Okay, so I’ve never wrote an actual “blog post” like this before. I know many photographers traditionally write these type of blog posts quite frequently. I’ve never had the time to sit down and write one before today… Now is the time to begin writing one considering it’s snowing on April 21 and I really need a break from video editing. I thought it would be neat if I actually write about the process of creating a wedding film. I always considered it ‘cookie cutter’ to write a blog about every single shoot I do (for the most part I let the images do the talking because I feel the photographs/videos themselves do a better job far more than I could describe in words) However, since this is becoming more of a career for me and less of a hobby, I believe it’s appropriate for me to write blog posts about these big shoots. I may try to do them consistently. Anyways, read on..
So… I recently had an opportunity to shoot film of a wedding in Eau Claire.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
The day started out at about 9:30 AM for me (I try to sleep in a little bit since stay up all night to record the dance can be exhausting. I was under contract to start shooting film from 10:45am until 10:45pm) I woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee at Kwik Trip (cause I’m a baller on a budget like that) and started packing my gear into my vehicle. Luckily, my car actually started on this particular morning. I felt fortunate and thankful for this as I’ve been struggling with car problems all winter. As soon as the weather started warming up, my car quit having issues. I know, it’s a miracle, right?!
But before I knew it the sun was shining and I was on my way to the hair salon where the bride and her bridesmaids were getting their hair done at. Once I arrived, I filmed a few shots of her getting ready. And, of course, some artistic looking shots from outside of the hair salon. I try to incorporate as much B-roll footage as possible into my videos. I feel like in this instance having extra shots of the signs and building and streets of downtown is a valuable asset because it gives the audience a feel for what the day was actually like. In this case, showing outside translated to a happy vibe since the day was gorgeous. Honestly, it was truly beautiful outside, which made me really happy because I love filming wedding films in perfect weather.
At about 11:00 AM I was shooting the Groom getting ready. Specifically, I had a few shots in mind: I wanted to record him putting on his shoes and fixing his tie. The next thing I filmed was a few B-Roll shots of the church (for those of you who are unfamiliar with B- Roll for your convenience, I have pasted the definition below:
This technique of using the cutaway is common to hide zooms, where the visuals may cut away to B–roll footage of what the person is talking about while the A camera zooms in, then cut back after the zoom is complete. B-roll can be any visual extra that helps tell the story of the film.
After securing those shots I visited the bride’s room where the bridesmaids were getting ready. I had some time to spare left so I grabbed a shot of them and a nice shot of the writing on the door: “Bride’s Room”. I thought that title would be a useful intro shot in helping display a visual sequence that flows fluidly. While they were finishing getting ready, the photographers and myself ventured off with the Groomsmen to a park a few blocks away to take pictures. This was a basic scene, very simple and super short. Let’s face it… Nobody wants to sit and watch a full video of people getting their pictured taken. I tried to focus on the motion of the scene… People coordinating where they should be and the landscape around them. I was letting the photographers do their thing and capture the shots they needed to capture. This was more of a time for them to use their creativity and create masterful art of their own and for me to stay out of their way. So, naturally I was ready for the next scene.
The next scene was filming the “First Look” This shot I prepared for by setting Camera A on a tripod with a wide lens. I chose this set up for a reason. I wanted to capture the Dad walking up, the church in the background and both of them all in the same shot. I didn’t want to miss out on the close up, at the same time.
I was able to capture vivid details of their faces while this emotion was running through their veins. It’s a big important moment when a father sees his daughter on the day of her wedding in her dress for the first time!
At 2:00pm the ceremony began. I was ready. I had a stationary camera on a balcony capturing the entire church with a wide lens. This was a great shot! I figured I could speed it up to make a cool time lapse to give the audience a full prospective of the wedding party and ceremony guests reaction to them walking down the aisle. I walked up to the front to prepare for the important shots. Flower girls throwing flowers down the aisle and the bride walking down the aisle were two key moments I did NOT want to miss out on. They turned out amazing!! The ceremony was beautiful…Just like the couple!!
After the ceremony I filmed a few shots of the guests and a few shots of the church with people talking outside of it. Once the wedding party was done with their picture taking inside of the church (where I captured a few more B-roll shots) we were off again to that park a few blocks away from the church for yet another photo shoot. This time it was incredible. I was in love with the lighting. There was the perfect amount of shadow from the woods/trees so people weren’t squinting. It was at this point the photographers and I made a real connection. Just joking around talking photography slang. It’s always awesome to see them in action.
