Professional wedding videographers can range in price from $500 to over $5,000. What gives? As long as they’re professionally trained, properly equipped and experienced, why the drastic difference in price?
First of all, it’s important to understand that videographers (this goes for photographers and other artists too), assign a value to their work based on their time, effort, equipment, expertise, and a whole lot of factors that can vary from artist to artist, depending on their approach and demand for their product.
That said here are a couple of factors for you, the engaged couple, to consider when picking a wedding videographer. Rather than making a decision based solely on price, this information will hopefully help you compare “apples to apples” and cut costs only where you really want to cut costs, and spend where your money is being put to good use, according to your priorities.
Filmic versus Documentary
The terms, “filmic” and “documentary” get thrown around a lot, and can mean different things to different people. Often times, a videographer won’t strictly belong to one category or the other. If you’re not sure where a certain videographer fits in, just ask to see a sample of a complete wedding they have shot and edited… then decide if you like it. Then, who cares what it’s called? If you like it, you like it.
Usually, a “filmic” look implies that a video has been shot widescreen or 16:9 (with the growing popularity of widescreen TVs, most videographers shoot widescreen these days anyway), with saturated colours, and some dramatic slow motion effects. It can also mean very stable moving shots created with the help of cranes or jib arms, steadicam apparatus, etc.
The advantages to going with a filmic videographer, is that you literally get a chance to star in your own professionally shot movie. You will be beautifully lit, and captured from the right angles, and only the best, most glamorous shots will make the final cut. You may never look better!
The drawback, of course, is the cost. It takes a lot of people to put a production like this together, not to mention a lot of high end equipment. And finally, there is editing time: for a truly filmic experience, several hours in an editing suite is required to synch up footage from multiple cameras, mix sound and music, create transition effects and titles, etc.
Another drawback, depending on your point of view, is it is not an ideal setup for the camera-shy. You will be surrounded by a crew, lights, and equipment. You will likely be aware of the cameras. You may occasionally have to wait for the cameras to get in place or re-enact for the cameras if necessary.
A “documentary” approach implies that your video is shot with less bulky equipment, and you might only get one or two cameramen with this approach.
The drawback of a documentary approach is it’s going to have a grittier look than the filmic approach. How gritty? Again, this is going to vary from shooter to shooter, so ask to see a sample DVD to come to your own conclusion.
The major advantage of a documentary approach is that because the equipment is lighter, the shooters have more flexibility, so they can move and capture spontaneous moments as they happen naturally. The approach is less obtrusive, and when done correctly, you shouldn’t feel the cameras around you a whole lot. The cost for a documentary approach should be less: the equipment isn’t as high end or cumbersome and you can get away with less people on set. How smooth the final DVD looks depends on the amount of time allocated to editing, and this can vary from production house to production house.
Editing versus Raw
When it comes to videography, don’t make the common mistake of thinking you are paying for just one day of service. A lot of prep time goes into any production, and after the shoot, as much as 50 or 60 hours might go into editing and refining your footage. Or not. It depends on the production company. So ask what your videographer puts into their editing process, and expect to pay accordingly for their time and efforts.
Your videographer might simply offer the raw (unedited) footage; in which case, a tape or hard drive to DVD transfer and some packaging is all that is required after the shoot. This is by far the cheapest option when scouting for video packages, but it is important that your expectations for this option are realistic.
There is a lot of software out there that can enable anyone to edit their own footage, but even if an amateur has the time, patience, and creativity to finish their own video, a professional editor is likely going to see more potential in the same batch of raw footage. If you don’t plan on editing your own footage and just want to leave it unedited, understand that everything is going to be left in, audio levels may be inconsistent, and without the benefit of chapters you won’t be able to skip to precise points of interest.
Your videographer might offer light editing; a “clean-up,” if you will, where some of the rougher, darker, uneventful footage is taken out, and dissolves are put into to soften the transitions between scenes. DVD chapters might be added. Some music might be added. A light edit will cost more than no edit (obviously), but it will give you a nicer finished product that is more entertaining to watch.
Of course, if you really want to dazzle your friends and family, you might opt for a full-on edit: which includes effects, titling, colour-correction, evening out of audio levels, montages where video is edited to music, etc. This edit takes the most time and so it will cost more.
Other factors to take into consideration: are you able to screen the first cut and have input on the final product (will your editor re-cut?). Does the editor upload your video to a website so you can proof your edit and share it with friends and family? How many copies of the finished product do you get? All these perks take more time and resources, so they will add to the cost of your wedding video.
Single Camera versus Multi Camera
Most wedding video companies will offer either one or two cameras with their packages. Some higher end companies offer more than 2 cameras.
The more cameras you have, the more angles (close-ups, etc.) and coverage you’ll have, and the more dynamic an edited finished product you’ll end up with. Obviously, more cameras mean more people and more equipment, so higher costs.
The fewer cameras you have, the less coverage you’ll get, the less angles you’ll have to edit between, but it will definitely be less costly and also less obtrusive.
Another thing to consider: adding a camera means adding several more hours of footage, which means even more hours in the edit suite. See how it all quickly adds up?
Ready for your close-up?
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the costs and time and expertise involved with putting together a wedding production, so as to demystify the various packages and price points out there.
Bottom line, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to produce a wedding video, because we all – vendors and clients alike – have our different sets of priorities. Decide what is important to you, and budget accordingly. A wedding video is a tremendous keepsake of your special day; so choose wisely.