Shooting my first wedding video

My friends allowed me to capture their wedding day in Hawaii. I had no experience doing this but the bride and groom had faith in me.

A wedding is a special day for the couple. However the whole day can go by quickly for the bride and groom. Photos will capture the beauty of the day but not the motion. Below are some tips and pointers that I learnt during this process.

Getting help

I got offered help from friends for my task. How I was going to use this help was hard because I didn’t want to use a lot of people’s time because they were there to be part of the wedding not work at the wedding. I turned down most of the help in the end. I asked for the friends with GoPros to capture the day and I would collate it all after. I had one friend who is a photographer who really wanted to try filming, so I said sure why not.

Know your equipment

To be honest, I had no clue how to use my camera on the day of the shoot. Due to this lack of knowledge, I didn’t focus the shots in the morning. Luckily by the time the ceremony rolled around I got the camera focused but I forgot to adjust the lighting to adapt to the bright Hawaiian sun. This caused some of the video to be saturated. Although you can fix some of it in post-editing, try to capture the best video you can to make your life easier later.

The sound captured from cameras is not the best. There can be ambient noise and wind if it is outdoors. It is best to have a microphone and recorder on the day to capture sound. I borrowed a Yamaha Pocketrax C24 from my friend and got a lav microphone for input. For the ceremony if you only have one mic, you can hook it up to the groom as it should capture both the celebrant and the bride’s speaking.

Backup batteries are key because you won’t have time to recharge your batteries as the day moves on. I had to switch the batteries once on all of the cameras.

Get in position

As the videographer you need to be on your A-game on the day. Unlike a normal movie, shooting a wedding is tough because you only have one take. You can’t ask the bride and groom redo their first kiss or vows because you were not in position. It is best to be as ready as you can be and shoot what you can.

Shooting a wedding is tough because you only have one take

To prepare for the day I watched this video from Wedding Film School to understand how to get in the best position for the ceremony. I brought a tripod so that allowed me to take stationary video. I used the second camera while moving to get action shots. With my friend helping out as a camera I was fortunate to get three positions (left, right, back centre) for the ceremony. This paid off in editing to have the option of different angles during the ceremony.

Try to get the wedding run sheet from the bride and groom before the day. This will allow you to understand the timing and pace of the events during the day and where you will need to be.

Being in position doesn’t only mean focusing on the bride and groom. Try to get around the crowd and get candid footage of people enjoying the wedding.

Editing

Editing is where everything comes together. I had footage from the three cameras and four GoPro cameras. Altogether this equated to hours of video to go through. Condensing it all down to a trailer(3:11 mins) and full video (1 hour 48 mins) was a tricky task. How do you filter out key moments but keep enough to have the spirit of the day still there.

The sequencing for the wedding trailer should allow you to tell a story in a short period of time. The trailer is not a teaser for the full movie because not everyone will watch the full movie. The wedding trailer should capture the day, tell a story and be fun enough to share with friends and family.

I recommend going through the videos quickly before starting the editing. This will give you an idea of what kind of video you have. There will be some key moments or themes that stand out.

Music can make or break a trailer. One tip that was said to my wife and I when we had our wedding trailer video done was that the song shouldn’t be a mainstream song. Why? When the song is not well known people don’t have an existing association already in their mind. It becomes more personal this way. Choosing a song can be challenging. It requires some knowledge of the genre or you can use MusicBed to search for songs.

Once you have selected the song the rest comes easier because you are fitting the video to the song. When editing I like to edit by moving the unused video/audio to an invisible/muted track respectively in so that I can revert or change my edits as I go along. It is tempting to use cross dissolve as a video transistion but use it in moderation (if you are going to use it at all). Getting the perfect edit requires patience and timing to get that perfect slice.

Finished!

When it was all done, the video editing took me one night after work each day for a week plus a Saturday. There was also a moment when I deleted the video by accident. I have much respect to videographers who do same day edits.

In the end it was all worth it when I delivered the video to the happy married couple and they were thrilled with the result.

This originally posted on Medium.

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