I am sure you have seen a videographer or two at a wedding you were invited to. You see them capturing special moments of the day and might wonder what all is involved. Well when I got married wedding videographers didn’t have to go through all the stress that we go through now. They still had to get great shots don’t get me wrong, but they usually shot the wedding by themselves, did the edits in camera, did not focus on capturing the best audio. Most importantly, they did not have to deliver a wedding film that felt romantic as well as being cinematic. My point is the wedding filmmaker of today has much more responsibility to be creative than the wedding videographer of yesteryears.
I am not going to lie, 20 years ago I thought shooting weddings was lame. For me I need to be creative and just the thought of shooting and editing a long format video just wasn’t for me. However, back in late 2008 when Canon released the Canon 5d Mark II weddings films took a turn for the better. This new camera could record full-frame video and the image was superior to that of the old camcorder. It was a few years later that I was interested in weddings and I was intrigued in learning more about how I could incorporate storytelling in wedding films.
As a filmmaker, there are many facets in recording a wedding. Let me start off by stating each wedding is different and you deal with several personality types. It’s important to get to know your wedding couple and help them understand what and how you will capture their wedding. Learn about anything special that they request and give them ideas on how best you can record that moment. I strongly believe in communicating with the couple and letting them know what you need from them in order to better prepare yourself for their special day.
Sound can make or break the wedding film. If you have great sound (quality as well as what was said at the wedding) your film is on its way in becoming great. It is important that your mic your groom the officiant and plug into the sound board during a ceremony. Having multiple audio recordings gives you more reassurance that you have recorded what you need. Some may say it is overkill, but you never know if a mic may fail. At least this way you can choose the best mic that recorded the best audio quality. Wedding filmmakers also need to plug into the DJ’s sound board so they can record the audio from the speeches. It’s important to make sure your audio levels are not weak and that they are not clipping. If the audio is distorted because it was clipped because of high volume levels, you will not be able to fix it in post-production. Good speeches go a long way when it comes to the storytelling of the couple. I love when the wedding party gets the microphone and starts talking about how the groom or bride has changed over the years, or how they knew that the bride was perfect for the groom. The stories that the wedding party share only enhance the wedding film. Their audio gives the film the emotional connection and the viewer can feel for the couple. It’s these moments that help propel the couple’s wedding film.
Anything can happen at a wedding. As a filmmaker you need to be ready for the unexpected. I relate shooting weddings to shooting news. When I was a photojournalist I was trained to be thinking on my feet, making quick decisions, and being as efficient as I could. I really do think that the skills I learned as a photojournalist have helped me become a better wedding filmmaker. You can’t ask the bride to walk down the aisle again because you weren’t ready. You can’t ask the groom to kiss the bride again because you didn’t press record (I am sure he wouldn’t mind though). Anticipation is crucial when filming a wedding.
When I shoot short films for businesses, I have the luxury of using several lights to illuminate the scene I am shooting. However, it is a different story when it comes to weddings. You mostly use available light and you need to know how to make the light you have in the room to work to your advantage. The one exception is when filming the speeches. You can set up lights to help illuminate the person who is speaking; however, the hard part is making sure the one doing the speaking stands where the direction the light is shining.
Oh, and let me not forget that wedding filmmakers do not rely on just one camera like the wedding videographer used to. We usually shoot with two or more cameras especially during the ceremony. This gives the viewer more angles and keeps it interesting. By shooting with a two camera setup or more, you can make sure the entire ceremony is covered. If the filmmaker needs to switch out their media or battery from one camera you know that the other camera will cover you. The second camera can also come in handy if you use a gimbal. You can have one camera shooting cinematic moving shots, (like following the bride and groom) while the other camera can sit stationary on a tight shot. When you combine these two shots you have different perspectives and it helps drive the imagery of the film.
There are many other aspects of wedding films, but my hope is that you now understand how involved and invested wedding filmmakers are in their craft. We are not the typical videographer. We are constantly looking for the best shots, selecting the finest audio to help tell your story in your wedding film.