The Essentials Package

We are reintroducing our Essential Package as our entry level offering. With this you get:

  • Our “Wedding Story” highlights film (a 10 to 15 minute artistic edit).
  • Basic coverage of the ceremony, and main reception events.
  • A 3 to 4 minute preview of the day.

The difference between the Essentials Package and our higher priced offerings is that only one videographer is assigned to cover the day instead of two, and only the main reception events (first dance, parent dances, toasts, blessing, cake cutting, bouquet and garter) are included.

One videographer doesn’t mean one camera. We still use multiple cameras, but as one person can’t be in two places at once, it does limit us somewhat. We cannot provide “getting ready” coverage of both the bride and groom, and we don’t have as many shooting options. You still receive a beautiful wedding day film though. Here is an example of what we can create:

In the above example the couple (Erin and Greg), everything (bridal prep, ceremony and reception) was at one location, which made it possible to work within a single videographer framework. The Essentials Package is perfect for simple weddings. If you are unsure whether this package is right for you, just ask us.

Wedding videography with a DSLR

If you have attended a wedding recently with video coverage, you may have noticed that instead of a regular video camera, the videographer was using the same camera as the photographer. No he was not trying to horn in on the photographer’s business (at least we hope not). He was shooting video, high quality HD video. Initially added on to digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR) as an add-on, the video capabilities of these devices has been embraced by not only wedding videographers, but other filmmakers including those doing TV shows and documentaries, and in some cases Hollywood productions.

In most cases the cameras used are the Canon EOS 7D and 5DMKII although other models are also found. Why would we use a camera that is not specifically designed for video over one that is. The answer is image quality. DSLRs have much larger image sensors than video camcorders (at least those that wedding videographers can afford). This results in a much more film-like image due to the shallower depth of field. DLSRs are also more sensitive to light which allows us to get a cleaner image in dim lighting conditions. Another plus is interchangeable lenses. While many camcorders also have this feature, they tend to be big and bulky, not what we prefer shooting with. In fact a DSLR is smaller and lighter than the camcorders that we do use. As it looks just like the cameras that the photographer and guests have, it helps us blend in better.

But the main advantage is, as I mentioned, image quality. None of the HD cameras that are commonly used in wedding and event videography are quite as good, close perhaps, but the DSLR still has an advantage.  As an example, several noted videographers recently created the concept film City Of Lakes in India using Canon DSLRs.

We have just started using a Canon 7D in our work. While we still use our camcorders, the 7D brings a new dimension to our work. It is also interesting that when I pulled the camera out of the bag at a wedding we were filming a couple of weeks ago, the bride knew all about using a DSLR for video. The word is getting around!

Why wedding videographers love their work

There is one thing about wedding videography, for many of us (myself included), it is a passion, not a job. I love what I do and most of the best names in the business feel the same way. Recently I came across a blog post by Laura Moses, who along with husband Steve, run one of the top wedding videography studios in the country. This is the way that Laura sums it up:

We work with music, hearts, and dreams. We’re the keepers of the flame for future generations. After we’re gone there will be pieces of us ”little bits of our hearts ” scattered across the globe, telling stories about love.

That says it all. It isn’t just about documenting the day, it is about keeping the flame, capturing the emotion, seeing things in a way that will forever commemorate that one day. Great wedding cinema is beyond “just video”, like great movies there is an emotional connection that spans generations.

A Story of Love – by Laura Moses.

Well said Laura!

Creating a Memorable Wedding

I see a lot of different weddings and the only thing that you can count on is that two people will be getting married. There are a lot of standard traditions, the bride’s father gives her away, the couple kiss at the end of the ceremony, there are toasts at the reception, and the bride an groom dance. Beyond that anything goes. We are encountering fewer couples who do the bouquet and garter, sometimes they will do just the bouquet (there was even one wedding where there was just the garter), or nothing at all. At one wedding this year there was a wedding cake but no cake cutting.

Couples are free to dispense with anything that they don’t want. When I got married we did away with the first dance and bouquet & garter. If fact we didn’t even have a DJ. And I handed a camera to a friend and asked her to film the wedding. That was a big mistake. I wasn’t a professional wedding videographer then, but I did know how do edit. No matter what I did, there was no way that the video would ever look good. In retrospect we both wish that we had a better video. As far as anything else is concerned, it is up to you. It is your day. If you do what you both want, you will have a memorable wedding. Don’t bow to family pressure. If what they want isn’t what you want, don’t do it. The same goes with friends. Don’t feel that you have to outdo your friends. It isn’t a competition.

