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Ewa + Alex | Engagement Film | Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

We featured Ewa and Alex’s engagement photos on the blog on June 5th, but as you can imagine, video sometimes takes a little bit more time, so it wasn’t quite ready right there and then. But a month after, it’s ready and approved by Ewa (and Alex, I imagine… hehe!) and I can share it with you! This is a no-dialogue/interview edit. To me, the neatest thing about it is Ewa’s slightly off-key choice of music (‘The Only One’ by The Black Keys)… at first I thought it may be too dramatic, but after cutting images to it, and giving the piece a slightly vintage-y look, I actually really like the effect!

Well, I won’t keep you any longer… just wanted to share. Maybe it’ll give some of you ideas (i.e. if you really like your dogs, why not bring them along?). If you like it, leave a comment or share it. Or ask questions if you want? In any case, that’s it for now. Take care! – Christian

New Demo Reel – Editing Behind-the-Scenes

As you may have noticed if you visited our Vimeo page lately, we have a new wedding demo reel. Well, as I was making this, I thought it would be nice to share a little bit of ‘how the magic happens’ with our readers. Sure, I’m not going to reveal any life-changing secrets, but I will share some insight as to how I work and think when it comes to video editing.

For starters, some of you might want to know that we shoot all our video on Canon DSLR cameras (5D Mark IIs and 7Ds) and edit in the good old Final Cut Pro 7 (no, I don’t use FCP X… it has its uses, but I find it doesn’t work well for professional use).

So, how does the process work? First of all, for something like the demo reel, it starts with a little bit of digging around our gazillion hard drives to find all of the final exports of the weddings I want to feature. Once I have found all that, I simply import into Final Cut. The next step is the most time consuming: I look at every single edit again and again and try to find the moments that are reel-worthy, then cut them up from that clip and paste them on a new sequence. By the end of this, I have a twenty minute clip that no one would ever want to watch because it would be repetitive and incoherent, so now I have to start making decisions.

I guess the first question a good businessperson would ask himself would be ‘what do people want to see in this reel?’ Well, that is a valid question, but I prefer to think of it in terms of ‘What story do I want to tell?’ and ‘How do I want to tell it?’ This is what will determine the content and style of my edit. In a sense, this is what will gives us an artistic, or at least narrative edge. Now don’t get me wrong, I work a lot on the business end so that we actually have clients, and to ensure they are happy, but when it comes to editing, it’s all creativity, and my first instinct is based on a no-compromise mindset.

In the case of this demo reel, the concept that drove everything was the following: to take all of the weddings and make something that would intertwine these different stories into a single narrative. Basically, I wanted to express the universality of the feelings and moments that one goes through on a wedding day by creating a single piece that would intercut between different couples and still feel like ‘one’ story.

For example, the ‘groom putting on the watch’ segment (from 1:36 to 1:50) is a total ‘cheat’ and an example of the montage technique. Thus, I create an illusion of continuity, one that works because, as viewers, we create links between the things we see even if they have no actual link (I didn’t invent this, Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and Lev Kuleshov did). For example, if you saw a shot of a child, and then a hoard of coyotes, you feel concern, be worried about the child.

In the case of the demo reel I am editing, the illusion is not completely seamless – mostly because the lighting was very different in each case. Yet, there is a sense that all these guys are together in time and space : to the viewer, it kind of looks as if Allan was getting a new watch, and Patrick’s dad was happy for him. Conceptually, they are going through the same thing…

These are the types of thing I do with editing, and the whole demo reel is full of moments when I tried to cut things together so that they would read as continuous story elements as opposed to a series of beautiful images with nothing tying them together.

A quick note about sound: we usually mix some ambient sound into the edit, but here I chose to go with music only in order to get a ‘cleaner’ result. I used a track by Norwegian Recycling called ’8 Become 1′. The reason why I went with this song is because it has a very upbeat mood, while having enough variations to allow for a dynamic cut.

Once I have all of the ‘parts’ working, I’m done and all that’s left to do let the video export, convert it to a web-friendly version (using Compressor on Mac), and upload to our favourite sharing site, Vimeo.

So that’s kind of the basic idea of how I edit a demo reel! Now to conclude, I want to highlight that is actually kind of fun. Sure, it’s a lot of work, and it’s a lot of hours spent staring at footage I’ve seen millions of times, but then I always reach a point in my edit when I catch myself smiling while editing. When I think about it, I realize it’s because I’m reliving the day with the couples, smiling at the beautiful candid moments on screen, and sometimes laughing when I know there was a funny joke made by some silly best man… So I guess I must thank you to all our couples for making this process easier. At the end of the day, there is no editing magic per se, but I do feel like what makes the edits good is the care one puts into it – and both Paul and myself really do feel blessed to be doing what we do. And everybody knows that’s when good things happen!

I hope this has been a fun post to read. I rarely write behind-the-scenes stuff, so I would love to get your feedback, as well as any questions or comments you may have. I love hearing from you and would love to turn this into a discussion rather than an exposé.

In any case, enjoy the new demo reel and remember: sharing is caring! :)

- CP, cinematographer