Your first wedding video
Think you're ready to plunge into the world of wedding day filming? Camera wielding gurus and Premiere geniuses certainly have the raw talent, but the wedding videographer needs a whole range skills to create a lasting memory of one of the most expensive days of the bride and groom's lives; Oodles of talent behind an expensive High Definition camera are wasted if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Marc Peters prepares you for your first or hopefully many smooth run wedding day shoots. Get the basics right and let your talent behind the camera shine.
Walk, don't run
Remember your first? No one's ever got it nailed the first time, so your first wedding should always be treated as a test run. It's probably tempting to film a friend's wedding as a dry run, but this won't give a realistic picture of a videographer-client relationship. With thousands getting married every year, there's a strong chance a friend of a friend know's someone that's getting married so offer yourself for free. Once you've got that first wedding under your belt you'll have an idea of where you stand in the wedding video business. Compare yourself to the rest of the market and if you find yourself positioned within the £500 and less category you may want to reconsider whether this is really the industry for you.
The Preperation - It's all in the detail
It's a cliche, but you really do have one chance to get it right. With that amount of pressure, you can't prepare enough to ensure you give yourself every opportunity to get the key shots nailed. It would be churlish to suggest you film every subtle nuance of the day, and I'll share the 'secrets' of being in two places in other guides, but with the right preperation you'll find yourself naturally capturing the expected and the unexpected gems.
Don't leave preperation to the day of the wedding - the happy couple will have months of preperation behind them so use this to your advantage. A handy source of information will be the invites sent to the guests. This invariably contains full details of the venues with directions and perhaps an itenary of the day itself. So before you bombard your client with a series of questions, ask for a copy of what they're sending their guests, which may also serve as launch pad for further questions...
Make sure you create your own itenary of the day with approximate timing of the key events. In my experience the timings never reflect the actual day and you'll find every timetabled event slips later and later, but it will give you an idea of how to plan (and more importantly when you'll be able to grab a bite to eat!) You'll probably find that although there's approximate times, arrangements won't have been made for the timings of the speaches, cutting of the cake and the first dance. All of these are seminal moments that no bride would want seen left off a video, and you don't want to be kept guessing. A week before the wedding have an informal chat to arrange an approximate schedule for any events the couple want filmed. Explain that although obviously fluid, this will provide an opportunity to prepare the perfect shots.
Visit the venues before the day itself, and most certainly attend any rehearsal. This will give you the perfect opportunity to iron out any flaws in your directions and scope out where to park, and calculate how long it will take to get from one venue to another. It'll also give you a chance to plan where to place your tripods and equipment... but be prepared to change this on the day itself!
You'll find that the photographer often dictates formal proceedings, with even the most ardent journalist style photographer arranging a host of shots. Get the photographer onside and use this to your advantage! I've never experienced an unhelpful photographer, but there's horror stories of obnoxious indivuals that seem to delight in getting in the videographers way. Don't let this scare you. Most of his shots will be staged and he has the opportunity of a "re-take" to get the perfect shot. Unfortunately you don't have this luxury, so it's sometimes worth having a chat to tell him where you'll be positioned for key events - the worst that can happen is that he'll tell you where he will be at key times.
I've found that sneaking around in the background with a medium zoom works wonders whilst he goes about his business. You'll often find you get perfect candid shots and relaxed smiles using this tried and tested method. But don't concentrate too much on the people behind the photographers lens - you'll find much more relaxed people away from the camera...
Don't go solo
Even if you're treating this as an free eye opener with little in the way of expensive equipment (and I strongly suggest you do), never attempt to do this alone. You'll need someone to carry and sometimes guard your gear and more importantly calm you down as your heart level peaks!
You'll find yourself using more DV tapes than you'd ever thought possible and don't let this scare you. One of the most common mistakes of the novice is to stop the camera only to find they miss a gem as the tape stops running. Avoid this mistake by ensuring you have enough tape to film every time you have the camera with you! Before the wedding label tapes with the approriate names for each set of events (preperation, before ceremony etc) and as soon at that event has finished, remove the tape and enable the copy prevention. Although you'll find you rarely fill a tape, you'll find that post production is much more efficient and you avoid worrying about a tape ending at a crucial stage. If you simply can't bear wasting tapes, then at the very least start a new tape before an event that you know will last longer than the remaining space left. Sounds obvious but the obvious often escapes you in the heat of the moment.
Don't forget to talk to someone in the know at the wedding. If things are running late, don't be afraid to ask why! You may find that someone was relying on someone else and your prompting speeds things up. Remember to make sure the driver knows you need to be at the venue before he arrives if you're leaving at the same time and above all remember that no matter how stressed you are, the bride is probably more so.
However your first day as a wedding videographer goes, make sure you enjoy the day and try to keep a level head. You'll find that the unexpected will invariably happen, but make sure you're prepared for what you think might happen...