Wedding Season is now upon us so if your thinking about hiring a wedding videographer or filming a wedding your self then here are some great pointers.
Having produced over 4,000 wedding videos Id like to say Ive got a good knowledge of producing creative wedding videos that couples love and cherish for years.
Having filmed and edited all sorts of weddings alongside editing DIY style shot weddings where a hire company provides the equipment and I edit the footage once they’ve finished Ive been lucky enough to see the good and bad which I hope this article will help you avoid the very common pitfalls and bear in mind the tricks and skills I use to make the very best wedding video.
Having pioneered the DIY style wedding video package over 10 years ago where upon a couple would hire a video camera for their wedding often we would find that the couples had no means or expertise to edit the footage themselves and would turn to us to edit their footage so we conceived the DIY wedding video package, many companies have since tried to emulate this service including companies such as shoot-it-yourself who approached Dragons Den with the concept to raise funds we are assuming to raise capital as they used to hire our equipment through one of our agents HiRental at the time, this massively increased the market awareness of shoot it yourself or DIY wedding videos and we have remained as the leading provider to this market place for over 9 years now simply because we still offer exceptional pricing we have the latest equipment and we don’t need to pay money hungry investors, we are a family run business passionate about video and confident that we have produced more wedding videos in the UK than our competitors combined.
So now Ive covered my background lets look at what to look out for and how to get the best footage when shooting a wedding video which Ive broken down into the following sections.
Equipment for filming wedding videos
There are three routes you can go here, and this will really be dictated by your skill level and bear in mind that even complete novices can create stunning wedding videos as can be seen in the examples below of footage filmed by clients with absolutely no experience in shooting videos of any kind. If you have your own video camera then this can be a great start as you will have experience in using the equipment if you don’t then theres no need to worry you can hire wedding video cameras and the packages are very cost effective giving you the key features you should look for and these are as follows in order of importance,
HD quality recording
Many cameras now offer 4k but in reality a good quality HD video camera will work better for you, 4K footage is extremely big file size wise and editing 4K on anything other than a top end Pro Mac will be painfully slow if at all possible on most consumer Macs and Computers, In my experience by the time you have edited compressed and shared the footage the difference between HD and 4K is hardly noticeable especially when you consider that most people don’t have access to being able to play 4K Blu Rey footage.
So go for a true HD video camera and you will have the best available compromise.
As the name suggests IS or Image Stabilisation is a technique used on the video camera that reduces any shake in the footage and gives your footage a wonderful floaty feel, without this your footage can appear shaky and jarred especially if you are not using a tripod, and as weddings are always moving and on the go you will find that much of what you film does not allow the time to set up a tripod so make sure your camera has Image Stabilisation and you can get super smooth fluid shots even if your walking following the action.
Audio is very important especially to capture the wedding VOWS on video and the all important speeches the simply solution is a directional microphone which will mainly collect audio from the direction the camera is pointing when the microphone is attached to the top of the camera, the only problems I have seen here is when a young child is between you and the subject and decides they are bored with the accompanying crying etc but if this can be avoided a directional mic will be all thats required to get good usable audio, alternatively to go one better you can use a wireless lapel microphone which you would need to attach to the subject you are filming this also has its pitfalls as you can pick up rustling etc if the microphone has not been attached correctly but I would leave this to the professionals unless you are comfortable to monitor and attach the microphone to the subjects you are recording as you go along.
Good Zoom Distance
Its a real shame to say that we see Videographers, let alone Photographers taking over weddings they appear in everyones line of sight and even take over directing couples on what to do and where to stand, The most natural videos we see are those in which the Videographer simply blends into the wedding and the way to do this is to ensure that your video camera has a good zoom ratio combined with image stabilisation above needed because the more you zoom in the more any shaky footage is exaggerated so make sure you have at a 20X zoom this will allow you to be at a fair distance from the bride and groom yet be able to get close enough to fill the frame with their hands whilst the rings are being attached.
Ease of use
Many people filming a wedding will have drawn the short straw and be close friends or a family member of the bride and groom so the last thing they want to do is let the newly weds down or have to spend hours learning how to use a video camera, the wedding video camera hire packages mentioned above ensure that no matter your skill level you will get great footage, the video cameras are automatic and will find the faces ensuring the exposure and focus is optimal and take care of all the other technical settings to optimise the footage there is only two things the operator will need to do Press the red button to start and stop and zoom in and out thats it, the audio levels are automatically adjusted leaving you to focus on being in the right place and pointing the camera in the right direction.
