The difference between wedding video and cinematography
There has been an evolution from around 2005 to today in the style and expertise in the wedding videography industry. It came about through introducing cinematic techniques or cinematography to wedding videos. What this means is that techniques normally used in hollywood movie productions and blockbuster films, and the art of cinematic storytelling became more and more used at weddings.
Cinematography actually means the art of motion picture photography. Aspects contributing to the art of cinematography are the image sensor, the lens , depth of field and focus , aspect ration and framing, lighting , camera movement and frame rate.
As cinematography is an art or a craft that needs to be studied, developed and mastered, it cannot therefore be claimed that everyone who holds a video capable camera is suddenly a cinematographer. In the same sense, not everyone who owns a camera is a photographer. This in itself is very important to understand, because a professional cinematographer needs to have a sound understanding and mastered the craft of cinematography.
It is for these reasons that different studios feel comfortable with different labels. Some call themselves videographers, some film makers , some cinematographers and so on.
The difference in look between traditional wedding video and wedding cinematography
Technology without doubt has a role to play in the visually compelling look of the new wedding cinematography. The image quality and colour and depth of field ( ability to selective focus and blur the background ) has contributed a lot to explain why modern wedding cinematography looks so much higher quality wise than the old wedding videos.
However in my opinion it has a lot to do with the professional development of the videographer to transition into becoming a cinematographer. A good example of this is lighting. When we go to the movies to watch our favourite films, there is so much attention to lighting being made in every single shot, so that it looks visually pleasing, and also creates mood and tells the story. It is for this reason that a wedding cinematographer should be producing compelling lighting throughout the film, that creates mood and tells the story. This is actually not something that can be picked up quickly.
Mastering lighting can take many videographers many years if not decades. Also, in the case of weddings, we are usually working with natural light. The only time we really use professional lighting kits is at the reception, yet for the rest of the day working with and understanding natural lighting and composition are crucial in creating imagery that creates mood and tells the story.
Another really important feature of wedding cinematography that adds so much to the production quality and story is movement. This is really a big part of what sets modern wedding cinematography apart from traditional wedding videos. You could say that it ads energy, emotion, motion, depth, interest and many other things to the film.
Ultimately a static video camera can make the film seem lifeless, boring and dull. If you pay attention the next time you go to the movies, you will notice, that for much of the film, the camera is moving. It may just be very subtle, as you will see the edges of the image move in our out or from side to side. This is all very deliberate because movement is used to help tell the story and to create emotion. See how this clip does this…
For creating movement in our wedding cinematography we use the following devices…
What should we be looking for when hiring a wedding cinematographer?
Ultimately the most important thing is the experience, professional development and talent of the cinematographer. Are you able to accurately determine this through their work? Here are some of the things
that could help you separate the better cinematographers from those that are middle of the road.
1 ) How emotional do you get when you watch through one of the cinematographers films? We feel it is very important that you actually watch as many of the highlight wedding films from different cinematographers as you can
and then make a short list of those that you find emotionally touch you.
2 ) Does the lighting and the colour look beautiful and consistent throughout the film? Reception lighting usually looks very average on a film unless the cinematographer brings professional lighting kits. The higher quality wedding cinematographer will generally bring higher quality lighting to make the reception look as beautiful as the rest of the day. Be prepared to allow the cinematographer to use lighting throughout the reception to create beautiful lighting and keep the quality of the film consistant.
3 ) Is the audio quality of any speeches or people talking similar to what you would expect in a movie, or is it distorted or sounds more like a home video?
4 ) Does the film actually have natural audio, speaking and speeches or is it just edited to a song with all the audio deleted? Audio is one of the most difficult aspects at weddings and if there is high quality natural audio in the wedding film then it shows that the cinematographer should have a sound understanding of recording sound.
5 ) How long are the final edits of the wedding?
It is common for cinematographers to offer either a short version only ( 3 to 8 minutes ), a short version and the ceremony and speeches ( 3 to 8 minutes for the short version and the ceremony and speeches
could run for an hour or more ) , a short version and a feature version ( short is 3 to 8 minutes, feature could be 20 to 30 minutes ) or a short version and a long version ( short version 3 to 8 minutes, long version could be 1 to 2 hours ).
Ultimately you should probably be looking for a short version and a version that might include the ceremony and the speeches at the least. However, it is very important NOT to compare cinematographers on simply quantities. This means that what you should be considering is things like how the work makes you feel, the picture quality and audio quality rather than if it is 10 minutes longer or an hour longer in length. What you may find is that the short versions such as a 3 to 8 minute highlight film, or a 20 to 30 minute feature are both much more engaging and higher production value
than let’s say a one or two hour long version.
Just remember that the full ceremony or speeches are not always going to be as engaging as a highlight or short film version, simply because the longer versions have to be left unaltered and uncut for them to stay full length.
6 ) Does the cinematographer work alone or in a team of two or three?
It is most common for wedding cinematographers to work in a team of two. This is important, because to capture a storytelling style of film which is visually compelling it is usually important to be able to cut to different angles throughout the film.
Let’s take a an example from a feature movie you might watch in the theatres. In order to better tell the story, to show the emotions of the characters, an interaction with two people would normally be captured from two or 3 angles. This is because each camera can then come closer in on the character and show their thoughts and feelings through expression and the eyes.
This is really important with weddings. A traditional wedding video would probably have a static camera somewhere at the back of the church that does not actually really tell the story on a deeper level that shows close up expressions of the bride and groom, of how you are feeling and what you might be thinking.
Ultimately the number of cinematographers working on your wedding is secondary to each of their experience and professional backgrounds. It is nevertheless important that you realise that if you want the best capture of your wedding you will most likely want to look at a team of two or three cinematographers to be involved.
Be aware that your investment will almost always be reflective of their experience and the final result. If you are looking for amazing high quality work then you should be willing to accept a higher investment in the cinematography, as cinematographers tend to charge based on the quality of their professional skills, experience and equipment.
Final thoughts and conclusion
Our advice to you is to do your research. Understand what quality modern wedding cinematography is and how it differs from traditional wedding video. Learn to see the difference in storytelling, image quality, audio quality and further cinematic techniques such as camera movement and lighting.
One of the biggest things we hear from couples after the wedding is how happy they are that they invested in a wedding film. We also often hear from couples that did not think about the wedding film too much and decided to skip it that in most cases they really wish they had considered it more to have a memory captured in a wedding film.
Our studio is very much focused on creating the best wedding films we possibly can, and this has always been our motto from day one. We started in wedding photography in 2002 and added video and then cinematography from 2007 onwards.
Listen to Jack talk about why we love weddings: