Saturday, April 5, 2008

Size Matters (know your videographer’s equipment)

by Greg James of Solstice Video Productions

While skill and talent are the most important aspects for creating a quality wedding video (machines don’t run themselves), professional equipment and the use of multiple cameras can go a long way to producing a higher quality product. Short of using Hollywood 35mm cameras (which would be way out of anyone's price range unless you're Eva Longoria and Tony Parker), the best equipment today is the use of digital 3 CCD (3-chip) high-definition cameras and non-linear editing capabilities (all digital work done on a computer). Other formats that may still be in use include Hi8, S-VHS and VHS. However, if you're talking to a videographer that still uses these methods, my advice to you is to kindly thank them and walk away. The amateur quality of these archaic tools will disappoint you and it isn't worth any price savings. In addition, make sure the videographer is prepared to utilize backup equipment in case of malfunction.

Why High-Definition?

You may ask why use high-definition (HD) equipment as opposed to a standard 3-chip (SD) camera? Although you may not have a DVD player or TV that can play HD yet, shooting in HD is still the most preferred method as you are assured your memories are being captured in the highest quality possible. In fact, I still deliver standard DVDs to many of my clients, but all footage is in HD so that the client always has the option. It is the technology we now live in after all. If your videographer is not shooting currently with HD equipment, that is indicative they may be many steps behind in the industry. Which leads you to wonder: if they can’t keep up with present technology, how are they going to be able to keep up with you?

Did You Hear That?

If you want your day captured in true documentary fashion, a professional shotgun microphone on the operator’s camera is mandatory to capture sound. If you are being recorded with only an inferior built-in camera microphone, then be prepared to flinch when hearing yourself and your guests later in the final movie.

As for capturing the sound during the ceremony, the best choice is digital sound recorders which can be placed at specific locations like the podium or in the groom's pocket. While this has to be masterfully synchronized later at the editing stage, the difference in quality over built-in or wireless microphones (due to interference and sharing air time) is unmistakable. Make sure when viewing samples of the videographer's work that you pay close attention to the sound quality, especially at moments when the vows are being said.

As we say in the real-time documentary business, “there are no do-overs.” Make sure your videographer has the equipment to get it right the first time.

- Greg James,