Story driven Filmmakers based in Nashville, TN| Eugene + Heather »

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About 4 years ago we created our own Client Videos & began sending them out to our leads. They explained who we were, how much our packages were, & showed a bit of our personality. Well, photographers quickly caught on & we started receiving so many emails from them asking if they could hire us to create some for them; & a few even asked if we could send them our videos because they wanted to study & create their own. What a great idea! Well, after 4 years, photographers are still asking for tips to help them create their own videos for clients so we want to dedicate this post (& more in-depth future posts) to teach you photographers how to do this.

video tips for photographers filmmaking

We know that shooting your own videos can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. If you are a photographer then you probably have a camera that can record video; & we know that you’re just itching to shoot some videos for your clients or blog, but you just aren’t sure how to get started. A lot of photographers think that they have to invest thousands of dollars in video equipment to get started -but it’s much easier than that! The first thing to do is make sure you actually turn your video function on & the second is to watch this video…


So now that you know these 5 easy tips for shooting your own video, go out & shoot -sometimes the best way to learn is to do. Creating a customized video for your blog or clients can totally impress them & possibly make you more money.
If this post has inspired you to go out & shoot your own videos, then please share them with us. We’d love to see what you can do; & if you’re wanting more in-depth tips & tricks for shooting your own videos, then subscribe to our newsletter below & keep an eye out for our future posts! Can’t wait to see what you do!

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We’re excited & ready to edit a wedding film & as we start editing an important moment, all of a sudden both of our cameras started moving at the same time leaving us no shot to use for the edit. After this happened several times, we decided to have a dedicated person to shoot just the content while the other person would be free to capture creative shots. This way we knew that at least one of us would always have a shot. Below are a couple shots where we did this while a bride was reading a letter from her groom…

Nashville Wedding Videography Filmmaking Tips & Tricks

– CONTENT SHOOTER -

Nashville Wedding Videography Filmmaking Tips & Tricks

– CREATIVE SHOOTER -

The Content Shooter had a constant shot (& audio) of Christina reading her letter while the Creative Shooter was moving about capturing the artsy shots of her & her environment. Which means when we brought our clips into the edit, we were able to edit the entire moment without having to cut it short because we didn’t have a shot. We can’t tell you how many times this has saved our butt!

Our System

So now when we’re going into a shoot, we choose who’s going to be the Content Shooter for the day & we stick with it! We never trade shooting roles throughout a day because that could leave us confused trying to remember if we’re suppose to be the Content or Creative Shooter for that moment.

We realize that we have an advantage because there are two of us. Some of you may be the only shooter &, in this case, may consider hiring a second shooter to try this out & free up yourself for more creative shots. We’re happy to have found a balance in shooting roles &, in the end, have the footage we want to tell our stories better!

Do you have any type of systems when capturing important moments?

David Hepburn

This is an interesting approach to shooting, especially weddings, that I hadn’t considered before. Nice!

It’s no secret that the majority of us wedding filmmakers will often check out other wedding films to compare ourselves to; & we’ve learned that this can be quite dangerous! Not only because we will find ourselves getting stuck in a trendy style, but also because we lose sight of what is most important to a film -the story! For years we wondered why our films just didn’t measure up to some other wedding films we had seen. We had all the pretty shots, pretty people, sweet locations, & great soundtracks. So what were our wedding films lacking? Story!

The only way we could showcase the story of a couple is by editing it that way. There are two types of editors:

Type 1:

Editors who choose the song first, drag it onto the timeline, then start bringing in clips based on how the song moves.

Type 2:

Editors who edit a story first, then choose a soundtrack & bring it onto the timeline…. which are you?

(At some point, we have fallen under both of these categories.)

nashville wedding videography

Pretty shots, Pretty people, Sweet locations, & a Great soundtrack

These are all important to a film but they aren’t everything. We’ve shot weddings all over & we know that just because we’re filming a wedding in Maui doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make a better film than one here in Nashville (where we are). Locations & people are important too but what’s more important is who the people are, what their story is, & why they are in a certain location. That’s the basics of building a good story.

