True Photography and Video Videographer Guidelines

Welcome to True Photography and Video Wedding Films!  We’re excited to have you working with our team.   Whether you are new to filming weddings or an experienced professional, please take the time to read these guidelines all the way through to the bottom.  We update these from time to time so keep the link for reference down the road.

The Basics

Bookings:  By now you should already be set up in our system to receive booking offers via your True Photography and Video gmail address.  Once you've accepted a job, you are expected to fulfill the responsibility of filming that event.

If you will be unable to shoot on a day that you are assigned, please contact [email protected] at least 30 days prior so he can find a replacement for you.

After you've accepted the gig, your Google calendar will automatically be updated with the wedding details (Bride and Groom Names, Wedding Date, and Venue Location)  We will email you the timeline of events for your shoot.

How to dress:  We ask that you blend in with the guests and wear something you would wear to a friends wedding.  Dress to impress.  Don’t be too casual (No jeans, No shorts, No t-shirts).  We don’t require or ask that you wear all black, it's not part of our style since there are usually no other guests wearing all black.  A collared shirt and slacks are perfect.

At the Wedding:  Always arrive at the event / wedding at least 30 minutes early.  This gives you time to park your car, sync your cameras, double check batteries and camera cards, take a breath, etc.  Expect the unexpected. Your car will break down, there will be traffic, you can’t find the venue, etc… plan for those things.  We pay lead filmmaker's an additional $50 to show up early and fly the drone.

Our philosophy is, “If you’re right on time, you’re late.”

  • You will receive a timeline of events for your gig prior to the day of the shoot.  Please study this timeline in detail and remember names of important wedding party members, locations and times of specific events, etc.
  • We bill our clients by the hour, so you are technically "On the clock" from the moment you begin filming to the moment you are finished filming.  You are expected to begin filming at the start of the timeline.  You may not be paid if you begin filming earlier than the timeline indicates, unless it's approved by the client at the shoot.  If you are asked to stay longer than initially requested, please tell the clients you are happy to do so and they will be billed according to the rate on their contract.  Tell them as a videographer you are only hired to film their event and have no information about their contract or rates.  You must get approval from the client for any overtime at the day of the event.  Be sure to tell True Photography and Video about your overtime in your invoice and you will be compensated at your usual rate.
  • Keep your phone with you and place it on vibrate in case the clients or assistants need to call you.  Please don’t use your cell phone in front of clients.  Step out of sight to check it if absolutely necessary.  It can give the wrong impression when clients see you standing around with your phone out.  It looks like you have somewhere else to be or something more important to do.   If you are on a break, please use your phone in a private area where no one can see you.

Best Practices

These tips help our team stay consistent through the entire wedding season.  Please follow these procedures for every shoot.

  • Format your camera cards before the start of the event.  Anticipate using more than 1 card per camera.
  • Please don't wait until your camera card is full to change it. Make a habit of changing your card between the ceremony and reception if needed.
  • Make sure your camera has the correct date and time stamp, and is in sync with the your other cameras (As well as the assistant's camera)  Please remind them if needed.
  • Please record in the highest quality your camera allows for.  We typically film all b-roll at a minimum of 1080 60fps.  4k 60fps is preferred.  You can film the ceremony and toasts at 24fps, but all other clips should be filmed at 60fps.
  • Follow the 180 degree shutter rule.  That means your shutter speed should be twice what your recording frame rate is.  So if you're filming at 24fps, set your shutter to 1/50th.  60fps, shutter at 1/125th  Obviously this is not exactly double, but it is as close as most Mirrorless cameras will allow.  NEVER allow your shutter speed to fall below your recording frame rate.  (Example:  60fps at 1/50th shutter)
  • Film the ceremony and toasts in 24fps.  Ideally in 4k.  Do not cut - film the entire ceremony in one continuous clip (If possible.)  This makes it much easier to sync and create multi-cam edits in post production.  Some cameras are limited to 29 minutes, so be sure to restart recording before time runs out - just try to film the ceremony and toasts in as few clips as possible.
  • Lead filmmakers must use 2 cameras to record the ceremony and toasts.  See Camera Setups below for more on this.
  • Do not delete any clips during or after the shoot, even test shots.  We will edit the clips during our post-production process.
  • ALWAYS place your own lavalier microphones on the groom AND on the officiant.  When a sound system is present, please also plug an external recorder in to capture that clean audio feed.  We always need a minimum of 3 sources of sound recording and we never want to rely on the sound from the camera.  Refer to the preferred equipment list below.

Lead Filmmakers / 2nd Filmmakers

The lead filmmaker is at the wedding to provide full coverage of the wedding couple.  That means they will be alongside the bride, groom or both for the whole day.  Solo lead filmmakers should stay with the bride when the bride and groom can't be filmed at the same time.  For example, when the bride and groom are getting ready at the same time in different locations, film the bride and catch up with the groom later on.  Solo lead filmmakers are expected to run 2 cameras during the ceremony and toasts at every wedding.  For further explanation, see the Camera Setups section below.  Solo lead filmmakers are responsible for covering footage of the bride and groom as well as details, aerial and venue footage.

