|Article Time Stamp: 06 October 2008, 21:38:22 GMT+7|
Tips For Shooting a Wedding Video
So you've been entrusted to videotape your sibling/cousin/best friend's wedding, what do you do now?
First, try to keep expectation levels low when accepting your friend or family member's request to shoot their wedding. Just like wedding photography there are good reasons why wedding videographers are expensive: they have professional grade equipment and the experience of dealing with once-in-a-lifetime moments on a weekly basis.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take on the challenge. Keep some of the following tips and tricks in mind and you should be able to produce a wedding video that should still bring tears to the eye in years to come.
Having one camcorder is, obviously, a bare minimum for recording a wedding. But two is far better, since it provides you an instant backup in case one of your camcorders fails during the ceremony. If, like most of us, you have only one camcorder in your collection, do whatever you can to get your hands on another camera.
If one camera is all you can muster up, we'd recommend going handheld as this will provide you with the maximum of flexibility on the day. With two or more cameras, you can have one fixed to record the entire ceremony from a good vantage point. This not only ensures that the important moments like the exchange of vows, the slipping of rings on fingers and the first kiss aren't missed, but it also provides you with a constant audio track to use. The second camera can be set to record and then left to its own devices, but it's nice to find a volunteer camera operator.
If you've got, or can procure, a high-definition camera, use it. Even if you're not planning to display or produce your final video in high-def, it's best to have your raw footage done at the highest quality possible. This way if, or when, the newlyweds decide to invest in a big screen TV, you can easily give them a Blu-ray copy to replace their DVD edition.
The standard battery supplied with most consumer camcorders will last for about 100 minutes of recording. Although this may be just sufficient for either the wedding or the reception, we recommend taht you bring a spare battery or, preferably, a heavy duty battery if possible. And even if you think you've got enough battery power to cover the entire event, bring your battery chargers just in case.
Make sure you've got plenty of recording media, enough to record for the entire length of the wedding ceremony and reception, as well as for shooting before and after each event. If you're recording to removable media, be it flash memory cards, tapes or disc, bring more than you think you'll need. Users of hard-disk camcorders, meanwhile, should backup and clear their hard disks before the big day arrives. Lenses and equipment should be checked and cleaned the night before wedding day, at the latest.
Should you be lucky enough to have the luxury of having a fixed camera or two, you'll require a tripod for each of the fixed cameras. An extra tripod may also be required for the on-the-move camera if you want to do smooth pans. Optical image stabilization is preferable for your on-the-move camcorder, as this will reduce some of the inherent camera shake.
Scope out the wedding location, as well as the reception venue, a week or two ahead. If the wedding is at a church, speak to the minister in charge in order to get access to the best locations -- for instance, a balcony. Note down the best viewing locations for key events, such as the entrance of the bridal party and the exchange of vows. If the ceremony is taking place outdoors, find out what the contingency plans are for bad weather.
Poor light might be an issue, especially during the reception. Work with the bride and groom to be, as well as the manager of the reception venue, to ensure that things like the speeches, cake cutting and featured dances are done in a single well-lit area, if possible.
Create a shortlist of the shots that the couple absolutely must have for their video, for example a walk around the wedding bouquets or close-ups of the wedding cake. You should also determine which ceremonial events are more important to the to-be-weds — this will help you out if you should have to make an on-the-fly decision about which parts of the day's activities to omit from filming. Keep up-to-date with any changes that the newlyweds-to-be make to the order of ceremonies.
Wedding ceremony and reception
Get to both the wedding and reception locations at least, say, an hour beforehand. This will allow you to stake out the best positions, set up your equipment and take establishing shots, not just of the venues' exterior and interior but also the view, if there is one.
Get lots of shots of people during both events, stretching from the bride and groom's families, bridal party, close friends to distant relations and colleagues from ten jobs ago. And never forget to film any children that are present. First time videographers often forget that a wedding video is not just a record of the day's ceremonies but also of the people in attendance. At the wedding, the best time to get these cut shots are when people milling around before and after the ceremony, as well as during the readings, hymns and prayers. During the reception, avoid filming people as they're eating and don't be tempted to have a drink until after you've filmed all the key events.
As anyone who has ever edited together a wedding video will tell you, it's a monumental task. However, it's likely that the newlyweds, or their families, will want to see a video from the wedding post haste. In this scenario, don't rush editing, instead provide them with a quick highlights package of raw, or roughly edited, footage from the most important events of the day, such as the vows and speeches.
Try to keep things simple when compiling the wedding video. Avoid cutesy touches such as star swipes between scenes; a simple fade out and fade in, or a title card, is more than sufficient. During the readings, hymns and speeches, use shots you took of attendees to visually liven up the video.
By Derek Fung, CNET Contributor