Wedding & Event Videography Guide

Event Videography is one of the most challenging and rewarding areas of digital videography. It can also be very profitable - if you do it right! (Jan 15, 2013 update)

One of the most important aspects of event videography that makes it so challenging is that you only get ONE chance to shoot it. Just like the old days of live TV, you have to get it right the first time. You need to make sure your lighting is good, your audio is coming through loud and clear and most importantly, that you have plenty of power available. Like the Boy Scout motto says "Be Prepared!"

Even the best, most experienced Event Videographers will inevitably run into the "shoot from hell". Have plenty of batteries, an extra tripod, back up microphones, a headset to monitor your audio while you shoot, and most importantly comfortable shoes! Once you've successfully shot your video, you still have one major challenge ahead of you - editing it. This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. You can add additional production value to your video by integrating high quality graphics and animations, adding animated title sequences, creating heart warming photo montages, and memorable highlight recaps.

Event Filmmaking

If you really want to be successful in the Wedding & Event Videography business, you have to differentiate yourself by offering brides something more than just a recap of the wedding. You need to add production value that really creates strong emotions and reactions from the audience. Many of the most successful Event Videographers are actually Event Filmmakers, specializing in highly stylized Wedding Cinematography. These videos look and feel like you are watching an independent movie or documentary about the couple and their big day.

It is amazing the kind of wedding movies that are being created today by talented and creative event filmmakers. These shoots utilize multiple high end HD cameras, and Steadycam/Glider motion tracking shots. They also involve a tremendous amount of planning and practice. You will need to pay attention to every detail, have a full understanding of lighting and most of all, the co-operation of the bride and groom. Be prepared to spend a lot of time editing your movie, but as you gain experience and learn all of the ins and outs (pun intended) of your editing software, the editing will become easier. If you have the talent and are willing to learn how to be a filmmaker, you can find the high end market very lucrative.

Some of the other creative things that Event Videographers are doing is coverage of the bridal prep, taking the couple on location to create moving vignettes about their romance and one of my favorites "Trash the Dress" shoots where the bride will jump into a fountain, or climb and crawl around an abandoned factory or warehouse, or better yet, walk right into the ocean!

Click here for a list of products we recommend for Wedding and Event Videography.


Videoguys "Bag of Tricks" for Event Videographers
Here's a little "Bag of tricks" that we recommend you bring with you to every shoot - for those times when bad things happen to good videographers:
  • Extra Batteries
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • Shot List in protective plastic
  • A small MagLite flashlight
  • A beanbag for balancing the camera
  • Set of small screw drivers
  • Swiss Army Knife or Multitool
  • Duct tape & Blue Painters tape
  • Belkin self velcro cable straps
  • Extension cords
  • Assorted cables and adapter plugs
  • Extra anteannas and wind screens are a must
  • Camera / Smart Phone with flash (good for synching audio from cameras)
  • Compact LED Video Light
  • Needle and thread (a small spool each black and white thread)
  • Scissors
  • Pepto Bismal/ Immodium/ Kaopectate
  • Excedrin/ Aspirin
  • Benedril /allergy pills
  • Strong mint gum or candy
  • An eye patch for when you shoot out in bright daylight
  • Spare pair of socks and shirt
  • A small Black umbrella
  • Handy Wipes & tissues
  • Bandaids
  • 3 or 4 ziplock bags in different sizes
  • Safety Pins & Paper Clips
  • Business cards and/or demo DVDs

While we can supply you with all of the tools you'll need to accomplish this, it is up to you to take the time to learn your craft and become an event video editor. It is well thought out and executed editing that will give your videos a rythm and pace that will captivate your audience. Anyone can take a camcorder and videotape a wedding, but that doesn't mean they can produce a video that is worth watching or paying for. It requires planning, effort, experience and talent to create a wedding / event video that will make your customers happy and allow you to be successful.

To HD or not HD, that is the Question

The most important thing you have to figure out in order to have a successful Event Videography business is what if any premium can you charge for HD work, and what are other Event Videographers in your area offering. This can only be answered by doing some research into the competition, your local bridal market and the kind of weddings your potential clients have.

Investing in tens of thousands of dollars worth of HD gear and then finding out that no one in your area is able book more because of HD or charge more for HD is a recipe for disaster. That is not to say that you can’t be extremely successful offering to shoot and produce in HD; you just need to make sure your local bridal market will support it.

We recommend that if your bridal market can and will support HD, that you make sure you have it as one of the choices for your perspective clients. One of the gripes I still hear from Event Videographers is that while they can shoot in HD and edit in HD, they can only deliver HD on Blu-Ray and not enough brides have Blu-ray players. I find it hard to believe that young couple don't have Blu-ray, but this should not be a barrier to sales. My answer to this is simple “Offer a FREE Blu-ray player or Sony PlayStation 3” with your deluxe HD wedding package. Blu-ray players are now under $100, and do you realize what a great hook a FREE PS3 is to get the groom to pick you!!!

If you decide to go HD, you need to pick which format is right for you. We still recommend HDV or Panasonic P2 based camcorders for Event Videography. Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, Grass Valley Edius and Apple Final Cut Pro can all handle both of these HD formats very well (Sony Vegas does not support P2). If you have the budget and more importantly, if you think the brides in your area have thebudgetr to support it, look inot one of the higher end professioanal cameras like the Canon XF-100/300.

AVCHD or DSLR?
When it comes to Event Videography we feel very strongly that in order to stay competitive, you must look into adding a DSLR like the Canon 5D or 7D to your arsenal. The images from these camcorders is simply spectacular. The shots you will be able to create with the variety of lenses available can and will take your productions to the next level. Just make sure you walk before you run. Take your time integrating a DSLR into your shot list. Learn all of the manual controls and how to get the most out of your lenses. The ability to use depth of field as part of your story telling will allow you to create very powerful shots, but not every shot and every angle will work. If you take the time to learn how to shoot DSLR video, you will find it one of the best investments you have ever made! You will need to invest in some rigging and tripods, your DSLR becomes more then a handful once the lens and other accessories are added.

Even more important, DSLR footage can be edited with all of the professional level NLE software. You will want to experiment with your NLE settings and we recommend converting your DSLR footage into an intermediary CODEC such as ProRes, DNxHD or Cineform for the best and smoothest editing workflow and experience.

AVCHD camcorders are all the rage and the video does look great. The big advantages of an AVCHD camcorder are the price and their compact size. They are a great choice as a mobile camcorder that needs to fly around and get shots from any angle. That said, we still think getting a DSLR is a better investment for Event Videography, especially if your goal is to use it as your primary camcorder.

The AVCHD compression is still extremely difficult to work with. Fortunately the latest versions of Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Medai Composer, Sony Vegas, Grass Valley Edius and Apple FCPX all support native AVCHD editing. However, the unfortunate truth is that producing long format projects with AVCHD requires a lot of computer power. You'll need a minimum of a Quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM and hi-end graphics card to efficiently handle your AVCHD footage. That is why for long format work you shoulkd still use an intermediary CODEC such as ProRes, DNxHD or Cineform. We can and do recommend AVCHD camcorders, you just need to do some extra research and make sure oyu have the computer power to handle it.

Choosing the right NLE software for Event Videography

Right now we are recommending these NLE solutions for Event Videography:
Adobe CS6 Production Premium (LIC, ESD) $1,799.00 Grass Valley EDIUS Pro 6.5 Crossgrade Special $299.00 SONY Vegas Pro 12 Crossgrade $399.00 Avid Media Composer 6.5 Crossgrade for Final Cut Editors $979.00

All four of these have all of the features you need most and can handle the rigors of long format work. There are some specific features that we feel you will find yourself using quite often, and that you should focus in on how each NLE handles them in order to make your decision.

Note: FCPX for Event Videography. Over the past year Apple has released a bunch of improvements to FCPX. It is becoming a far more robust and professioanl solution. Most importantly Apple added multi-cam support which we consider to be crucial. We are still getting some reports of stability issues and lost projects. FCPX is growing up and Videoguys does recommend it for Event Filmmaking. Make sure you run it in a new fast machine. We are big fans of the new 27" iMacs. You can read more about that on our Thunderbolt guide.