The 2nd filmmaker's priority at the wedding is to cover the overall event from a different angle than the lead filmmaker, as well as the event details (table settings, cake, flowers, etc).

  • Whether you are a lead or a 2nd filmmaker, we are not looking to have you be hidden. You are part of the experience!  Maintain a happy energy and interact with the guests.  Always be looking for something to film and don’t film the same thing as the other filmmaker unless you're getting a complimentary angle you both agree will help better tell the story.
  • Introduce yourself!  Always introduce yourself to the parents (especially mom), bride and groom, bridal party, etc.  This needs to be done the moment you see them.  It’s all about first impressions. You can set the tone for the entire day. You need to make sure they know that you understand how important this day is.  Remember, this day is the biggest day of the parents’ lives also.
  • There are always 10 guests watching you. Don’t ever let them see you on your phone, eating, drinking, goofing off.  Sounds silly, but guests have been known to make up stories about vendors!

Camera Setups

We have worked hard to develop a style that is modern and clean, so it will be enjoyable to watch for years to come.  Our filmmakers use gimbals to add camera movement to their footage.  Gimbals are great tools, but we also need good, clean basic shots where the camera is locked down on a monopod or tripod.  Follow the tips below to capture dynamic, beautiful footage that will give our editors flexibility when they create the final video.

Shoot with zoom lenses and switch up the focal lengths often.  The majority of our work is shot on a 24-70mm f2.8 lens and we switch the focal lengths constantly.  Ultra-wide and telephoto zooms have their benefits, too - but you can get away with the 24-70 for most of the day.

Use the gimbal properly.  Not every shot requires camera movement.  First, hold the camera steady and capture the shot without any movement.  Then get another clip with movement.  Make sure you move decisively, from one point to another, then hold.  We do not need shots that "bounce" back and forth or forwards and backwards.

Ceremony:  We always use at least 2 cameras when filming ceremonies (with the exception of elopements)  If we have 2 filmmakers, we'll film with 3 cameras for the ceremony.  Solo filmmakers should have their A Camera on a gimbal in their hands and their B Camera on a tripod.  2nd filmmakers should focus on getting crowd reactions during the ceremony - the lead filmmaker will have the bride and groom covered.

Ceremony Cam A:  Stay on the gimbal with your A Camera on a 24-70mm lens for the entire ceremony.  Make sure you have the tripod legs fixed to the bottom of your gimbal so you can set it down.  Stand at the arch before the ceremony starts.  Record the officiant and groom walking down the aisle from the front with little or no camera movement.  Be sure to record wedding party members coming down the aisle, too.  Crouch low for small flower girls or ring bearers - get on their level.  Stand back up before the bride's music comes on and record everyone standing up for her.  Slowly swivel around to get the groom's face as he sees his bride walking down the aisle.  Then swing back to record her walking down the aisle.  No need to zoom, just record her walk early enough to get her full body in the frame.  (Brides want to see their dress in action)  As she gets closer to the groom, swing yourself out so you can get the bride, her father and the groom in one shot.  We always want to capture the hand off.  After the bride is given to the groom and they settle in by the arch for the ceremony, slowly walk backwards out from in front of everyone and out to to the back of the ceremony.  Set your gimbal down on the ground at the very back of the aisle and zooom in so you can get the bride, groom and officiant in the shot.  Then go check your B camera on the tripod to make sure it has a good shot.

Ceremony Cam B:  Put your B Camera on a tripod with a 35mm or 55mm lens on it.  Place that camera behind the gallery, on the opposite side of the arch (in the back).  Set that lens's focus so that the couple is sharp and make sure to record at f5.6 or smaller.  Record in 24fps at 4k resolution if possible.

Toasts:  It's important to try and get the bride, groom and the person giving the toast in one shot.  Ask the DJ to facilitate this by handing the microphone to the toast giver only after they've stood next to the couple.  Setup your B Camera on a tripod and use it to capture all three of them in a full-body shot in 24fps at 4k resolution.  Stand by the tripod to monitor that shot and use your A Camera to grab shots of the crowd clapping and laughing at the toasts.  These reaction shots are super important - do not skip this step!  The bride and groom like to see people having fun at their party.

