The interview process is an important tool. We use it in so many scenarios in life, sometimes without even knowing that we’re using it! In the creation and refinement of Mountain Fresh Films I have done many interviews myself. I’ve interviewed Wedding Clients, Corporate Clients and prospective team members for my production companies. I would like to share with you what I’ve learned from these interviews and also suggest some vital questions for you to ask a prospective Cinematographer. I will provide my answers to these questions to give you a better understanding of Mountain Fresh Films, my philosophy and how I work.
Before we launch into these very important questions, I sincerely encourage any of you who will be getting married soon to subscribe to my Weekly Wedding Tips. The series is called ‘What You Need To Know.’ All you have to do is visit my Homepage and you’ll see two fields to fill out underneath ‘Weekly Wedding Tips.’ You can then enter your name and email address in the appropriate fields and click on the ‘Subscribe’ button and you’re all set! The information provided in this series was compiled after interviewing hundreds of brides shortly after their wedding day. We also did exhaustive Internet research to obtain more information and provide a solid context in which to better understand our results.
Now let’s get back to the Most Important Questions. These are the questions that I believe are vital to ensuring your success in finding the cinematographer that is right for you.
- Are you a videographer or a cinematographer?
If your interviewee tells you that these terms mean the same thing, then you should probably move on to the next candidate. A videographer is associated with the way weddings were shot quite a while ago. For instance, during the ceremony a videographer might only have one camera, on a tripod, getting the shot from behind where the guests are seated. In the old days this was all that was expected. In fact this is why some people today think they don’t need a wedding film. Because they think that it’s going to be shot as simply as what I just described and ‘Uncle Frank can do that on his Smartphone.’ Truth be told, in the old days, wedding videos were simpler and far less cinematic then they are now. They were still, of course, treasures for the lucky couples because of what they were preserving. They just weren’t as visually or emotionally impactful as what we can do now.
I am a Cinematographer and Mountain Fresh Films is a Production Company. I use several cameras during the ceremony so that I can get separate close-up shots of you and your sweetheart as well as a master shot of the entire scene. The various camera angles make the final film much more cinematic and compelling without losing site of what the ceremony is all about. This makes your Wedding Film even more meaningful, special and unique to you.
- Do you use redundancy while recording and in your storage system?
This is one of the biggest and most important questions of all! Backing up the footage while recording and also in storage is more important than I can verbally express. We’re talking about a live event that is so very special. The moments captured will not be repeated and we can’t go back in time to do a reshoot! If the person you’re interviewing doesn’t have a redundant recording system and a very redundant storage system, please move on!
Our main camera (or ‘Camera A’ as we call it) records on two memory cards simultaneously. Also we transfer the footage from the cards to our external hard drives as soon as we reach home base. We have 6 external hard drives with your footage on them in one location and 3 more external hard drives with your footage on them in an entirely different city. I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories from couples and wedding videographers about footage that was permanently lost. It’s a real tragedy, so I take all the precautions mentioned above to make sure that your footage and your beautiful moments are protected and safe!
- What medium do you deliver the final product on?
These days disks, like Blu-rays and DVD’s are quickly becoming obsolete. Many laptops and home computers no longer have disk drives in them. The preferred mediums seem to be USB Flash Drives and External Hard Drives. If your interviewee is still providing the finished product on a disk, I’d advise caution. Disks can’t hold as much data as flash drives which means the video has to be compressed more to fit on a disk. More compression often means the picture quality of the video will be lower.
Mountain Fresh Films will deliver your finished film to you on a Custom USB Flash Drive or as a cloud-based Downloadable File by way of a private link. We do this to make your life easier and to give you the power to make as many copies of your Film as you wish!
- What resolution or format do you shoot in?
This is an exciting time for filmmaking because the industry is shifting to new and better formats that will eventually leave what we currently call ‘High Definition’ behind us. Right now the vast majority of companies shooting Wedding Films and Corporate Films are still using High Definition. However ‘4K’ (or Ultra High Definition) is the new champion of video and has 4 times the resolution of High Definition. That’s right, 4K is 4 times sharper than HD! If you stop by any Electronics Store and look at the picture quality of the 4K TV’s, you will be amazed. The catch is that the professional cameras that can shoot in 4K and the computers that can edit 4K footage are very expensive. Because of this, very few cinematography companies have made the switch, but eventually all professional production companies will be shooting in this new format.
