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Wedding Cinematography by Rex Polanis

March 31, 2015

Brides and grooms of Jacksonville and the surrounding areas, if you are thinking about hiring a videographer for your wedding, please reads these tips by Rex Polanis!  Rex is a professional videographer who owns Drawn In Media LLC.  He wrote this article to help inform brides, grooms and their families about what to look for and how to hire a videographer!

Pricing: Expect to budget between $1,500-$10,000 for quality cinematography. Pricing will reflect many factors: location and distance of prep sites, length of wedding service, special events during reception, amount of cameras to adequately capture said events, and the final product.

 

Two Types of Wedding video companies:

Good cinematographers are exclusive. The same person you meet and book shows up to your wedding. They take the time to know you and know what to look for. They add a personal touch to your video.

 

Budget videographers sub out the camera work and sometimes even the editing work for pennies on the dollar and are purely profit driven. They don’t care about the final product. To them all weddings are the same.

A good cinematographer knows the truth is no two weddings are alike.

Many people come to my office and say the price for service is high. My response: regret is even more expensive. In my field there is no relief for buyers’ remorse.

 

No More Long Form

Quality cinematography is not a long drawn out single static shot uncle bob video. Many clients come to my office expecting that 8-10 hours on location shooting will produce 8-10 hours of footage from each camera. Nothing is further from the truth.

 

An experienced wedding cinematographer knows when and what to shoot to yield a watchable and enjoyable film. To break it down, during consultations I ask my clients what comes to mind if I ask them to watch a 6 hour wedding video? They always reply with, “Boredom,” and I answer ,”Exactly.” We don’t shoot for boring, we shoot for exciting, dramatic, and fun. We will make your wedding video something you want to watch more than once. It’s really that simple.

 

The Real Work

Most of the work for cinematographers takes place during editing, after the event has taken place. Every hour of video shot (per camera) takes between 6-10 hours of editing. Multiply that times the 3, 4 or more cameras and you can see that editing time adds up. Why does one hour of footage from one camera take 6-10 hours of editing? The process includes color matching and color grading all the shots, syncing audio from external audio devices, and setting music, syncing footage from multiple cameras and angles, removing the periods of silence or transitions, etc. The point being that it’s not point, shoot, burn. Many hours go into the edit, even for the most seasoned cinematographers.

 

Raw Footage

Raw Footage. 99% of my clients ask for raw footage. Raw footage is not what many people think it is. It’s similar to a photographer’s raw shoots. Photographers will take between 3-5k shoots during a wedding and deliver about 80-120 on an album. That is less then 1% of the shots they took. Likewise cinematographers will take 1-4k different shots throughout the day and only a fraction of them will make the final cut. Also, we don’t always catch people at their most flattering moment. Think about that shot of Beyonce from superbowl half time show from a few years ago. See Figure 1a below. It’s a terrible image that does not justify her beauty and grace at all. We shoot to create a story and engage the viewer, we leave the bad stuff in the raw footage.

 

 

 

Drones

Drones: The FAA recently released guidelines for companies using drones. Most of the rules are just common sense, for example: Do not fly over people or roads with traffic, do not exceed 400 feet in altitude, maintain a safe distance from buildings, trees, and other objects, stay clear of Other Air Traffic etc. I mainly use my drone to film exteriors of venues on days before or after the event has taken place. I operate this way for a few reasons.

1) Drones are LOUD. The last thing you want to hear during your vows is the loud buzzing of a drone hovering over your outdoor ceremony

2) Safety. I hold a private pilots license and even with that, Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Drone technology is still relatively new and can be somewhat unpredictable even in the hands of experienced pilots. It’s not worth risking an unpleasant disturbance or even injury on your wedding day.

 

Lights

Good images are made with good lighting. A experienced cinematographer does one of two things: goes where the good light is, or brings high quality off camera lights. We capture light. With out light there is nothing to capture but darkness. It doesn’t matter how good the camera is, it still needs a light source to capture an image, unless you want grainy green tinted night vision combat shots. Good lighting makes great video.

 

Audio

A good video is nothing without good audio to complement the images. All the shots can be beautiful and breathtaking, but without audio there is no story to follow, no emotion to feel. Without audio, a video becomes boring, flat, and one-dimensional. During a wedding, there are vows, a message, and toasts. Those words tell the story of the couple and are as vital as the images. 50% of the video is audio. If it doesn’t sound good, it doesn’t look good. Try to watch a video with poor audio and you’ll “see” what I mean.

 

DJ’s and Speeches

As mentioned before, the most important thing at the wedding are the words: the vows, the sermon, and the toasts. Cinematographers should be in charge of the toasts and speeches, NOT the DJ. If you want the speeches to be a part of the video (which they should always be), then the cinematographer should be in charge of them. I learned a long time ago to never leave the audio up to chance or a DJ. I bring top quality microphones and audio recorders to the events I shoot. During the speeches/toasts I run my mics through a splitter and I give one line to the DJ and the other to my audio recorder. I cannot tell you how many times good audio is ruined by inexperienced DJ’s. I cannot stress this enough. After the party, all you will have to remember the speeches is the audio in the video. The speech audio needs to be left to the cinematographer to be captured properly.

 

 

Everything

We can’t shoot everything. We would love to, but everything is not interesting. A wedding cinematographer has to anticipate who, what, why, when, where, and how to create a compelling and dynamic video in the edit. We look for the moments where all the elements align and produce the moments that are visually and emotionally compelling.

 

Tools

Some people assume that all you need is a good camera and you can shoot good video. This idea is not true and is a reckless assumption that produces many regrets. It’s not the tools, it’s the artist. Da Vinci could create a masterpiece with a pencil, and even better art with the proper tools. Giving the keys of a race car to an inexperienced driver is a mistake waiting to happen. Again I say, it’s not the tools, it’s the artist. Let me drive this nail even further: Anyone can hold a Stradivarius, but not everyone can play a Stradivarius, and even less can play it well.

 

By Rex Polanis

Owner, Drawn In Media® LLC  – Facebook Link

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