Computer age changes focus of wedding videos

August 21, 2005|By Jennifer Gish | Jennifer Gish,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

String music plays as the camera pans through the well-kept housing development and sweeps over the flower garden outside the bride's home.

Cut to the front door, where the camera lingers on a wreath, and dramatically pauses before the door opens to reveal the smiling bride, just back from the hairdresser. She creeps upstairs toward her wedding gown, which hangs in the shadows.

A close-up of the dress captures each button and frill. Cutting back to the bride, she stands at the top of the stairs, turns her head and smiles over her shoulder at the bridesmaids giggling at the foot of the stairs.

Brett Wasserman smiled as he watched the video. He's not the groom, but the videographer.

And the owner of SilhouetteArt on Video focuses on a new wave in wedding videography, which leans more toward Sundance Film Festival than every last step of the dollar dance with cousin Joey.

Reality television spoiled us all with crafty editing and funky angles. Now, brides and grooms seek a distilled, flashy version of their monumental day, rather than the documentaries couples settled for in the past.

Besides, the MTV generation simply doesn't have the attention span to sit through four hours of wedding footage, said John Zale, director of educational development for the Las Vegas-based Wedding and Event Videographers Association.

The move toward more cinematic wedding coverage began in the late 1990s, Zale said, and it shows up in more than half the industry's work.

"It is not a sequence of events that went on the tape. It is like an art, a really good movie," said Jenny Lvovsky, a South Carolina woman who hired Wasserman to videotape her daughter's wedding last August.

Wasserman will spend a week or two holed up in the production studio at his Guilderland, N.Y., home, editing wedding footage into something happy newlyweds will be eager to pass out to their friends and family as keepsakes.

He captures details like the reception food ("couples pay a lot for it, so why not remember it?" he said), works on smooth transitions, and edits long religious rituals during the wedding ceremony into brief montages with organ music.

And it's done at his computer, where seemingly insignificant items like appetizers get the star treatment.

The camera panned down the wedding reception's ice sculpture and stopped at the bowl filled with plump, pink cocktail shrimp.

Wasserman froze the shot and worked in a clip of a wedding guest carrying a plate through the reception tables, the action slowed slightly. Next, he cut away to a woman with a plate of shrimp in her hand, bending down to talk to a little girl.

In the end, it played as a short cinematic clip that smoothly transitions from wedding reception appetizers to the bride and grooms' young relatives, playing with toys during dinner.

As the technology to produce that kind of work became more affordable and more available, people like Wasserman and Matt Pezzula, owner of Storybook Weddings in Albany, N.Y., bought in.

In addition to his other equipment and extra videographer, Pezzula arrives at weddings with a camera mounted to a 12-foot crane so he can capture sweeping vistas of guests arriving at the ceremony.

He also takes the bride and groom to a park days before the wedding to talk about how they met and why they've decided to say "I do." Their commentary then provides the backstory for the video, a little narration that can be employed during otherwise quiet parts of the film.

And when should-be-quiet parts are interrupted, Wasserman can usually deal with it.

As he edited one ceremony, the microphones also picked up a sniffling, snorting bride who shed some happy tears at the altar after her vows.

"I've got to take care of that snort," Wasserman said, and with a few clicks of the mouse.

Gone.

"If you show the bride in a bad light, they fixate on that stuff, and they won't enjoy the video," he said.

Yet glamour comes at a price.

In this area, artful wedding videography ranges in price from $2,500 to as much as $5,000, videographers said, above the $1,000 to $2,000 typically paid for a more-traditional taping.

Couples pay more because of the time it takes to edit these types of videos, Wasserman said.

But in the end, they'll have something more than photographs can provide, and they'll be able to relive the big day as long as they both shall live (and own a DVD player).

Rebecca Kobos said she was stunned by the wedding video Wasserman made for her four years ago, which she pulls out every year to celebrate her anniversary and can now watch with her 1-year-old daughter.

"He really kind of honed in on what was unique about our wedding," said Kobos, whose wedding smacked of her Italian heritage, particularly in the reception menu. "I remember these aerial shots of my mom's cookies," she said.

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