How to Choose a Wedding Videographer
There are many things to look for in a wedding videographer but the critical factor is experience. Wedding videos are a specialist product and you need someone who understands the genre inside and out.
Here is an important point: It is quite common for people starting out in the video production business to begin by making wedding videos because they mistakenly see weddings as an easy way to get started. To make matters worse, once videographers become competent they often realise they can make more money doing other work. The result is that in some areas wedding videography is disproportionately serviced by inexperienced people.
However this just means you need to be careful — there are still plenty of excellent videographers who do weddings for genuine reasons. The key is to find out about their experience.
Ask For Demos
You must ask to see a demonstration tape of the videographer's previous work. There is no reason for them not to supply a demo — if they say they can't for privacy or other reasons, cross them off your list.
Ideally you should see a range of work from them, but also make sure you watch an entire video from start to finish. You want to know that they can cover the whole event well, not just get a few nice shots here and there. Note that it is normal to have a few minor errors during a long video.
You might also like to ask for references from previous customers.
The videographer should be able to get on with people and communicate well. Effective communication is important to make the day run smoothly, as well as making sure that everyone knows what to do and what to expect in relation to the video.
Videographers need to work with both guests and other professionals. If there is a dispute between them and the celebrant or photographer, the quality of the video could be affected.
Different videographers have different styles and you should choose one which you are comfortable with. Common styles include:
- Fly-on-the-wall, reality-TV style
- Documentary, including interviews, voice-overs, etc
- Arty, cinematic styles
Making good wedding videos is an expensive business and professionals need to charge a lot of money to turn a fair profit. You should regard cheap quotes with suspicion.
We can't give a specific price guide here because they vary so much from place to place, but professional videography is usually at least as expensive as professional photography. Remembering that most videos require several days of skilled labour with expensive equipment, you can see why good video production costs a lot.
Cameras & Equipment
You might like to ask what type of video camera and other equipment will be used. If you are familiar with video equipment this information might be useful but it's probably not necessary. An average camera in the hands of an expert is better than the most expensive camera operated by an average videographer.
It is definitely worth asking how many cameras will be used. A single camera is not really capable of capturing everything properly and safely. Two cameras will allow for much better shots and significantly reduce the chance of missing something important. A third camera, usually left on a static wide shot, provides even more safety and creative options.
Editing & Final Versions
Editing is very important. Good quality editing will make a huge difference. Ask these questions:
- How long will the final product be?
- Can you have more than one version, e.g. a full version and 15-minute highlights package?
- What titles, captions, etc will be included?
- Will the DVD have a title menu?
- Will music be added? If so, what is the copyright situation?
Note: If you are concerned about budget, one option is to ask for the wedding to be covered but not edited. Instead, you get the "raw" footage which isn't very practical to watch, but you can save it and get the editing done later when you can afford it. The most important thing is to capture the day — editing can wait if necessary. Unfortunately many videographers don't like showing their raw footage but it can't hurt to ask.
Ask what format the video will be shot and supplied in. We recommend that you ask for wide-screen high-definition if at all possible. In the future, when everyone is used to watching high definition all the time, videos produced in standard definition will appear poor quality in comparison.
As well as the DVD or video tapes supplied for normal viewing, you should ask for a master-quality version in the original format (i.e. the edit master before it is compressed or encoded). You can use this version at a later date for further editing or transferring to new video formats. Note that this is not a normal request and the videographer might be surprised when you ask for it. Make sure you ask before the wedding day.
All formats die eventually and you will probably need to transfer your video to another format at least once during your life. Although you can convert video files from the DVD format, it is preferable to have a better quality file to work with.
You might also like to ask about other formats such as streaming video for the internet.
Copyright and Extra Copies
Many videographers retain copyright of the finished product, usually so they can charge extra for additional copies. We feel that this is unjustified but you might have no choice. In any case it's important to clarify the situation.
Ask whether you will be able to take still photographs from the video.
Choose the best videographer you can afford. If necessary, make compromises on expenses for things which won't live as long as the video. It's a decision you won't regret.