It's easy to become overwhelmed by the unending choices to make while planning your wedding. You would think that shelling out a small fortune would be enough to guarantee a quality wedding video, but unfortunately this is just not the case, and being an informed customer could make the difference between tears of joy and sobs of sadness!
It is for this reason that I've compiled some guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for your videographer.
1. Meet and greet. Insist on meeting your videographer in person, well before the date. Videographers with good reputations get booked out well in advance.
2. Portfolio, please. Ask to see examples of full wedding DVDs, not just highlights. It's easy to disguise amateur mistakes when the video is less than ten minutes long. Recording a wedding professionally, from beginning to end, is a challenging task that requires much finesse and forethought.
3. Don't bargain hunt. We all have to work within a budget, but if you hire the cheapest operator, you can't expect anything more than the cheapest product. Be careful!
4. Sound. Ask what types of microphones will be used. The most basic requirement would be a wireless lapel microphone; on the groom in the ceremony, and on the podium at the speeches. Make the minister/reverend/priest wear a wireless microphone as well, since he'll be doing most talking. Also plug into the PA system as a backup for the speeches, and for any performances. As many options as possible! For guest interviews, a handheld microphone (like the ones singers use) should be used in all but the quietest of environments.
5. Lighting. For the majority of weddings, the most that should be needed is an on-camera light. In very rare circumstances, a single, well used key-light may be a wise option. Make sure that your videographer is not going to run multiple lights simultaneously; ruining the mood you've spent time and money creating.
6. Camera chips. This is something that most people have absolutely no clue about. Even some of the 'pros' aren't aware of it. When there are multiple flash bursts (first kiss, first dance, etc), those frames where flashes have fired display horizontal strips across the image that are much brighter than the rest of the frame, creating a trait most would recognise from cheap home camcorders. CCD imagers, on the other hand, would record the flash naturally, and are preferred for wedding videography. CMOS based cameras can produce beautiful results, just not at an event where camera flashes are unavoidable.
7. Editing. Beware of cheesy transitions. You know what I'm talking about. The couple walking into the distance, framed by a pink heart. The page peeling away to reveal the next scene. A well edited video will contain mostly cuts and fades. Don't get me wrong, a transition here and there can work very well when done tastefully, and if that's what you like, by all means request it, but overdone graphics will get tedious down the line.
8. Colour. How many wedding videos have you seen where the bride's dress is just not white? In dark environments, it becomes very difficult to avoid unwanted colours tinting the dress. Even with a skilled cameraman, some colour-correction is often necessary in the edit. Ask your videographer if the footage is graded to meet broadcast standards.
9. High Definition. The era of HD video has brought with it many misconceptions. HD video cameras record at nearly triple the resolution of regular broadcast cameras. Yes, that does mean that more imperfections could be captured, but it also means that the footage will look great. If you are worried about the camera picking up blemishes in your skin, bear in mind that this issue can easily be worked around with a good make-up artist, and a skilled camera operator.
10. Blu-Ray, HD-DVD or standard DVD? Because HD cameras record so much more detail, it takes that much longer to process and finalise your product. That being said, if your videographer is using HD cameras to supply you with a standard DVD, you should only be charged for a standard DVD package. The price should only increase for Blu-Ray or HD-DVD output. Although these options are truly stunning to behold, a standard DVD shot with HD cameras should far surpass the look of a wedding shot on an older standard definition camera.
11. Work together. There can be serious politics between players in this industry, and finding out on the day that your photographer and videographer don't get along can be extremely awkward. More importantly, it's vital that they can work around each other, not get into each other's shots, and generally help each other out. It's always favourable to look for company that can do both your photos and video under one roof, as it's the best way to guarantee that the crew will coexist!
Focus Photo Video is a husband and wife team based in Johannesburg that specialises in wedding and events photography.
Visit Focus Photo Video for more information or contact 072 355 9570.