Video Camera or DSLR
Many professional videographers will prefer to use DSLR camera as this offers a nice cinematic look however trying to keep a DSLR in focus for anything longer than a minute on a moving subject is something even the most seasoned professional will struggle with which is why you will see that most Wedding Videos shot with a DSLR contained little snippets slowed down and very little real time continuous filming great for a highlight video but not very good to capture the vows or the speeches which is what most of clients require, and remember the footage shot on a hired in camera or your own camera can skilfully be slowed down and defocussed to give you that filmic look if thats what you require.
Recommended Equipment Setup
Set up A (tight budget)
You don’t need a big budget to film a great wedding video for a £100 or so you can hire all the wedding video camera equipment you need in a package like you can see here.
If you want to buy the equipment then we would recommend a Sony HXR MC2000 a video camera designed specifically for the wedding videographer it has all the must have features we mention above and comes complete with a directional top mic yet can be bought for around £1,200 you would also need a tripod which can be bought for around £200 and don’t forget a set of headphones to check your audio.
Set up B (medium budget)
Many semi professional videographers in this section use DSLR style cameras like the Sony A7, Canon 5D mkiii or traditional Video Cameras like the Sony NX5 we would recommend the Sony NX5 as this offers exceptional quality a great zoom lens as standard and covers all the earlier bases we have discussed and can still attain super slow motion video it will also work well in low light and doesn’t have the focus issues associated with the DSLR style cameras we mentioned.
A Sony NX5 can be purchased for around £2,500 and a suitable fluid head tripod would tip the scales at around £500 and again alternatively you could hire the video camera with a tripod for around £150, interestingly the Sony NX5 is the most popular video camera that we hire to professional wedding videographers.
Set up C (Ultimate setup)
Our camera of choice and the camera we use when filming wedding videos is the Canon C300 or Canon C100 these video cameras take the look and feel that people love from DSLR style cameras yet have advanced technology that allows the large sensors to shoot continuous video with consistent focus and due to their wide dynamic range they can handle changes in light and environment without drastically changing the look and feel of the footage that you would normally get from DSLR cameras.
The equipment which really is the best for the job professionally requires a skilled operator and would cost around £10,500 for the C300 camera £1,500 for the lens and budget about £700 for a good fluid head tripod again you could hire the setup for around £350 but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you have an advanced understanding of the technology.
Filming your first wedding video
So you’ve decided on your equipment now its time to make sure your prepared for you debut as a videographer, after all you don’t want to let anyone down including yourself.
I have broken down the main sections of the wedding as elementary as this may seem I would say that probably 90% of the DIY wedding videos we edit miss out on some of the key elements listed but don’t worry if you miss any just use this as a guide to what makes great footage and will help you build the story of the wedding day you are about to embark on filming.
Bride and Groom preparations
A great way to start your video and also the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with the Bride and Groom this time will also give you the opportunity to build a repot with the couple.
Final preps to Brides hair
Final touch ups to makeup
Shot of the wedding attire still on its hangers
Shots of the shoes
Shots of the wedding shoes
Shots of the pin hole flowers
Shots of the bouquet
For the best results put the camera on a tripod as far away as you can from the item you will be filming and then zoom in so the item fills the viewfinder you will notice that this reduces the depth of field giving you a greater depth to what you are filming for instance the flower petals on the bouquet will be in focus in the middle and lightly out of focus in the edges of the shot giving a greater sense of movement.
Any pan or tilt (moving of camera from right to left or up or down) should be done as slow as possible as the camera is zoomed in any movement will be greatly exaggerated yet the cameras inbuilt image stabilisation will help smooth this out for you.
So make sure you do very close up shots and then also take some wide pans and tilts of each of the subjects this will make 1000% difference to the end result, Most videos we see have a wide framed shot of the wedding dress on a hangar the shot goes from bottom to top or vice versa quickly and whilst yes you can see its a wedding dress it lacks all the detail and beauty you can achieve by slowing things down and ensuring you capture the close up detail and beauty of the wedding dress.
The same technique can be said to all the shot list above as you can see in the examples above, I can emphasise enough how often people shoot a wide angle shot of the make up being applied or the Brides hair being done and miss out on the mid and close shots that make all the difference.
And remember not to continually zoom in and out, zooming is a skill and should only really be used when you are staging a shot to show of the background detail, you do not need to zoom in and out when filming detail I nearly always end up editing out the parts a videographer is zooming as the frame and zoom are not smooth, by all means use the zoom to frame the shot but when theres great footage being recorded don’t spoil it by using the zoom. If you study most beautiful wedding videos you will not see footage that is being zoomed in and out.
For more information check out our wedding video packages here