Advice For Wedding Videographers

compiled by John Beale 1999-2005

(If you're planning your own wedding, try my Wedding Video FAQ)
SF Bay Area Wedding Videography by Beale Corner Productions

You've got a camcorder or two and you're getting into wedding videography, or perhaps a friend or relative has asked you to shoot their ceremony. With a prosumer-level camera and sound gear, you have in theory the equipment to shoot good quality video. Whether it turns out that way in practice depends on your preparation, familiarity with the gear, and technique, as well as factors like ambient light and the access you are permitted. Suggestions online can be useful, but there is no substitute for experience. It makes sense to work as an apprentice to an established videographer to gain that experience, before the responsibility to capture a once-only event rests on your shoulders alone. That said, the following wedding videography tips may help you with this task. They were posted to the TRV900 mailing list and Vegas Forum and are reprinted here by permission. 

Related information on other sites: has a wedding videography forum where many pros hang out. There are also good discussions on the VX2000 list  as the Sony VX2k & VX2100 cameras are often used for weddings. To see what the consumer may expect, you can find sites offering advice to brides by entering wedding video into any search engine. Many of these pages are from videographers selling services.

A Wedding Video How-To

(Vegas Forum: Shooting your first wedding, for a relative)
by Serena Steuart
 Oct. 6 2005
Let's remember the purpose of the wedding film: it is a reminder of a wonderful day and of the friends and relatives who joined with you in the celebration. The thing is to identify your approach, spend time getting prepared, pre-plan capturing key moments (bride coming up the aisle to join groom at altar, vows, signing register, H&W walk back down aisle, etc), get good audio in key moments, and take many cutaways under all the conditions (Serena's Law: you can never take too many cutaways). Cutaways (including stills) can cover a lot of difficult video moments (like shaky moves).No reasonable couple are asking for an Academy Award production. If the people involved want a high-glam video (and they can't be talked around) then they're probably not clients you need.

Think of your own wedding--10 years down the track you're more interested in the people who attended than in yourselves. Sure, you want to see how you looked and all those things, but "look, there's grandpa and aunt Flo" become treasured sights. And all those speeches, most of which are not particularly interesting, are easy to include (good audio and lots of cutaways and 2 cameras if possible to give variety to the view-- here a tripod saves tired arms and at least keeps things steady) and you put chapter points in the DVD so they can be skipped. There's always other people taking videos and still, so get their material also because it can be of use (but don't promise to include it!!)

You need to discuss your intended approach to the ceremony with the celebrant. Will he object to you being in close? Shooting from 1 to 3 metres of the couple during the vows gives much more intimacy to the moment - most of the ceremony isn't a tripod situation for the close-in camera. A camera on a tripod recording a general high view (balcony) is good to have for cutting. Get a good continuous audio by any means available (besides the camera audio).

Keep in mind "no zooming" but you'll have to zoom (slowly) because shots must be composed and nothing waits. Steady handheld is essential and move around where possible to get a good viewpoint. Doing this will put you in most of the stills being taken during the ceremony, but only the stills photographer will care and anyway you're a relative. Incidentally, the stills person will have much of the running before and after the ceremony and you shoot around her/his activities.

After church capture lots of interactions between people -- parents being congratulated, friends chatting (most of the audio here will be marred by noise and perhaps wind, so will have to be substituted eg. music and general crowd chatter). Remember that you can include stills.
Most of the work will be done during post and Vegas has a lot of power for making things better. Check out the wedding clips posted from time to time on this site, but use them as a lesson more than a guide. Don't rush post. You might give them a rough cut after their honeymoon and a final cut when you're satisfied (remember Michaelangelo: POPE: "Again, when will it be finished?" M: "When it is done!").

This job isn't being paid and a good job is the aim. DSE (Douglas Spotted Eagle) tells that in his part of the USA people expect a cut of the wedding for showing at the reception, which I reckon is ridiculous -- whoever let that standard get established? Make sure you can cutaway to parents at important points (they don't have to be taken at those points, but they have to be "in character" scene context).

