Where are my fellow video and cinematographers at? If you’re like me, I enjoy capturing people moments. Especially if it’s a significant day, personal story, or an event for the people you love. Weddings are just an example of these kinds of special moments. Wedding videos culminate a lot of cinematic techniques that not only captures moments but tells stories. Of course, you may have your own style and technique in the production of your videos but I’d like to share some of my own so that we may become better together with our products.
PRE-PRODUCTION (1 week)
First, let’s talk about the composition of a traditional wedding and its elements (in no particular order).
A ceremony has a:
- Procession or Line Up.
- Officiant’s Greeting.
- Special Readings.
- Prayers (for religious weddings)
- Wedding Vows and Ring Ceremony
- Communion (for religious weddings)
- Unity Candles
- Special Song(s)
- Pronouncement of Marriage
A reception has a:
- Pull up of a Limo or Car
- Reception party line up.
- Bouquet toss.
- Garter toss.
- Best Man of the Groom speech.
- Maid of Honor speech.
- Cutting of the cake.
- First Dance.
- Dance party.
- Couple’s farewell.
Now that I've laid out a basic composition of a traditional wedding, here is my Pre-Production planning process (Feel free to continue using your own if you feel comfortable):
- I discuss with the wedding planner or couple their order of service and rehearsal times. I normally do not discuss my shooting plans or video concepts with the couple since plans, settings, and order of service changes. Sometimes, I won't be able to obtain a great shot in some wedding elements. Additionally, I find that most times, I have to play by ear and see if it's worth putting certain shots into the video. For example, if the couple takes a long time, with their backs turned on the camera, during the Unity Candle lighting, it probably won't make it on the video. If the couple chooses my package that includes a continuous shot of the ceremony, I won't bother shooting with my lead camera and have a standstill camera down the aisle shooting the entire wedding.
- If I have a budget, I gather my equipment. Typically, a wedding would have a "two to three point shoot." This means I would set another camera/ camcorder at angles I know I would not be able to get if I'm shooting the couple. If need a camera assist or additional manpower, I'll hire an experienced freelancer and have them gather b-roll and shoot from above.
- I storyboard the wedding. Yes... I still storyboard! I'm basically plotting the wedding video with shots I'd like to take. I research music, aiming for a duration of 5-8 minutes, during my storyboard process. If I have a camera assist, I collaborate based on their styles and take advantage of their strengths.
PRODUCTION (1 Day)
ACTION! I typically attend the last rehearsal to see what the order of service is. If I need to take practice shots, I do it then. On Wedding day, I arrive early to take shots of the location. This includes the church, the surrounding areas, and anything that might help set the mood of the video I'll be creating. Recently, I've started to use drones to add more cinematic technique. If a drone is used, I'd like it to gather the top of the church and cityscapes. With my lead camera, I like to shoot people arriving. If I have a camera assist, they will take the close ups of the location. After the setting, I start filming the wedding based on my storyboard during the Pre-Production process. If I'm allowed into the dressing rooms of the bride and groom, I love taking shots that have them preparing. In some cases, each wedding party member does a ritual... these are great, hands down, in setting the intro to most videos. I will normally follow the groom to the wedding ceremony floor since they'll be the first to enter. You will also have time to be in position to shoot the bride. During the ceremony, I'll stay in two location the whole time: On stage with the groomsmen and on aisle. If there is a balcony, my camera assist will shoot from above and be in charge of congregational shots. We stay in position for the whole ceremony. When it's time for the reception, I set up for the arrival of the wedding party. I will set up a continuous camera on the host if applicable. My camera assist and I will take coverage areas, making sure we do not overlap in footage, allowing for more shots to choose from in the editing process.
POST- PRODUCTION (2 weeks)
As you may have heard from our other creatives before, the editing stage is the most challenging part of the process. The purpose of the storyboards I create is to help make this part of the process easier. Because I already plotted my video and already know the song I'm going to use, I start reviewing the wedding elements I mentioned above and orchestrate them into the order I feel is best. Most of the time, it will go according to the order of service. The next challenge is to select the scenes you want. If during your story boarding process, you decided to have the location of the wedding first, the location scenes make up a large portion of my videos. Next, I look for strong and memorable moments. If it's a teary moment, I'll be looking for teary moments for 50% of the video, still incorporating all wedding elements. The other 50% of the video will include the opposite of what I just used. For example, if I used sad and intimate moments for one 50%, the other 50 will be happy and exciting. There is no particular order in which half goes first as long as it follows my storyboard. Most of the time, the video I create flow with the tempo of the music selected. Because I believe music and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is life, I cut scenes to each section of the song (verse, chorus, bridge, etc). If the intensity of the song builds, my shots move quicker. If it is very slow, the shots move slower.
Again, you don't have to take my word for it. There is always more than one way to create your videos. Techniques and creativity are always endless. I now leave you with this: The better you plan, the better your product. I also leave you with a cinematic wedding video a crew of three and I shot in Charlotte, North Carolina a few months ago. I wish you all the best in your future creations and enjoy the video!
- Matt W.
T & V WEDDING | CHARLOTTE, NC | USA
Equipment/ Logistics: Canon 80D, (2) Canon XC10 4k, DJI Mavic Pro 4K Drone, (3) Lusana Studio LED Continuous Lighting w/ barn doors, and (2) 24' handheld carbon fiber DSLR stabilizers. 2 camera assists. 4 person crew. Edited on Final Cut Pro. Music ("Father's Land" by Jordan Ortiz) licensed and purchased from Musicbed, LLC.