Roger Resler, Guest Author
After starting a business as a wedding videographer – and despite the fact that I’m often a slow learner – it didn’t take long to figure out that while there are a number of things that are important to me (because they play a role in getting good footage), oddly enough, those same things are often not that big of a deal to everyone else. Go figure!
Once that reality sunk in, the question of how I was going to get good footage despite not having ideal conditions in which to do so presented itself.
Most of us like to watch Hollywood movies. And because of that, as well as television, we’ve become conditioned to a certain standard. Couples will forgive an amateur video production up to certain point because they are the subject matter and they obviously have an interest that goes beyond production quality. Still, as a professional, I want to do the best job I can possibly do. I want to hand the couple a set of Blurays and DVDs that will be “watchable” and in which production quality is the best it can be without having to charge Hollywood production rates.
And yet, what I’ve found over the years shooting weddings is that there are several converging factors, some of which are beyond my control, that work against that goal. I’ve also come to understand that Mr. Murphy and his law (which says that if anything bad can happen it will) are both still alive and well.
For example, mother nature is typically not very concerned about a videographer’s agenda. Not too long ago she decided to blow one of my tri-pods over – with camera attached of course. Every now and then she drops rain on us (I know that’s hard to believe in Phoenix, but it’s true!) and for some odd reason my cameras, just like my cat, are not too fond of getting wet. And of course who doesn’t love shooting an outdoor wedding in Phoenix’s balmy August weather? (My camera batteries, that’s who!)
But at least there’s usually sufficient light when shooting outdoors – at least while the sun is up. Moving inside for the reception, however, is nearly always another story. Low lighting at the reception is probably my number one complaint. We do, of course, bring along video lights, but seriously, who wants to stare into a blinding video light when the rest of the room is basically bathed in darkness? And who wants to watch virtually everyone grimace on the DVD when the camera light hits their eyes? Not exactly a recipe for a wedding video masterpiece!
While it’s true that our cameras operate fairly well in low light conditions, everything has it’s limit. The simple rule is that cameras need at least some light to function, and what constantly works against us is that the human eye requires quite a bit less. Many times we’ve dealt with hotels that want to “set the mood” and consequently lower the lights to a ridiculously dark level.
When that happens I will try to find out who’s in charge of the lights and ask them to please raise the level just a bit and only during important events as it will really make a big difference on the DVDs and Blurays. But this yields mixed results. On more than one occasion a staff member will raise the lights only to have another lower them again a couple minutes later. It must be an established rule that reception halls must be poorly lit in order to set a mood. Keep in mind, I’m not asking for the room to be lit up like Christmas. Just a reasonable level above pitch black would be nice!
Another problem is that there is never any warning. There’s no foghorns announcing the impending darkness. It just happens like a surprise solar eclipse. And, again proving Murphy’s vitality, it always happens while we’re filming so I can’t just leave the camera unattended while I search for whoever turned the lights down in order to beg them to reconsider.
Instead, we often simply have to deal with it. Sometimes, that leaves us little alternative but to turn on a mood-killing camera light. At other times we can compensate reasonably well. In all cases the footage won’t look as good as it would have with just little more room light.
As a couple in love and planning your wedding, I realize you probably have a thousand things on your to-do list and videography concerns are likely somewhere around 962, but if you’re planning a wedding and hiring a videographer (which you should, by the way, but that’s another article!) maybe you could remember this videographer’s whining when you talk to the wedding planner or site coordinator and politely request that they not dim the lights to their lowest level during the key moments at the reception that you want captured. If you remember to ask and the eclipse comes anyway, just remember to smile pretty at the big, bright, blinding light! You’ll be glad you did when you get your DVDs!
Copyright © 2011 – Roger Resler. Reprinted with permission. Roger Resler owns and operates Arizona Wedding Video, serving the Phoenix metro area and all of Arizona. Roger has been involved in audio and video production since the 1980’s. He has maintained a private production studio since 1988. Arizona Wedding Video was started in Phoenix in 2004 by Roger Resler. Ask Roger about “Video Invitations,” a creative and fun way to enhance your written invitations. Visit Roger’s Website or call 602-618-2033.
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