A wedding is a fun time, a romantic time, a family and friends time. Do the best you can. A good wedding film requires the operator to be very comfortable with the equipment, be prepared, be quick thinking, have a clear plan for guidance, be able to improvise, and build a mental preliminary cut as shooting progresses.  If anyone tells you it's easy and just for old fogies, they don't know how to do it.

Oh yes, if you have respect for your clients then they will have respect for you and help you to get the job done. You can accept or ignore inputs as appropriate. And when they're not paying, they'll be really happy with any reasonable result.

Serena Steuart

Wedding Videographer Suggestions

by Doug Graham
Nov. 18 1999

You might want to join the Wedding and Event Videographers' Association. See their website at WEVA gives you a good deal for your $100. They have an annual convention, WEVA Expo. They have a bimonthly magazine, with equipment reviews you can trust and lots of ads for used gear. They have group rate insurance for liability, theft, and errors and omissions. They have a credit card merchant program that's easier and cheaper than most commercial offers. And they have a lot of this stuff on their web site, accessible to members only.

Also, check out the Wedding Videography forum at For ideas on camera techniques, check out "Advanced Broadcast Camera Techniques" instructional videotape at

Lights: Use as little as possible. Most churches won't allow you to use any additional lights. At the reception, a 50W on-camera light with a dimmer should be sufficient. Anything more than this, and all the people on-camera will be squinting, holding their hands over their eyes, or maybe lynching the cameraman.

Microphones: I like wireless, but I also carry a shotgun mike as a backup. If the wireless goes bad, I can plug in the shotgun in a couple of seconds and carry on. Sometimes, I also place a hard-wired PZM "flat" mic right between the couple and the priest. This can be a secondary backup, or feed a second or third camera.

Place the wireless mic on the groom. If you have more than one, a second mic can be placed on the priest, or at a speakers podium if there is another reader in the ceremony. Get a wireless mic with multiple channel selections, or get more than one mic, on different channels. You want to have an alternative if your first choice is full of radio interference.

At the reception, I just go with the on-camera mic, except for interviews. For those, I use a handheld wireless. Other places for a wireless mic at the reception is on the best man, for the toast; on the mike stand at the head table; or piggy-backed on the DJ's microphone.

For wireless equipment, the accepted industry leader is Lectrosonics, but they are very expensive. The new Azden and Samson UHF diversity systems seem well suited to small cameras like the 900, and at around $500 are less than a quarter of the cost of a Lectrosonics unit. The Azden has 63 selectable channels, but the receiver is pretty big and heavy to go onto a 900.

I've had surprisingly good results from my little VHF non-diversity Azden WMS-PRO mike, considering its $150 cost; but it does suffer from noticeable hiss and occasional dropout. Several industrial videographers of my acquaintance use the Sony 800 series UHF equipment, and consider it reliable.

Doug Graham
Panda Productions

Top Ten Wedding Video Tips

by Thomas Hardwick
27 Oct 1999

Quickie advice for those about to embark on shooting their first wedding video singlehanded. In no particular order, here's tom's top ten tips.

  1. If at all possible visit the location beforehand to assess the layout, lighting, powerpoints for recharging and to be nice to the priest/officials. Check out the parking access to enable a quick getaway from house to church to reception. See 7) below.
  2. Have a checklist for the Big Day, so you don't forget a single thing. Don't use new untried kit on the day.
  3. When shooting, shoot lots. Remember, this day will never come again. Much easier to edit down your master tapes than to lengthen them.
  4. Dance on your toes. Stay very alert. Concentrate on keeping the camera still (unless you're adept at tracking). Get big powerful closeups. Shoot people, all the people. A bit of the location, but go back and shoot more people. Remember we're all here because people like looking at people.
  5. Check over your kit very carefully. Check whitebalance, exposure, focus settings are all as you require, and are happy with.
  6. Check with the bride if she's asked you to do this film. Ask exactly what she'd like you to record. I had one bride who insisted that I never let the camera stop even for a second. They called me one-shot tom for months afterwards.
  7. Try to be in two places at once. (see 4 above). Wear unobtrusive clothing, take a brave pill and move amongst the guests, filming and smiling graciously.
  8. Decline alcohol (difficult one this) as drinking time is lost filming time. You can't do 2 things well, so concentrate on getting the footage. Don't be tempted to shoot stills; it requires a different mind set.
  9. Edit ruthlessly, you hear me? Keep the original masters for sure, but if possible get the happy couple to see your edited masterpiece before they see the long version.
  10. Remember your video camera is a sound recorder that just happens to record pictures at the same time. If you stop recording mid sentence the conversation will be nonsense wheras the pictures may be fine.