The first type of editor is the person who shoots everything, finds the soundtrack, then begins editing to that soundtrack. Soundtracks are important & can really have an effect on how your film feels. We did this for years. We found ourselves searching for a soundtrack for hours, then when we finally one, we would start editing to it & sometimes half way through it we just couldn’t make the edit work. Then it was back to spending hours trying to find another soundtrack.

When you watch a movie, you most likely don’t pay attention to the soundtrack as much as you do the story. The writers script out the story first, the movie is shot, & then they bring in composers like Hans Zimmer (our fave!) to write the score. We’ve taken a tip from Hollywood which is why we also build stories this way.  They don’t write the score first, then decide to throw in an explosion because there is a crescendo at that point in the soundtrack.

I don’t know about you, but we can’t afford to bring in Hans Zimmer every time we’re needing a soundtrack so we turn to places like Marmoset Music where we can license music for our films. Their site makes it so easy to search for music. You can search by genre, instruments, length, & even see where the high/low points of a song are (this is amazing if you already have your story built.) Recently, they sent us a little goody package full of great music samples!

Marmoset Music Package License Music For Films

Build the story, then bring in the soundtrack

The second type of editor is the person who edits the story first, then brings in the soundtrack. (This is what we do.)  Of course, you can’t build a story without having shot that story well. If you’ve read our post 10 Easy Ways We Prepare For A Wedding, then you know that we put a lot of time into pre-production so we know how to film the story well. We find the story of our couple, film it well, edit their story, then bring in an amazing soundtrack that will highlight the story instead of distracting us from it.

This is easier than it seems; & once we started editing this way, it just made more sense! The story was clear & the soundtrack was just a highlight to the film. If you’ve never edited a film this way then we encourage you to at least try it. You may be surprised at how well your film turns out! (;

 

Megan Kennedy

Respectfully, I think this is a pretty polarizing oversimplification. A big part of editing is cadence and building energy, and by knowing what you are looking for in music and gathering a pool of options before you begin an edit is a good way to get the best of both worlds: Letting the story and the music that helps drive it work together. Neither should drag the other along, rather they should dance in tandem.

Khaled Mosli

Thanks for sharing such great insights! Definitely the second type!

Mini DV tapes! Do you remember those? If you do then you remember how long and tiring capturing and organizing wedding footage used to be. Thanks to technology, managing media has become much easier and way more efficient. There are so many ways out there to manage media and we want to share these 4 essential steps we take to manage our media efficiently before we even start to edit.

1. Before The Cameras Roll.

Sync your gear - This can be super tedious and annoying to do before every shoot, but you should just do it. It’s such a time saver later on. (We’re going to write this post as if you already know how to do those things.)

  • If we’re shooting with multiple cameras, we make sure they are in sync. That means checking frame rates, picture profiles, dates, and times.
  • You want to also be sure your audio field recorders are all in sync if you’re using multiple units.

CF/SD/SSD Cards

  • We label our cards so we can always track down who shot on what card. This comes in handy when we have a dedicated person dumping cards when we need fast turn around times on an edit.
  • We format our cards before every shoot. We hate when we forget to do this and halfway through the shoot we realize that we still have footage from another shoot on the card.
  • When we’re headed off to a shoot, we make sure that all of the free cards that have been formatted and are ready for the shoot are facing with our labels down.
    • Labels facing down means the card is free and ready to use
    • Labels facing up means that the card has footage on it and needs to be dumped

SanDisk Filmmaking Tips & Tricks

[In the image above, both cards are free and ready to be used.]

 

SanDisk Filmmaking Tips & Tricks

[In the image above, the card on the left is free and ready to use while the card on the right has footage on it that still needs to be dumped to a hard drive.]

 

2. Develop a consistent file structure for you and your team

(If you have yet to develop a consistent file structure, we’ll give you free access to ours at the end of this post.)

Over time we figured out that we needed to come up with a consistent file structure. If we ever needed to go back a few months/years to find certain footage we wanted to be sure we’d know exactly where to find the footage. Another advantage to having a consistent file structure is that if one of us edits a wedding film and later on the other needed to go in and fix something really quickly, finding things would be the exact same no matter what the project was.

File Structure

Whatever the project is (a wedding, a promotional film for a photographer, or even just a photo shoot) we have a project folder that will contain everything that has to do with that particular project. For instance, (with Walt + Liz’s wedding film) all of the footage, audio, still photos, xml files -basically everything that has to do with their film- would be in a project folder. Every project we do has its own folder with a custom name. We’ve found that naming the folder with the date followed by the project title is the best way for us to keep our media and projects organized.