Last but not least, remember that your video and photos will be the only tangible memories that you will have when it is over. Don’t decide that it isn’t important, they are.

Timeshifting The Wedding Story

Until this year our short form (Wedding Story) videos were edited in a linear fashion. That is, that the narrative proceeded from pre-ceremony, through the ceremony and concluded with the reception. While we produced some very good wedding stories this way, I was dissatisfied with the results. The entire idea of the Wedding Story is to capture the emotion and feeling of the day in an artistic and and dramatic manner. The highlight of the wedding is usually the vows. The problem is that this occurs early in the narrative. Wouldn’t it be nice to conclude with the vows (definitely a happily ever after moment).

There is no rule in storytelling where you have to start at the beginning and end at the end. A good example are stories told as flashbacks. The narrator is who ties everything together. In a flashback narrative it is acceptable to tell the story in a non-linear manner as there is a device to tie everything together and keep it coherent.

So what we do is to evaluate each project. Some will be better when edited in a linear timeline. Others will tell the story better when time shifted. Here are two examples. The first is uses a linear time line. Jason and Darlene’s wedding story starts with the bride and groom getting ready. It then proceeds to their first meeting, and then to the ceremony. After this we see the entry of the bride and groom, the first dance, toasts, parent dances, a montage of more dancing, and concluding with a recap of the day. The story is told in about 25 minutes.

Jason and Darlene's Philadelphia wedding video

Jason & Darlene - Click to Play

Below is an example of a time shift edit. Amber and Dan’s wedding starts with the bride and groom getting ready followed by the pre-ceremony photo session. But interspersed are voice overs by the rabbi and father of the bride recorded at different times of the day. Part of the ceremony is shown but this is interrupted by the first dance. During the dance we hear the voices of the matron of honor and best man. The first dance flows into the parent dance where we again hear the father of the bride (from his toast) and ends with the toast itself. We then return to the ceremony for the vows, rings, the kiddush cup and breaking of the glass (all important parts of a Jewish wedding). The father of the bride’s voice reappears right at the end providing a satisfying emotional conclusion. The length of Amber and Dan’s wedding story is only half as long as Jason and Darlene (13 minutes) but is stronger emotionally proving that less can be more.

Amber and Dan's Philadelphia wedding video

Amber & Dan - Click to Play

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Interesting insights on wedding filmmaking

In recent posts I have often referred to our style as “wedding filmmaking” rather than wedding videography. The clip below from Chicago based Zacuto Productions and featuring noted wedding filmmakers John Goolsby, Kristin * of Bliss* Video Productions, and Joe Simon of Joe Simon Productions. In this clip John, Kristin*, and Joe discuss what makes a wedding film and why it is different that wedding video.

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When less is more

In the past year we have been placing a much greater emphasis on short, beautifully edited mini-movies of the wedding day (we call them “Wedding Stories”) instead of the more traditional wedding video. There are several reasons for this shift. The most important one is that we are not just in the business of documenting the event, it is our job to capture the feeling of the day. We want our wedding videos to be something that is treasured and watched for years to come.

Our Wedding Stories are typically short (from about 30 minutes down to 7 or 8). Each one is unique. The idea is to present the essence of the day in a moving and entertaining manner. We want the viewer to be drawn into the experience. Like the title of this post says, less is more. Since every client gets the complete ceremony and main reception events as extras, we are free to get to the emotional core of the day. This takes time and requires extensive editing. In addition to the edit itself, there is music selection, as well as picking out appropriate audio for voice overs. It is also very important that your Wedding Story looks and sounds special. This requires color grading and sound design.

All of this takes time which is why the Wedding Story is only available with the Plus and Ultra Package.  It is worth it though. For a more detailed explanation and sample video clips, visit our gallery page.

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Why you should put the wedding movie first in your planning

In recent months, I have received several inquiries from couples who didn’t know if they could afford a wedding movie. Too often a large part of the budget is put into flowers, DJ, limo, chair covers, the cake etc. While these are nice to have, when fitting everything into a budget, you should think about what will be left after the last guest has departed.

