Your Wedding Day! Not a big deal, just the biggest day of your life. As a recent groom who had to go through and find his own wedding video folks, I wanted to offer up some friendly advice to those of you who might be considering firms for your wedding videos. There are avenues to getting really amazing cinematic video at budget friendly prices.
So this is from one recently married guy to couples who might be trying to put this whole puzzle together.. how do I know I am hiring a GOOD wedding video person vs a cheesy video guy/
1. Be Clear On Your Budget – As with all other things in your wedding, be clear on your budget. Funny thing is that wedding video vendors run the gamut as far as cost. My firm is on the lower to mid level end but we use super high quality equipment and it has been my mission to be affordable since my experience hiring people was so difficult. Figure out what is important to you, I would rather have more hours of coverage over a drone or a same day edit to be shown at the event. A big part of this is figuring out how long you will need someone. Look at your time line. Make some decisions about where you want video captured and what is important to you. Set a budget. A GOOD video person can usually cover your ceremony, dances, etc.. with one camera for about $1000 – $1200 with some sort of editorial package. A high end video package with two and three cameras, drones, etc.. can cost upwards of $4000-$6000 it all just depends on what you want and how much you want to spend.
2. Now that you have a budget.. time to look for someone.. but WHERE? Tip #2 is Where to Find a Wedding Video Studio– Google is your friend and honestly.. that is exactly what I did. I typed in Wedding Video and used local search to see who was out there. I also looked up firms on Yelp. Why not use the Knot or Wedding Wire? They are paid ads. And those firms tend to be more costly because they are spending so much with the wedding specific sites to capture leads. Being a producer, I figured I could find someone! Keep in mind, just any video guy won’t do for your wedding. Just because your cousin might shoot music videos, does not mean they can handle the demands of a wedding. Weddings require pretty specific types of shooting and production experience. You have to not only use the camera, but be an audio engineer, think really fast and be ready at any moment. It’s not a typical type of controlled studio shoot. Talk to your wedding coordinator, they are usually plugged into the scene and know a dozen shooters. Utilize referrals. Our team was a Google result, and I was pretty happy with what they did. So to sum up where to find candidates: Google Local Search, Yelp, Referrals from other venders. These are the best bets to finding good, quality vendors
3. What Am I Looking For? – We picked our video firm because they had a demo of a wedding that made us cry. It was that simple. Don’t just pick any video guy. Make sure their sizzle reel has some wedding work in it that you can see. Even better if they have posted a couple of highlights reels from actual weddings that they have shot. The work should be what fits your style. The work should speak to you at a soul level somehow. In the highlights verify the audio is good. Make sure the shots look like they are in focus. Review the overall quality of what is being put out. Even if they have only one or two reels, that is ok. Just make sure the quality and vibe is there.
4. Does the Gear Matter? I am going to contradict myself here. Or at least seem to.. I am not sure why wedding guys feel that they need to put up a huge list of gear for their advertising. I am guessing about 90% of people shopping for video guys have no idea what it all means. BUT that said, gear does matter…somewhat. You cannot replace talent with technology. That is for sure. But having a camera that shoots 4k vs one that only shoots 720p is a BIG difference. I am a little hold school. I like big, solid camcorder style cameras. DSLR’s are wonderful and have their place. But the workhorse cameras provide so much in function.. they are hard to resist.
So gear does matter. Your firm should use at least 1080 HD cameras. Some type of redundancy for audio (for example a wireless feed for the cameras and a secondary feed with a digital recorder .. or two.. ). Tripods (of course), and these days a hand held gimbal is really becoming a staple in most people’s kits. I think if anything, the audio is the most important piece. My only complaint with the guys who did our video was that we had a live singer at our dinner and their recorded with too much gain and the audio sucked. I think they used the cameras instead of their digital recorders. It was a bummer.
5. Experience – It seems obvious…right? But I bet you about 40% of the people advertising for wedding video have never shot one. I spent a long time learning a lot of mistakes in my work. Experience gives you a style and a formula in your head of how the day goes. Shooting the ceremony (believe it or not) is actually the hardest thing to do. Positioning is key — having the experience to know when and how to move and communicate to your second shooter is a bit of a martial art. Knowing when to hold tight focus or go wide.. these are all learned experiences. Instinct is certainly a part of it – But repetition also plays a part in it as well.
6. Budget and Expectation. Because it is worth stating again. Be sure you know what you can spend and what you want out of a video. Do you want just a 2-3 Minute highlight reel to show case to friends? A full feature that is typically a 30-60 minute highlight reel of the day? Raw footage only? I will say here and now.. my firm does not do the raw footage thing.. why? I don’t want our secret sauce out there. I want only my best work out in front of people… not all of the mistakes! Call me vain, but that is just how I think. And honestly, most couples never gripe about that part of our contract. Be clear though on what you want delivered and when. We provide due dates and level set expectations. No surprises here.
That is just a few things to consider for your wedding video guys. The market is all over the place for pricing. The median price for most firms is in the $1000-2000 range for a decent package. Sure you can spend more (I know friends who charge over $10k for a wedding.. but those are Indian style weddings that last for days…), but do you really need to is the question. Our firm will even just shoot the ceremony if you want! But don’t just shop on price. Consider the firm’s ability to deliver an on time, high quality project.
if you are interested in Fin Films shooting your wedding, just shoot me a note. Chris@FinFilmCompany.com