The Most Popular Wedding Regret
So you’ve just gotten engaged and are in the process of budgeting and choosing the vendors for your wedding day. When you come to the point of deciding how to document your day, historically, you begin looking for a photographer and if your budget allows, you may consider hiring a wedding videographer. In the past, you may have dismissed the idea of even looking for a wedding videographer because of the stereotypes associated with the “wedding video guy” which were perpetuated primarily because professional video cameras were cost prohibitive yet still lacked the technical capabilities of today’s cameras. These cost and technological barriers in turn would typically attract cameramen who were or aspired to work for local or network TV and are taught taught to use extremely large cameras, on large wheeled tripods with excessive use of ambiance killing lights. Needless to say these are not usually the types of things that are welcome at an intimate wedding event.
Over the past decade technological advances have created an explosion in the amount of tools available to capture motion pictures in extremely high quality even in low light. These tools are not only far superior they are also often a fraction of the cost they were a decade ago. This removal of barriers has allowed a revolution to occur in wedding documentation by allowing more people, with diverse technical and creative backgrounds, to offer a wider variety of motion picture options to couples looking to document their wedding day.
Once you begin to research the options available in your market you will undoubtedly begin to hear many terms like; videographer, filmmaker, cinematographer, documentary, cinematic, short form, long form and probably many more. So one of the first things often asked to us by clients is “What is the difference between a wedding videographer, cinematographer and filmmaker?”
The Wedding Videographer
Produces work that most would consider the traditional long form ‘wedding video’. Good wedding videographers usually have strong technical skills and will strive to be experts in the fundamental aspects of event coverage. They make an effort to capture all the explicit events of the wedding day in their entirety. To accomplish this task it generally lends to shooting more conservatively typically with more static shots from stationary cameras on tripods with mounted lights to ensure a clean and clear image. Then they will edit all the events into a long form chronological edit of your wedding day as it occured.
The final video tends to be loved for its archival quality, especially by the parents of the couple and by couples as they age and begin to appreciate the archival quality and significance of the recording to family history. The length of the traditional wedding video also gives a sense of more for your money value. Although the more static nature and obtrusiveness from the way traditional videography is captured can cause the subjects to be more stilted and reserved which can mean that the video not only ends up relatively long, but also extremely boring to anyone who is not directly related to the couple. This type of video typically ends up being viewed only a few times a year at best.
The Wedding Cinematographer
Produces work that most would consider the new short form ‘wedding film’. Good wedding cinematographers usually have strong creative skills and will strive to be experts in the fundamental aspects of cinematography. They make an effort to capture the events of the wedding day, not necessarily in their entirety, but from many different angles and perspectives. To accomplish this task it generally lends to shooting less conservatively with more aggressive shots from cameras on multiple devices designed to create dynamic shots that are more visually interesting. Then editing the footage into a much shorter, more visually interesting and compelling piece than a long form traditional edit.
Being much shorter than the traditional video it would seem not to offer as much value as the traditional wedding video, but because it is usually a much more compelling piece and easier to share online because of its brevity it typically ends up being watched hundreds if not thousands of times by family, friends and even acquaintances.
Typically these short form edits are especially loved by the couple, as they aren’t embarrassed to ask friends and acquaintances to view a compelling short form edit vs a relatively dry long form edit. But often the parents and eventually the couple will miss the sights and sounds of many moments that occurred during the wedding day which were only briefly shown or totally skipped by the cinematographer. In many short form pieces you’ll often see very creative shots of nontypical of site prep consuming 10-20% of the entire video, which look great especially for the florists’ promo, but you may wonder where your maid of honor’s heartfelt words were during your impromptu preceremony toast or events during your reception.
So although compelling, the nature of shooting cinematography for short form edits can be a drawback as you have to fully trust the extremely subjective nature of the shooting and editing and be willing to lose as much or more of the substance you might get with the complete coverage of the long form edit as you may gain in the creativity and brevity of the short form.
An analogy of good Wedding Videograpy vs Cinematography would be the contrast between the way a typical NFL game is shot for complete coverage to be broadcast by the network against the way the same game is covered by NFL Films. One is more documentary the other is more storytelling. Both are great and serve their purpose but the original perspectives and stories captured and told by a 10 minute NFL Films piece can often make the game seem more compelling and enjoyable than it really was.
The Wedding Filmmaker
Produces work that most would consider a hybrid of the new short form ‘wedding film’ and the documentary nature of a long form. Good wedding filmmakers usually have a balance of strong creative and technical skills and will strive to be experts in the fundamental aspects of filmmaking. They make an effort to capture events with the creativity of cinematography yet still maintain documentary continuity, which offers the ability to create compelling short form edits but also compelling documentary films which offer much of the archival benefit that the traditional long form wedding video gives the couple.
Unfortunately the time and resources it takes to do a true comprehensive wedding film which includes a compelling documentary style full length film and a compelling short form film is cost prohibitive for many wedding budgets. This leads most to consider only a videographer or cinematographer basing their decision on what positives those styles offer that are most important to them, but those who have ample budgets or a willingness to invest in a competent wedding filmmaker can virtually eliminate most, if not all, of the negatives that being limited to a short or long from style may yield.
Hopefully, as you begin your search to find a vendor to document your wedding in motion pictures and sound, this information will help you analyze and compartmentalize the information you will receive so you can make a better evaluation and sound choice on who to commission. Don’t take this particular task lightly because, if you take the time to research, surveys taken of brides’ regrets after their wedding day show that not having a videographer is always #1, and it’s very likely most were probably unaware that there were more options available to them than just a “Wedding Video Guy.”