The Project Folder 

For Walt + Liz’s wedding, the project folder is named like this…

month_day_year_groom_bride

 06_17_14_Walt_Liz

Project folder Filmmaking Tips & Tricks

 

 

 

 

Inside The Project Folder

Inside a project folder, we keep anything and everything that has to do with that particular project. We have these folders set up ahead of time so that when we finish a shoot we can just dump cards where they need to go without messing with creating folders. We’ll hook you up with your own copy of our Wedding Preset Folders at the end of this post. 

Here is a look into our File Structure

File Structure Preset Folders

 

3. Dumping Cards

Card readers can save so much time. - Just go ahead and buy this card reader now. We can’t say enough great things about it.

 

Now that you’ve just captured the most amazing wedding footage, lets get it all dumped and backed up.

  • We open our wedding preset folders and give our project folder the appropriate name.
  • Since we have all of our cards labeled, its now all a matter of dumping them in the correct folders. Having the folders already created saves so much time. Especially if you’re like us and want to get footage dumped and backed up as soon as possible. We typically dump our cards and back up drives right after we finish a shoot.

 

4. Don’t Move Until You’ve Backed Up The Project!!!

Once your cards are done transferring to your hard drive, Pleaaaaase don’t do anything else until you’ve backed everything up!! What would happen if your drive were to fail, or your house caught fire, or maybe you were robbed? What would you do?

We back up every single project onto a drive that we keep in a fireproof safe. If for some reason the safe didn’t do its job or we were robbed, we also have a drive off site with all of our backups on it. We know this part of media management is no fun and time consuming, but it could actually save your butt in the long run!

Don’t have your own file structure yet? Why not use ours?

Do You Want A Free Copy Of Our Wedding Folders Preset?

We will be sending our Wedding Folders Preset to everyone who is signed up to our newsletter. All new signups will also receive a free copy of our questionnaire ebook! Don't miss out!! :)

  • “Wait Wait! Can you read that card one more time over here? Your bridesmaids were making too much noise.”

 

NEVER HAVE TO SAY PHRASES LIKE THIS AGAIN!

When it comes time to capture a wedding, we’ve taken THESE 10 BASIC STEPS TO PREPARE OURSELVES. Our cameras are charged, the team has a plan, and we’re ready to roll. Instead of running into our location with cameras blazing (whether that’s on the wedding day or at one of the fun wedding week events), we actually walk into our location with no gear at all.

Let’s just say, for the sake of this post, that we’re only talking about shooting wedding day events. We think a lot of wedding filmmakers forget that most wedding couples have never been in front of a video camera and have no idea how they should “act”. Sometimes showing up with cameras blazing can cause people to clam up immediately. This is why we’re very intentional with how we set the atmosphere when we first show up.

LET’S BREAK THE ICE.

We walk in and hang out with the wedding party for a minute, just making small talk. During our little hang time, we’re also checking out the location if we weren’t able to do that during pre-production for the wedding. This is when, in the back of our heads, we figure out the white balance we’re going to be at, where the best shooting zones will be, and we’re listening for any audio obstacles we may have.

BE INTENTIONAL!!

In every big budget hollywood film there’s an army of people intentionally figuring out every single frame that will be shot. Why can’t we approach weddings the same way? Okay well maybe not with an army of people. There probably isn’t the big hollywood budget and there are no second takes. What you can do for sure is be intentional.

CAN YOU IMPROVE THE LOOK OF YOUR LOCATION?

We try to always find ways to make a location look better than it already does. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving a few cups off of a table. Sometimes it involves a little more work. If you walk into a bridal suite at a venue (who does weddings regularly) and you see wedding photos hanging all over the walls, why not take that junk down?? We do! We aint Scuuuured. :) Do we really want other random wedding photos in the background of the story we’re trying to tell? This is when location scouting comes in handy. We knew this bridal suite had a lot of photos covering every single wall. It was actually weird how many photos were in this little room. Knowing this issue ahead of time helped us plan for shooting there. We just chatted with the venue owners and arranged to get there a little earlier than the bridal party so we could take down photos and hide them behind the big red couch.