22 Shots for your Wedding Video

by Doug Graham
28 Oct 1999

OK, I'll toss in my $.02 on this with a "must get" shot list for a wedding.

1. Bride and bridesmaids dressing (keep it G rated!)
2. Exterior church.
3. Wedding party arriving at church.
4. Continuous roll of ceremony, from prior to bride's entrance to the
couple's walk down the aisle at the end. Ideally, use two cameras. Place
one in the back third of the church. Start the other handheld, positioned
on the bridesmaids' side of the aisle at the altar steps. Shoot the
procession. After the bride arrives, move to a tripod placed behind the
officiant and on the groom's side. This gives the best shot of the bride
during the vows. This MUST be coordinated and cleared with the officiant,
which is why it's necessary to attend the rehearsal.
5. Any special touches in the ceremony, like a solo song, unity candle
lighting, etc.
6. Reaction shots of bride and groom's families.
7. Take video during the photographer's formal posed shots.
7a. If you can, stage a reenactment of the ring ceremony. Get a good
closeup of rings being slipped onto fingers.
8. Wedding party leaving church.
9. Wedding party arriving at reception (this'll take some good planning and
fast driving on your part!)
10. Bride and groom entering reception.
11. First dance.
12. Mom's dance with the groom.
13. Dad's dance with the bride.
14. Best man's toast.
15. Cake cutting.
16. Garter toss.
17. Guest book signings.
18. Special dances and ceremonies at the reception.
19. Interviews with guests.
20. Interview with the bride and groom.
21. Cutaways - cake, presents, decorations, flower arrangements, the DJ or
band,etc. Get a copy of the wedding announcement, and anything like
souvenir napkins, etc. for later copystand work.
22. Guests saying goodbye.

DON'T shoot: People eating. Too many backs of heads. People backlit by windows. Drunks. (this becomes harder later in the day. If necessary, shoot the drunk and edit him or her out later).

Also, pick up a copy of Elite Video's "Advanced Broadcast Camera Techniques" video. John Cooksey has some great ideas on how to liven up your shooting.

Interviews at a wedding are a real art. I'm not very good at it; in general, I just have the guests pass around the mike and ask them to "say a few words to the happy couple". If you remember 'em, some good leading questions to ask might be,

- What can you tell me about how Bill and Sue met?
- What did you feel when you learned they were engaged?
- What do you think Bill should do to keep Sue happy?
- Where do think Bill and Sue will be ten years from now?
- What do you think Sue loves most about Bill?
Or you can use a different tack. For example, have your assistant take the mike and become a cheerleader. "Who's the prettiest girl at the party?!" Table response, lifiting glasses in salute: "SUE!" It all depends on your own judgement of what's good material, and what the client will like.

When interviewing the bride and groom, I do it individually, rather than together. I ask each of them the same questions:

- How did you meet?
- Tell me how the relationship deepened and grew.
- When did you first know Tim was the "one"?
- Tell me about how you (he) proposed?
- What are your plans for the future?
Then I cut the responses together. The juxtaposition of the two viewpoints can be funny, touching, or poignant.

I always remind my on-camera folks to answer any questions in a complete sentence. For example, if I ask "What's your name?", I don't want "Joe". I want "My name is Joe". That way, I can edit out my questions and the response is complete in itself.

Doug Graham
Panda Productions

Technique Suggestions

by Bill O'Neill
July 6, 2000

I have a PD-100, the 900's pro fraternal twin and I've shot several weddings just this summer. I do not use a tripod as the disruption to the shot as I attach and re-attach the camera is just not acceptable.

I use a monopod (Manfrotto 3249B) all of the time. I find that the pod, when compressed, acts as a stabilizer and makes moving the camera a very smooth operation and when needed extending it is very easy.

The PD-100 came with a wide angle adaptor and I use it constantly.

