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10 Things You Should Know When Choosing

Your Wedding Videographer

Article contributed by Video Magic Studios

1. When Should I Start Looking? 

As soon as you have your Reception Hall booked you should start looking for a Videographer.  Your Live Wedding Memories captured on videotape is one of the only investments you are making in your wedding.  Everything else will be gone as soon as the clock strikes midnight (or earlier if you're having an afternoon wedding). 

2. How Far In Advance Should I Book?

You should book your Videographer at least a year in advance, but you can book even earlier than that as long as you already have a reception hall.  You will benefit in many ways by booking your videographer early.  1) Price:  Prices increase constantly.  Videography is largely dependent on technology and technology is costly and volatile.  Therefore, every time a videography company upgrades their equipment, which, in case of good Videographers, is pretty often, it will be reflected in the prices.  2) Quality: If you booked early, you will be getting the advantages of the new technology and equipment without the disadvantages of higher prices.  3) Choose your Videographer: If you are the first person to book your particular date, you will have first choice of the videographer who will be videotaping your affair.

3. Quality vs. Price?

Quality is never Expensive, its PRICELESS!  You are investing a lot of money in your Wedding Day.  Your Wedding Video will be the only live recreation of it.  Therefore, chose wisely and never sacrifice quality, you'll live to regret it.  Also, when you are evaluating a videographer, don't base your decision on just seeing a Recap (Highlights, Reflections, etc.).  Ask to see at least the entire edited ceremony coverage.  It will give you a good idea of what your video will look like.  Even bad videos can come out decent on a Recap.

4. What Can I Expect To Pay? 

It is reasonable to expect to pay anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000 for professional quality videography depending on your choice of coverage and/or package.  The best way to work out a videography budget is to allocate approximately 10% to 15% of your entire Wedding budget to videography.  Remember, once all is said and done, this is all you'll have (with the exception of your spouse) to remember it by.  You will enjoy your video for years to come with your parents, family, friends and children.  How many other services can you say that about?

5. What Kind Of Equipment Should I Expect to be used at my Wedding?  

There is a variety of great equipment available today to produce a superb, professional video.   The best choice is a 3-chip digital camera with low light capability.  The digital format allows for 850 lines of resolution, which creates a super crisp picture.  The digital format also allows for digital transfer via fire wire to the editing equipment eliminating any loss of quality.  Low light capability allows the videographer to be extremely unobtrusive eliminating the need to use any additional lighting at your ceremony and reception.   The recommended cameras include: Sony DSR-300, DSR-300A and JVC-500.

6. How Do I Know I Am Picking The Right Videographer? 

There are many factors involved in choosing the right videographer for you.  First, consider the quality and style of the work.  Second, evaluate the kind of equipment they will be using. (Cameras, editing equipment, wireless microphones, etc.)  Third, choose a videographer who is a member of WEVA (International Wedding and Event Videographers Association) and possibly a local Videographer's Association.  This is important because these organizations provide continued education in the field of videography as well as constant updates on new developments in technology, equipment, and technique.   In addition, organizations such as these have rules of conduct, which often outline client relations and provide an outlet to file a complaint, should it become necessary, which will be investigated and a fair course of action determined.  Fourth, make sure that the video company you choose offers enough of the services that you may someday need.  For example, do they offer a DVD? You may not have a DVD player yet, but most likely someday you will and will want to transfer your Wedding Video onto it.  Lastly, make sure your personalities are compatible.  The last thing you need, is to feel uncomfortable on your Wedding Day because your videographer is pushy or obtrusive or demanding in any way. 

7. How Many Cameras Should I Have At My Wedding? 

Generally, one camera, operated by a professional videographer is sufficient to capture your memories on film.  However, if your budget allows for it, a second camera adds a beautiful dimension to your video, especially during the ceremony where the participants are generally standing still and where the videographer's movements are restricted.  The second camera can capture elegant creative shots from the balcony, from the side of the altar, or the back of the church.  Because the footage from the second camera is later inserted into the footage from the main camera, it is not dependent at all on audio, therefore, allowing the videographer the freedom to capture great moments as they unfold.  The back of the bride's dress as she is walking down the aisle, the mother's tears, the close-up face shots as the vows are recited, are all captured best using the second camera.   You may also choose to have a second camera at the reception, although, if you are inviting less than 250 guests, it may not be crucial.  At the reception, the second camera may be useful for capturing the bride's and groom's reactions as the best man toasts, the reactions of the parents during the first dance, the mother crying as the father dances with the bride, etc.   The cost of having a second camera at your Wedding ranges between $400 and $1,000 depending on the amount of coverage.  This price should also include the editing involved to incorporate the second camera footage into the video.  It is a costly addition, but well worth the money in the long run.

