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Wedding video editing HELP

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John Stapleton
Wedding video editing HELP
on Aug 26, 2008 at 4:42:58 pm

I have been a wedding photographer for 30 years. Recently my brother in law and his wife have gotten in to the event videography business. Mainly weddings. He purchased very good professional Sony cameras, MAc computer and for what he knows, the best editing software. They produce an excellent final production but they are miserable because it is taking them nearly 100 hour to edit a 6 hour, two camera, wedding and reception. I know they are making no money with that much time in post production.
In my business, going digital many many years ago, required a great learning curve to find an excellent work flow. But I finally got one and life has been very good since then.
First, how much time, as a very rough estimate, should it take to edit a wedding as described above?
Then, where can they turn to learn a functional workflow that will still give them the ability to turn out an excellent video but in a fraction of the current time they are taking in editing?
Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Wedding video editing HELP
on Aug 26, 2008 at 9:40:21 pm

We have to ask where all the time is being spent. Are they first loading all the tape from both cameras into the editing system in real-time, logging every shot as they go? For 6 hours on two cams, that's about two days work just loading footage, not making a single cut yet. You can work smarter instead of harder.

A faster way to go is to use a hard-drive attached to the camera by firewire, like the citidisk or Focus Firestore. What that gets you is, the drive connects to the editing system and you may use it like part of the editing systems's drives. That is, no digitizing, plug and play, get right to work. Alternately, you can transfer the files from the firestore or citidisk portable drive to the system's RAID array much faster than real-time, and this frees up the portable drives to go get more work done.

The clip-on camera drives have other things going for them: longer record times than tape can give you, the ability to time-lapse, the ability to run a continuous loop recording, which is handy for weddings. In such cases as the entrance to the church, tossing the boquet, the limo takeoff, etc. you don't have to guess when the event will happen, or grind away for minutes to make sure you're running when it DOES happen. The hard drive records in a five-minute loop, erasing after the fifth minute, but when the bride comes in, you hit the button and the erasing stops right there and it goes into forward record from that moment, meaning you always have a perfect shot of several seconds to a minute before the entrance. Makes you look psychic:-)

There is a different way to go, if you don't want to use the clip-on hard drives, and that would be to live-switch the two cameras to a recorder or hard drive, then dump only that finished mixed program into the editing system for any litle tweaks or enhancements like graphics. If you still roll tapes in the cameras, you have the insurance of iso backup recordings that can be inserted just where needed, without taking the time to digitize the entire ceremony yet again. Best of both worlds.

If you can't hard-wire the cameras and a switcher at the churches, you can do the next best thing and play two cameras out in snych thru a switcher AT HOME. Yes, LINEAR EDITING still has a place in 2008, this is a good example of where it has certain advantages. Do a "like live" linear edit, on the fly, into your NLE's input, then use the NLE to tweak and polish. A side benefit is, you need way less storage in the NLE this way, so you can up the quality and still have room for more projects.

Second, we have to look at how he is editing. Simple things like: is he editing in the format native to the camera tapes, or is he forcing the system to render everything to a different codec? Does the system have to pause and re-render everything on each change due to that choice?

Weddings generally are traditional linearly-told stories. So a fast but unglamorous way to cut is to just whip thru and delete all the dead spots and bad shots that don't advance the "story".

You have to balance this against the wishes of the client and your aesthetic and philosophical approach. By that I mean, do you feel the entire ceremony must be shown, (for some devout clients, this is a huge deal) or just the highlights? Some wedding editors try to please both audiences: they do a short highlight cut first, then supply a second DVD of just all the raw footage for people who are "completists".

If you do a fast first cut of the whole deal on your "A" camera, and just use the
B" camera to insert some cut-aways where the A shot didn't get the job done, there is no need to digitize ALL of the B camera footage. Think about this: by definition with a 2-camera shoot, you can not really use more than half of your "B" camera footage, otherwise, it's really the
"A" camera, right?. Why then capture all of "B" into the system, if you only need half? Here's how to find the right half. If both cameras were initially set to the same starting time code number, you can just fast-shuttle the "B" tape to the rough area of the "A" shot's time code, now just digitize enough of "B" from that section to get your cut-away,(add a couple seconds of "handles" to the captured shot to make transitions possible) line up the edit and keep moving along.

That technique is for more prosaic kinds of editing, more news-like. If you are going for lots of half-dissolve picture in picture effects, you're going to need to digitize more B-roll and do more rendering.

I have to wonder if he's using a non-linear system in a linear way. Beginners tend to do that. Heck, the first time I saw a NLE system I did that too! I was shuttling thru bin footage, marking in and out on a clip, dragging the clip onto the time line, then going to find the next clip.... like assembling boxcars for a train. A train that must have each boxcar in a certain order and filled with their cargo before more cars can be added. S...L...O...W...!

While we're telling a linear story that unreels in normal forward time, we don't have to wait until the very beginning shot is finished, just to move on work on another shot. We can hop around the project and work on any part, any sequence we want. We can save sequences in multiple versions and place copies of them anywhere we want, or add more layers of effects to them, whatever. Also, two people on two machines can work on different parts of a whole, simultaneously. That's the power of non-destructive, non-linear editing.

He normally should be lining up his two sets of tapes in two stacked and synched tracks, one above the other. Then, using a multicam effect plug-in on his editing system, he can play the sets in real time and just hit keys to make the cuts happen in real time as if live switching. All of those cuts can easily be undone or adjusted afterwards, but this is the very fastest way to blast thru the material and get the bulk of the cutting done on a first pass. He can razor thru the stack of tracks, and deleting the unwanted parts of the upper track reveals the desired shot "underneath".

