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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.
video

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 www.besthudsonvalleyweddingever.com. 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!
video

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Value

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 www.besthudsonvalleyweddingever.com. 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 http://www.vimeo.com/reachingroots/videos 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