiving about bad audio quality.
There is no substitute. Top quality cameras, high end editing suites, and high fidelity microphones won’t make up for mistakes and lost moments when shooting a wedding. Also, watch out for too much experience (AKA the old guys). I don’t want to sound mean (or bitter) but I’ve seen way too many videographers charge a couple an arm and a leg based solely on their years in the industry and not their creative abilities. They set their camera on a tripod and press record – not moving from that position all day. The edit is like a piece of toast – boring and tasteless. They will book plenty of weddings; just don’t let them book yours.
What do videographers do?
During your wedding the videographer will (or should) usually be in the background shooting what is going on. They aren’t normally directing people around and posing you like a photographer would. However, some people will do a separate video session where there is more posed footage but it should be scheduled into the day.
They should almost always be shooting something. If they aren’t shooting then they are likely going to miss an important or special moment. In some cases those moments are more important than planned events.
What happens after the wedding day?
This is where the magic begins. The editing stage is a long and complicated process. It requires organization, time, creativity, and a fast computer. The footage is uploaded to a hard drive and sometimes processed to another format. In my experience it can take 24 hours just to render all the files into an editable format.
Everything is carefully logged and put into folders for easy reference. The editor will weed out the good and bad shots and will start to piece together a full video of the wedding day. There may be many drafts before it reaches its final form. I’m not going to cover everything that happens here because it’s not really important. What is important is that the editor is creative, orginanized, and efficient.
Expect the editing process to take anywhere from multiple weeks to months depending on the length of the events covered.
Wedding videography jargon:
I’ve generally covered the span of videography but to some it’s not what a videographer is but what they are talking about that is confusing. So below I’ve assembled a list of words, phrases, and other jargon that I’ve found in a videographers vocabulary and I’ve tried my best to explain it. If I leave something out feel free to comment below and I’ll explain it.
Editing: The process of taking all the footage from your wedding day and arranging it into a coherent whole.
Lavalier Mics: Small microphones that are clipped onto the lapel of a jacket or some other piece of clothing. They usually are wireless and are a great way to pick up sound from an individual speaker.
DSLR: A high end digital camera. They not only shoot awesome photographs but they shoot high quality HD video using a large sensor that gives them a film-like look. They have literally changed the industry of digital video. They come in many different brands and models such as the Canon 5D, Canon 7D, Nikon D700, Panasonic Gh2 and so on.
Camcorder: A camcorder is the portable camera they use to capture the video with. It may be a good idea to ask the videographers what they shoot with. Look up the name of the camera to see if it’s a reputable camcorder. A camera that still shoots on tape should be a red flag. DSLRs can also be considered camcorders.
Format: A camera will capture the video and record it onto a memory card. The file it is saved as is it’s format. It isn’t really important to know what format the video is shot with.
Rig: A camera rig is a setup of parts and accessories that are attached to the camera. It can be as simple as a few small accessories to a huge steadicam which is worn as a vest and looks like a third arm that helps steady the camera. Hopefully, if a videographer uses a steadicam it is one of the small handheld ones. The vest will look ridiculous at a wedding.
Highlight Reel: A short video that creatively covers all the best moments of your wedding day. These are very fun and can be shared online with friends and family.
Save The Date video: A short fun video that features the couple and finds a creative way to tell the viewers to save-the-date. They are sort of a new fad but can be very very fun. Here’s one that we recently created for a couple: Tim and Tuong.
Love Story: A short video interviewing the couple. It asks them about when they met, what they love about each other, things that drive them crazy about each other and so on. It is a very fun video to show at the reception to help both sides of the family learn more about them.
Same-Day-Edit: This is when the video is edited very quickly throughout the day so that the highlights can be shown at the reception. It takes a lot of planning to pull off so it comes at a premium price. However, guests will really be wowed to see an edited video of what happened earlier that day at the reception.
RAW Footage: RAW footage is the uncut and unedited video of the day. It will be everything they shot straight out of camera. Sometimes companies will offer to sell the RAW footage to the couple.
I’ll add to this list as I think of things. Comment if you would like me to explain something.