MAKE THINGS HAPPEN WHERE YOU WANT THEM TO HAPPEN.

How do we do this without being “those people”?  You know the people I’m talking about. “Wait Wait! Can you read that card one more time over here? Your bridesmaids were making too much noise.”

In Nashville we have a Starbucks where we like to hang out. Every now and then the Starbucks team will re-arrange the tables and stools; & most people will walk in and sit exactly where they have the tables set up with no questions asked. The same thing happens when you rearrange your furniture so everyone who visits your home can see your new 65″ 4K TV. Even if you have guests who visit your home all the time, when you rearrange the furniture they’ll sit where ever you have it set up. We use this same concept when it comes to weddings. We’re very intentional! Do you want the bride to get her makeup done by a big window with pretty soft light coming through? Find a stool for the bride to sit on, a table for the makeup artist, and make sure there’s power in that location. Instead of having to ask the makeup artist to move closer to the window and away from that bright ugly orange light, the makeup artist will more than likely choose that spot on her own. Do you want the groom to open his gift in a different room away from his groomsmen? Move his gift in the other room. He obviously can’t open a gift that isn’t in the room.

Now lets take a look at this diagram. That wedding venue we mentioned with the photos alllllllll over the wall… this is how it was laid out when we walked in before the bride and her bridesmaids.

wedding filmmaker tips and tricks

During our pre-production, we found out that the couple would be writing each other letters on the morning of the wedding. We also found out that both the bride and groom were pretty emotional. After talking to a few of their friends we just knew that the bride was going to cry at some point in the day. As filmmakers, capturing great emotional moments can be gold if captured right. When shooting our couple, the last thing we wanted to deal with was issues that would be distracting and take the viewers out of the story. If there was something we could control to make these moments better, we wanted to do it.

Setting Up For the Letter

We definitely wanted the bride to write her letter to her groom on the red couch. It was quiet. The light was great, and there was enough room for our team and the two photographers. We wanted the couch to be where the bride would want to write her letter. So here are a few things we did to try to intentionally make that happen.

  • First, we wanted to get rid of the mixed light in the room. So we turned the lights off and only used the daylight coming through the window (also, in order for the bride to write her letter, she’d need to be over in the light so she could see.)
  • Instead of our bride being back lit by the window directly behind her or exposing for her face and blowing out the background, we just moved the couch so we could use the window light as our main light source.
  • We had our spot picked out so we started looking around at what may be distracting in our shots
    • There was an ugly rack in the room that was obviously put there by the venue so the girls could hang all of their dresses on it. - We simply moved it into the little kitchen area so it was out of the way but accessible to the girls.
    • The bride ended up hanging her dress and a few bags on a hook right behind where we now had the couch set up. Boom! Now we had a little unexpected texture in the background (and it wasn’t a random wedding photo).

When we used to just jump into a wedding without any idea of what we wanted to capture we would just shoot anything and everything. Shooting weddings that way left no time for us to be able to move furniture or have time to deal with distractions. Instead of run and gun, it was run and pray that we’re shooting the right things.

Here’s a look at the diagram after we made the changes to the room.

wedding filmmaker tips and tricks

Once the bride was ready to write her letter, she had the option of sitting in a fold up chair that was against the wall next to all of her bridesmaids, or she could sit on the couch on the other side of the room.  It wasn’t by chance that the bride sat on the couch. We were very intentional about the way we wanted to capture the bride writing her letter.

We really want to encourage wedding filmmakers who follow us to be way more intentional in how you approach weddings. Being intentional has helped us create much better wedding films; and in turn, we’ve created raving fans out of our clients. Clients who can do nothing but rave about us help spread the word about what we do, and keep us in business.

In the next few blog posts we’re going to be sharing more about how we approach wedding filmmaking and more things we do behind the scenes.

We will also be sharing exclusively with our newsletter subscribers  how we’re very intentional when it comes to working with photographers and tips on how to avoid issues that many filmmakers run up against when working with them. Make sure you’re signed up because it’s good stuff!

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David Hepburn

This post is AWESOME. Absolutely agree with everything you wrote! :-D

Cedarwood Weddings

You guys are so with it :)