Here is the scenario: You just finished filming a wedding that had a great atmosphere, the speeches were heart-felt, and the wedding couple looked stunning, now what? You have to create a wedding film that ties all the puzzle pieces together. It can be hard at times, but I would like to share some ideas with you on how I edit my films. Hopefully you can gain some pointers or at least you can brush up on some ideas that you may have forgotten about.
The first thing you want to do is download all the footage to your computer drive. It may be easier to create separate folders as well. When I shoot with two cameras, I label each folder (camera 1 and camera 2), so it is easier for me to distinguish what is what. Once you download the footage you may want to save a copy of the wedding folders to another drive just in case something happens to the drive you will be editing from.
You want to open the film with an establishing shot, so the viewer knows where this wedding is taking place. For example, if I start out the film with sound from the bride reading a card her fiancé wrote to her, I might want to show the outside of the building she is in. If she was at her home, I would show the outside of her house with sound under the shot. You can create emotion when you use establishing shots, because they lead the viewer to the destination it can seem as if they were there too.
One thing I do not incorporate in my wedding films are outdated transitions. You know the old-school star wipe or the barn door effect? Those will never see the light of day in my films because they are not needed, and they do not help tell the story. I use cuts only and I do use in camera transitions. For example, one shot is of the bride and groom and the next shot is a close up of a wall that I pan the camera from and reveal the couple. You have to be clever with the in camera transitions but don’t over do it. If you stick to cuts only you will be on the right track. Trendy transitions can only make your film look dated after a few years. Using cuts only will never date your film.
Another important topic is using and choosing the right type of music for the film. The music needs to reflect the couple as well as the mood and style of the wedding. You wouldn’t necessarily want to use cinematic music for a country wedding, right? It’s important to use royalty-free music so that the film can play on social media without being flagged. This means you cannot use the music you hear on the radio but you can use music from royalty-free sites such as www.themusicbed.com or www.soundstripe.com
Both sites have fantastic songs to choose from. If your wedding was full of great speeches and dialogue you may opt to use a cinematic instrumental track that you can lay under the speeches. You can also choose songs that have lyrics as well. Don’t underestimate the power of the music in the film; it plays a huge emotional role.
When you choose your shots for the film be selective and choose the best ones. Don’t use any of the shots that contain shaky footage or you getting the couple in focus. Wait until the shot becomes steady and focused and then use that portion. Also, allow the subjects to enter the frame and exit the frame. Use cutaways to help the direction of the film. Using cutaways will help you cross the 180 rule. You can’t have a ton of wide angle shots of the couple. Switch it up. Use a wide shot, then a close-up of their hands, and then cut to a medium shot of them looking at one another. I love shooting my own footage because I know what I have captured before I enter the edit room.
If you are using the speeches to drive the film, you will want to use the appropriate shots for what is being said. If speaker is talking about how they knew the couple would end up together, than show a shot of them holding hands, kissing, or gazing into each other’s eyes. All the other shots can be used when there is a break in the dialogue. If you use a gimbal for your moving shots, please use them sparingly. Yes, I know, they look epic, but less is more in this case not the other way around. Use your best gimbal shots where they will shine.
After you have viewed the speeches make note on which guest said what. Select the best portion of the speeches and edit them together to tell the story of the wedding couple. Use the sound that is most sincere and make sure the music dips under the dialogue so that the viewer can hear what is being said. You do not want the music blasting while there is talking. Fade the music in and then out after the clip that has the dialogue. Equalize the dialogue too if need be. If there is a slight buzz from the feed (which happens when recording from a DJ’s mixer at times) equalize that buzz out of the dialogue. You want the viewer to be involved and inspired on what is being said not the hiss or buzz in the speech.
I like to shoot my weddings with two cameras. You can edit one scene that has two camera which will look outstanding. For instance, when the groom kisses the bride during the ceremony, you could use a camera that is located to the left of the couple and then cut to the camera that is located center aisle. The combination of the edit looks great and if one camera is wide and the other is a close-up shot of the kiss, all the better.
Lastly, make sure there is color consistency within all the different shots in the film. Make sure to color balance each shot as well as color grade them. You want each shot to stand on its own. When the shots are not color balanced it throws off the film and people tend to be fixated on how poorly the film looks instead of what occurred at the wedding.
I know there are other tips that could help an editor, but these are just some of the principals I abide to when editing my wedding films. I hope you found this helpful and if so, please share it with someone. Thank you in advance for reading my article.