The flip out LCD screen is always in use with a Hoodman shade keeping out most ambient light including the sun's. You can make a shade with poster board (black) and tape.

Shoot for edit without a lot of B-Roll.

I have a shotgun mic and it does a good job getting the minister, bride and groom IF I'm able to get within 20-25 feet and shoot the couple's faces. Wear a headset. I like the Sony Walkman types with tiny earphone speakers that insert sideways into your ears.

Get everyone you can to give their wishes for the bride and groom straight to camera and shoot these whenever possible. They should appear randomly throughout the video. Make sure to change to a fresh tape before the ceremony begins so that you're not trying to switch tapes during the "I Do's". Stay sober. It's amazing what you forget to do after drinking a few brewskis.

The DJ or wedding coordinator should let you know what is happening next, but stay alert. They may not tell you.

Good luck.

Bill O'Neill

Three More Tips

by Ed Birrane
May 7 2001

  1. Always use NP-F750 or 950 batteries. You don't want cables at a reception.
  2. Always, when leaving the camcorder on a tripod, keep it out of reach of jumping children. Bored or unsupervised 8 year olds love camcorders.
  3. If you are doing a 2 camera shoot solo, when someone offers to help (there is always someone, it seems, at receptions who is a camcorder fanatic 8)) Kindly, kindly, kindly decline. If you want to know why I can probably e-mail you some footage!

Interview techniques

by Adam Britton
29 Oct 1999

I've been interviewed quite a few times, and yes there is definitely an art to it. The secret is *not* to interview the person, but to talk / chat to them whilst filming. That might sound the same, but the key is to make the interviewee relax and talk naturally, otherwise it sounds terribly stilted and fake. As soon as you point a camera at someone, they normally totally lose their ability to talk in a natural and relaxed manner. Also, never use the word "interview".

These are just my opinions on the best techniques, but don't get the interviewee to look into the camera - they're not a presenter. Put the camera on a tripod, start recording, switch off the little record LED (in the menu) so the interviewee doesn't have a constant reminder that they're being recorded, and then position yourself to the right / left of the camera and just start chatting to them. If you absolutely must be behind the camera, get a second person / friend to do the chatting. Use any strategy to get them to relax, and then introduce the questions you really want to ask into the conversation. Remember you can always edit out your own voice. It might take 10 minutes before they really start to forget they're being filmed, and that's when you'll get the best material - worth losing 10 mins of tape over. It's also better to interview them later in the day when all the stress of the wedding is behind them, and they've started to relax quite a lot. Of course, you don't want them drunk, so chose your moment carefully. Actually, you could interview them before the actual ceremony if you can somehow arrange it, to get that "How do you feel right now?" question in.


A Different Style of Interview

by Allan Teo
July 5, 2000

I take a lot of wedding video with the TR900 and a TRV-9 for the night vision when the food is marching in (Singapore style , place is pitch dark when food comes)

To get more fun out of the interviews without you saying a word just flip the LCD toward the audience and zoom in on a person's face, that would force them to say hello , or something, its very interesting how people will react when surprised but then knowing that a camera is zooming in on them has no choice but to start acting in 30 seconds..


Interview Tactics

by Ed Birrane
Sept. 27, 2000

A quick remembrance and some thoughts...

When I first got my TRV900 I wanted to try it out right away and got a friend of mine to go with me to a local safeway where we spent the next 30 minutes going around to various shoppers and spot interviewing them. I would make up some inane question... "What do you look for in a potato chip" or "how do you tell the ripe oranges". I even talked a meat department guy into letting us into the "back" of the butcher area with the camera so we could look around and take video. It was very, very fun and everyone in the store was nice to us. Even the poor cashier who checked us out (we bought juice) on video. It was her first day.

In each case, I walked up to someone, with my cameraman pointing the camera away and down towards the floor, and said, very confidently, "Hi, my name is Ed Birrane and I'm a film student at Loyola College and we just got a new piece of equipment (point to camera, which comes up and starts to film them) and are breaking it in. Today we are asking grocery store shoppers what .... , and want to know what your thoughts are." And was polite, but with the expectation that the question was answered.

