Understanding Wedding Packages
Chances are that if you are looking for a modern wedding highlight film you will be presented with tiers, packages, or even a savvy a la carte system of pricing. Is the ultra exclusive Scarlet Emerald package really that much better than the Premier Diamond? This post will help the Bride and Groom decipher the wedding package lingo and make savvy decisions to start off their newlywed lives together.
1.) # of Camera Operator, Cinematographer, Videographer - this refers to the amount of people that will be shooting your wedding day film. Not all videographers are the same, many times the main cinematographer is sub-contracting a "second shooter". The second shooter can be a great cinematographer that runs his or her own wedding film business, or a high school student doing their class project. The more camera ops. there are, the more coverage you will have. Two angles of the same shot is not only a piece of mind, but can lead to more seamless and creative editing. Multiple camera ops.can also cover different events happening at different times. If your wedding is scheduled where the Groom and Bride are getting ready at the same time in different places, you really want to make sure you get at least two cinematographers. Pro-Tip: 2 is good, 3 can get crowded. You want to factor in how fun and comfortable the entire day will be. Between the photographers and videographers, you don't want an army of paparazzi (or maybe some of you do) storming your every sweet moment..
2.) HD, 1080, 4k - this doesn't refer to the size of your television. This refers to the amount of resolution that your videos will be delivered in. HD has 720 lines of resolution across the width of the video. 1080 or Full HD has 1080 lines, 4k or Ultra HD has around 4,000 lines. The more resolution the crisper and sharper the image. What registers as cinematic to us has little to do with resolution, and more to do with lighting, color, and sound. Most likely, you watch videos on your phone or tablet in 720 and never complain. You still want your wedding film to be delivered in at least Full HD, which most videographers should offer. Pro Tip: Most prosumer cameras can now shoot in 4k, if someone advertises to you that they can shoot in 4k, and adds this into a pricing tier, take this to be a clear marketing gimmick and stay away.
3.) Full Event Coverage - if you have parents and grand-parents this is most likely all they will really care for. They didn't grow up using snapchat, they want to see the full wedding from beginning to end, the more footage the better. And believe me, they will watch it beginning to end; more than once. Most likely a Bride and Groom won't even sit down to watch the full event coverage of their own wedding. A full-length edit usually includes the full ceremony as well as the main reception events (you want to specify what those events are). I can't imagine that any videographer actually films the entirety of the reception, there's always the family friend who does that for free. Full or clean coverage means that every moment of the event is recorded. What happens when someone decides to walk in front of camera A, as long as camera B has a clear shot we have clean or full coverage. Full event coverage is usually an added expense since the cinematographer will have to bring a couple more cameras and tripods and will definitely need at least one second shooter.
4.) Highlight and Feature Film - sometimes the chronological, documentary type film is a tad slow and has you scrubbing ahead. Enter the highlight film. It's cut or edited with a pace, with more creativity to keep things visually interesting, it hones in on a particular story, it creates an emotive response. They are usually cut to music and are a best of the video and audio sequences from the day. A highlight film is anywhere from 4-8 minutes in length. A feature length film, which is typically anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour are extended highlight films. They come with short trailers and even Hollywood style billboard of the wedding with credits. The billboard thing can be really cheesy and I hesitate to comment anymore on it. Pro-Tip: Some of the worst wedding videos I have seen live in that 10-15 minute range and some of the best wedding videos I have seen are less than 5 minutes. You may be eager to pay more for longer films, but in my opinion the shorter films cut to a song tend to have that visceral and emotive quality that any good cinema does.
5.) Same Day Edit - seems self-explanatory and is. A short highlight film is ready to be viewed by the guests towards the end of the reception. This is no easy feat and comes with a hefty premium. Take note, you won't get the same quality out of the same day highlight video, but usually the places that offer this service follow a certain template for editing, so it might be 80-85 percent of the quality you would have been delivered a few weeks later.
6.) Aerial Footage - every wedding film seems to have a drone shot now. If you're not saying "oh cool a drone shot" that's a good sign that the wedding filmmaker knows what he or she is doing. Over the past year, drone shots were included because filmmakers were experimenting and maybe wanted to showcase it on their portfolio Now, as FAA rules and insurance premiums have brought complications, you will have to pay a la carte to have an FAA licensed, insured drone operator film those special aerial shots. Pro-Tip: Ask if the videographer is indeed FAA licensed and insured. If not, don't bother paying more for the drone shot. Also, unless your venue is epic, the drone shot is most often unnecessary.
