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Monday, November 1, 2010


I am behind on my edits, so I will simply post our last shoot recap, and the promise that I will be returning to focus on the blog when the clients that are due their video before the holidays are satisfied. A video can look fantastic, but if it is always more enjoyable when delivered on time. So for those of you that are now due, and still awaiting, I thank you for your patience.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Celebrating Lives Well Lived

I recently had the honor of creating a photo montage in celebration of an 80th birthday. I've had friends tell me that they see the family history work we do as being more valuable than the wedding movies. Now, I certainly see value in both, but I do agree that it is extremely important to gather the best images and stories of those we love and put them together in a comprehensive piece. Something to pass on, to those that would like to know their ancestors, but were too young to have known them personally.

I was also present at the party, to capture footage of the guest of honor enjoying his life with his close friends and family. Many of the guests asked me for my card. The interest in celebrating life with a montage was quite clear.

Our montages feel different than those created by others because we make sure that interviews are included... adding voice and character to the images moving across the screen. Here is the recent piece that showed last Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I began writing the following about three weeks ago, but have been so busy that I never completed the post:

It is aproxamately 24 hours after I posted Melanie and Jerry on Vimeo. I announced to Melanie and Jerry that their recap was finished. Twelve hours later, there have been 59 views. While I aspire to even higher first day numbers, I have to marvel at the exposure that we are granted in today's media era.

When I first began editing in the trade, it was not unusual to expect that only half to a full dozen friends or family would ever see your wedding masterpiece. VHS. SVHS if you were lucky.

Today, after scanning in a new photo montage project, I resumed work on the recap for Tiffany and Marlon. Little did I know that after having already put in a light day of data organization I was about to go the distance on a recap. What do I mean by go the distance? Cut the ceremony, photo session and reception portions of the recap (the pre-ceremony was already done). First I had to sort through the footage and chose from the huge number of beautiful shots (Tiffany is absolutely stunning. Take your breath away gorgeous), then mess with pacing, and I usually color correct along the way. Several revision passes are then made until I'm satisfied with the look and flow. Next, we export the clip to Compressor, select an internet friendly codec, and export from Compressor to one of your media files a Quicktime movie.

While the clip has been cooking in Compressor, I've been writing this article. Compressor informs me that the clip will be ready for upload to Vimeo in a half hour. The upload to Vimeo has increased in speed over the past month, so this will be a very speedy process.

(the following was written today)
The advances in technology have indeed increased our prospective viewership, but as you can see from the above, it also increases the workload. Wedding videographers did not concern themselves with color correction in the 90s (some still don't). Our wedding video Fore Fathers simply white balanced when they entered a room and hoped for the best. We still white balance when we enter a room, but Final Cut Pro has made color correction "easy". This ads an extra day to any edit.

Luckily for this particular wedding videographer there is one thing that hasn't changed much over the years: Passion. I still find myself hunched over the computer late at night trying to pull feeling and energy out of images. I find myself immersed in the world of a couple. I want to show them what they want to see.

So I was able to share the Vimeo post with Tiffany and Marlon on July 15th, and now I share it with you.

Melanie and Jerry at Full Moon in Big Indian, NY

At Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, New York, weddings are done in a unique fashion. It is a three day event, each day provides something new for the guests of the resort, but every day provides beautiful views and a sense of calm. On the first day of shooting I asked Henry Moon (owner and operator) if there was anything special he would like for me to capture to help promote Full Moon. He said, "well anything you did for us would be very different than what you would do for Melanie, so just focus on the personal shots you need for her."

Henry, what you just told me is probably the best plug for Full Moon one could ask for. Each wedding held on these grounds is a tailored, personal experience. It's about the personality of the couple.

The full length version of Melanie and Jerry's wedding will be very different than anything I've ever done as well. Melanie's prime concern was to capture EVERYBODY. She had family in from California, and Florida. And beyond that, she understood that our movies have the power to preserve the memories of these friends and family during a very happy time in their lives.

View the recap here:

I'll post it directly in this page later... but to be honest the quality is WAY better with the Vimeo upload.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This past weekend Reaching Roots went to the Walkill Golf Club to capture the wedding of Sara and Aaron. The grounds and staff were lovely.

The officiant declaired, "Sara and Aaron have chosen the short form." No more than four minutes later, we were done. Short form ceremony indeed! Even with the limited time, Gary and I got some amazing shots.