One woman responded, "I think I don't like being on video tape" and I responded, "Oh, that's totally ok. Nothing to be shy about, now, when you pick oranges,..." and she smiled, and talked to me for 10 minutes about oranges. Also, and this may be an ethics thing, I wasn't a film student at Loyola. I just wanted some home footage to test out my new camera, but it made people think they were helping me, and I think for interviews, that is important.

When I do weddings (not so many so far, just 3 or 4) I go to each table before people start eating, (although if they are in the middle of dinner, when someone with a camera approaches and stoops down next to them, they do tend to look up...) and I say

"Hi, My name is Ed and I am doing the video for <...>'s wedding. When I do wedding videos, I like to go to each table and ask people for their thoughts on their wedding and advice on happy marriages for <...>, because they will love to see and hear what you have to say when they view this later on. People sometimes talk about what they were thinking when they heard <...> got engaged, their first impressions of <.> or <..>, advice to keep the marriage happy, childhood stories, anythying at all. Why don't I start at this end of the table and go around."

I have hundreds of people on tape from just 4 weddings. Maybe out of 4 weddings, 10 people have said "no thank you" and actually have meant it. So, my advice would be:

1) Always introduce yourself.

2) Always say what your are filming and why.

3) Always say what you expect this person to be saying when they are on film (most people get nervous because they don't know what to say).

4) Never let there be these pregnant pauses because that lets people get in a "no thank you". The first time I usually let people speak is when the video camera is on and they know what they are supposed to be talking about.

5) Always be polite. You _can_ do the above _and_ not be intrusive. Smile a lot, be confident, talk at a good pace, but not too fast, and make a lot of eye contact.

6) Have good body language that says this is cool to be doing, and that these people being on film is the right thing to do. Don't act apologetic, as if you are interrupting. you aren't interrupting, you are giving these people a fantastic opportunity.

7) If possible, make people think they are helping you or those they care about. For a wedding, they are actually helping the bride. For a reunion, they are helping their classmates, especially if you say you are "thinking" of distributing the video. At a grocery store, they were "helping me" break in my equipment.

8) "No" means "I am scared of being on video, that I won't look good, won't know what to say, or that my words will be twisted." If/when you get a no, figure out which of the above the no means, and address it, and try again. I'll try up to 3 times before giving up. "You look fantastic on video, I'm shooting from a little above and am just getting a portrait shot; the colors on you for some reason are just vibrant in this light, I'd love a shot just like this to be in the video" or "all you have to do is look right here and say 'congradulations' and maybe tell that story of when Dr. Fish forgot the answer to his own homework problem.'" or even "I'm going to use this all as one single clip, no editing between when you start talking and when you are finished, I promise. Now, let's begin.."

9) Another way of looking at these things is that people say no in response to "reactance". Pick up a good social psychology textbook and look up reactance. There was a great study done at MIT maybe in the 70's that was gauged towards minimizing this negative reactance. One was to get people to laugh, which is why every politician these days starts his speech with a joke. But some others: citing published works, (like this bullet #9), being confident in speech, not using "um" or "er", maintaining eye contact, etc... really DO put people at ease and give you more access.

I have found that a confident attitude and a camera can get you into a lot of places (say, the back of the butcher section at a safeway) whereas a nervous attitude and a camera can get you alot of anger. People get angry at cameramen because they are afraid of something, and the more you can do to suppress that fear and be a 30 second safe friend, the more interviews you will get, is my bet.


Pan to Selected Guests
by Ivan Leslie
May 8, 2002

Here is a tip: during speeches, the speaker often refers to a member or members of the wedding party. I know you can shoot a cutaway later for insertion at edit, but I prefer the actual reaction to the comment. I do a whip pan to the person or persons referred to, stay on the shot for a good time and then whip back to the speaker. Then during the edit I cut out the whip pans and slow-mo the person or persons to fill the hole and allow me to return to the speaker in sync. I use this also during the service to catch the start of hymns, although a second cam on weddings is easier.

Ivan Leslie [Note: key to making this work is staying on the reaction shot long enough, so you only need to slow down the cutaway a small amount to cover the duration of the pans. Slowing down by a small amount is usually not noticible, when there is no lip-sync to give it away. -jpb]

A Wedding Video Experience

by Simon Plint
28 Oct 1999

Perhaps others may benefit from a debriefing of my first wedding. Here goes:

Wedding was for a friend. I quoted absolute minimum price, AU$550, knowing that this would only cover my labour for the day, a bit of editing time and the cost of tapes and stuff but the bride had said I could use it for promotion and I needed the experience.