7.) Online Deliverable vs. Blu-Ray - It's the year 2017, do people still own Blu-Ray players? Macs abandoned optical drives long ago. In terms of pricing, you will certainly pay a premium for the Blu-Ray option. Not because it's better, but because it's a hassle and burden to the cinematographer. It seems the industry is going the way of online deliverable. Some packages will include an online deliverable with a menu and chapters. You'll pay a little more but it's a happy medium and homage to the DVD wedding videos that were so hip even a few short years ago.
Still confused? Have questions? Comment below and i'll be sure to get back to you!
For a long time video lagged far behind photography, and so couples would shell out the big bucks on a professional photographer and hand the budget scraps to the videographer. Many wedding videographers have grown accustomed to playing second fiddle to their shutter snapping peers. Over the past few years, wedding videography has grown leaps and bounds and so have wedding filmmakers sought to correct the market disparity; leaving google to answer, "why are wedding films so darn expensive?"
Around 80% of brides to be will budget somewhere in between 1,500-6,000 for a wedding films. These packages often include morning to late evening coverage with at least 2 cinematographers, a short highlight film, and possibly a longer cut of the entire wedding day festivities. So we should ask, how much of this chunk of change is merited and how much of this is due to the ol' classic wedding markup.
Now before we answer that, some of you are wanting to rather ask, "can you get away with a wedding film for less than 1,500?". Sure! Your second cousin's, friend's, roommate's, brother knows a guy who just got one of those fancy Canon DSLR to take videos of his pets and kids. We can always entice him to join the filmmaking ranks and cut his teeth on your wedding at a family friendly price. Before you make that awkward phone call, take into consideration that there is only one take for nearly every moment in your wedding. What happens when the camera breaks, or the memory card malfunctions, or maybe he forgets to hit record, or has been filming the whole day in the wrong settings, or is over-exposed, or under-exposed, or is trying out his new gimmicky film-angles, or testing out his new videography toy instead of focusing on the shot; speaking of focus, it can be ever so noticeably soft, or the spec of dust has been on the lens the whole time. A 10 hour wedding is not for the faint of heart! If you want the professional photographer with experience, why would you want "some random kid" with a GoPro filming your dream wedding?
Here is what really goes into wedding film, things that you should be aware of as the bride or groom so that you can rest assured that your spending on a wedding film is truly a life-long investment.
1.) Blood, Sweat, Tears
Photographers traditionally carry two heavy cameras throughout a wedding day. A videographer's wedding day kit includes a heavy camera rig as well as a tripod, monopod, slider, and glidecam. On the lighter side, a shotgun mic, two lav mics and two audio recorders for the ceremony and speeches. Speaking of reception, at least two light sources and lightstands for the reception, possibly a sandbag to weight it all down; and finally, of course you got to have a drone. For the hot summer weddings, in a sprawling estate, a golf cart might be my next investment.
2.) Skill and Experience
I mentioned a little earlier any number of factors and permutations that can go wrong. The wedding videographer understands the risks, can perform under pressure, and has a backup plan if things go wrong. They have learned from the school of hard knocks what not to do, which sometimes is more invaluable than what to do. They can sense a moment and nail the composition, focus, and exposure each time. They have studied the art of lighting, and know how to get the best results. They are not phased or stressed but rather hitting a rhythm and stride as the evening falls.
3.) Post-Production (a whole lot of it!)
The two cameras, a drone, and multiple audio recorders I mentioned before, they need to all be synced up behind the scenes. Each camera and lens has a distinct color science, color cast, and contrast that needs to be synced up. Audio needs to be synced up to video. If there are multiple angles they need to be synced up, the video needs to be synced to the beat of the music. Lots of syncing. On top of that there is time spent giving the final look, or color grade. All this work to trim up 150 or so video clips to be ready for the final editing block. In the cutting room, tasteful decisions need to be made in sync with the wishes and aesthetic of the bride and groom in mind.
4.) Hidden Fees
The videographer deals with hidden fees that you are not aware of. Gas and tolls and parking to get to the venue, camera and lens rentals, sub-contracting the second shooter, vendor insurance, equipment insurance (expensive things unfortunately do get stolen or lost from time to time), and of course the flat rate to license that perfect song or two for your highlight film.
After working as a wedding videographer you notice all of the other blue-collar heroes that are in the business of making a day magical. For all the hard work that goes into a wedding; your photos and videos are the one take-away to re-live those memories for generations to come. My advice, not as a wedding videographer, but as a married husband that has a bag full of antiquated wedding cassette tapes somewhere in my attic, don't skimp on the videographer!
