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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

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