As Jack Nicholson once said, “We’re in the business of saving memories”. Okay, so that’s not exactly what he said, but let’s not get bogged down in details. The point is, as a wedding videographer, I deal in moments. My product is your memories. And “with great memories, come great responsibilities” (okay, I’ll stop butchering film quotes now).
You only get one shot at your wedding. There are no redos. It’s therefore important that, when capturing your wedding, we keep your memories safe. In this article, I’m going to tell you about the steps and precautions I take to make sure I do exactly that.
On the day
I shoot most weddings alone, meaning it’s usually just me and one camera for most of the day. However, this is different for the super important bits: the ceremony, the speeches, and the first dance. For these bits, I’ll usually be using three cameras at the same time (two for the first dance). This has two benefits: not only does it give me different angles to cut to (providing different perspectives and capturing more of what’s going on), but it also gives me backups.
Unfortunately, things do go wrong; technology sometimes fails us. Whether that means a corrupt memory card or a camera freezing, I need to make sure that it doesn’t ruin the final product. Having multiple angles helps with this. Last summer, during a ceremony, a memory card in one of my cameras corrupted. Luckily, I was filming the ceremony from three angles, so the ceremony was still captured from two different angles. In the end, an expert was able to recover the files for a fee, so I could use the footage from that camera anyway! But even if they hadn’t been able to recover it, the precautions I’d taken meant that the ceremony was still captured in full.
The same is also true of my approach to capturing audio during a wedding. When thinking about a wedding film, a lot of people don’t consider the audio side of things; good, quality audio is one of the things that really separates a professional wedding film from Auntie Jone’s iPad recording. Audio is important, and needs to be treated as such.
During an ordinary ceremony, I’ll place a microphone on the groom and the person giving the service (if they’ll allow it). Sticking a mic on a bride is sometimes difficult (wedding dresses aren’t really conducive to hiding mics), but the groom and celebrant’s mics are usually enough to also pick up the bride’s vows. I’ll also stick microphones on anybody that’s giving a reading during the service. Next, I’ll also place a backup recorder in the flowers or somewhere else nearby, just in case the other two mics fail. And on the off chance that all of those fail, my three cameras are also each recording audio. That means there are usually at least 5 back-up recordings of the vows, in case the groom’s mic fails for whatever reason.
The same applies to the speeches; I will ordinarily place a microphone on each person giving a speech. If the venue has a handheld microphone that is being used during the speeches, I’ll also attach a recorder to that to provide a backup. Finally, I’ll place more recorders underneath the people speaking, just in case. And again, if all else fails, there’s always the audio from my three cameras.
So I’ve spoken about the insurance provided by having three separate cameras for the important bits, but what about the rest of the day? What if something happens to that main camera I use? Well that main camera records onto two memory cards simultaneously. This means that, should a card become corrupt, there’s another one in there with everything on it too. In the extremely unlikely event that both cards fail, there’s also a good chance that an expert could recover the files as well!
After the wedding
Okay, we made it. We got through the day without any issues. We have footage from throughout. Twice. With three versions of the ceremony and speeches, and enough audio sources to shake a stick at. It’s been a long day, but it’s not over yet. There’s just one more job to do: back up.
I can’t sleep after a wedding unless I’ve backed it up. I tried it once, but a myriad of fears and worries plagued my all-too-awake mind. What if there’s a fire in the night and there’s no time to grab my camera bag? What if there’s a flood? What if somebody breaks in and steals my camera bag? What if the memory cards just spontaneously combust during the night? No, better just to back them up. So before I go to bed after a wedding, I make sure that all of your memories are stored in two places: on their original devices (cameras, recorders etc.), and on one hard drive.
The next day, I’ll copy everything from that hard drive to a second hard drive. Your memories are now stored in two places.
However, these two copies are not enough. Again, my anxious brain worries me with thoughts of fires, floods, gas explosions, or any other number of disasters, both man-made and natural. And so, at the next opportunity, I’ll copy this to a third hard drive that I keep off-site. Only after this third copy is made will I delete footage and files from my cameras and recorders.
All of this ultimately means that, during the day, I take every precaution to ensure that, as far as possible, I won’t miss out on capturing your memories. Afterwards, there are ultimately three copies of your files: two hard drive copies in my office, and one kept off-site. Oh, and until I can access my off-site hard drive, I’ll make sure to keep a copy of your wedding on my person every time I leave the house. Yeah that’s right, I’m a paranoid wreck! But, like I said earlier, we’re in the business of saving memories, and I’ll be damned if I’m not saving them to the best of my abilities!