I thought the editing would take me two weeks of a couple of hours each night. Well it took about 2 months or more , including some whole weekends. This was because I wanted it absolutely perfect and I had to try to work with footage that I had taken without the editing process in mind. I was so nervous that I shot a bit here then ran around and shot a bit there. I cut off sentences and whole scenes trying to be conservative with DV tape and subsequent hard disk space.

The camera was new and I had not had it long. I was not game to take it out of AUTO mode except for white balance. Well I got that wrong since some of the scenes of the bride being photographed outside had a blue tinge and some indoor stuff had an orange tinge.

I can't tell whether the sound was any good since there wasn't any. Not quite true, there was sound just not the sound I needed. It would have been nice to actually hear the bride and groom exchange vows but since I didn't have a wireless mic or even a shot-gun and didn't want to be in the couple's face with a camera I had to settle for some nice, post added, music. The sound for the speeches was no better. All this is different now since I have invested in a wireless and a shot-gun mic and head-phones. Even if I had used head-phones I would have known to get closer. It was all very hit and miss now that I look back.

My advice, if you're doing a wedding and don't have the $s to get good mics, is to consider renting them, borrow a mini disc recorder or even a cassette recorder.

To spite all of this the newly married couple absolutely loved their video. They bought 8 extra copies at AU$20 each.

Thanks for The Memories.

A First Wedding Video

by Pierre Fournier
31 Aug. 2001

My brother-in-law asked me to take care of his wedding video.  I had absolutely no experience with this, but I decided to accept the task.  I started surfing the net hoping to find advice on how to shoot a wedding video, and I learned a lot.  However, when I look at the final result, I see the mistakes and tell myself  “I wish I had read about that somewhere.”  That’s what this article is about.  Let me explain all that I did, and I hope it will help you prepare for a job that doesn’t seem so tough when you accept it the first time.

The first thing I did was to create a document to help me organize the whole thing.  After many changes and new ideas, it ended up as 4 pages.  The document had the following structure:

Task flow: I described how the events of the day will happen.  While doing this, I found out that I couldn’t do some things because I was busy doing other things.  I had to get some help in order to do everything in time.

Before the wedding. Things I needed to do: Clean lenses, bring tripod, bring AC adapter (who knows), bring microphone, turn off “Beep” sound of camera, bring plastic bag to protect the camera from the rain (who knows), identify all camera components as being mine, make sure all tapes are rewound and ready, and so forth.

Video structure. What we will see in the final production with an estimated time for each section.  Introduction, groom getting prepared, groom photo session, bride getting prepared, bride photo session, groom arriving at church, bride arriving at church, the ceremony, congratulations, the wedding cake, presentation of the table of honor, garter/bouquet toss, first dance, titles.

Miscellaneous ceremony shots. Ideas of shots to take during the ceremony.  If you do not want the final result to be boring, you must change the view from time to time.  Some of my ideas were flowers, colored windows, church interior from all angles, low shots, high shots, couple holding hands, view when sitting down in the crowd, and couple closeups.

Interviews. Questions to ask the groom and bride.  How many hours of sleep did you have last night? Are you nervous? What’s the worst thing that could happen today? If you could go back a couple of weeks, what would you change? How/Where/When did you meet him/her (funny, I got two different answers in my case!), Where will you spend your honeymoon? What do you think he/she is thinking right now? When did you realize he/she was the right one for you?

Titles. What to put in text form.  Date, time, chuch location, name of the minister, reception location, name of helpers (flower girl, ring bearer, bride’s maid, witnesses), photographer, videographer, people who provided pictures (if you have a “Picture” section), guests, etc.

Things I have learned from this first experience:

-    Better too much time than not enough.  Even if people tell you that you will have plenty of time to prepare your equipment in the church before the limo gets there, do not believe them.  In my case, the limo driver wanted to have his breakfast, and even though I drove like a madman over the speed limit, he got there only 10 minutes after me.

