When it comes to choosing your wedding videographer it can be very confusing trying to compare different studios and what they offer. We decided to write this article to help you make sense of the confusion and hopefully make the right decision for your own needs. There is a lot of frustration from customers and fellow cinematographers  in the way wedding video terms and definitions are bandied about.  Often the same terms are used by different studios but when looked at closely, they actually mean different things.  We noticed this recently when a client asked us what was the difference between a Documentary Film (quoted from another studio) and our Feature Film. After spending 5 minutes deciphering what the other studio’s definition of their Documentary Film was, we were able to inform the client that our Feature Film was completely different.

Apples-and-bananas

So here’s why it’s so confusing. Industries produce new terms constantly and the wedding video industry is no different. We are a self-regulated industry and the definition of the common terms (referred below) can be open  to interpretation.

Here’s the analogy – So an apple is an apple, a banana is a banana.  There may be different types ie.Granny Smith Vs Pink Lady, but we all know what these products are.  Whilst the quality may be different an apple will always be an apple.

In the wedding video industry there are no set terminology rules.  The terms that are used are often the same or similar however, unlike apples or bananas, they are most likely not the same product.  What is called a ‘Documentary Edit’ by one studio, may be ‘Raw Footage’ from another, a ‘Highlight’ may be a ‘Wedding Trailer’ and a ‘Highlight’ could be a’ Feature Film’.   So how do couples compare studios when there is so much confusion in the terminology?

My advice with wedding video is, don’t compare price sheets, rather, compare the products in front of you.  Ultimately the couple needs to connect to the product first, and secondly get an understanding of exactly what that studio is offering. Terminology aside, every studio will produce edited and non edited products.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask to see examples so you can see the difference yourself.

How Confusion Begins

There are a number of common mistake most couples make when sitting down and comparing package contents between studios. The first is comparing by price alone.  There may be legitimate reasons for price discrepancies.  There may be differences in quality, number of operators, equipment, cameras used, length, and style that will make a difference to the overall cost.  I’ve put down a few examples below of the same terminology but different product to show what I mean:

Wedding Highlight

  1. Edited to part of a song and running time can be 1-2 minutes (can also be defined as a Trailer).
  2. Edited to a song (3-5 minutes) in chronological order with just music no audio narration.
  3. Edited to a song but in story mode, with music and with audio narration approximately 3-5 minutes.
  4. Edited to a number of songs and running time can be 10-20 minutes with footage in chronological order (can also be defined as a Film, Feature or Movie).

Documentary Edit

  1. As the name suggests, Documentary meaning documenting the subject matter (ie, the wedding day). Some studios produce a long edited version entailing the entire day in chronological order, with or without music, can run for an hour to a number of hours.
  2. Some studios will refer to their Doco as an edited version of the formalities. Often studios who use multiple cameras refer to this as their Doco edit and the vision between the multiple cameras during the formal sections are edited to produce a clean, broadcast finish.
  3. There are studios who also refer to the Documentary Edit as Raw Footage. Slightly cleaned without music and running in chronological order.
  4. Can also be referred when filming with a Video Camera (not DSLR).

Feature

  1. 10 minutes edited to music, no story based narration, in chronological or time shifting order
  2. Short movie like Wedding Feature Film with story narration in time shifting order
  3. Can also be referred as to the Documentary Edit, point 1 above

Raw Footage or Uncut

  1. All unedited footage put onto DVD or a playable file running as a sequence.
  2. also refers to the Raw Files put onto a hard drive and only played 1 clip at a time

Ceremony

  1. Short edited version with or without music
  2. Long edited version with single camera and normally without music
  3. Full edited long ceremony version, edited between cameras
  4. Can also be referred to part of the Documentary Edit in point 2 above

Speeches

  1. Short edited version with or without music
  2. Long edited version with single camera and normally without music
  3. Full edited long speeches version, edited between cameras
  4. Can also be referred to part of the Documentary Edit in point 2 above

Reception

  1. Short edited version with or without music
  2. Full edited long reception version, edited between cameras
  3. Can also be referred to part of the Documentary edit in point 2 above
  4. All the reception footage edited to music or can be with natural audio recorded (raw footage)

Wedding Video Terms

  1. Film – can be anything from trailer, highlight, feature, documentary versions or other
  2. Movie – as per Film
  3. Cinematic – Can mean the camera they use, DSLR as against older style video camera. DSLR’s will give you a film (cinematic look) to the vision. Cinematic also means the ability to tell a story with compelling vision and narration.
  4. Videographer – normally will operate a video camera to capture an event in a documentary style.
  5. Cinematographer – very loose term of creative filming and has a greater understanding of filming in an artistic and technical manner. Often referred to Cinematography
  6. Multi Camera – Multiple cameras used to capture the event. can either be manned or unmanned.

So What Does All This Mean!

If one studio classifies their Highlight to run for 1-2 minutes and another studio’s highlight is 15 minutes, well there lies a problem. They are two different products so you can’t compare the prices. Going back to the analogy – Comparing an apple with a banana!  The work involved in producing these different types of highlights will be different, and the quality of the work all needs to be factored in. Just because a clip runs for more time doesn’t mean it is the better product. More does not equal better or more expensive for that matter. The quality of the product is what will determine the price of the respective product.

What Do I Do Then?

Rather than ask for package pricing when enquiring, and then comparing  apples with bananas. Stop wasting time, every studio’s product is uniquely different in some way so it’s imperative  that you don’t judge a product solely on price alone but more importantly, define what each component of their package means visually and then, judge that, be satisfied that it’s within budget and if it isn’t then ask the questions. This is an investment after all, an investment into your’s and your partners future memories that will be relived for generations. It’s often forgotten but that’s what is important