Choosing a Videographer – An Inline Film Perspective
I have been thinking about writing this article for some time. But I have often stopped myself, worrying about a possible backlash from any suppliers or couples. Therefore I would like to state these views are purely my own, and are based on views I have obtained over the years as a videographer myself. I also accept that there are many other experienced videographers with similar posts, but i have always wanted to put my views out there for couples that wish for information.
If you do not wish to read through all of this post, but would like a list of good questions to ask a supplier, please scroll to the bottom.
Step 1: Do I want a video?
Video at weddings is quite a new trend in the history of the wedding itself. There was once a time when photography was a new and extravagant addition to the ceremony, and was probably viewed the same way in which videography is today. Is it worth the money?
Being biased of course I would say yes, but speaking for the many couples I have met over the years, who have friends or relatives that decided to pass on having a film made, I can not remember one who said they are glad they didn’t have one.
Of course, like with a long list of possible wedding additions, budget is a huge factor. At the end of the day if you have spent your entire budget and possibly need to cut down, videography is often high on the list to go. More and more we are seeing our profession sliding further down this list and becoming more of a priority. And I believe this is purely due to change in perception.
Wedding video has endured quite a negative stigma, with the more “traditional” 5 hour videos still prevalent in people’s minds. Which makes sense. It has only been mainstream for around 2 generations, but how far has technology come in that time? The films a high percentage of companies are making now, are incredible. And are a world away from the “You’ve Been Framed” footage we all know and love.
So do you need a video? In an answer No, you don’t need us to capture your day. But as anyone who did have a film made will tell you, it is one of the best decisions they have made. Photography is “a must have” in this modern day and is also in a massive shift from traditional stance to a new wave of niche, docu companies that are truly amazing. But video is a view on the day you may have never known you would want. With many packages covering prep all the way through to first dance, the insight this gives you, your guests and family members is priceless. We get a lot of couples telling us how happy they were, that they can see relatives that have sadly passed away since their big day. While photos are in abundance, video is something that passes the older generation with no footage of them at all to be remembered.
It all comes down to personal choice in the end. You may hate being in front of camera, and the idea of video as well is enough to say, no way. But if you are considering videography, or are pretty sold on the idea, then there is much to know before booking.
Step 2: Who Do I Choose
Like everything in life, there is a huge spectrum of suppliers, styles, packages and recommendations. So where do you begin! Budget is a good start. How much have you planned to spend on videography? If you are looking for something on the “inexpensive” side of things, that is of course brilliant, you want a video and you are going for it. Some things to bear in mind, do you know anything about the company? Looking up reviews for wedding suppliers can be tricky as a majority of the information you will get is from testimonials, featured on their own sites. Of course these will be real testimonials I’m sure, but they are not going to put any negative reviews on their site.
Secondly how many examples can you view and how up to date are they. We know as a company we grow every wedding we do. Changes in kit, style, workflow etc, means that the newest films they feature are going to be their current style and closest to the product you will receive.
On this topic, many companies, including ourselves, will only feature highlights videos. This is very much the norm in the industry as uploading a full film would not be practical. But do not be afraid to ask to see a full film, and we would definitely advise meeting at least one of the people who will be filming your day. After all if you do not get a good vibe from them on a meet, will you want there on your special day?
If your budget and priorities of suppliers means that videography is towards the top of the list. Then this brings a different set of questions. Why are there variations in price? Why are the styles different/or similar? What do I get? These questions apply to any level of spending, but when spending a large amount these questions will need good answers. We have been asked in the past why we are a different price to other suppliers in a different/similar area. And the honest answer is we do not know. Each company has a price and a product like in any industry. If you see a company you like and they seem to be cheaper, do not be put off. They may just have cheaper running costs or provide a slightly different product. Similarly if they are more expensive then they may be providing a service that isn’t visible from quickly browsing their site. E.g. how many operators are included orhow many copies you receive. And lets not forget their experience and reputation.
Step 3: I Want to Book
Once you have found a supplier you like, arrange a meeting. This is very normal in our industry, and it allows you to meet the people who will be there on your day. Not only that they get to meet you. talking from our experience, we get a greater understanding of the style of film and theme of the wedding when we meet in person, than over email or phone.
Most companies will require a deposit to book your date. This puts both sides at ease as funds will be received, which secures your date. Then you know that there is a contractual agreement already in place to film your wedding. Read the terms and conditions. If you are not provided with any then we would advise you look at others and comprise some questions. As much as you do not wish to think about what could happen, there needs to be an understanding in place. What happens if they are ill? Or break down? etc.
The meeting itself should be based around the day and getting to know each other. Feel free to ask as many questions as possible, and even more if you forget once they leave. Don’t feel as if you are bothering your supplier, any information and updates helps.
Some of you may wish for the suppliers to visit the venue. But to be honest, if it is a distance from them it may be difficult. From our point of view and many suppliers we speak with visiting the venue is only beneficial if it is a difficult venue to work in. You may be able to see some nice shots of the venue to grab but on the day everything will be different and full of your guests. By all means invite them along but please do not be put off if they are unable to attend an open day.
Step 4: The Big Day
Hopefully by now you have an understanding of how the supplier is going to operate on the day, how many people will be present, and what is happening at each part. But of course, you have bigger things to worry about! We understand that we are the last things on your mind on the day. We know that not everything we discussed will go as stated. Delays happen all the time and to you and your guests you may not even notice, but for us it does make a difference. If photos have taken a bit longer than expected, then we have less time to capture your room or guests etc. Of course this all depends on how many operators are provided.
The morning will fly by, if preparation is a part of your coverage, be prepared (Excuse the pun). The operators may need to leave at a certain time to reach the ceremony in good time. Video takes a little longer to set up, with the inclusion of microphones, multiple cameras and speaking to the relevant organizers, this may mean leaving an hour before you plan to leave yourself. With this in mind make sure you discuss everything you would like captured and if it is feasible to do so.
The ceremony is a tricky one for our industry. Many churches can have a negative stance on photo and video and will restrict us to the maximum of their abilities. Baring this in mind can greatly give you an accurate perspective of what will be possible during the ceremony. It is worth discussing with the relative people leading the ceremony about video and their policies.
Saying this, there are an equal amount of very accommodating churches and venues that welcome us and make our lives a lot easier. Knowing which category you are in is a must. If you have seen certain films online and there is a perfect shot of the bride and groom saying their vowels and this is important to you, this will come into play.
Reception, like the ceremony, may require the videographer/s to leave to ensure they are there in good time. Many companies take a documentary approach to this time and capture natural shots of people socializing. Again if the breakfast room is to be captured on film, understanding that this takes some time is a great help. If your photographs do not finish on time then this time is greatly reduced.
Speeches, how are they going to approach this? A high majority will use two or more cameras to capture the speaker and the “reactions” whether this is a locked off camera on the bride and groom or a manned camera following the speakers content e.g. thank you to the grandparents, (shot of grandparents).
Evening is one of the big differences between suppliers. How long will they stay? What cameras are they using and have you seen much evening footage? Do they use lighting? This aspect is often overlooked and a good evening coverage can make a big difference. Of course technology has come leaps and bounds in low light abilities and many cameras are able to deal with the very low light the evening presents. Knowing how your videographer will approach this is great to know so you are not surprised by a huge light set up, or grainy footage at the evening parts of your film.
Step 5: Overall Comments.
The key to choosing a good videographer suitable for your needs is communication. There is no way to tell how they will operate and perform if you do not ask questions, meet them, and get a good feeling about your choice. Any level of videography you go for is a good step, as at the very least you will have some reference of your day. But expectations are the key. The very popular saying, you get what you pay for does seem to apply. But there are some great companies, for great prices. So do not be put off by this. Ensure you know what your film is going to look like in terms of style and grading. And be realistic about your film. If you have watched a trailer filmed an Italian island and love the style, this may not be the best basis if you are at a traditional English venue.
Turn around time for your films completion can vary from 1 week to a year! This is also something to be prepared for. This is not to say that the film is being worked on for this time of course, but many popular companies are chosen on their editing style, so are not able to just get any old editor on board to help with the load. Companies can have in excess of 60 weddings in a year, which will of course take some time to get to yours.
Most important of all. Feel confident in your choice. If there is any doubt they may not be right for you then they probably wont be. If you really wanted a company but budget would not allow this, then settling for someone may not be always be the best option. Make sure this is discussed in full.
As I mentioned at the beginning these are purely my observations, and I have tried to cover a broad range of possibilities for all outcomes and suppliers. I hope that some of the things I have said have stuck and may be the difference in choosing somebody amazing, and someone you may be disappointed with.
Questions to ask:
Here are a list of questions to ask your videographer at the meeting stage:
How long have you been in the industry?
How/why did you become a videographer?
Where are you based (if you do not know)?
Will you be traveling up or require accommodation?
Are travel expenses included?
Have you filmed at the venue before? (Doesn’t help in terms of actually filming, but if your are describing aspects of the venue its nice to know if they been there)
What time will you arrive?
What time will you leave?
How many operators will be there? (If not known)
What type of cameras do you use? (Big, Small)
How will you approach the preparations?
What time will you need to leave preparations?
How will you capture the sound from ceremony/speeches?
Do you require any food?
What format will the film be provided in?
How many copies will we recieve?
How long will the final film be?
Do I get a highlights trailer video?
Do you upload online?
Can I have the files on USB as an option?
How long is the turnaround for editing?
Will you deliver the film?
Do I need to provide any songs?