What stood out at this wedding? The sense of style. Both Sara, and her brother, Phil had style. Her dress took my breath away. Now, I've seen a lot of dresses. When Sara put this dress on I was stunned, it too me a full second to remember to hit record.

for a clearer picture.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Larissa & Robert

On May 30th, 2010 Larissa and Robert were married at the Glen Island Harbor club in New Rochelle, NY. While I was in New Jersey shooting another wedding for my company, Reaching Roots Studios. Chris and Cory delivered some stunning images. Here is a recap cut without having viewed all of the footage. I look forward to creating the final edit. I started cutting to Stevie Wonder, "Don't you worry 'bout a Thing" but simply wasn't feeling it.

Together we are Invincible.

What a great sentiment. Most of the lyrics in this song speak to the incredible bond between a loving couple. Strength is gained from knowing that there is an amazing person out there, doing everything they can for the good of the bond you share.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Learning from Masters

Two days ago I had lunch with with an old friend and collaborator. Ricky once shared office space with with my old boss Robert DePalma of Roma Video. I hadn't seen Ricky in probably eight years and while a lot has changed for him, one thing remains the same: he is a master of photography.

Had his first wedding of the season yesterday. My first will be on May 30th. As we chatted about the growth of our businesses, Ricky suddenly got wide eyed, "oh man, I know it's a step down, but I could really use an assistant tomorrow." Why not? Right? Why not spend the day learning from a true visual master. Ricky and I have completely different styles as one can easily see. So my thinking was, why not learn as much as I can and bring some new flavors to my upcoming season.

Ricky has already posted some of the highlights from yesterday's wedding, and I highly recommend checking them out. Tracy and Angelo... you have some lovely images to remember what was truly a fantastic day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New commercial for Reaching Roots Studios

After years of noticing that most wedding video demos are all kinds of apples, I decided to go with an orange. Yes, this demo still demonstrates that we capture beautiful, fun video. It also introduces you to me and focuses on why Reaching Roots is the right company for you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book More Brides, a video for Vendors

For the past couple of weeks I've been working with Stephanie and Jeff Padovani. They were interested in putting together two spots, one geared toward wedding professionals, and the other towards brides. Here is the Wedding professionals video.

Trust me, if you are a wedding professional working in the Hudson Valley, you want to get to know these two. They have a great blog going at Stephanie's blog is fantastic for both the professional, and for brides. Couples can get spot on tips, and vendors get great advice on finding the client that is right for them. Everyone wins!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Last time I wrote specifically about what makes our company a little different than our peers. Today, as I was attempting to write a short description of our company for some advertisements the concept of VALUE kept coming back to the forefront.

Weddings are expensive. I am as guilty as the next guy/girl of wanting my wedding day to look, sound, and feel perfect. That means flowers, lighting, and great music. If you are looking for those elements, absolutely go visit my friends at However, if you've already found them, and are simply looking for the photo/video companies to capture them for you, please consider the following.

I hear a lot of short intakes of breath after I announce our starting package price to an Inquiry. He or she is often hoping to pay half of what we ask. When there are companies out there only asking $1000 for their base package, why would you pay $1900?

There is value in simple documentation of your wedding day (most $1000 packages will be a single camera, with minimal editing). As a creator of Family History Videos, I know how valuable having video from major events is. I'm working on a Family History Video right now, and have access to old home movies of my client's grandparents entering their wedding reception. It is priceless! AND it is only a 10 second clip with no sound. However, this value is felt by future generations, not necessarily by YOU, the paying client. You want to avoid becoming one of those couples that say, "yeah, we got a wedding video, but we never watch it." Until someone like myself steps in 50 to 100 years from now to use this archived video it will have been a waste of your $1000.

Just look at our testimonials page, and you'll see that our Wedding Movies get watched! Over and over again! And in today's digital era, you can share it with your friends online and they will watch it too! I sent about four hours of different weddings to an Inquiry the other day, and she called back to say, "I watched all of them! Other people's weddings, and I couldn't turn them off!"

We also send two cameras to our preparations and ceremonies in our base package. Most companies have a single camera option. We do not. Why would I deny you the client a choice that is so popular? I've lost a lot of jobs because I don't offer that option. Am I a terrible business man? Have I failed to understand the needs of my client base? No, I don't think so. What I understand after more than ten years in the business is there is a gap between what you think you need, and what you do need. Yes, a shot of you giving your vows is a fantastic, priceless thing to have. Add to that a shot of your sister looking over at your mom, and then back at you, then shedding a tear. OH MAN! WHAT JUST HAPPENED? That second camera was able to truly tell the story of what was going on during your ceremony.

