10 Questions to ask you videographer-by Lights in the Attic

Questions To Ask Your Wedding Videographer

How long have you been in business?
A more experienced videographer should do a better job for you. Using an established business means that they are in business for the long-term and probably won't shut down next week.

Are you the one who will be filming my wedding?
Make sure you speak to the person who will actually film your wedding. Many larger studios use free-lancers, and it is important to speak with the actual videographer ahead of time to make sure you get everything you want and to make sure you are comfortable with the videographer. Every videographer has his/her own experience level and artistic level. Another great question to ask is if your wedding film will be handed over to another editor, or is your videographer going to edit. Make sure that the person who you loved the demo videos that you saw when you first made the decision to hire, is the same person who is shooting and editing.

How many cameras do you use? Does that mean a second videographer?
If you are having "two cameras", then find out if that means a second videographer or just a camera on a tripod. Having a second videographer is more expensive than just a camera on a tripod (usually kept on wide angle). A second videographer can be well worth the extra cost due to the extra coverage you will get. Be sure to discuss camera placement and any videotaping restrictions ahead of time with your videographer.

What type of cameras do you use?
What types of cameras (3 chip, HDV, CMOS, P2HD, etc) will the videographer use? How new is the equipment? Do you film in HD? Do you charge extrta for HD? If so, how much? Ask her to explain how certain effects are achieved and to outline the benefit of using certain technologies. You may not catch all the techno-speak, but it helps to have a sense of what's what.

What kind of lighting do you use?
Some videographers use lights on their cameras, others do not. Some videographers will use a stand-alone soft-box light that gives off soft, even lighting. Ambient lighting at the reception hall will also help the photographer's pictures turn out better and the flash or video light won't seem quite so harsh. It’s difficult for videographers to get the correct amount of light for their camera’s. Once again, experienced professionals will have on/off camera lights, great low light cameras, and other tricks to keep the ambience of your wedding, and also getting it filmed.

How many and what kind of microphones do you use?
Audio quality is just as important as video quality. At the ceremony, have the groom wear a wireless microphone and have another one on the podium for any readers or singers. At the reception, make sure everyone who is giving a toast or blessing is using a microphone; this includes the person who is introducing the bridal party. Be sure to discuss audio placement ahead of time with your videographer. Ask the videographer if he has a backup to the wireless microphones in case something goes wrong (radio interferrence, bad batteries, the list goes on). A good videographer should have a portable audio recorder or better to back up the audio for the entire ceremony.

How do you edit the wedding video?
Non linear editing is the norm. Ask how many hours your videographer spends on editing since it will make a difference in the final price. It is not unusual for videographers to spend between 30-40 plus hours on the computer editing a wedding. Most professionals edit on Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Adobe’s Premiere Pro, or Sony’s Vegas systems. There are a few others but if they tell you they are editing on imovie or on the edit software that came on their PC, buyer beware.

Can I have my wedding on DVD?
Some videographers can customize their DVDs with multiple chapter stops/scene selection and a customized case with your wedding picture on it.. Your wedding film can last for generations without hardly any deterioration when archived to DVD. I believe providing the finished production on DVD is a must-have! Blu Ray is even better. Better yet, if you don’t have a Blu Ray player yet, you can always ask for a flash drive with your HD movies on that, compressed through an h.264 codec.

How do you stay up-to-date in the video business? Video technology is an ever-changing field (like the computer field) and professionals need to stay current. A videographer should be a member in local and national associations. Ask the videographer if he/she has ever been to any seminars or conventions. Any videographer belonging to WEVA (Wedding & Event Videography Association) or ABC (Association of Bridal Consultants) is a big plus.

How can I see samples of your work?
Be sure you are seeing samples of the actual videographer who will be filming your wedding. This is especially important when dealing with larger studios that may have several crews that they send out on the weekend. Some videographers will send out demo DVD’s and others will ask you to schedule an appointment to visit them, others have video clips (called streaming video) on their website where you can view their work while you are on the internet. If possible, try to meet with the videographer before you sign the contract.

What other services or special effects do you offer?
Some examples are the same day edit, the one day edit, trash the dress, and love story films. There are also raw footage packages, highlight films, movie trailers, and the ubiquitous photo montage. There are others as well, depending on the videographer. This is also a good time to ask the videographer if they use special effects such as black & white, sepia-tone color correction filters, slow-motion, animation, etc. There are many options to choose from!

What about the contract?
When you decide to hire the videographer, ask to see a copy of the contract. Ask how much of a deposit is required and when the remaining balance is due. Make sure everything you want in your wedding video is spelled out. As it gets closer to your wedding day, the videographer should request a "planning meeting" either over the phone or in person. It should also state when you will get your finished video.

What will you charge to film my wedding based on the coverage I am looking for?
If you are on a budget, let the videographer know that upfront. If your budget is flexible, wait to ask about pricing until you have explained to the videographer what you are looking for and after the videographer has talked about skill, equipment and service. A professional videographer with up-to-date equipment can start around $2000. Videographers with Standard definition cameras and less editing will probably charge less. A more seasoned professional offering many extras can charge upwards of $5000 and more. These prices are only a guideline, as pricing can vary region to region. It is hard to put a price on talent unless you view their work. Remember, your videographer is creating a family heirloom. Great video is not expensive, it's priceless!

Revised in 2010 by Jeffrey Haney, Lights in the Attic Creative Media www.litacreative.com

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