Maryland Wedding Adventures
Mark and I were invited up to Maryland to film a wedding for Zachary and Layla Foster after they watched our video for his brother Josh. It seems rather customary in the Wedding Videography field to get work via word of mouth. I like that aspect of marketing. Simple and effective if your work can speak for itself. Our work, I feel, is still at a whisper but alas a few have heard its little voice and been gracious enough to give us the opportunity to tell their story as well as learn a big heaping serving of experience. The wedding videography field is an excellent source of learning for documentary filmmaking and I highly suggest any filmmaker of any kind to not overlook this vast resource. Your only other option of this magnitude is funerals and I’ve yet to see someone looking for a funeral videographer. My point being, in every nook and cranny of this land, on any given day, there are more than a handful of weddings for any person with a little drive to park their brain and talents right into the middle of a ceremony.
We arrived in Maryland with 2 T2i’s, a few of lackluster lenses, one tripod, my trusty PB pocket dolly, a monopod, a Tascam DR-1oo, a lapel mic, 2 rode mics, and the other bells and whistles of cards and batteries etc. The drive was long from Nashville to Maryland and as we drove we learned the valuable lesson of why you make travel extra instead of included in the payment. Alas, these were friends of a friend and we cut them a deal for trade in more experience. (Always add on travel. It’s expensive.Fly, you gotta fly. I’m serious. Try it sometime. Saves time. Really, it does…or so I’m told.)
We first attended the rehearsal the night before to get an idea of the layout of the wedding and prepare our brains for the following day. THIS IS A MUST! Just to see where everyone is moving and shaking. Where audio situations will arise. Where to set up shop for dumping cards etc.. We ran into all sorts of technical problems that we needed to brainstorm about for quite a while at the rehearsal that if we hadn’t of been there we would have easily landing in the middle of a clusterpatch on the wedding day.
The wedding day began at 7am and ended around midnight. With every single shoot anyone is ever on, the day didn’t close without its fair pile of mishaps and wonderful troubleshooting opportunities. First problem we encountered was that the groom, the bride, the ceremony, and the reception(s) were all 30-45 miles apart from each other at many different times in the day. This would have been better known with a little more google map preplanning. We spent a blistering amount of money on gas, as well as sacrificed a few moments in order to get ourselves into position to capture certain other moments. Everything went fairly smooth until ceremony time when the pressure to nail it 100% of the time all the time is at it’s peak. I dropped my Canon 50mm lens while switching lenses and it broke in half while running to a different angle causing me to miss their kiss. (Never try and be Spielberg in the final moments of a ceremony. Just stay put if possible. Better to have a shot for certain rather than not getting a possible better shot. If that sentence makes sense.) After the ceremony the church audio guy was gracious enough to inform us he had unhooked our recording device from his system because he was afraid it might end up causing a problem during the ceremony. This blew my mind because we had set it up with the guy, the evening before at rehearsal and it was all fine. Before the wedding he even told us it was good to go and he would hit record for us. What happened to his brain from that point to the next we will never know. Case in point. Have a backup strategy and luckily we did. We had our own lapel mic running and recording and our 2 camera mics which helped us in the final edit even tho we didn’t have the church’s audio from their personal mics. Would it have sounded better with the other audio? Yes, but you make do with what happens. That’s part of the fun, creating the illusion that the day was a flawless masterpiece with zero stress.
Another mishap I feel I should warn people about was our monopod. We ordered the Manfrotto tripod bundle on amazon. The monopod that comes along with it should only be used as a cane or something to fill up your trash can with. First use it became lodged into one of our cameras. It took 30mins to dismantle and basically break it off. That’s what cheap is and does.
COLORING: The entire day was completely overcast and cloudy and left us with some dreary footage. Thanks to a little help from Magic Bullet Looks in post I was able to add some gradients and some color saturation to give the day a boost. Yes, I did get carried away with the gradients in the video, but it really added some color that it needed in a load of frames and that was something I just couldn’t visually do without. Overall there are a few scenes I wasn’t as happy with the coloring but with time crunching and rendering bars looming we had to settle a bit for a few of the “looks”. Coloring is something I enjoy but still can’t say im “Great” or even “good” at it yet. It’s always a trial and error sort of journey for me.
The evening was topped off with not one but 2 receptions. Something most videographers would charge extra for but we just churned it out as part of our package. Lighting became an issue with 2nd reception as we only had T2i’s and not very well off lenses to accomodate the low lighting. To some this becomes an eyesore in post. We decided to give it warmth and allow the grain to add to the feel of the evening. It seemed romantic enough and I was pleased with the shots I was able to use in the final edit.
Editing was a huge undertaking. Filming for 17 hours leaves you with a truck load of footage and a lot of filled harddrive space. I edited this wedding in FCP7 which added in the lovely feature of converting everything to ProRes before hand. By the time I was actually able to dive into the edit a couple days of computer churning had already taken place as well as hours of watching all footage and sorting into a workable folder situation. This was also the time I noticed we had different settings on our CineStyle color profiles. Cool!!!…. Anyways, all this isn’t news to anyone that works with “video”.( the quotations are their for the semantic “film” nerds who argue that we don’t shoot “video” or “film” so it shouldn’t be referred to as either. Sorry, I’ll call it wedding fileography from now on or Wedding Captureology. It’s a work in progess.) All projects utilize all these steps more or less and is part of the editors reality. I for one find a sort of bliss in the organization and tedious nature of it all. I’ve never seemed to mind it. At least until I arise out of the Computer Cave and see the light of a new day and realize that the pigment in my skin has receded and the sun now taunts my waking eyes. Editing a wedding is not only a challenge but a blast. Finding all the moments that resonate, and in some instances, creating new ones can give a perspective on the day that sometimes becomes overlooked.