I was given a chance by a photographer friend, Jenn P., to film a wedding that she was shooting. As luck would have it, the bride, Anna, happened to work at a business I visit occasionally.
Anna was a blast to work with; she set no boundaries and no expectations, and was even shocked to see my previous film footage, so I think she realized at that point that she got way more than she was expecting. On the flip side, Shaun was very laid back. They chose a wonderful blue theme for their wedding, from the accent decorations all the way down to the bridesmaids' dresses and groomsmen's ties and pocket squares. I still think this wedding was more on schedule than any of the ones I did afterwards.
I shot this wedding like any of my previous events; I captured every single moment I could possibly take, filling up my SD cards and eating up my batteries as fast as I could transfer media and recharge. After this wedding shoot, I learned quite a few things.
There were a few challenges presented to me, namely the variety of available light. The church had frosted windows, so natural light was diffused. Due to the focal length of my lens and limited aperture, I had poor performance in low light, so I had to film at ISO 800, which added some noise to my footage. I also brought the monopod into the ceremony to keep myself portable and out of the way, but monopod + zoom lens = exaggerated shaky footage. The reception was a low light situation, but I shot with my nifty fifty instead which alleviated the situation of camera shake, but due to the amount of natural light coming from behind the wedding party table, I ended up with silhouetted shots which didn't look ideal after I brought up the brightness.
All in all, my best shots happened in the hotel room and trailer, due to natural light and the small spaces. Post production wasn't that terrible, but I know now that I need to bring my white balance card along on these shoots to compensate for different venues and exposures. A second camera would be great too, which I alleviated by the third wedding.
I also learned another important lesson: weddings are 16+ hours of hell spent on your feet!! Wear comfy sneakers. :)
Update: Three months after wrapping up post-production, I noticed a message from Anna asking if I could add the rest of the speeches to her film.
I was going to say no at first, since I was already behind in so many other projects from the summer. Then I realized how much I had learned from doing the next two wedding films that I saw this as the perfect opportunity for me to fix all the mistakes I saw in the original film. I hadn't published it yet either, so I agreed.
I had recently made several positive changes in my life since the film, so I put all my new skills to good use and planned out the entire project, estimating about 4 weeks to completion. I wasn't going to just make some changes and hand it off, I was going to treat this as a whole new project and start from scratch.
Despite some of the poor amateur footage I took, I feel so much better about this new version of the film. I also took the time to create a new set of film packages, and what I've released here publicly is just the FoSho (Focused Short) Film version. The Featurette Film version has several private moments between the wedding party, and I wanted to keep that just for them.
The biggest changes in this version were:
(a) Better narrative and flow. I wanted to make sure that Anna and Shaun's story was more precise, and I had originally made mistakes by building it too much like a documentary. This was a wedding, for Pete's sake, and poignant moments should have just been able to speak for themselves. Weddings #2 and #3 made me realize that selecting a great piece of music and allowing it to speak as a voice was a far better solution than having people talk incessantly over music, especially where time constraints were involved. However, with this new version of the film, the Featurette Film had the best of both worlds, and I chose high quality instrumental music that served as a backdrop for the speeches.
(b) Color grading. I've always wanted to do color grading in addition to color correction, but really couldn't due to all the different lighting scenarios I had. I don't have a portable lighting kit or crew, so lighting scenes is just not feasible for me right now. As a result, grading would take extra long because I can't just copy and paste Colorista II settings or apply Magic Bullet Looks. I had to go through each sequence, clip by clip, and adjust Colorista II settings individually. It was painstaking, but I scheduled a week to do it, and managed to get done ahead of time. I went for a cool temperature look overall. The lighting is still uneven, but I'm much better and faster at color grading manually than I was before I started.
(c) Audio. Yes, I had low quality audio to begin with. However, with my ever-improving Audition skills, I've taken mastering audio to a whole new level. I'm no audio engineer, but I've become much better at compression and noise reduction. Aside from the speeches (partway through, the compressor on my H4n dropped and never came back up), I'm proud of what I did with the audio this time around.
(d) Music. I could easily lump this in with audio, but music was such a huge part of the reason why I wanted to remake this film. In the first version, I purchased a track from Audiojungle, an Envato marketplace and used a free Lazslo track. While the stuff there is decent, it's certainly not the highest quality out there. The track by Laszlo was good, but didn't quite fit the narrative despite how much I forced the footage to do so. The instrumental track came from VideoBlocks (now AudioBlocks), who have music that is slightly better, but not high caliber. This time around, I licensed tracks from Music Bed, and that music is streets ahead of other competitors out there.
This is the first time I left in a bonus ending that wasn't funny. Weird, right??
I can't wait to take on more wedding films. Jenn P also expressed her interest in collaborating some more, so I need to get out there and start generating leads. What do you think of what you've seen so far?
Check out this project on my website!