Here are the features we feel are very important for Event Videography:

Multicam Support - Many Event Videographers will use two cameras to shoot with. This allows you to capture al the action and also include close-ups and interesting angles that you can combine together to produce a much more powerful and professional video.

Multicam support means that you can synch up and view the video from 2 or more sources simultaneously, and cut between them, selecting the footage you want. For multi-camera shoots this utility alone can save you several hours per production!

You don't have to worry about starting the cameras at the exact same time either. You can use a photoflash to create a synch point for your cameras. Once the initial synch point is set, the multicam function of your NLE is ready to roll!

Advanced Color Correction - Let's face it, it happens to even the best videographers. You shoot the video and when you go to edit it, you realize that the lighting and or color just aren’t correct. Thankfully you can fix it in post! Not only that, Color Correction tools can be used to accentuate the mood of your footage and to add a more romantic feel.

Advanced Color Correction tools also allow you to do one of the most popular special effects used in wedding videography. You can drop the color out of the main picture, while leaving or even over accentuating the color in other areas. As an example, turning the video of the bride and groom to black & white, but leaving the red roses or the brides lips red.

Keyframable motion controls - This will allow you to use Picture-in-picture effects throughout your production. Keyframing allows you to set precise points in the video to control the position, size, speed and other factors for each video track. A good keyframer is crucial when you want to have multiple video layers fly on and off the screen, because it gives you complete control of the video over time. This way you can make sure the video flying in of the best man giving the toast doesn't block out the face of the bride or her mother.

Motion controls can also be used for creating very professional looking photomontages, loaded with 3D transitions and effects. You can also use motion controls on still images for the "Ken Burns" effect - when you scan and pan and zoom over an image. Combine these two features together; set it all to music and you'll be producing photomontages that will blow your audience away.

DVD & Blu-ray Disc Authoring – Nobody watches VHS anymore. What you will be delivering to your customers is a DVD of the event. Keep in mind that this DVD becomes a testimonial not just of their love, but of the quality of your workmanship. Creating a DVD is more than just burning the video onto a blank DVD and handing it to your customers. You'll want to add menus, and buttons and chapter points that will allow easy navigation. The cover art, menu graphics and navigational buttons will be the first impression viewers get of your work, so you're going to want to put as much care and effort into them as you did when you edited the video.

Now that we’ve reviewed the most important features you’ll need in your NLE video editing software, lets talk about what kind of machine you want to put it in.

Make it a Workstation

You're going to need rock solid stability and performance from your NLE system. That's why you want a Workstation class machine. You are going to be editing long format productions that can be 2 hours long or longer. That really taxes the storage and overall capabilities of your system. Do not cut corners. Forget about minimum specs, you want to get the most powerful machine you can afford, loaded with RAM and very fast storage. You also must go with a 64-bit operating system. Our first recommendation is Windows 7, as long as all your software and hardware can run on it. You basically have 3 options here:

  1. Get an HP (or Dell) workstation or Mac Pro. Dual Quad core CPUs with Hyperthrreading now give you 16-cores of computer power, 8+GB of RAM, Quadro graphics card and a ton of storage.
  2. We do have many event videographers using the very latest iMacs and Mac Book Pros with i7 processors, as well as i7 based Windows laptops.
  3. Get a turnkey NLE solution from an expert NLE integrator.
  4. You can certainly build your own computer. You can and should use our DIY articles as a guideline. Make sure you have adequate power supply (minimum 750 Watts, 1000 Watts is better) and plenty of cooling and airflow inside the box.

Whichever way you go, here is a very general guideline on the specs to put in it. If your existing computer is as good as or better then our minimum recommended system for Event Video then you should be able to use it, even for HD work.

Videoguys DIY 9.5 Build Dec 2012

Videoguys' DIY 9.5 Dec 2012 Build
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Pro Model $329.00
Processor Intel Core i7 3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz $599.00
RAM 32GB G.Skill Ripjaws Z 8x4 GB kit $129.00
Boot Drive Crucial M4 256GB SSD $199.00
Video Storage G-Tech G-SPEED Q for Ext. RAID 5 Available at Videoguys.com
G-Tech G-RAID for External RAID 0
Case Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower $60.00
Power Supply CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W $140.00
CPU Cooler COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO
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