First Wedding -- And some advice for other first timers

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mossyman72@yahoo.com
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Joined: May 7 2004

Hi All,

I thought I'd share my experiences of shooting a wedding with other members who are more or less in the same boat as myself.

I shot my first wedding 3 weeks ago and it was a thoroughly rewarding experience... and frustrating Here's some advice that may be applicable to the majority of first-timers contemplating shooting a wedding video -

*Read this message forum from top to bottom. It is awash with valuable info from experieced pros!

*Buy the best equipment that your budget allows.

*Know what you are about and the look of your final product.

*Do your first shoot for FREE or for expenses only.

*Meet the couple and discuss their video at length.

*Get to know the couple.

*Meet the priest/vicar at rehearsals and discuss boundaries.

*Be prepared for nerves on the wedding day.

*Rope in an assistant to help; especially if you're using two cams.

*You will make mistakes; accept it but work hard enough to ensure that you can cover your tracks!

*Enjoy and learn from the experience.

I offered my services for free but the couple (were highly scepticle at the very beginning) didn't fancy the idea of cameras at their wedding. I met them through a work colleague and explained what I would and wouldn't do on their wedding day. In the end I managed to convince them to use two cameras... and this is a couple who didn't even want a photographer ordering them about. That's right - no photographer!

I've very definite ideas about how to structure a *wedding story* and they became more and more enthusiastic by the day. I believe it's so important to know what you want your final product to look like and make sure you can clearly articulate your vision to the couple.

It also helps to write down what equipment you possess and the benefits they will bring to your project ie. "We use two 3CCD cams that offer broadcast quality pictures, Sennheiser mics that capture beautiful sound... "etc etc and right the way down to what formats you will present the final product on. Learn it all off by heart so that you're not stumbling over your words when you meet the couple because trust me, it's a nerve racking experience trying to put your ideas across for the first time. So, know your own business from top to bottom and relate it to the customer with the assurance and confidence of some of the pros you will find here at Wedding Events Videography.

I attended the rehearsals and spoke with the Roman Catholic priest about what I wanted to do for the couple but stressed that I wanted to respect his church and the ceremony whilst doing so... and I meant it! He was brilliant and offered me prime locations to shoot from... he even allowed me to move about with one camera so that I could "make the best possible video for the couple". He then went on to complain about some muppets who have previously shot in his church etc... So, lesson learned here was, respect the ceremony and officials involved and more times than not, they will respect you - I'm sure that is applicable in all walks of life.

I have always been super confident about my abilities in shooting a good wedding documentary but on the wedding day, I spent some agonising trips to my hotel bathroom; I kid you not, and I had to dig deep to find just some of that confidence that went hiding on me... or disappeared down that toilet.

My hand was shaking throughout the ceremony and I made a littany of cock-ups from the beginning to the end of the day - fact! One excellent example is that I forget to turn on my ME66 for the speeches and the couple had point blank refused to use radio mics at any stage of the day. Luckily enough I was positioned very close to the head table for my B-Roll shots and captured acceptable sound... but not nearly good enough if the couple had been paying big bucks for the video.

Also, you can't beat experience and I've already learned so much from my last wedding, which will inform my every decision on the next shoot. But it's vital that you pay attention to every little detail on the day and make mental notes of what you feel is going well and and not so well. The editing process will further highlight your strengths and weaknesses.

The editing process was extremely frustrating for me because I edited on Final Cut Pro HD and though I cut smaller projects on this software shortly before the wedding, I'd never tackled anything on as large a scale as my last wedding docu. Mistakes were a plenty and on one occasion I managed to lose 16hrs work. I'd problems with disk space, importing sound, etc etc etc. And that was just FCP HD... I also ran into difficulties with my scanner and lost a day downloading drivers and patches to try and remedy the problem in between calling various call centers etc. As on the day of the wedding, expect and allow for the unexpected during the editing process.

But in the end, it all came together and the final product has been very well received. I can pick out several weaknesses in it, of course, but I'm getting flattering reports about it... and more importantly, enquiries about how much I charge.

I've a couple of delighted clients who've invited me to stay for a weekend at their seaside home and the bride, who is a talented artist, presented me with an original painting that I had admired in her home. They also insisted on paying for my two nights stay at a hotel during the wedding and both of their families gave me Thank You Cards, which had sizeable cheques inside.

Again, it was a thoroughly rewarding experience and I'm looking forward to the next venture.

And for anyone of you pros who are still reading at this point, thank you for all the invaluable advice that you share on this board... A lot of your tips and advice often make the difference between a professional service and something just plain average!

