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 (also, if you didn’t get the reference, you need to educate yourself – great film). 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 a wedding videographer keeps 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 and the speeches. For these bits, I’ll usually be using three cameras at the same time. 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’s 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. There have been a couple of times when, during a ceremony or during the speeches, a memory card in one of my cameras has corrupted. Luckily, I’ve always used three cameras, so there were still two functioning angles. On all of these occasions, I’ve paid an expert to recover the files so I could still use the footage, but even if they hadn’t been able to recover it, the precautions I’d taken meant that everything was captured in full regardless.
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 always make sure at least one of you has a microphone hidden somewhere, and I’ll also try to place a mic on the person giving the service (if they’ll allow it). This is usually enough to make sure we get great-sounding recordings of your ceremony, but I’ll also place a backup recorder in the flowers or somewhere else nearby, just in case the other two mics fail. I’ll also stick microphones on anybody that’s giving a reading during the service. On the off chance that all of these mics fail, my three cameras are also each recording audio. That means there are usually at least 5 back-up recordings of the vows.
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 and play it safe. 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 a hard drive.
The next day, I’ll copy everything from that hard drive to a second hard drive. But that’s not enough for my anxious brain, of course. Thoughts of fires, floods, gas explosions, or any other number of disasters, both man-made and natural, plague me. 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. Do I really need three copies of everything? Probably not. Does it help me sleep at night? Absolutely. Like I said earlier, as a wedding videographer, 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!