What else is that second camera doing? For one, it's getting shots of the groom. With one camera coverage, the industry go-to shot is an over the shoulder of the groom, with the focus being the bride shot. That's only half the story. The second camera is also free to move around and get those cut aways like the one I mentioned above. In addition to smiling, crying, laughing faces, the second camera is also shooting shots with your flower arrangements in the foreground, big sweeping establishing shots with the Mts. in the background, the ring bearer fidgeting, etc.

Now that's story telling. More than that, it's the whole story... so you won't catch yourself putting your DVD away and saying, "Oh, I wish he had gotten some shots of mom and dad. I heard dad laughing all the way through your vows honey... they were hilarious." Don't worry, we'll get it.

I'll tell you a secret. I usually go even further if I can spare the camera. If I don't have two crews out that day, and I have an extra camera available to me, I tend to set up a third stationary camera which gives us even more flexibility and opportunity to do more for you. What it boils down to is, I asked you for a little more money than the next guy... I'm going to give you a lot more than the next guy. And remember, if you want to make sure of that third camera, just bring it up during our consultation and we can add it into the package for just a bit more. At that point I just want to cover the camera rental cost if I have to get another one to bring.

I hope this was helpful, and gave you a view into how we think of value. You need to want to watch your video in order for it to have value. My DVD covers do look nice on the outside, and would make a fine coaster, but it's what is inside that you will find most valuable!

Just compare our videos at to others out there, and then let me know what you think of our documentary style!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why hire us?

I spoke with a prospective client last night, and she had a lot of great questions regarding our company and how we operate on your wedding day. I'd like to share some of the answers I gave to her, and perhaps go a little further than that.

While I am not a fan of the phrase, "cutting edge," a better way to describe our style has yet to cross my path. My cutting edge tendencies began early in my career. I would ask my boss and mentor at the time, "do I need the entire Homely?" "Hey Rob, can I cut out the first half of this speech... he's kind of bombing..." "They picked a seven minute slow dance for their first dance, can I cut it down?" At first the answer to this question was always "No. Leave it in."

Videos in the late 90s and the early years of this decade tended to be about 2 hours long, sometimes 3. And for awhile during that time period, the length of your video was a symbol of what you as a bride were "getting." It was almost as though, if we cut something out, we were holding it back from you... but as the years passed by, this shifted to, if we cut something out, we were sparing you from reliving it repeatedly. More accurately, we were sparing you from having to reach for your remote control to fast forward.

This evolution paralleled the functionality of non-linear editing systems such as Media 100, Avid, and then Final Cut Pro (which is my current program of choice). When an editor in the 90s was working from tape to tape instead of in the digital world... if he or she cut something out, it would be a lot of heart ache to find the clip and re-insert it. This is no longer an issue with the current systems. Thank you Final Cut Pro!

The second element in our style is music choice. I request music from you, so that the video will have your taste and personality... but often brides and grooms choose to leave it up to me. Again, there was an evolution here. In the early days we would choose something safe. Enya for example was a favorite of that era. Frank Sinatra, was another go-to guy. The rhythms were simple, and therefore it was easier for a tape to tape editor to find their transition points. Unfortunately this lead to very predictable cutting. It is a major factor in the perception of the modern bride that wedding video has to be boring. It is what they used to see, and unfortunately a lot of my contemporaries still follow this "safe" model.

I have used, The Red Hot Chile Peppers; Hard to Concentrate, Muse... I have used a lot of Muse. I like using soundtrack music from time to time, and have snatched gems from "Narnia", "Transformers" "The Last Samurai"... not your typical love song, right? But they work. AND they are probably closer to what you actually listen to than Etta James' At Last. The other difference between the former and the later is tempo changes. Unless you request Debussy, contemporary Alternative music is going to be musically more interesting than modern pop. This gives the editor more opportunity for surprising you with a hard cut, or getting you to hold your breath during an unexpected long dissolve.

The third element in our style is how we interact with you on the day of your wedding. Just like selecting music that fits your personality, it is essential that you simply be yourself on your wedding day. We don't direct. We will if you ask us to, or you are interested in a scripted segment... but the rule of thumb is to capture what is happening with attention to detail. The evidence is in the video examples. You won't see a lot of "slow motion looking directly into the lens" shots. There aren't any slow motion "hand gently stroking the wedding gown" shots. Yes, we shoot some of your photo session with your photographer... but that's their direction and we make the most out of what they ask you to do.