-    Imagine you are the only videographer.  If you use more than one camcorder, do not assume the other camcorder has a shot you can’t get.  Believe it or not, we missed the ring exchange!  The groom was hiding me, but I assumed the other camcorder got it, but this one was blocked by the minister.  I had to borrow the tape from someone else, who had the date and time embedded.  Unfortunate, but you learn from your mistakes.

-    Make sure the settings are perfectly identical on both camcorders.  I was sure the result would be awesome since we both had the exact same model.  Unfortunately, I was running in manual exposure while the other videographer (another amateur) was running in automatic exposure.  It shows when I switch from one camera to the other.

-    Let go of that tripod.  If you know you won’t do any movement (pan, zoom, tilt), get your hands off the tripod.  I didn’t realize it while shooting, but when reviewing, I notice that still shots are shaking.

-    No sudden movement!  While I was shooting people reading, I thought it would be nice to include the bride and groom sitting right next to them, so I zoomed back.  Unfortunately, I did it way too fast.  It really looks odd in the final video.

-    No camera digital effects.  I knew I was going to use Premiere to do transitions, but it seems my partner didn’t know.  He added the “Slide” digital effect of the camera here and there.  It was not fun to edit afterwards.

Pierre Fournier

VHS video boxes for presentation

by Tom Hardwick
Oct 18, 2001

Remember that the client pays you lots of money (hopefully) yet receives little in return. He's handed a VHS (or two, or twenty). So remember that packaging is very very important, OK?

Firstly, hunt out large hubbed VHS for any film less than 90 mins. I like the chizzled look of Fuji blanks, but others have fancy blue tinted windows and there are pure white ones for wedding films. You want to surprise and delight them remember.

Use the centre label space to title the tape, date it, say if it's PAL or NTSC, Hifi, and give the film's running time. Use the spine label to clearly identify the tape so that when it's in the jaws of the VCR it's obvious from 5 metres what's on the tape. Break off the safety tab.

Now to the plastic box. There's good and bad to be had here as in all walks of life. Posh cases close nicely, don't have wrinkly PVC covers and have a beautifully produced full colour paper insert, designed and printed by you. It has a frame enlargement that typifies the tape's contents, and on the rear cover it describes what's in store, just like the back of a paperback.

Put your contact details on the insert sheet and repeat the info (above) that you've put on the centre label. You've got to feel proud as you hand over the tape, and this means no hand written scrawl, no cheapo tapes, no cardboard sleeves.


Note from Marilynn (10/19/01): Art Leather carries very classy, well-made albums, but they're priced accordingly. A good choice for your top-of-the-line package. Look at Everything Video's Library line for nice leather albums that, while not as fine as Art Leather's, are an attractive and affordable alternative.

Videography Rates: How Much to Charge?

by John Beale

This topic generated quite a bit of discussion on the TRV900 mailing list when it came up, where I believe there were two main points of view. On one hand were newcomers and hobbyists who work for little or nothing, either to establish credentials or just for fun. On the other hand, established professionals who felt that low rates adversely affected their business, and that clients were taking advantage of those who charged lower than the average local market rate. Speaking just for myself, the first few jobs I did I charged a very nominal fee since I had not yet proven I could do a quality job. After I got very positive feedback from my clients, I decided I could reasonably charge a closer approximation to a professional rate.

By the way, if you are known to be interested in photography or video, it is not uncommon to be asked to photograph or video a wedding for a friend. From my own and other's experience, if you are to do a quality job at this, it means you'll be working nearly all the time, and will not really experience the event as a guest. Make your plans accordingly. (Also, if you are not confident of your skills, consider if your friendship would be adversely affected in the event of a disappointing product.)

Prices vary by region (metro area rates are often higher than rural), by complexity of the job, equipment and personnel needed, and the experience of the videographer(s). While at first glance, professional rates may seem high, I believe that wedding videos really benefit from good wireless mics, excellent low-light camera performance, two or more cameras, and competent editing. Not to mention specific experience in working with this gear under pressure. All of this costs money (and time) to provide.

