Top Ten things amateur videographers do wrong…


So, I get asked occasionally for advice on wedding videography. I wrote this list for a magazine called SO in Indiana. I thought it might be a good list to share here. If you are considering letting a “friend” or relative shoot your wedding. These are some things to look out for…

  1. Stability. Everyone thinks they can handhold a camera or that it looks cool. Stabilization is always preferable. Every shot you see in a film is stabilized whether it’s a tripod, monopod, shoulder rig, etc. Even the least expensive tripod is preferable to handholding. Plus it doesn’t kill your arms.
  2. Audio. Camera audio is never good enough. A simple pocket recorder and a lapel mic can capture vows and readings nice and clear and help to preserve them. All of the emotion of a wedding is contained in that audio and it is probably the most important, difficult, and overlooked single factor of shooting a wedding.
  3. Backups. One of the biggest issues you have at a wedding is if something fails or goes wrong. If you have one camera and someone steps in front of you, the shot is lost and you have to move. There’s no way to stop what’s going on so you can reset your position. So, having at least 2 cameras rolling at all times during the ceremony gives you peace of mind just in case something goes wrong. Also, you never know when equipment, batteries, memory cards, tripods, etc. are going to break. It’s critical to have a backup because no excuse is a good excuse even if you’re not being paid.
  4. Distance. Most amateur videographers are shy about getting close to the action, so you see a good bit of zooming in to get closer. The key is to actually get closer. (except during the ceremony, then you should definitely zoom in) but with all other shots especially of people arriving, greeting each other, dancing and interacting, it’s always preferable to really be closer. The key is to get in close, get the shot then get out. You don’t want to be obtrusive, but you distance your viewer from the subject by being so far removed. Also, if you zoom, that should never make the edit. Very 1986.
  5. Looooooong edits. One of the most common mistakes by amateurs when they first start to edit videos is feeling like everything has to make the final video. The leads to very long, very boring videos in the end.
  6. Editing Variety. Good edits mix up the shots. Not just wide, then medium, then close. But tempo, dynamics. Understand when and how to speed it up or slow it down.
  7. Cutting to the music. The other tendency in the beginning is the need to use an entire song in an edit. Generally popular music is 3.5 to 5 minutes. If you lay down a song and then go find footage to fit it, that time can be an eternity. The better way to do it is to find your best footage. Align it the way you like and then cut the music to fit your footage. Sometimes that might mean 3.5 mins sometimes you’ll be less. But if you lead with the best footage it will always look better than if you cut the footage to match the song.
  8. Transition happy. Generally when people get a hold of new editing software, the thing they love is play with transitions. Barn doors, wipes, stars, hearts, it’s all in there. There are only two transitions that should ever be used in an edit. Cut and dissolve.
  9. Focus. Not camera focus, but focus on what you’re there to do. If you have a family friend do your wedding video even as a gift, the one tendency is to lose focus. They are not there to hang out with friends, or to dance, or drink, or shoot video of their cute niece and nephew. If they are going to do your wedding video, they need to be able to focus.
  10. Interaction with the other vendors and people involved. There’s nothing more awkward at a wedding than the person there that you don’t know with a camera and doesn’t introduce themselves or work with the flow of the day. It takes some experience and confidence to blend in to the wedding and be a part of the day. Understanding the basic relationships and what is important to the other people involved is critical. It just takes a quick phone call with the photographer, DJ, or wedding planner to get a feel for who everybody is and introduce yourself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: