Top Tips: DIY Wedding Video

top tips iconHiring a professional videographer for your big day can be costly and not everyone will be comfortable with the added attention of a stranger with a handicam capturing their every move. And other couples will love it! If the budget won’t stretch to the cost of a professional, enlist an enthusiastic friend with an interest in video to make a video.

Everyone has seen a wobbly, sometimes out-of-focus, poorly edited wedding video in their time so here are ten top tips to avoid the ‘Cops’ effect:

1. Keep it simple.

If you have never shot a wedding video before, don’t try to be the next James Cameron. Your aim should be to get watchable footage and edit together in a watchable way. If the budget won’t cover a professional videographer, it probably won’t stretch to tracking shots, aerial footage or cinema-ready 3D. That’s ok. The couple just want a record of their day, not a special invitation to the Academy Awards.

2. Arrive early.

This allows time to set up, make a few test shots and even capture the groom in an uncharacteristically nervous state. When setting up your equipment, make sure the date is not going to be embedded into the video – that look is more amateur than you’re going for. Make a list of shots. Introduce yourself to the photographer if there is one present. If there is a wedding planner present, talk to them too. There may be filming restrictions at the venue so make sure you are aware of these, if any. Make sure your camera is near a speaker to get the best quality audio. Whew, bet you’re glad you arrived early, eh?

3. Bring a friend.

If there’s another enthusiastic amateur videographer on the guest list, team up. One of you can take shots of the main action, the other can take what are called ‘cutaways’ or small details such as people, flowers, candles, architectural details, table centrepieces, etc. These can be edited in to the final video to bridge between sequences. Make sure both cameras are using identical settings.

4. Be invisible.

Remember it is the bride and groom’s day so try not to be invasive or get in the way of the guests or the photographer. Be a background observer not a centrepiece.

5. Use a tripod.

This is especially important during the ceremony. You are going to have to be some kind of statue to hold a camera steady for the whole time, plus a tripod will help provide you with smooth panning shots.

6. Take it handy, cowboy!

When zooming in and out, or when panning (moving the camera in a horizontal direction whilst filming), do it slowly. This gives the camera time to focus on what’s coming in to view, thus avoiding the dreaded blur. It’s a good idea to record a few seconds before and after camera motions for editing, as cutting mid-zoom or mid-pan confuses the eye.

7. Keep the light at your back.

If you point the camera towards the light, whatever you are filming will be in shadow. You don’t want the wedding ceremony of two silhouettes, do you?

8. Record all the music.

If you are recording a piece of music, make sure and record it all. It’s an easy thing to forget but when you go to edit it, you will not want half a song. This is important during the speeches and the first dance.

9. Follow the timeline.

When editing the video, the sequence of events should be in the order in which they happened, unless you are making a short highlights video. Again, when editing, simplicity is key.

10. Keep it short!

That means, no longer than an hour, Spielberg!

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  1. Keith Malone Wedding Films

    A wedding video filmed by a friend who isn’t a pro can be “fun”. I’ve lost track of the number of distressed newlywed brides who have called me up to see if I can “do anything” with their friend’s attempt at shooting their wedding. Unfortunately, my answer is always the same. If they missed the ring shot or the vows on the day, or their battery ran out during the speeches, there is no magic that I can do in the edit suite to get back the lost moments. They’re gone forever. Yes, even our memories eventually fade and turn into a blur! :(

    Fully understand budgetary concerns and my advice would be that if you really cannot afford to get a professional, then try at least to get a well-prepared friend to film it. It won’t in any way compare to what you could have got from a talented professional but at least it will be better than absolutely nothing.

    This blog post of mine from a while back might convince those who may be sitting on the fence:

    • This is a good point Keith, there’s no point in closing the stable door once the horse has bolted. If someone has the budget to get a professional to edit their video, they probably could have had it filmed by one too!

      I personally can’t wait to see my professionally-edited wedding video but times being as they are I understand not everyone will be able to afford one. Thanks for the feedback Keith!

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