A lot of the praise we have gotten comes from the parents of our couples. At first it's outrage. "You know honey, I'm worried about your video. I hardly ever saw the videographer." This quickly turns to praise, "We just watched the video and my mother was in tears the whole time. At the end she said, 'I can't believe they got all of that!'" Thanks, mom. Just doing our job.

I won't be able to hold claim to this for much longer... but part of why our clients love our videos is because I'm as old as you are. Most of our couples are between 26 and 35. That means that you and I have been professionals in our trades for just about the same amount of time. You understand that ten years in a field equals a lot of experience and most likely aptitude. It also means, I get you. We watch similar movies. We grew up liking and disliking similar shows.
We have also grown up in an interesting spiritual time. Secular weddings are growing in popularity, but there is always a hint of the sacred within the wedding ceremony that we all share, no matter what your level or form of religious faith.

I respect that faith... and I respect the irreverence of the after party as well!

Your wedding movie will be a journey. The nerves (or lack of them) during your preparations, moves to the reverence of the ceremony, into the reveling of the reception.

The last topic I would like to discuss is quality. Your videos are always shot in HD with a minimum resolution of 1440 x 1080. "Okay fancy pants," you say, "so you've got a lot of pixels, what do the pixels look like?" They're lit correctly. I have stressed lighting with my team. If the shot doesn't look good, we move to a location that will look good. It is part of the reason that we always have two or three cameras running during your ceremony. Freedom of movement means we will find the light. A lot happens very quickly during a wedding, and sometimes I need to correct for imperfections in post production. There lies the difference between us and them. I take the time to color correct your movie so that each shot meets television broadcast standards.
We mic the groom during the ceremony, capturing clearly each uttered word that passes between you, your fiance, and the officiant. We mic your band, and monitor the sound throughout the reception so that your live sound is never distorted.

I do hope this has given you a good view into how my mind works. I also hope it inspires you to go from, "Why should we hire Reaching Roots?" to, "I think Reaching Roots Studios is the company for us."

Enjoy the rest of your wedding planning,
Nate Armstrong

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Power out in Phoenicia

For any clients that have tried to reach our company via telephone during this blizzard of February, 2010 I apologize for the silence on our end. We lost power here in Phoenicia for a couple of days as the snow mounted to four feet. Thick, heavy snow brought a branch down on the lines just outside our house. The town lost a transformer. We're back and running now, and I can of course be reached on the cell phone at 845-642-9201.

Today is the last day of the Valentines Day special, after which prices will return to their already low standing!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Reaching Roots Launches!

I am proud to announce that the newly designed website is up and running! We made getting in touch with us one step faster for you by adding a "contact us" page that, gasp... actually allows you to send us an email. The new site is also Flash, so now our videos load even faster. I will be adding a shopping cart page in the coming days so that brides can send in a deposit right through the site, and ensure their date is secured instantaneously.

We are also on Facebook. You can become a fan of Reaching Roots Studios there, and then we will be available to you during regular business hours via IM.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You trusted me. I trust YOU

Brides, Grooms, clients of the past, present, and future...
This past summer I was privileged to shoot and edit some beautiful weddings, and I would love to put them into a new Demo video. Music shapes everything in the world of editing. So what do you want to see? What do you want to hear? Send in your suggestions!

The demo we cut back in 2008 is not that different from other video companies out there. "What did he just say?... Did he just admit that his demo isn't different?" Yes. Yes I did. The current wedding video trend is to simply show some of the beautiful and fun moments, cut in a little audio, and hope for the best. Our 2008 demo is cut to a fun song, demonstrating that Reaching Roots is interested in the contemporary bride and groom. But what is it YOU really want to see and have demonstrated?

So, couples of our past, what were your favorite moments from your video?
Couples of our future, what is it that you want to make sure comes across in your wedding movie? Let's cut a new demo!

Here is the old Demo for your consideration...

Happy Valentines Day!

In celebration of the time honored Valentines Day, Reaching Roots is happy to extend our January booking incentive for couples that book during the month of February. Couples booking our Complete Wedding Package (2 HD cameras all day, fully edited DVDs for you and your parents) will receive $300 off, and couples booking our Premium Wedding Package (3 HD camera ceremony, 2 camera reception, 30 picture 3-D style photo montage, post wedding memories interview, DVDs for you and your parents) will receive $500 off!

Call or email us today for availability!