One common question a lot of brides have is: Should I hire a professional video production company or should I just save money and have my “Uncle Charlie” videotape it?
“Uncle Charlie” is a common term used by professional videographers to describe a family member or friend who volunteers to videotape the wedding. So, what are the plusses and minuses of using Charlie? The biggest plus is the cost: He is usually free.
What are the disadvantages? Unfortunately for brides, there are many:
1. Video quality: Some Uncle Charlies still use old VHS or VHS-C cameras, which have a horizontal resolution of only about 270 lines, compared to the MiniDV most professional videographers use, which has a resolution of about twice that of VHS. What does this mean? A professional videographer’s equipment will produce much-improved video quality and color saturation.
2. Blurry, shaky camerawork: Remember that last family reunion Uncle Charlie videotaped? Shaky (due to no tripod), sometimes blurry, sometimes too light or dark exposure, with endless zooming in and out? Well, your wedding could end up looking the same. A professional video company will set up cameras on tripods for rock-solid camera shots. Zooms are kept to a minimum and the light gain is expertly controlled.
3. Poor camera position: A lot of Uncle Charlies simply sit somewhere in the audience and try to zoom in past those seated in front of him to videotape the bride and groom. What happens? Ask yourself, do you really want half of the frame taken up by Aunt Edna’s beehive hairdo? On the other hand, a professional video company with two cameras will switch back and forth from one camera to the other to give you the best possible shot at all times.
4. Poor audio. Don’t count on the P.A. system to provide decent audio. We have done many weddings where our wireless microphone system or MP-3 recorder on both the groom and officient saved the day.
5. Missed highlights: A lot of Uncle Charlies lay the camera down after the ceremony and join in the festivities. Big mistake. Brides and grooms expect to see the reception highlights, such as the grand entrance, the toast and speeches, cake cutting, first dance, other dances, and the bouquet and garter tosses. A good video production company will capture all of these precious moments, and, if desired, even get interviews of the bridal party and friends.
6. Worst case scenario: What is the worst thing that could happen with Uncle Charlie? How about this true story that happened to a friend of mine whose son got married not too long ago: The aunt of the bride supposedly had videotaped “a lot of weddings” and was all lined up to do their wedding. What happened? The Videographer Aunt just didn’t show up. Oops.
The bottom line: You get what you pay for, and with a professional video production company, you are buying peace of mind. Your wedding is a precious event that will be expertly captured by experienced professionals.
According to a survey of brides by Breakthrough Marketing, “brides in the planning process of the wedding do not immediately realize the impact of a professionally-produced video. Before the wedding, while brides are making plans, over half (54%) rank video as one of the Top 10 most important bridal services. However, that number increases to 79% AFTER the wedding, as brides look back and assess the individual value of each service. Before the wedding, 23% of brides view video as a Top 5 service. After the wedding, that number climbs to 42%. The value of video becomes greater after the wedding.”
If you end up deciding to hire a professional wedding videographer, here are some questions to consider
- What style of videography do you want? Traditional, or modern cinematography?
- Do you like the potential videographer you have had a consultation with? You must like them if you’re going to spend most of your wedding day with them.
- How long has he/she been in business? Ask for references from clients and other professionals they may work with.
- Always ask to see several samples of their work (meaning more than two well-edited ones).
- Ask the videographer how he or she stays up on the latest in the video business? How do they keep themselves educated, informed, etc.?
- How many cameras, microphones, lights, etc. will be used at your event? Lighting should always be brought along to any event. Lighting may not always be used, however, in dimly lit reception situations, a videographer without light is cause for concern.
- Will the videographer be working with an assistant. This is an important one. If he or she forgets a camera accessory, will he/she have to leave your event to go get it? What if there’s a problem with the equipment, will there be a backup?
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