Mossy

WillB
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Joined: Aug 23 2004

Ahhhh...the memories, and then some.
I've only begun, in the past few months to start really charging for weddings, birthdays, christenings, engagements, even added sports and business to my little repetoire (and the mistakes will start all over again no doubt.)

I had trouble with the sound at first. I tend to use smaller cameras, but with sound capture cards that can grab the rustles of the dress a few hundred yards away only because the camera may well frighten some people, the mic does a better job of it.
I found that using a really good wave editor to remove all the background noise and boost the foreground noise works better than any mic that I know. Sure it's a little extra work, but if the acoustics in the church are bad, I can add these later.
Sounds like you went through what everyone goes through, and now and then still does. People tend to forget...We Get Nervous Too.
Well done, Mossy!!
Especially on your sales pitch...convincing people to have you at their Wedding Day celebrations ain't an easy feet. Think I could borrow your sales pitch?

"Look just film the thing...we can edit it later!"

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

WillB: Wish I had a sound editor that can "remove all the background noise and boost the foreground noise". Care to enlighten us?

BTW: Well done, Mossy!

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

WillB
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Joined: Aug 23 2004

Believe or not, it's sooooo simple a blind monkey with one arm and the memory span of three seconds can do it...(I didn't stand a chance!!lol)
Using Nero or Ulead enter the sound editor (wave editor on Nero), go to Minimise noise/remove noise. Click on that after highlighting the selected areas (nero).
On Nero, then go to reverb and (works in churches) add, SMALL ROOM.
What you get is a deep, but clean sound. To remove the bass boom, go to the EQ and lower the bass.
On ULEAD, click on Hiss/noise (depending on which version you have if any).
Remember to drop the video clip to the audio line first, then alter the EQ slightly to clean up and save the project.
When copied, depending on people's television are set it will sound exactly like a live broadcast.
Good Luck with it.!!
It takes a bit of fiddling, but once you know the settings, depending on how well your mic, sound equipment operates, you're on a roll.

"Look just film the thing...we can edit it later!"

encore
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Joined: Mar 25 2004

Hi Mossy

If you're like me the "nerves" will never go away. But sounds like you had a good day and experience is everything the only way to learn.

TIP: With the ME66 if you're camera has the option of powering this mike then do so. Prevents from having to renew batteries or even importantly remembering to switch on.

David James
Encore Productions

The-Video-Compa...
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Joined: Mar 3 2004

The nerves ever go away!

NEVER!

Same As It Ever Was! :(

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

If the nerves depart you you're in trouble.

branny
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Joined: Nov 6 2001

I always compare it to a duck on the lake, cool calm and quietly cruising along, whilst underneath there's the (battery power/recording/mic levels?) .... furious paddling!

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

DV Ed
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Joined: Jun 10 2002

Sounds like firing firework displays!! I've yet to film a wedding however I have done quite a few professional firework shows now at weddings partys nov etc. When you have all the audiance come out ready to watch you that can be daunting!! I had one last week where it had been raining all evening but during this rain I had to prepare fire writing, which if you dont know what that is its bascially one inch thick rope but its made of paper you arrange it into words, soak in parafin and light. However because of the rain it was almost soaked before I could cover it, Parafin will displace this but it still makes life hard.

Come a break in the rain everyone appeard out and I tried to light the thing. I honestly thought some of it would not light but eventually it did, I got a cheer from the audiance and then the bride and groom had their photos taken beside it then I got on with the show which went fine! Phew!

Goldeneye
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Joined: Apr 19 2004

Another tip that saves me worrying when I leave the house to go to a wedding, is to make a checklist of absolutely everything, from "enough petrol" to "checked the camera batteries". I've got it all written into a notebook that I take with me along with a list of essential shots I try and get on the day. Its amazing how much it really takes the edge of the nerves and allows you to relax a bit more on the big day. There will always be mistakes however, and the trick is to minimise the probability. Always ensure that there is enough back-up equipment/tapes/batteries etc, and you "should" be covered.

DV Ed
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Joined: Jun 10 2002

I have an absolute essentials list, i.e. the absolute minimum you will ever need before an absolute emergency will happen. This is critical for pyro where you have little or no chance of getting what you need if for example I were to forget e-matches for an electronically fired show! But with video batteries, tapes and camera etc.. What you can do is make a check list print a few out and just read through them whilst your packing, this will help keep your mind on track if your getting pre-event nerves!

Ed

busbyvideo
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Joined: Feb 7 2002

One thing i like about the new dv cameras is the flip-out monitors. Much easier that strapping monitors to your tripod.

(Anyone remember 10inch strap-ons? ooh er madame)

Anyway. By using the monitor you can keep an eye on what is going on around you, instead of the blinkered view from the viewfinder. Also good for checking colour balance is ok.

