This is a complete wedding video. It’s about 40 minutes long, and since it was a Catholic ceremony, that qualifies as a short-form piece. (Elliott also gives the couple a raw footage disc that contains everything, so they won’t feel that anything has been left out.) It’s also an example of a timeshift-style video, with some items taken out of their chronological sequence in favor of better storytelling. It’s a multi-camera shoot, with three videographers in the crew. You’ll see a wide variety of shot angles and focal lengths in use, and a full range of camera supports, from handheld through Glidecam, monopod, and tripod.
The unifying element is an interview with the bride and groom, done after the wedding. The couple tells how they felt during the procession, the vows, the first dance, and so on. Sound bites from the interview are used as voiceover for the corresponding visuals. This gives the video an added emotional impact, since the wedding story is told by the bride and groom in their own words. It also gives the piece the feel of a television documentary.
Another feature is the use of “growing up” photos of the bride and her father, which appear along with the father/daughter dance. A similar sequence is used for the mother/groom dance. Besides the wedding itself, Elliott includes two special features: an outstanding credits montage, where live video of the wedding party is overlaid with people’s names as the camera cuts to a closeup of that person; and a pre-wedding interview, in which he shows what can be done to flesh out a photo montage when you aren’t provided with enough photos.
Many videographers would stop here, just presenting the video and letting you dissect it on your own, but Elliott’s offering is much richer than that. By using the second audio stream and the subtitle feature of the DVD format, he includes information on the lens and camera-support method used for each shot (shown in a “heads-up” display in the upper-left corner of the screen that you can toggle on and off), and a running audio commentary on what went right, what went wrong, and why he did things in a particular way. He also discusses shot selection, pacing, camera angles, and framing, and includes the interview questions that he used to elicit the bride and groom’s voiceover commentary. All these features can be turned on and off at will as you watch the DVD.
You’ll want to play this through several times to get the full benefit of all these features. Elliott recommends just watching the video all the way through one time before going back and turning on the commentary and/or the subtitles.
Gm Elliott Videography Training Volume 1 gives you a great opportunity to see one of the industry’s leading videographers at work, along with detailed information and commentary.
Doug Graham is co-columnist for The Main Event.