Question about wedding videography

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    • #49099

      Hey everyone! I’m new to the forums, but i’ve been a subscriber of Videomaker magazine since 04′. Love it!

      I just recently got into wedding videography and shot my first wedding last weekend. I offerend to shoot the wedding pro-bono in exchange for gas money,gratuityandreferrals. Everything went well with the wedding shoot and I updated the couple that an edited copy of the video will be given to them within 4-8 weeks. They’re very excited for the video but they asked, in addition to the edited copy, for the original raw footage. I’m not sure how to handle this situation. Correct me if i’m wrong, but I don’t think it would be fair to just hand over the footage for free. In our original chats before the wedding I never indicated, nor did they, that I would give them the raw footage. Im just not sure what to do in this type of situation, especially since the only thing I wascompensatedfor was gas.

      Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this?

      Thanks in advance!

    • #201175

      Always a tricky thing handing over RAW footage. Not sure if you’re like me in that I tend not to switch off recording sometimes when recomposing, so there’s always a few shots of the floor, ceiling etc. Plus the odd curse when you’ve tripped over your tripod. Personally I would explain that your agreement stipulated an edited version only and that you would have to charge for the RAW footage. Always seems to be the brides that pay nothing that demand the most, so you’ll have to handle it delicately. Perhaps let her come over and view some of it to see if it’s something worth paying extra for.

    • #201176

      Especially since you’re doing this pro bono, I would consider raw footage off limits. Explain to them taht wowuld be like their photographer giving them the negatives (assuming they know about photography in the pre-digital age). For those folks who have asked me for raw footage in the past, I have quoted prices that were VERY high and few have asked for it after learning of the price,

    • #201177

      It doesn’t seem to matter whether you going “pro bonner” or for a fee, there is always gonna be that client that thinks your wedding contract is a contest and they don’t win unless they figure out a way to get something more for nothing from you.

      You wouldn’t walk in to a restaurant and ask them to wrap up the rest of the raw cow your steak came from, nor would you go to the Butchers and ask them to slice of a piece of the side of beef, and grill it for you, cause you might want to buy a whole bunch if it tastes ok…. Welcome to the wonderful wedding show, where you are expected to spend tens of thousands of dollars on gear just so you can go work for nothing.

      Next Wedding you try to book, expect them to balk at your price, because there is always another guy out there willing to do it “Pro bonner”.


    • #201178

      I agree with the other posters. I have only given raw footage one time in 15 years. It was a friend of a friend. Other than that NO. I tend to cut up and talk about people with my 2nd shooter (brother) and yes we do talk about the 300 pound dancer in a mini skirt…I dont try but I know its on tape. sort of a watergate thing..anyway raw footage is like a painters tools…off limits..they see what they are meant to see.


    • #201179

      I agree with those above. The RAW Footage is yours and should be paid for.

      I think the key here is your contract. It always goes back to that. Just because you’re doing something probono, doesn’t mean you won’t need a good contract. The contract will/should stipulate exactly what your client is getting, and the terms of any subsequent unforeseen changes (such as renegotiating the cost of the raw footage).

      You haven’t mentioned having a contract. If you don’t have one, you have learned a lesson.

      Additionally, it’s one thing to film something for yourself or a friend (maybe) for free, and even though you are getting referrals for doing the work free, it DOESN”T PAY to work for free. Those referrals will end up negotiating the heck out of your price. Further, more often than not, your customer, especially the free one, won’t like what you’ve done even when you think your effort is admirable due to the circumstances. So, those referrals won’t be worth the effort.

      Customers have no concept of the free time you’ll be putting into making even a charged for wedding video. NO CLUE! Write a good contract and don’t do it for free.

      I may sound negative, and I do like this work, but be prepared, the reality is something very different from the event.

    • #201180

      Along the lines of what Harry (Weddingmaster) said, I have edited out more than one boob popping out or crotch shot and I’ve only done two weddings. I have removed these other “embarrassing” shots from the corporate video I have done too. And as Video4aday said, I don’t turn off the camera, just let it roll when repositioning, so as not to miss shots – got lots of floor, feet, sky that others don’t need or want to see.

