How To Select A Wedding Videographer
Professional wedding videography started to enter the public consciousness in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Huge, clunky cameras were used in combination with equally large video tape recorders. The cameras were usually so heavy that a tripod was used throughout the day. Bright, television studio-style lights were the norm. And cables were everywhere. So while brides liked the idea of a wedding video, the reality of the process often gave them reason to reconsider.
Things changed for the better in the late 1990’s, as the tools available to professional wedding
videographers caught up to their imaginations. Editing systems went from being tape-based to computer hard drive-based. Small digital camcorders, often weighing about five pound, began to dominate productions.
These camcorders required minimal amounts of light, so the dignity of a wedding could be upheld. Best of all, these camcorders democratized the industry, bringing a wealth of talented and creative individuals into the field. The better professional wedding videographers can produce a wedding DVD movie that will rival anything you’ll see on TV or in the theaters.
Today, anyone can buy a small camcorder and a laptop computer with editing software at virtually every electronics or discount store for about $2000.00. That’s less than the cost of a lens for a full-size professional video camera. With tools that seem professional now widely available and affordable, it’s more important than ever to distinguish the amateur from the pro.
The Advantages of a Professional
A professional wedding/event videographer can be in the business full- or part-time. There are many elements in that decision, but how the videographer goes about their business is what determines the level of professionalism. The field of wedding videography changes rapidly. There are near-constant computer software updates, there are routine camcorder improvements, and there are always new artistic techniques under development. The first
indicator of professionalism is what the videographer does to further their education.
A videographer can belong to a local association (there are currently about 50 in the US and Canada), or one that is national/international in scope. More importantly, the videographer should participate in the events hosted by those organizations. In general, anyone can join those organizations. One who attends conventions and other events will be much more advanced than one who does not. Continuing education and professional development should be a priority.
Many schools have courses in TV production and filmmaking. While these two crafts do not directly relate to wedding videography, they can teach important elements that are quite useful. These elements include video editing on specific systems and on-location sound reproduction, to name just two. Once again, though, attendance indicates the importance that videographer attaches to their education.
Recently, a trade publication included an article entitled “Everything Breaks”. That’s a realistic assessment of an industry where you are completely dependent on electronic devices with many moving parts. In a corporate video, we have plenty of time to check the tapes and the microphones, and to replace anything that failed in use. Obviously, weddings do not offer that luxury. An educated professional will maintain their equipment in good working order,
have the gear serviced routinely, and have back-up items immediately available.
Referrals are usually the most important way that a professional videographer attracts new clients. Therefore, being a cooperative part of the wedding day team is a priority. The professional knows that the vendors at that wedding, as well as many of the guests, will have some level of influence over someone who will be planning a wedding in the future. It’s only natural to refer a videographer who helps the wedding flow smoothly, especially when they create a quality product.
There is also a significant difference in the gear used by a professional versus what an amateur might use. Professional camcorders are generally more rugged than their consumer counterparts. Those camcorders will also have better microphone inputs, meaning improved sound reproduction and less of a chance that the plug might come undone. A professional will usually have a dedicated editing computer. One that shares duties (editing and business/email
functions) will be prone to overloads and crashes, and also is vulnerable to viruses. Microphones, lights, and tripods are also generally of a better quality in the professional realm.
How To Find a Professional
-Ask friends, family, and/or coworkers. While there might be significant differences in taste or budgets, this is a good place to start. You should meet the videographer and view samples of their work before making a decision.
-Search the Internet. A Google search can reveal dozens of professional videographers in your area. Many will have video samples available for you on their web sites. Local videographers associations will often have their complete membership lists posted. Wedding-oriented web sites, such as WeddingChannel.com, may also have helpful information.
-Consult other vendors. Most can relate their experiences with wedding videographers. The important caveat is that some vendors offer recommendations solely based on remuneration. That doesn’t necessarily invalidate their recommendations, but it is fair for a bride to ask that question. A subset here is the Facility Recommendation List.
Some hotels and country clubs maintain a referral list. However, it’s still relevant to ask whether the recommendations are based on quality and cooperation, or the payment of fees.
-Magazines. Many wedding/bridal magazines also have web sites, and both the print and electronic versions will have editorial and advertising information. Some of the web sites have message boards, where brides share their wedding vendor experiences with fellow brides.
How To Evaluate a Videographer
Narrowing the search can be even more difficult that finding qualified videographers in the first place. Here are some important elements to consider in your evaluation:
-Length of the video. Most videographer produce “feature-length” videos that can run as long as two hours.
Consider the TV-watching habits of most people, and you’ll realize that a well-told wedding story doesn’t need to exceed 60-75 minutes. Many videographers offer a Short-Form video that might not exceed 45 minutes.
Experience has shown that the shorter videos tend to be watched more often.
-Style. There are video journalistic approaches, documentary styles, filmmaking styles, and combinations. This is an esthetic quality that will vary from bride to bride.
-Format. On wedding day, the video should be recorded in a digital video format. Several are available, and the quality is similar in all. The video should be edited in a computer-based system, otherwise called a Non-Linear Editor. The video should be delivered on DVD, for best initial quality and longevity.
-Sound. There are many different approaches to acquiring audio on wedding day. In addition, there are also many different approached to editing the audio tracks. Like the style question, much of the audio category will be an individual determination. However, the audio from the most important part of the day-the exchange of vows and rings-should be crisp and clear.
Wedding videography has truly arrived as an art form and as a business model. What it brings to the wedding experience, the ability to creatively reproduce the sound and motion of the event, just cannot be accomplished in any other manner. Selecting the right professional wedding videographer will help insure that the first day in the life of a new family can be shared with their loved ones forever.
Source: The 4ever Group 2005