Agree with the checklist. I forgot my 2 spare batteries one day, and had to film with only one battery. Thank god it was not one of those catholic marathons. Can you imagine watching that little battery level creep down when you know you only have one battery? That's when you realise that adrenaline is brown.

Mike

encore
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Joined: Mar 25 2004
Quote:
Originally posted by busbyvideo:
That's when you realise that adrenaline is brown.

Is.....that what colour it is..... I wonder why my shoes turn to brown one day when I swore I was wearing black.

David James
Encore Productions

bruise
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Joined: May 6 2004

thanks for the read Mossy. I'd be interested in your 'definite views' about how a wedding should be filmed.

mossyman72@yahoo.com
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Joined: May 7 2004

Hi Bruise,

I note from previous posts and threads on other forums (quite liked aspects of your short film actually but didn't watch all of it) that you are a screenwriter. Therefore, you understand the principles of how to construct a story and story - which is all too often missing from the many cliched wedding videos - is a vital ingredient in anything that appears on our TV screen.

How one goes about constructing a well thought out Set Up that keeps us interested in the Middle Act, which builds to a satisfying Conclusion is, in my opinion, what seperates a timeless production from the home video dust collector.

Of course, the videographer must also understand basic filming techniques like shot composition, line of continuity etc along with understanding every other aspect of the process from lighting, sound, and editing but without a story all the pretty shots of flowing white silk, striking flower bouquets, and clinking champagne glasses will fail to impress anyone in the long run.

How one goes about crafting a story depends on your style and how hard you're prepared to work... and I completely endorse the likes of the pre wedding interviews that you have conducted in the past.

But that's enough waffle from the novice! The best thing I can do now is shut up and hope that my future works back up my arguments ;)

Mossy

bruise
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Joined: May 6 2004

well remembered!

Quote:
without a story all the pretty shots of flowing white silk, striking flower bouquets, and clinking champagne glasses will fail to impress anyone in the long run.

I completely agree with everything you said - but am unsure what story it is or what genre it is. The event itself seems fairly static to me, and the stills are just boring, in story terms. I get round all of that by adding interviews that tell the larger story that puts the the wedding into some kind of context or story.

One had the build up to the arrival, then a disolve back in time to the moment they first met - which the couple were happy to act out for me prior to the wedding, plus answer questions that i used for VO. This couple were on TV, with the man proposing to the woman behind the presenter at the end of the London marathon they'd just completed. Then back to the ceremony itself, so, hopefully the event now meant more.

I was lucky there, though. I knew that the couple had a good story, and were up for it.

Ironically, it lost me business, though. Friends of theirs who saw it loved it, and originally had indicated that they wanted me to film their wedding - however, they were worried that they didn't have as good a story, so didn't get a video at all. :confused:

In a wider sense there's something ossified about a lot of weddings - what should be the naked sexuality of cutting the cake or of the first dance - often seem pretty tame or routine. It would be nice if the whole ceremony got a bit shaken up - perhaps video makers can play their part.

I'm expecting/hoping that when we get the huge explosion of same-sex weddings in about a year, this will mean a whole new set of approaches to the event. Certainly the same-sex blessing I'm currently working on was very moving, and the final edit of the video postcards from the guests could almost stand as a short film in itself.

mossyman72@yahoo.com
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Joined: May 7 2004

Ironically, it lost me business, though. Friends of theirs who saw it loved it, and originally had indicated that they wanted me to film their wedding - however, they were worried that they didn't have as good a story, so didn't get a video at all.

The last couple I worked with tried to convince me that they had no story. And even though I explained to them that everyone has a story I had to drag them kicking and screaming into their interviews.

When we were finished they were both left convinced that they'd come across as a pair of pillocks. Again, I reassured them that they did great and their story and interviews were so good that it would in fact enhance the footage of their wedding day because *all* viewers would feel a strong bond with them.

And, ahem, I was right of course. They "absolutely love" what I did for them and "can't believe we lead such interesting lives". Friends and family of theirs also went mad for the docu and I've taken two bookings for next year.

Anyhow, looks like you're doing something right, Bruise, but you've got to convince your next couple that their story has the potential to be even better than that of your last couple... because that's the truth!