 There are three tangible things that you will take with you, your rings, the photos, and your wedding movie. Everything else will be gone. You will always have your rings, and the photos will remind you of the day, but the movie will let you hear the vows, see the tears & laughter, and allow you to be a part of the first dance all over again. When the wedding movie is left out of the equation all you can do is see a moment in time through still images, but you can’t hear it or relive it again. This is why your movie should be seen as an investment instead of an expense. It will be there for you, your children and grandchildren to treasure in the years to come.

 As you plan your wedding, consider the value placed on the memory of the day. If your expenses are tight, consider what won’t be as important after the wedding as remembering the day through the timeless imagery of your wedding day movie. If you put the rings, the photos, and the video at the top of your list, you won’t regret it.

You may have noticed in this post that I have used the word movie instead of video. The objection that we hear all too often when someone tells us why they don’t want video, is that is is boring and they will never watch it more than once. As professionals, we pride ourselves on telling a story that is engaging and emotional, that no matter how many times you have seen it, your wedding movie will never will never grow old. For examples, visit our gallery page.

 Thanks to Phil Hinkle of Frogman Productions for inspiring this post.


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The Wedding Highlights Movie – What is it?

Included in the Deluxe and Ultimate packages is our Wedding Highlights Movie. It is sometimes difficult to explain to clients exactly what it is. Our goal here is to get to the emotional center of the wedding and create a short film that preserves the day, not just images and sound, but the feeling of the wedding. We do this by taking the emotional highlights and putting them together with appropriate music in a free-form structure.

 Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. These do not have to be in chronological order however. A well written story also has anticipation, climax, and resolution. Climax and resolution are the key points that the video is structured around. Often (but not always) the climax will the vows. Resolution creates the ending, leaving the viewer feeling satisfied that the story has been told and is complete. In the past we have used a linear story line. The production starts with the getting ready segment, proceeds to the ceremony and then to the reception. It concludes with a closing montage of the day’s events.  We use voiceovers from the ceremony and reception (toasts, readings, the sermon etc) to reinforce and build the emotional center. Music is also an important part of this. We choose music that we feel will enhance the story as well as songs chosen by the couple. We are moving towards using a less linear format.

 The goal here is to emphasize the emotional center. To that end we may not necessarily proceed from bridal prep to ceremony to reception. The video may end with the vows, or perhaps the first dance. It depends on what we have filmed, what we have as voiceover materiel and many other factors. In some cases we will not "time shift" the program if we feel that a linear storyline is best. The most important point is that the story must be engaging, coherent, and meaningful.

 Our clients often wonder why a 20 to 40 minute highlights video takes much more time to produce then a two hour documentary style edit. This is because we spend many hours discovering the story within and bringing it out through artistic editing. The emphasis is not on just stringing together the wedding ceremony and reception, but bringing the wedding day film to a higher level. We hope that each couple, years after their wedding, will still play their Wedding Highlights and feel one again like bride and groom. Here are some examples of our Wedding Highlights Program.

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Winter Weddings

Here in the Philadelphia area, the wedding business is seasonable as it is in most of the northern states. Most weddings take place between April and October. However there are at least a few people willing to try for a winter wedding. Yes, there is a risk with the weather, but there are benefits. I have been learning this as my stepson Tim and his fiancee Alicia have chosen a January date.

For one thing most reception venues are often wide open. Photographers and videographers are more likely to be available and there is much less stress overall. There is also the chance that vendors may provide discounts for winter weddings. It depends on how business is at the time. You should ask, but don’t walk away from someone you like because they are not discounting their services. Consider the overall package and choose who you feel will do the best job. Don’t expect any discounts for a Christmas Eve or New Years Eve wedding however. These dates are in demand and many vendors would rather spend the day home with their families.

Another benefit is if you pick a date right after Christmas or New Years, you will often find that reception venues are still decorated for the holidays which will add a festive touch to the occasion.

The big issue is often weather. We have been lucky so far and have not been in a position where a wedding that we were shooting was snowed out. Part of this is that the Philadelphia region like much of the country has been having milder winters. If snow is in the forcast, keep in touch with your vendors. Let them know as soon as possible if there are any changes due to weather.

Another advantage of having a winter wedding is that your photographer and videographer may be able to deliver your photos and video sooner, as we may not have any backlog as we often do in the summer.

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