Behind-the-scenes: well guys, if you look carefully in this picture, you can see me in action! (hint… I’m the guy in the blue shirt!)
Next, we were off to Lake Altoona Beach. I was thrilled to see how these shots turn out considering how beautiful it was outside. I was really into the moment. When the couple was getting their picture taken I could feel the energy and the emotion. Now they were officially a married couple.
During these types of situations when the photographer is conducting a photo shoot and their/our subject is stationary, I try to come up with unique ways to incorporate motion into my shots. By doing having movement in the shot it engages the audience, and makes what would be a boring shot more interesting. These are great shots for me to have in my “B-roll stash” (when I film I get more video footage than I need to and basically save anything extra for a rainy day) because you never know when you’re going to want a cute little clip to cut away to after the vows or kiss or at the end to make it more romantic.
The rest of the day was relaxed. The reception was held at St. Mary’s in Altoona and the lighting was very dark and dim. Unfortunately, I had very few lenses I could actually use in low light, which made things a bit challenging. The cake cutting came before the dinner which was unique. The grand march happened before the dinner. I had been working at a steady rate and going hard all day at a fast pace, and thankfully, the couple told me to take a break and eat… so I did….and wow, I had worked up an appetite. I was so hungry! Their food was truly amazing! This was a change to network with people and discuss photography / business related small talk with the photographers. The odd thing was: Nobody sat at our table. Haha, not one single other person..Lol. Everyone must have thought it was a “camera nerd only” table or something!! We laughed and thought it was funny. :p
As always the end of the day went very smooth except during the speech, a guest’s cell phone went off and started ringing who happened to be sitting right next to me and picked up by my camera’s microphone right in the middle of a speech…he probably felt like crap for not putting his phone on silent. I had a stationary camera on a trip off to the side of the DJ booth so luckily I had “B-Roll” to cut to from when my battery died. I was still able to get the battery changed as quickly as possible and filmed the rest of the first dance with my “Camera A” just fine without any problems. My camera was running on a full charge.
I ALWAYS want to have the best quality video. *THE BEST POSSIBLE*
This is a huge reason why I am saving up money to invest in my business. One thing about me: I’m a perfectionist. I am never ever truly satisfied with the art I create. It’s always got potential to be even better. I plan to improve quality by upgrading my equipment. This year I have about 15-20 more of these weddings on my calendar (so far) which means I will hopefully have capital to purchase either a 4K camera or at least Canon 5D Mark III. Ugh, I seriously cannot wait. Soon enough!
The editing process is where shit gets real. I do not know what you believe putting together a film looks like, but I can tell you it’s not very pretty or interesting to watch. As a matter of fact, you would probably fall asleep if I filmed myself editing. But the only thing I want you to truly understand about post-production/editing is the time consumption. I will spend easily 12 hours filming a day of a wedding which may sound like a long day for others, however, when I tell people how many hours I typically spend editing they look at me like a deer caught in the headlights. So, you want to know I suppose. How about I tell you? 20 – 25 hours on average.
What I do is split it up into four or five days and focus on different aspects each day. One day I will spend 5 hours doing nothing but color-correction. Other days I will do a little bit of audio fixes, titles and transitions. Mostly though, I spend a huge chunk of time just watching the footage. I have to go through every second of every single clip that I shot to find what is worth keeping. This can take hours for many reasons. The first reason is because obviously I shoot way more than I need to capture EVERYTHING, which means I usually pull in about 3-4 hours of footage off my memory cards (note: the wedding film is usually 5 minutes long). And the second reason is because frequently I will watch the same clips multiple times. The reason being is I look at different aspects of the clip from motion to audio to white balance, etc. I’m usually debating in my head wether the clip is useful to me. While I am going through all of these videos, I’m making a movie of my own in my head mentally of what this baby should come out looking like. After I have spend a good 18 hours (usually 6 hours per day) editing the wedding film, it’s ready to critique. By now, I have a sequence in the timeline full of the best video clips (and ONLY THE BEST CLIPS) with music and all. I spend the next two hours doing the final edits and then it’s time to master the film. That’s where the magic happens. Once I have watched the full edited video 15 times or so and checked for any errors (also ask my girlfriend for feedback). At this point, typically, I will be ready to publish! This is where things get exciting. Time to share!!! For me, creating the art part is only half the reason why I love film and photography. The part where I am blessed with the opportunity to share my work is half the reason why I find this career/passion of mine truly amazing!