Just to throw out some numbers I have seen in newsgroups, forums, and mailing lists, professional event videographer "day rates" (eg. 10 hour day) might run from $250 at the low end, to $600 and up. Rates are higher when you provide a lot of additional equipment (lighting, backdrops, sound) as compared with just running the camera. Of course operating the camera is only the first part of the job, a typical wedding video may take weeks to edit. Pro editing by itself can run $50 or more an hour, but if you are not yet experienced with your editing system, you'll probably be inefficient, in which case that hourly rate wouldn't be reasonable.

In the S.F. Bay Area in 2004, I have seen an amateur (no wedding experience) ask $600, and many 2-camera professional services asking $1500 - $2000 for the edited project on DVD. The highest package I have seen advertised locally is $8k for a multi-cam high-definition package with "everything and the kitchen sink".  I have heard $10,000 mentioned second-hand, but I have no idea what that entails. You might get more accurate pricing numbers by asking videographers in your area about their rates.

How Long Does Editing Take?
by Doug Graham
April 29, 2001

  1. Dump tapes to disk: 5-6 60 minute tapes = 6 hours
  2. Create titles in CG program, 6 titles @ 15 min = 1.5 hr
  3. Capture baby pictures, 40-60 @ 1 min = 1 hr
  4. Manipulate/crop/filter pictures in Photoshop, 40-60 @ 10 min = 10 hr
  5. Select and capture background music, 5 selections @ 4 min = 1 hr
  6. Edit video, 6 hr source footage = 18 hr (takes me, on average, 3X real time to select, arrange, sync, and edit material)
  7. Create tape label graphics in Photoshop = 1 hr
  8. Record master tape = 2 hr
  9. Dub copies, label cassettes, and prepare for shipment = 3 hr
Total = 43.5 hr. That's not counting interruptions, goofs, and technical difficulties, and ignores any time spent with fancy extras like animation.

Two Wedding Videos

by John Beale
July 18, 2004

I did video for two weddings in Summer 2004, both for friends. My goal was to do an excellent job, while still being at least partly a wedding guest. As expected, I was 100% videographer at the ceremony, and maybe 50% at the reception. These notes are as much for myself as anyone else, but you may find them useful if you do similar jobs.

  1. Guests stand up when the bride enters. Don't forget this in setting the height of your tripod!
  2. Guests won't sit down until the officiant reminds them to. Ideally this would be part of the script.
  3. An unmanned second camera may get blocked, or kicked off angle, or not be aimed correctly to start.
  4. Another guest recruited to run camera #2 may not share your ideas about camera motion, pan/tilt/etc.
  5. If you hand an already-running camera to someone, make sure they don't "start" it again (ie, loose the shot).
  6. For that matter, don't do this yourself, when transferring the camera from a tripod.
  7. A minidisc recorder in the groom's jacket with lav mic on lapel works well for audio at the ceremony.
  8. Check for hum on house audio feeds. Running the camera from battery instead of AC power may fix this.
  9. Camera-mounted mics are poor for interviews in a noisy environment. A handheld mic works very well.
  10. Forget stills- you have your hands full just with video; keep your focus, leave stills to the photographer.
  11. The DVD case jacket does need a photo. See if the photographer will let you use one or two with attribution.
The timing of events at weddings is subject to change, no matter how nicely the program is printed. Things can move quickly; a toast or other event may catch you off-guard, when you are not initially at a good vantage point. It is not practical to use a tripod under these circumstances, because it cannot be smoothly re-located as a handheld camera can. Using the built-in stabilizer, at full wide angle, camera held with elbows pressed against sides, the shot can be nearly as steady as a tripod.  A monopod is very useful for the reception.

Despite what might be inferred from these notes, both weddings went well and I was able to produce a good quality video presentation from them. Had I been focused 100% on video at the reception, I could have caught some more details and done more interviews. (On the other hand, many videographers do not even offer interviews, on the theory that guests don't want to be disturbed.)  The most important thing is to keep a cool head, and allow yourself time to think. Do not underestimate the amount of planning and thought needed to get a good record of a one-time-only event that is never fully rehearsed. Keep your well-prepared gear checklist and event-time checklist handy. Make sure you communicate all relevant information to anyone assisting you; in writing where possible. Don't assume they will bring printouts of your emails.

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