The guys that do this wedding stuff for a living generally use a template approach to save re-doing much work. He should likely do the same, that means creating titles and graphics and music etc. that can be easily re-used by just changing the text layers.

Other time suckers include repair jobs: fixing bad exposure, color, or sound that wasn't right the first time. Wedding editors often take extra time grading anyway, to add glows, diffusions, highlights, all the "eye candy". But repairing bad color should not have to happen. Massaging the sound track wastes loads of time as well, so mic it right the first time and save time.

Also, all that color effecting and processing should be saved for just the shots that made the final cut. Why pre-process a bunch of footage that never gets used? So, cut first, then grading/shading/adding the render-intensive blurs and etc.

Those are the basics that first come to mind. If you can add more detail regarding specific troubles, the folks here can make more pointed suggestions.

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John Stapleton
Re: Wedding video editing HELP
on Aug 28, 2008 at 10:52:40 pm

Wow! Thank you so much for the detailed information. My sister in law told me she and her husband were up very late last night after reading the information planning to reorganize their post production work flow. I printed off the wonderful information you gave me and I am sure they will be contacting you again with more details about their work flow.
Thank you so much again. I have been a pro photographer for 30 years and visited many forums and have never had such detailed and helpful responses as I have have from you guys here at Creative Cow. Thanks again.

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David G. Merfeld
Re: Wedding video editing HELP
on Aug 27, 2008 at 12:31:36 pm

I Log only the service in all. Everything else I log the good cuts.
Photo Session Real Good shots, End result Short montage
Wedding Service all about 1 hour each camera
receiving line all 10-30 min

Reception log time

Intros 1-5 min to log in
Toasts all 3-30 min to log in I did have a father of the bride talk 25 minutes If you use two cams here double it
Wedding Dances bride/groom, mother and groom,....etc. 10-30 minutes
Dances we record 10-15 dances (we edit a 3 to 5 minute music montage we show great shots of the reception).
Interviews 5-20 minutes just depends how many you get? 10-20 is a good night.
I run credits I pull shots we don't use 1-5 hours just depends how creative.
Our total log time is 4-10 hours if we use tape. We have used the Firestore. HD is real time log time, DVCPRO 50 2/3 time, DVCPRO25/ DV 1/3 TIME

30-40 hours is our limit that includes DVD Authoring

Real easy was to match camera angles is use the audio to sync up everything. Once it is synced cut back and forth. It takes us 5-10 min to sync up cams.

I am a FCP 6.0 user G-5

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John Stapleton
Re: Wedding video editing HELP
on Aug 28, 2008 at 10:55:09 pm

Thank you so much for the great information. My sister in law and her husband are so excited to see there is a better way to get their weddings out!
Thanks again for your help.

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George Burbano
Re: Wedding video editing HELP
on Aug 28, 2008 at 3:31:47 am

Shooting weddings as additional source of income for the past 20yrs, I can tell you that the key is to keep everything simple and basic.

It starts with the actual taping. Camera edit what you pre conceive what you want your final product to be like. In other words, record what's important, and in short clips. Dont record everything. The more you record the more you will have to edit.

Record in the order of events. Dont use 2 cameras for everything. Typcially we use 2 cameras for the ceremony and the parts of the reception. Sync the cameras us with a simple sound clap prior to start shooting. If you cannot do so with timecode.. In FCP you can use aux TC to match clips up, in multi angle clips.

We end up with the following usually:

10 mins pre wedding recorded content
Ceremonies, 15mins unless the bride wants the whole ceremony. Otherwise we cut to the important stuff, with music, and switch to live audio of vows, and the important stuff.
5mins of overlays, such as clips of portraits, and some filming of the couple together, and with their bridal party

Some cocktail hr stuff, 3-5 mins
Introduction at the reception, dances, speeches, any traditional stuff such as tossing garters, and bouqets.. 15-20 mins..

Our Final DVD 50-70 mins. If you do more than that, guaranteed that nobody else will watch it, cause they will be bored after the first 30 mins.... No matter how good you shot it..

We have several templates that we use, with strong pre-conception and the righ pre-planning and shooting. Assuming your technical stuff is on the money, exposures, sound recording, color balancing..

6-9hrs on the wedding day
1-2 hrs prior to the wedding day
2-4 hrs editing,
1-2 hrs previewing, final touchups, music, titles, recaps
2-4 hrs compressing
1hr, burning, titling..

total work time: 22hrs.

The basics works all the time, it's like all the digital photographers out there, who now shoot 2000-3000 pictures on a wedding, then spend 2 days, going through all the pictures, tossing 50-60% anyway, Do it right the first time.. When we shot film, that is how we did it. Right equipment, technically shot correct, and we didnt worry about bad exposures, equipment failures, poorly framed photos etc...Time is money, the more time you spend, the less money you make. You have to balance, good pricing (notice I didnt say cheap, dont undersell or devalue your work) good workmanship, good product, and reasonable time producing your work. Just my thought..

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John Stapleton
Re: Wedding video editing HELP
on Aug 28, 2008 at 10:45:24 pm

Thank you so much for the great information. I do believe this will give my sis and law and her husband something to look forward to. A LIFE.
I hope you don't mind but I gave them your information so they can ask more specific questions. But again thank you so very much for your time and explaining your work flow and time frames.

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sky brady
Re: Wedding video editing HELP
on Sep 16, 2008 at 6:23:08 pm

I would say as a rule every hour you film *may* take 2 hours to edit.
The longest it ever took me to edit one wedding was 50 hours.. BUT I did heaps of extras that normally I would not. It should not take over 30 hours I would say. MAXIMUM.

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