Wedding Video Jargon Explained!

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So you’re looking for a wedding videographer, seems simple enough right? So you find one or a few that you like and decide to take a look at their packages, where you’re suddenly bombarded with all these terms you may not be familiar with. What’s the difference between a “feature” and a “highlight”? Can a video be both “cinematic” and “documentary” style? Why do all these videographers have different words for the same thing? Why do these other ones use the same word for different things?

I get it, it’s enough to make you pull your hair out. So I’m here to shed a light on what all of these mean, and help you figure out exactly what you’re getting from your videographer.

First things first, let’s talk length. –

Short – the shortest videos are usually known as “highlights”, but can also be called a “trailer” “teaser” or even just “short film”. Usually these videos are under 10 minutes long, set to music and show a quick snappy overview of the day. Sometimes you might receive more than one of these – a “highlight film” as well as a “teaser” (usually under one minute so it can be posted to social media)

Medium – some videographers may offer you a medium sized video, which can often be called a “feature” video. These could be anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes long, and will show most candid parts of the day with a little bit of your ceremony and speeches too.

Long / Full Length – this is maybe what you think of when you think of wedding videography – the classic 2-3 hour video with absolutely everything put in order. These are usually described as being “traditional” or “documentary” length. This can also refer to separate videos of certain parts of the day presented in full, like your ceremony or speeches.

Making sense so far? Good, now it’s time to talk style. Let’s look at some words that are often thrown about within the wedding video industry.

Cinematic – this is the word that you’ll probably see most when looking for a videographer. It’s certainly the in word right now! Cinematic literally means to have qualities that you would expect from, well, cinema. In the wedding video world, this means high quality, artistic camera and audio work, with a lot of attention put into how the overall product looks and sounds. The scenes might not necessarily be in sequential order, but put together in a way that the videographer feels is best to tell a story.

Documentary – ah Jo, you say, we’ve already discussed documentary – it means when your video is long! Well, yes, documentary can be used to describe length, as mentioned earlier. But it’s used to describe a way of shooting / editing. Confusing, I know. In this instance, documentary usually refers to shooting without intervention, with the videos presenting the days as they happened. What you see is what you get, basically.

Natural – you could maybe consider this an off-set of documentary, but maybe with a little more direction. A videographer who describes their work as natural will hang in the background with little intervention, apart from maybe during the photo shoot. They’ll focus especially on candid moments, while avoiding any kind of “cheesiness” or posed scenarios.

Alternative – if you’re the creative type, you might like an alternative videographer. These guys are usually a lot more involved in the day, and you may get directed a bit more in order to get the coolest shots. The editing style will also be more creative, using interesting cuts and alternative music.

Some other words people might use to describe their style would be emotional, upbeat, fun or moody etc., though these are pretty self explanatory!

Okay, so hopefully things are starting to make a bit more sense! Let’s look at our most popular wedding video package as an example.

I provide a variety of films, including 5 or 10 minute highlight films in a cinematic, natural style. You’ll also receive full length edits of your speeches and vows and my higher package includes a beautiful 15-20 minute documentary feature film.

Hopefully now you will have a good idea of what this will mean when it comes to watching the final product.

Every videographer will have some sort of combination of videos in their own style. The hard part is deciding what’s best for you. After several years shooting weddings with different packages, we’ve settled on this combination as we feel it’s the perfect combination to provide an exciting but extensive coverage of your day. You’d be surprised how much content you can fit into a highlight film!

Before you go, here are some other terms you might want to know –

Cinematographer – just another word for videographer. We’re a weirdly fussy bunch about what we’re called. You’ll also see – “filmmaker”, “shooter”, or even “director of photography” if they’re feeling really fancy!

Second shooter – A videographer who works by themselves will often have an option for a “second shooter” – another videographer who comes along to shoot alongside them, allowing for coverage in multiple places at once.

RAW footage – This is the collection of files that comes straight out of camera unedited. The majority of videographers won’t hand this over to clients without editing it first. You could consider it the “ingredients” of the final product.

Music video – this is a style of highlight film where no natural sound is used from the day – everything is just set to music.

You’ve made it to the end! Well done! Hopefully you’ll have a better idea of what sort of thing you might be looking for. If what I described back there sounded good to you, I’d love to chat more! You can request a full guide to our films by enquiring here.

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