How important is it to be provided with all the RAW footage with my wedding video?

How important is it to be provided with all the RAW footage with my wedding video?
This is an important question that brides face when trying to choose someone for wedding videography. There are some wedding videographers that will provide all your RAW, unedited footage to you on the DVD, while many others would not.

There are two main schools of thought on whether you should be given unedited footage or not. They stem mainly from the wedding videographer themself, and the style that they like to film.

A wedding videographer filming ‘documentary’ style may provide you with all their unedited footage. Their style of filming is based on filming everything from Point A in time to the end, Point B. They may not do much editing for your video and instead choose to provide you with the many hours of footage as their final product.

The videographer who films cinematic style wedding films (‘wedding cinematography’) may choose not to give you the unedited RAW footage. They opt to take a creative, story-telling approach when filming your wedding day. The main goal is to produce a fully-edited, short film that will show off your wedding day to the viewer and evoke powerful emotions such as joy and happiness. Much like a Hollywood producer filming a drama movie, in wedding cinematography there are certain details throughout the day that are captured onto film to help tell your story and to build up the ‘plot’.

Wedding Cinematography
In cinematic wedding videography, the little moments are thoughtfully filmed with an intent to be edited at certain points in your wedding video to tell the story to the viewer. These moments may include scenes such as all the workers diligently setting up your reception hall, or a close up scene of the groom nervously tapping his feet while he awaits his bride, or your mother taking a second to adjust your veil before you walk the aisle.

Without any editing, these scenes, which could be up to over 10 hours of ‘unedited’ footage, would just appear to be an assortment of random events that carry very little meaning. If you were to see the unedited footage without seeing the final, edited wedding video, you may even be disappointed and think you wasted your money on a wedding videographer that spent so much time on seemingly unimportant footage!

But the beauty truly lies after the editing process, when the collection of the scenes are interwoven with each other to become your final wedding video. The wedding cinematographer often will spend up to 40 hours carefully choosing the scenes and fitting them, like pieces of a puzzle, into your wedding video.   In the end, the assortment of footage becomes connected to tell a beautiful story — one that you would watch not just once, but over and over — much like your favorite movie.

‘Actual’ vs ‘Perceived’ Value
There are a few questions you should ask yourself when you are trying to pick out wedding videography and if you really need the RAW, unedited footage. They pertain mostly to ‘actual’ and ‘perceived’ value and which is more important to you.

If you favor the ‘documentary’ style of wedding videography, and absolutely need 10 hours of continuous, unedited video of your wedding day, then you should ask for the RAW footage so you can maximize the ‘perceived’ value of your investment — the perception here that the value is getting the most number of bottom-line  hours of footage you end up with.

If the thought of sitting through and watching 10 hours of your wedding video, more than just on one occasion, makes you cringe, then you may not need the RAW footage and opt to hire a wedding cinematographer.  This is where you would favor the ‘actual” value. You’ll end up with less hours of wedding video footage but the final wedding video, whether 5 minutes, or 25 minutes long, of edited footage may show off your wedding day in a much more polished, creative, emotion-provoking, and beautiful way than the 10 hours of unedited footage.

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Food for thought: After the wedding is done, who does the footage belong to? The cinematographer, who owns the camera, card, equipment; operates it to capture the footage; and edits to complete a final creative piece? Or the client, who pays for it? (Is the client paying for ownership of the footage, or just the service the wedding videographer provides?)



James Lee

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