Video/Cinematography provider selection advice.

In the year 2004, I was honored by one of my good childhood friends by being asked to be a groomsman on their wedding day. Jamie, the bride, directed the other groomsmen and myself that we to wear a lime green suit to match her wedding theme. On the wedding day we all looked dapper and as a bonus we got to escort some beautiful women up the aisle. The day was looking up. At the reception I was asked to say a few words on behalf of the bride, which I gladly did. I pulled out my mobile soap box and ranted on for eight minutes. It was a good day, the party was tight, and we had a time.

One month later, the wedding party was invited again by the bride and groom to their new home to enjoy the wedding day movie they received from the contracted videographer over some beers and barbecue. Another excuse for a lime. We all gathered around the Sharp 27” CRT television and pressed play on the DVD player, anticipating the light entertainment of the wedding day we all enjoyed. I have seen flaky productions in my life but I have never seen a movie where you have to wait for someone to speak to recognize who they are. We were all quiet for the first 15 minutes of the movie since we did not want to offend the couple, but that was the worst execution of a wedding movie production ever. Sixty per-cent of the movie was silhouetted (dark subjects due to bright background). I could not even clearly recognize myself when I spoke at the reception. I asked who is that short-man walking up to the mike to speak, when they heard my voice we all broke out in laughter, breaking the discomfort of the now comical movie.

All jokes aside, my good friends were very disappointed with their investment. After spending $3,500.00, which was marginally competitive at that time, they had nothing to show for their day. I volunteered to give it a shot to recover the movie to a more viewable version. I knew it was a long shot but to lend support and relief from disappointment I made the suggestion. I should have kept my mouth shut. I took it to my timeline and started the surgery, after three hours of editing manipulation I pronounced the footage dead. There was nothing I could have done, too much damage was done and that was that, now I had to give the couple more bad news. I should have just let them pull out the thorn at the first viewing but I gave them hope by my silly suggestion of a recovery attempt.

I looked like Casper the friendly ghost in my lime green suit, well the black version, since you can only faintly make out the suit. The overall quality of the video was bad but this was ridiculous, I’m asking myself how did he pull this off, not to mention the sound breaking in every other word throughout the movie. One man cannot be so unlucky and create silhouettes so many times in a production. From the bride dressing, the ceremony and the early evening reception, that is impossible. But is it, not really, if you have the video camera make the decision for you (full automatic) ,first mistake, and second bad camera placement, you’re looking for trouble. He had one more handicap, he did not have a colored LCD to help out, and his peep hole view finder screen was black and white, designed for the trained professional, so I don’t have to tell you the rest, downhill snowball.

Now you may be saying they should have requested a demo of the videographer’s work, which they did. Come on, obviously he will show them his best work, but the mistake that was made was that they did not ask to see more than one movie. Remember amateur work may be a hit and miss at times so you need to see at least four good quality events to make a decision, but couples do not have the patience to critique hours of footage which puts them at a disadvantage. What you should be doing is randomly skipping through each movie file presented, looking for clichés and undesirable quality. The probability you will catch something with this method is much higher than viewing a videographer’s one and only best production.

We in the industry present our best work and there are instances where we fall short at an event where a product may not be the quality desired. Sometimes I even unconventionally share any past technical mishaps with clients when I’m interviewed to demonstrate that it doesn’t often happen. Also, Trinidad is so small you better be up front since bad news travels fast. For the record, I had only one technical accident, which translated into a refund, over my 10 years of operation. I challenge other providers to match by less hits.