I like to visit locations that I have not seen before. There is nothing worse than not knowing your surroundings. So, for this wedding I met the bride and groom at the location a few weeks before their wedding. If I have time, I like to visit the wedding site around the same time of day as the ceremony. This will inform me where the sun will be at that time of day. When I arrive at a location I first ask the couple where their ceremony will take place. I will also enquire where they will be walking from for the precession. The more info I know the better prepared I will be for the date. Preparation is key, and it does not all fall on the bride and groom, the videographer needs to know how they plan on executing the ceremony shoot.
Wedding films/trailers seem to work out better if there is ample audio to capture. Toasts, readings of cards, and vows make for great sound to tell the story of the bride and groom. For this wedding, the bride and groom planned on giving one another cards.
As you can see in the photo I have the groom in the shade reading the card. This keeps him cool, and the lighting is better. The sun hits his right side of his face and the camera is opposite of the sun, this is exactly where the camera should be. You never want to shoot from the side of the sun. When looking at the groom you see most of his face that is softly lit, which is the most pleasing side.
I took her out of the dark room where she was getting ready and placed her next to a window. Setting the bride next to the window allowed soft light to hit her face, and I did not have to use an external light. There is nothing better than soft sun light when lighting a face. Led lights are great but can cast undesirable color cast, usually green. This can be fixed in post-production by color correction, but why do that when you have sun which has a 100% color render index.
The couple decided to do a first look. So, I used three cameras for this. One on the groom, one wide shot that shows the bride walking into frame next to the groom, and another on a glidecam showing her walking towards her groom. We shot the scene with the first two cameras one on him and one wide and got their reaction. The groom already had a lav mic on, so we were able to capture the sound of his reaction. Once they were finished admiring one another, I had the bride walk toward the groom while I captured it with a smooth moving camera. When I edit this portion of the film I will have three camera angels to work with.
Toast at a wedding can make or break your film. If no one says anything, you do not have content to use to tell the story. When the guest give great heart felt speeches the film begins to blossom. My ears are constantly listening for soundbites during the speeches. The more content the better. In the past, I have had to rely on songs that had lyrics, but I try not to. Your trailer is best told by the bride and groom, and those who speak about them.
When I capture the toast, I use two cameras. One is on the speaker giving the toast, and the other is on a wide shot that has the speaker and the bride and groom. Shooting the toasts this way gives me the advantage of two angles and the ability to show the bride and groom’s reaction to what the speaker says.
When I position my cameras for the first dance I want the focus to be on the bride and groom. I try and stay away from showing the dj in the background or better yet, a reflective surface that may show me in the shot such as a mirror.
Once my time is up at the wedding I go home and start uploading all the footage. This means all the video and audio is uploaded from all my devices. The next morning I sync up all my audio to all the video. Once I sync, I start listening to the reading of the cards, ceremony, and toasts. I pick out certain parts of each and bring them together on to the edit timeline. For this wedding, I had already picked out 2-3 songs. The first song I originally thought was going to work did not. The songs may sound great before the wedding, but the sounds and sights of the video need to come together as one. You never want to force anything, you allow them to come together. The second song I researched for this wedding trailer had the right mood and it interconnected very well with the video and soundbites I captured. I moved the soundbites in different places throughout the song and finally found where they all needed to stand. Choosing where to place these soundbites is crucial. I like to spread them out so that they tell a story of the couple. The last soundbite of my films usually tugs at the heart. Since it is the last soundbite it needs to be good, it needs to be that wow moment. I spent more time than I expected for this trailer, but it was worth it. I may go for lunch or a short walk, but always come back to the edit room. Once I am in a zone I do not want to leave it for too long.
Once the soundbites have been chosen and the broll for the film has been laid, it is time for color correction if need be and then for color grading to set the mood. Adjusting audio levels is also very important. What is the point of featuring a guest give a toast if you can’t hear what they are saying? Finally, I view it several times before I send it off to the couple. I am looking for anything that obstructs my view. Even if I see the camera shake a bit I will stop and fix the shot. I comb through until I am satisfied with the outcome.
I have been working in television/media for over 16 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, and storyteller. It is my belief that you have a chance to better your skills each time you pick up the camera. I strive to be better than I was yesterday.