8. What kind of package should I choose?

The package you choose should depend on what you would like to have in your Wedding Video and how much you're willing to spend.  There are many segments you can add to your Wedding Video such as the bride's home coverage, the groom's home coverage, the park scenes, second camera, photo montage, honeymoon montage, recap, closing credits, love story, etc.  First determine what segments or levels of coverage are most desirable to you.  Then evaluate your budget to determine what you can afford.   Be careful not to do this before you actually choose the videographer or you may find yourself seriously sacrificing quality and the final look of your video in order to add baby pictures.  The videographer should always be chosen first before you start working on the package.  It is a visual art, not a tangible product.  If your videographer selection depends on whether you get a photo montage, recap and honeymoon for $1595 or just a photo montage for $1495, you will lose sight of what's really important which is getting a beautiful and creative Wedding Video.   In addition, when determining the package vs. budget, consider the most important things first; the preparation coverage (if you like it) and the second camera before you start adding baby pictures, honeymoon pictures and recap.  You can always request to add pictures after the wedding, should you change your mind, but you can't add the second camera or the preparations ever again.

9. What kind of company should I be looking for? 

There are so many different companies offering Wedding videography today, its difficult to list them all.  There are Photographers who also offer videography, even DJs who offer video (for an additional $395).  There are Wedding Warehouses that do dozens of weddings per day and there are moms and pops businesses that can only do one.  There are companies who will offer the latest in digital technology including DVD, etc. and those still using the dreaded 1-chip analog format.  Ultimately, you must make your own decision on what you prefer, but here are some factors to think about.

a) Although it's easier to deal with one company that will be providing both photography and videography for your Wedding - are you sacrificing anything?  Absolutely. Most photographers claiming to do both primarily do photography and may very well be good at it.  However, for most of them, videography is an added service and not an expertise.  Often, these companies subcontract shooters and editors instead of producing the work themselves.  Therefore, you can never be sure who will actually film or edit your video and whether the final result is going to look anything like the original demo you saw.  In addition, by hiring two separate companies, experts in their field, to perform each of these services, you will provide an additional perspective/angle to the Wedding as well as insurance in case one of them doesn't pan out.  If a couple is unsatisfied with one of the services, usually the other one makes up for it.  If it's the same company doing both, you have nothing to fall back on.

b) Does size matter?  The benefit in hiring a one-man operation is that you always know who will film and edit your Wedding, or do you?  What happens if he or she gets sick or sprains their ankle or has an accident? (remember you Wedding is almost a year away when the booking takes place, anything can happen)  Who, then will film and edit your Wedding?  Is there a back-up camera of the same caliber that is available to the replacement videographer?  The benefit of hiring a very large company is that there is always someone else to fill in, but who will it be to begin with?  Is your video going to be customized to your specifications or will it be generic, created in a cookie cutter process - because there are so many Weddings scheduled you get lost in the shuffle?  Are they concerned about customer satisfaction or is it just a numbers game?  The wisest decision in selecting a videographer is to choose one of a medium size that schedules a limited number of weddings per day (3-4).  In this case, you will know who will videotape your wedding before you book the service, yet if something happens, an equally competent videographer utilizing same state-of-the-art equipment would replace him/her.  A company that's big enough to have access to state-of-the-art technology, yet small enough that they will care whether you are satisfied because ultimately your referral is their bread and butter, is your best bet.

10.   Who should I get referrals from for a good videographer? 

Generally, family and friends work best because they have previous experience with a particular videographer.  Referrals from photographers are also good because they see first hand how a videographer operates at a Wedding and often hear comments from brides and grooms in regard to the quality of the final product.  Be weary, however, of recommendations from sources like Reception Halls and churches.  Most of the time, a videographer makes it on a Reception Hall's "Recommended Vendors" List if they pay a hefty referral fee, which is often in excess of $3,000 per month or $300 per booked recommendation.  When a recommendation is not based on performance, it is worthless!  You may also contact a local Videographer's Association to get referrals.  Most associations hold annual video competitions and will provide you with the names of the winners at your request.   Wherever you obtain a referral from, make sure you visit the company first, view the work and then make a decision.  !

Never book over the phone, unless you have already seen the work of that company. Never rush into making a decision.



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