    • #201181

      “I have edited out more than one boob popping out or crotch shot and I’ve only done two weddings.”

      I was going to say something similar earlier, but felt it may have crossed the lines and make me look bad. But it HAS HAPPENED! EIGHT bridesmaids in a hotel room wearing nothing but a short bath robe – and the photographer thought it would be a great idea to have them all get on the bed for a photo opp. Yeah… I caught almost every one getting set up for the shot – not because I was aiming for it, but because my camera was rolling and I had it sitting at my side waiting for the bridesmaids to get set up. Of course if they had requested the raw footage – there would still be some minor edits in that case.

    • #201182

      I have been shooting weddings for almost 15 years. My first 2 were “pro-bono”, however I still had a contract with the brides. My first one was really bad – not the right equipment etc. So I got new equipment for the second. My contract has changed little in this time. It explicitly states that “This studio (me) reserves the right to use the original tapes and/or reproductions for display; publication or other purposes, and that the original tapes remain the exclusive property of the studio”. I have never given out original, unedited tapes for a wedding. I did an interview for an outfit where we had a completely different contract, and they got the original tape. I made a copy for me, and charged them quite a bit for the original. Included in the contract was a statement that I couldn’t use the video for my own purpose without their approval.

    • #201183

      Of course, we now shoot on SD cards etc with no tapes – so nothing to give!

    • #201184

      Lizette, as others have stated, you should keep your raw footage for your own purposes. I don’t think that you mentioned what type of storage your camcorder has for the raw footage. This would give you part of your answer to the bride. If the camcorder records to internal hard drive/flashthen you would have to download to computer for editing and render and burn to DVD or Bluray. This leaves the raw footage on your computer and would have to be rendered and burned to DVD or Bluray and would take quite a bit of additional time for rendering and would probably take many, many DVDs, cases, lables, because the raw is way more than the finished foortage. If the footage is on a tape or external card, the same would be true unless the bride has a camcorder to use to download or watch. In addition to the extra time and materials involved, explain that you shoot almost continuously so as not to miss anything resulting in a lot of unusable and uninteresting footage, boring to watch and a waste of time to process(part of the reason for editing). All this would be a prelude to offering the raw footage rendered on DVDs for a fee of $500.00!(delivered a couple of months after the edited version is delivered).I’m guessing this will put an end to the request.

    • #201185

      Wow, thanks so much for all your responses everyone! It’s been really helpful!

      As far as a contract goes, since it was my first gig and I had only a few days notice before I was even chosen to shoot the wedding, I did not have the bride or groom sign a contract before my initial shoot – I didn’t even meet them until an hour before the wedding! I did however find one contract that I edited to fit the situation but, since the shoot is over now does it still make sense to have them sign the document before I give them the edited copy of the video? I was also not the only videographer there(surprisingly!), someone who seemed to be a family member equipped with a handycam, decided to get in my way a lot throughout the wedding – which I overcame several times by politely saying your blocking my shot!

      As far as the raw footage goes I will take your advice and not hand it over (or I’ll charge a high fee for it due to render and processing time). I recorded on SD cards so and there is about 80+GB worth of RAW data so that would take about 10+Dual Layer discs which don’t come cheap, not to mention the amount of time it will take my poor macbook pro to render and burn! And, I’m also the type of recorder who likes to leave the camera on record while rearranging the camera, having the handycam family member getting in the way, etc. so there is a lot of useless footage.

      When it all boils down to it, wether I get referrals from this client or not really isn’t a big factor for me because the thing I wanted most out of this first experience is to learn the do’s and don’ts, get experience and have one video to show in my portfolio for future gigs. And I think that I got exactly what I went in for. With that said though, I still want to provide great customer service and an awesome end product, so I will edit the video as planned and then speak with the bride/groom further about the raw footage deal. Hopefully it all goes well :-/

      Thanks again for all your help everyone! You guys rock!