Mountain Fresh Films shoots everything in 4K right now! Seeing your Movie in 4K will take your breath away, it’s as if you were right there! I believe it is very important to not only be on the cutting edge of technology but also to deliver a fantastic looking product to my clients. We shoot everything in 4K which allows you to choose if you’d like your wedding film in 4K, HD or both.
- Do you do your own editing?
Arguably, editing prowess can be more important than filming technique. With today’s professional cameras getting a beautiful looking shot isn’t necessarily the greatest challenge. A bigger challenge is taking all of that (hopefully) lovely footage and properly editing it into a masterpiece. It’s true that poorly shot footage can only be fixed so much by editing. On the other hand a well shot film can be ruined by bad editing. I bring this up because many video and cinematography companies ship their raw footage elsewhere for editing, sometimes even overseas. This can be risky in terms of the quality of the editing.
At Mountain Fresh Films we do all our editing in house. This ensures that the final film meets our quality control standards. This is such an important event in your life and I want to make sure that your precious film is edited beautifully. You deserve no less.
- How do you handle the audio for the ceremony and the reception?
This is another very important topic. As fantastic as the look of a film may be, if the audio isn’t satisfactory it can greatly diminish the perceived quality the film.
One of my main goals is to never hinder your enjoyment of your wedding day. Because of this, my cameras are at a discreet distance during your ceremony. This being the case, the camera microphones wouldn’t provide high quality audio. The background noise would be louder than anything else. So we put a wireless microphone on the groom in addition to plugging a digital audio recorder into the DJ’s sound system. This gives us two ‘clean’ copies of the ceremony audio. When watching your wedding film you’ll be able to hear the officiant, the vows and the more quiet and emotional parts of your ceremony. We also use the digital audio recorder in the same way during the reception. This is very helpful for speeches and other special segments of the reception. Whether you’re hearing the toasts or hearing quiet vows through a few tears, these things are too special to miss.
- What software do you use for editing?
This is pretty cut and dry because there are only a few video editing programs considered legitimate by the professional filmmaking community. The top 3 professional video editing programs are Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer. If the person you are interviewing does not use one of these programs you should probably consider moving on to the next candidate.
We use Premiere Pro, which happens to be the same video editing software that James Cameron used to edit Avatar. Using Premiere Pro allows us to edit your film just like a Hollywood movie. It helps us make your movie a work of art that you will treasure forever.
- Do you use color correction?
Whether we’re talking about a wedding film, a feature film, a corporate film or a commercial. Color Correction is an extremely necessary editing tool. For example, indoor environments for conventions or wedding receptions often use fluorescent lighting. This is great for energy conservation but terrible for human skin tones. We all tend to look a little too Green or Blue under many types of fluorescent lighting. Most professional cameras have a White Balance function that can sometimes help with this issue. But the most reliable way to fix these kind of issues is in the editing bay with someone who is very skilled in color correction.
We use color correction and we love it! It makes your film more real, more vibrant and stunning.
9. How many people are on your team?
Sometimes the number of cameras used for shooting has nothing to do with the number of camera operators present. In short, sometimes a company will tell you that they use several cameras and then you find out during the shoot that several of those cameras are on tripods with no one operating them! This is not good! Live events are tricky to shoot because the shooting environment often changes. The lighting may change, the volume levels may change or the location of the main action may change. Every camera needs to have an operator to monitor the shot and to make changes when needed.
We have an operator assigned to each camera that is recording. It’s a human thing. A camera is just a machine and you need a human being controlling that camera to properly capture all the gorgeous moments. The laughter, the tears, the discovery, we want it all. We want it in our lives and in the documentation of our lives to relive and share with others. We want it all and we can have it all!
Well this wraps up my blog about The 9 Vital Questions to ask a cinematographer or videographer BEFORE you hire them. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you found it helpful! Please feel free to leave comments and to continue to explore our website!
If you have any questions about our services or would like to talk with me about filming your event, please fill out the form below and I will contact you soon. I look forward to hearing from you!