BW Blog Has that video camera got sound on it?

Choosing a Videographer for Your Wedding

First I must remind you once again that your wedding day will be the best and most important day of your lives so documenting it properly should be your top priority. That means putting quality first and not selecting the company that gives the most coverage at the cheapest price. If you are on a tight budget it's better to accept reduced coverage filmed properly by a really good videographer than hours of mediocrity.

The general standard of serious professional wedding photographers is high so at least you stand a chance of getting images that range from acceptable to outstanding. Sadly this isn't the case with videography and you must be very careful in your choice of videographer. If the video isn't done properly you won't want to watch it and it will be a big waste of money which would be better spent on a bigger cake, posh seat covers or a similar luxury. However if the film has real quality it'll be the best money you spend on your wedding, guaranteed! You'll never get tired of watching it and it'll cheer you up when you are down. After all, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. 

So how do you choose? Websites are a good starting point and can tell you a lot about the company. Be critical, if the site is unnattractive what do you think the videos will be like? Can you tell whether you are dealing with a company or an individual and if so is there any information about them? What about any images, do they look like photographer's poses or genuine video stills?

There should be video  samples and you need to know what you are looking at and question whether they are representative of what you can expect on your full length video. Many online samples are montages, typically highlights of the day. This is fine and is usually the most popular part of the video. A montage is a selection of shots in no particular order usually joined together by dissolves or fancy transitions. It is relatively easy to put together providing there is some decent footage to choose from so be impressed by it but don't take it for granted that the videographer can maintain this standard throughout a whole film. So the next step is to ask to see a full length video. This will comprise hundreds of individual clips varying in length from a few seconds to maybe an hour or however long the speeches are. The clips need to be varied and artistic with cutaways so that skillful editing can craft these together into a smooth flowing, professional looking experience which should be maintained throughout the duration of the film.

Look for expert camerawork, it should be steady, always in focus, not too dark or bright and with no strange colourations! Some camerawork is deliberately jerky, cutting edge style as used in The Office and similar TV programmes. If you like this style that's fine, but ask yourself whether you can stand it throughout your video. I believe that every single video frame should be composed in the same way and comparable to a professional photograph. I mean it should look artistic and balanced with not too much sky, grass etc. The audio should be clear and crisp and any music mixed expertly. In some ways the audio is more important than the images, certainly great images can be spoiled by a poor soundtrack.

Look for jump cuts - a sure tell-tale sign of amateur or sloppy camerawork and editing. A jump cut is where sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly. This type of edit causes the subject of the shots to appear to "jump" position in a discontinuous way just like a Harry Enfield sketch! I spot them all the time when looking at web samples, it's fun but not what you want anywhere in your wedding video!

I've seen many demos that have lingering shots of flowers, church windows etc and maybe passable film of the ceremony or the speeches. These static shots are the easy bits! When it comes to action like the bride arriving and getting out the car and so on they lose the plot, continuity, focus, everything. This results in jump cuts and even loss of an important moments.  So look out for continuity throughout. Also many seem to struggle filming people so they often resort to using zooming from a distance, rather like a Sun newspaper expose. You see distant groups of people often with their backs to the camera making you feel remote from the film. Look carefully at people shots, everyone should look natural and enjoying the day, not grimacing or embarrassed by a camera too close to their faces. You should feel involved in the film as though you were a guest.

Remember, this is their best work, so it should be of the highest standard. If it isn’t and this is the best they produce, what sort of standard will your wedding video be?

You should find out whether the videographer is fully legal. Are they fully insured for professional and public liability? Do they arrange full copyright licences for recording and dubbing your choice of music? Failure to meet these legal requirements places them in the cowboy category.

Should you be concerned about the type of equipment they use? If you are happy with the picture and sound quality in the demo then you only need assurance that your video will be at least as good. I think too much time is spent worrying about the nuances of various cameras and editing packages. Virtually all modern digital video equipment will give excellent results. It's how it is used that makes the difference.

Experience cannot be underestimated and a portfolio of many weddings backed by testimonials or personal recommendation is invaluable.

Finally you should feel happy that you want this person filming at your wedding. So try to meet them, it's surprising how many couples will take trouble to meet their photographer but never meet the videographer until the big day. Of course the photographer is the one you will be interfacing with mostly on the day but the videographer really ought to be someone capable of working smartly and unobtrusively.

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