Wedding cinematography has come a long way in only the past few years. The DSLR camera market has been rapidly evolving, with Sony and Panasonic and even Fuji providing market disruption every few months. Most wedding cinematographers still value Canon for it's superior color science. Sony and Panasonic win its users over by offering professional features that were previously unavailable at the prosumer price point.
To this day, most wedding filmmakers have not considered Blackmagic Cinema Cameras as a viable option for shooting weddings. The reasons are simple and very much valid; cinema cameras are not designed with the run and gun wedding shooter in mind. For me personally, the risk-reward proposition is one that is hard to pass up. Overcome the inhibiting obstacles of shooting with a cinema camera, and make out with a truly cinematic wedding film that stands out. Here are some reasons why I will be shooting future weddings with a Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera.
For me, the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera with it's tiny form factor and lightweight body is ideal for rigging. The Micro does not come with a built in monitor, but pairing it with a SmallHD 500 series monitor makes perfect sense. Honestly, the SmallHD experience makes it difficult to go back to the built in EVFs on Canons and Sonys. I'd take the tiny Micro with a gorgeous 5 inch monitor, any day over a traditional DSLR. The external monitor can also swivel, tilt or be re-positioned unlike a built in rear monitor. Both the monitor and camera are powered off Canon LP-E6 batteries that are inexpensive, long-lasting and lightweight. Pack a whole fleet of those bad-boys and you won't have use for rods or an external brick battery.
You can also check out this interesting battery solution.
2.) Dynamic Range and Flexibility
For run and gun shooting, where you won't necessarily have time to light a scene, and where you will deal with daylight exteriors as well as poorly lit interiors, dynamic range and flexibility of codec are king. The Micro claims 13 stops of DR, and a 12 bit raw codec. The combination of those two are unbeatable in any sub $10k camera. In most controlled situations I can shoot in Prores HQ, when I need the extra dynamic range and flexibility I can shoot in RAW 3:1 compressed and still keep file sizes manageable. I'd rather stock up on more SD storage space then deal with highly compressed footage in post. Properly exposing skin tones in bright exteriors without blowing out the sky is sure to have your wedding film stand out from the pack.
The Micro is not a low-light specialist but it can really hold it's own in under-lit receptions. I would stay away from relying on exposing with ISOs in dark environments. Always better to bring a few LEDs with you for receptions, even if you were shooting with an A7Sii. Flexibility of codec also really helps with things like color matching and grading in post.
3.) Color Science
Blackmagic definitely shines in the color science department. As a caveat, the BMMCC will need an IR-Cut filter to keep the magenta color cast kept at bay. With this necessary filter, colors are truly vibrant and accurate. More importantly, skin tones are rendered pleasantly. Color science is the primary reason I no longer use Sony or Panasonic cameras. I find that Blackmagic cameras can go toe to toe with the punchy look of RED Cinema Cameras, or even the organic feel of ARRI cameras. Of course Canon still offers the best color science, which is great for the wedding filmmaker that needs to churn through weddings with minimal grading. I much prefer doing less weddings, and having fun adding a look.
Convenience is not a word normally associated with Blackmagic cameras. Convenience and ease of use truly matters in the frenetic pace of a wedding when you absolutely need to capture the magical moment that will suddenly materialize without warning. The Micro improves on the Pocket Cinema Camera, but the menu system is difficult to navigate with the smaller front facing buttons. As I stated earlier, inconvenience is probably the main reason most wedding filmmakers shy away from the Blackmagic universe.
However, the Micro offers one key advantage, which is the expansion port. Currently, there are not many solution on the market, but look for 3rd party manufacturers who will take full advantage of the expansion port. For instance, a handle for controlling start/stop, ISO, and White Balance. A product such as this, really can change the way we think about Blackmagic cameras.
You can back this Kickstarter project that is certainly on the right track. Here is another seller, hopefully competition will lower prices.
If I had to measure a wedding film by a single frame, most of my favorite frames have been shot on a Blackmagic camera. I experimented with using a GH4, a Sony A6300, a Canon C100, but with the release of the Micro, I will be going back to uncharted territory. Hopefully, in this next wedding season I can capture some some stunning footage to truly prove my point.
My name is Hans, I am Korean-American, with an (antiquated) German name, my wife is legitimately part-German, so it all makes sense now..