Best of luck,

Mossy

bruise
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Joined: May 6 2004

Yeh, sounds like a good way to go. Thanks for the compliment - I'm very much starting out, much as you are. Good luck with it.

barbergraham
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Joined: Feb 16 2004

its good to here that all us newbies are in the same boat. not so long ago i bought a xm2 and its done me very well. the first wedding day i did with the xm2 i sh.it it all day. i have learnt so much from all my cock ups, and have beat myself up over them loads. the couple dont even know what they are but i do. noise from the xm2 is very bad, so luckerly my dad is a music man and came round and spent hours sorting out funny looking stuff on an audio package. one thing im stuck with is what is the general story board for your weddings. mine goes like this. shots of the church b4 any one is there, and then i go int like a film trailor showing short clips of the day in slow mo. then we go to the ceremony, then signing, leaving church, slow mo of photo session, onto the speeches, cake cutting/ first dance. end on specail words/funnies. any advice pls. all on dvd and posh cases.

barbergraham

mossyman72@yahoo.com
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Joined: May 7 2004

>>>>
one thing im stuck with is what is the general story board for your weddings. mine goes like this. shots of the church b4 any one is there, and then i go int like a film trailor showing short clips of the day in slow mo. then we go to the ceremony, then signing, leaving church, slow mo of photo session, onto the speeches, cake cutting/ first dance. end on specail words/funnies. any advice pls. all on dvd and posh cases.
>>>>

Hi barbergraham,

I don't consider all that as a storyboard and I prefer to approach it as a framework that I must work within to tell my story.

Stories are about people which is why I believe it is of the upmost importance to know your clients. Their unique personalities will dictate story and genre -- Bruise, it's probably best to think of genre as tone and therefore, if the couple are carefree and humorous, highlight the lighthearted side of your footage.etc.

And, while I think it's good practice to work within a framework and sound structure, I don't believe it's a good idea to enslave yourself to a one-fits-all formula ie. Open with baby photos, then B&W footage of the church, slow mo music sequence of groom etc. etc. Let the story and footage dictate the order and style of your sequences.

In my opinion, posh cases (velvet padding, photos, fancy text) are not nearly as nice (and timeless) as a simple white disc in plain white library cover.

Regards,

Mossy

Barry Hunter
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Joined: Nov 30 2001

Each to his own style!

That gives clients the choice of who covers their day.

Our approach is fly on the wall, we don`t go in for B&W, only slo mo`s normally is the confetti shot but who is to say we are right or wrong.

Barry Hunter videos4all.org

bruise
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Joined: May 6 2004

I think that's an interesting approach to 'genre', but i think it's different to tone (which could vary within genres). I suppose here the debate is - should it be some kind of folk story (of their lives and how they fit within their community/family), a fly on the wall, warts-and-all doc, an 'issue-based' doc (one of mine approached that, as the asian bride had had lots of difficulties convincing her family to accept a white bride, and it ended up almost as something other people might find interesting as he and she explored that issue further through interviews), is it a 'corporate' (ie to show them at their affluent and successful best), is it a commedy, is it staged or free-flowing, or...

I think the only thing that could be said to be 'wrong' is the inappropriate sprinkling of cheesy fx that serve no function except to signal that the videographer is bored of making wedding videos. Fx should be little, tasteful, appropriate and contributing to the flow and pace and mood - otherwise don't use them, imho.

I'm hoping that enough trust develops between the couple and the videographer that there's space to explore the particular wedding, and find an appropriate way to portray it that fits their style and tastes, as well as makes sense of the practical constraints and footage captured. To an extent, for the couple, it's a bit of a leap in the dark, but they are hiring you for your taste and skill to make something out of the day that works on the moving screen.

mossyman72@yahoo.com
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Joined: May 7 2004

>>>>
Each to his own style!
>>>>

I couldn't agree more.

Barry, I hope my comments haven't been perceived in the wrong light but just to clarify any mix-up, I know what's right and wrong for me but I'm not trying to say that my methods are right for everyone else... of course they're not.

bruise
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Joined: May 6 2004

yeh, echo that

mossyman72@yahoo.com
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Joined: May 7 2004

Interesting points, Bruise. Fact of the matter is one can't, or certainly shouldn't, make a pyschological thriller out of some poor souls wedding day

"The Wedding Video" is a genre onto itself and there are certain rules/guidlines that should be followed in order to make a successful video.

That said, there's no harm in trying to re-invent the genre by thinking and working within terms like you rightly point out in your last post. And while you note that tone could vary within genre, I think you'll agree that it seldom does.

As for cheesy effects...

:mad:

bruise
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Joined: May 6 2004
Quote:
Originally posted by Mossy:
[QB] Fact of the matter is one can't, or certainly shouldn't, make a pyschological thriller out of some poor souls wedding day

well, keep the footage: come the divorce, that might be just what would make one or other of them feel vindicated...

(joke)

Barry Hunter
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Joined: Nov 30 2001

Mossy

No problems there! We all do what we think is best & if you get plenty of work from your chosen style then you must be attracting the right type of client.

Barry Hunter videos4all.org