General Tips:

  • Framing - This should be obvious, but we don’t need / want electrical cords, luggage, trash or random people in our shots.  Please take the time to clean up the scene, move your camera, etc. to avoid these things.
  • Flash -  Avoid capturing flash in your shot.  It cheapens the look of the film and we try to avoid it in our final edit altogether.  The only time you should be forced to capture flash is during formalities like the ceremony or toasts / cake / bouquet toss, etc.  Otherwise, try to avoid it or reshoot “moments” to replace the flashed versions
  • Still shots -  If the clients are still (i.e. smiling at the photographer for portraits) then be sure to move your camera.  Either zoom in, use a gimbal, or pan slowly across their faces.  Video is about movement - no one needs static video of still photos.
  • Slow-mo -  We shoot everything at 60fps.  Just because you’re shooting in “slow-mo” doesn’t mean you can move very quickly and it will look good later.  Keep in mind your movements should remain slow and intentionally cinematic.
  • B-Roll -  Always look for interesting elements to help tell the story of the day.  Set the scene with a few tight shots of details like flowers and trees before getting a wide angle pan of the overall area.
  • Genuine Emotion -  A lot of people are uncomfortable in front of the camera.  If you see the bride or groom going “stale” - shake ‘em up a bit!  A few genuine laughs will go a long way in the highlight film.  People want to show that they were having fun!
  • White Balance - Proper white balance is critical.  Do not use Auto White Balance.  The best choice is to manually set your white balance using the Kelvin settings.  If you're not familiar with Kelvin settings, select a pre-programmed white balance setting that's appropriate for the scene.  (Example, Sunny, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, etc.)
  • Expose for the highlights -  While we don’t have RAW editing capability, it is still better to preserve the highlights than to overexpose for the subject.  During the daytime, you should expose for the bride’s dress.  At High ISOs, the opposite is true - try to overexpose by about 1/3 stop when you are at ISO 2000 or higher.
  • Shutter speed -  The general rule for video shutter speed is to double your FPS.  For example, if you’re filming at 60fps, your shutter should be at 120.  Stop the aperture down or use an ND filter to get shallow depth of field in bright sunlight.  *You may have to use a slower or faster shutter speed when shooting indoors under artificial lighting to avoid flicker.  Never set your shutter BELOW your frame rate.  At its slowest, your shutter speed should match the frame rate.
  • Movement -  Hold your shots!  Plan your shots and keep them simple.  If a subject is coming towards you, let them fill the frame and walk out of the frame.  Don’t worry about trying to zoom out or twist around awkwardly to keep with them.  We’ll just cut to the next shot in the edit.
  • Rack-Focus -  The best part about DSLR video is the lenses!  Don’t be afraid to utilize shallow depth of field to rack focus between subjects.  Just be sure to expose correctly.  You may need ND filters in bright sunlight.
  • Dancing -  Try to get a mix of full-body and tight shots on people’s faces.  Speaking of faces, get out on the dance floor!  We want to see people’s expressions, not just their backs.

Sound

Sound is actually more important than video.  Bad sound will make even the prettiest footage unusable.  Here is some advice to capture amazing sound at every wedding:

Make sure all of your cameras are set to record audio.  Set them to auto-level.  We will never rely on this audio for professional production, but we do need the scratch audio for synching in post.

Ceremony Sound:  Place lavalier mics on both the groom and the officiant for the ceremony.  Make sure their microphones are about 10 inches away from their mouths.  Ask them to give you some test audio in their natural speaking voices.  Monitor the recording levels on the mics and set it so the levels never peak above -6db.  Preferably, use a lavalier mic that records locally to itself and records a backup track with at least -10db difference from the level you set.

For ceremonies that have a sound system, use an external recorder like a Zoom H4n to plug in to the soundboard or speaker for a clean audio feed.  Ask the officiant to speak into the microphone to get a level reading on your recorder.  Make sure nothing peaks above -6db.

Toasts Sound:  For toasts, plug your external recorder into the DJ's sound system, have him speak into the microphone and make sure levels never peak above -6db.  If there is no sound system, use a lavalier mic for each person speaking.  Place your other lavalier mic out of sight on the head table in front of the bride and groom to record their reactions to the toasts.  You can also use your external recorder for this if it's not already plugged into the sound system.

Uploading your footage:  We use Dropbox, so that is the preferred method.  We can also accept footage via Google Drive or We Transfer.  Here is the process after you've filmed the wedding.

  • Create a folder on your home computer titled (Date) (Bride First Name) + (Groom First Name)Wedding
  • Create subfolders labeled Footage and Sound
  • Create subfolders inside those folders labeled Cam A, Cam B for Footage and Lav and Line-in for Sound
  • Upload all of your footage and sound into the appropriate folders
  • Upload the master folder to Dropbox
  • Once it's completely uploaded to Dropbox, share the folder with [email protected]
  • When you share, type the overall number of files and total file size in the comments section. (i.e. 197 files, 265 gb)
  • After you click share the first time, click share again and make [email protected] the owner of the folder.
  • Do not reuse those camera cards until we have confirmed all the footage has been received.

Payment:  True Photography and Video pays contractors via direct deposit through Quickbooks online.  In order to be paid in a timely manner after your event, you will need to send us invoices for the work you perform for us.  You can send your invoice at the same time you send the Dropbox link to the footage you've captured.  Please include the following information on each invoice:

  • Your name
  • Date of event
  • Bride-Groom/Event Name
  • Number of hours worked
  • Total amount to be paid