    • #201186

      Part of your contract should state that you will only be hired if you
      are the sole videographer. You are also not responsible for family and
      friends getting in the way with their cameras. My last wedding I had
      the perfect shot for the first kiss at the end of a ceremony at the end
      of the isle, and guess what? Someone moved squarely into the middle of
      the isle at the same time with a PnS camera to get pictures! Bride and
      Groom were not too happy with the far away side shot, until I showed
      them my angle, how good it was, and what happened to destroy it. I
      could not move over because the photographer was next to me and would
      have resulted in destroying her shot.

      For RAW footage, I found a great deal through Microcenter. At the
      time you could get a fire proof, and water proof 160GB hard drive for
      $30. This was a great selling point and a few couples took me up on
      this option for $750 – I also had a separate contract for it explaining
      how not all the footage is very pleasing, and once the raw footage
      belongs to them they also have the rights to the rest of the video so
      they cannot come back after me and have me edit in something that I may
      have missed/omitted that they think should be in. I think $750 is worth
      giving up all rights. Not only that, there is no re-rendering involved, just transfer time. Good luck finding a lot of honest couples out
      there who will come back to you to burn extra copies of their discs.
      Most will quietly do it on their own anyway if needed.

    • #201187

      I shoot wedding videos in Tokyo since 2000.

      I keep my original wedding footage in AVCHD format in blu-ray discs for 2 reasons. One is for the chance that clients come back for HD re-editing when they upgrade their home AV system.Two is to be able to create my portfolio using my best possible video quality. I think the best advantage of AVCHD format is that it is the most compact to keep in your room for years to come.

      For the HD re-editing I believe I won’t need to really edit again. I just will need to read all the files stored in the blu-ray discs back on to my computer hard drive and compress them for blu-ray then. The key is not to change any file names of the project and remember what you did to create the first product.

      I was assuming you’re using a memory card camera and a PC editing system like Final Cut Pro.

      Good Luck.

    • #201188

      The problem with storing your archive footage on discs, is they do not last forever. Many of today’s BD-Rs have been known to go bad in only a year or two. Hard Drives are definitely not infallible either – but I always keep at least 2 copies. It is easier and faster to grab footage from a hard drive as well. I tell my couples that they are allowed a free BD re-copy after 2 years if the discs start to become non-functional as the technology is newer, and I still have not seen a BD manufacturer without a short life complaint. Hopefully in a couple years if they go bad the technology will be a bit better and it will become less of an issue. Even today’s DVD-Rs do not last forever.

    • #201189

      I now keep copies of the final mpg (or m2v for HD) & ac3 files on two separate hard drives plus 2 copies of the DVD/BD media. This comes from having lost a treasured video due to my son losing the dvd AND my hard drive going south (head crash – will cost about $8k to recover if possible – still have the drive in case I win Lotto).

    • #201190

      Lizette, there’s another approach to raw footage, one that’s entirely different from the comments above.

      As a video producer — not a wedding videographer — I primarily do two things: I shoot and I edit. Our business model addresses these two activities separately.

      I shoot an event, wedding, corporate project, etc., and get paid for my work at the conclusion of the shoot. At that point, the camera tapes belong to the client. If the client wants me to do so, I’ll edit what I’ve shot and receive payment for the editing. If not, the client can take the tapes and do with them what they will.

      It’s kind of like having a bag of groceries: you can buy the bag from me and cook up your own cake, or you can pay me for the groceries and let me take it home and create a culinary masterpiece for you.

      Twenty five years ago it took a professional to edit video. You had to be able to handle A/B roll on an analog tape-to-tape editor. Virtually everyone had their editing done by a professional. Today, however, people can go out and buy editing software for their computer for under $100 and convince themselves that their editing is as good as what a professional can provide. They can edit their own material and duplicate their own DVDs.Their cake may be edible, but it won’t be a Julia Childs!


    • #201191

      I also believe handling raw footage from a private event like a wedding should be handled differently than a commercial shoot. Sure there is a bunch of “ceilings and floors” but there is still plenty on raw footage that would be very valuable to a newlywed couple that may not make the final cut. That is not to say that you still should not have a second contract explaining what the raw footage may contain, and make sure the couple knows exactly what they are receiving – and a stipulation that they are will not be able to come back after you for missed footage on the edited copy.

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