Thinking About Shooting a Wedding Video? Read This First!

Are you thinking about being a Good Samaritan to a bridal couple by offering to shoot their wedding video? Have you just purchased the latest, high-tech video camera that you’re sure will make this production a “slam dunk?”

Certainly, video cameras today are designed to capture footage in the easiest way possible…you turn the camera on,” point and shoot”. So couples wanting to save money, or well-intentioned friends or relatives with a new video camera decide that shooting a wedding video is a breeze, and quickly find themselves in way over their heads. We’ve been asked to fix many of these “do-it-yourself” wedding video disasters.

This may come as a surprise, but you can have the easiest to use video camera inthe world but it won’t guarantee that you will end up with a decent-looking wedding video. As my friend, Tony, likes to point out, “just because you can light the stove doesn’t mean you can cook.”

Shooting an important event, such as a wedding, where you only get one chance to get it right, is a little more complicated than “point and shoot.” But the good news is that its not that much more complicated. With just a little planning and utilizing the following very important, but easy to gather equipment and supplies, you can do it yourself and have a wedding video that you will be proud to present to the bride and groom.

1.Tripod(s)

It doesn’t matter if use VHS camcorders, DV Cams or film cameras, but a tripod is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will be using during the shooting of the wedding. A tripod ensures that your shots will be stable while giving you controlled flexibility to perform smooth and simple zooms and pans. If you can’t afford to purchase a tripod, rentals are easy to find at reasonable prices.

2. Camera and Microphone batteries.

Each camera and microphone should have two, fully-charged batteries. If you don’t have power, your camera and microphones are useless. Two batteries insure that if one battery dies you’ll have a backup.

3. Microphone (Hand-held or lavaliere)

Another piece of optional audio equipment you may want to rent or buy is an external microphone. A microphone plugs into the camera through the external mic input jack and allows you to capture better audio and gives you better range with your camera.

4. Audio/Microphone Cables

Audio/microphone cables will give you the flexibility of increasing the range of your camera and/or accessing the sound system of the church/wedding venue. If there is an available sound system ask the audio control operator to give you an audio feed to your camera. Plug one end of your audio cable into the Mic Level output and the other end into your camera. These cables are also available inexpensively for purchase or rent.

5. Headphones

It’s important to check the quality of the audio that you are receiving by having someone speak into the microphone while you listen through headphones. There will be a headphone jack on your camera that you can easily plug into. Adjust audio levels as necessary. You can purchase headphones as cheaply as $9 at your local Radio Shack.

6. AC Power Adapters

If convenient, you can power the camera by electricity, however, its critical that you make sure the power cord is not a tripping hazard. Where necessary, attach the cord securely to the floor by completely covering its length with duct tape. This is called “dressing” the cord.

7. Duct Tape, Markers, Pens and notepad

These small supplies will prove invaluable for helping you get and stay organized. Duct tape comes in handy when dressing power cords or attaching wireless microphone receivers to the leg of your tripod. You can also duct tape your audio cable connections so they can’t be accidentally pulled apart.

Markers and pens are important for marking/numbering your videotape cassettes and taking notes.

8. Videotape Stock

Ask the couple how long they expect the wedding to be, then purchase enough videotape to cover twice that length of time. For example, if the bride tells you she expects the wedding to last one hour (60 minutes) then purchase enough tape to cover two hours (120 minutes) for each camera you will be using. This ensures that you will have enough tape for the wedding and the reception. Its better to have too many tapes than not enough.

9. And…something to carry all this equipment (camera bag, duffel bag, backpack, etc.)

Having all your supplies in an easy-to-carry bag will ensure that everything you need will be within easy reach while reducing the chances of misplacing something.

Just remember, anyone can use a video camera. It takes something special to create a professional-looking wedding video. Something special means taking the time to do a little planning and havingall the right tools to make this a positive experience for you with a special outcome for the bridal couple.