Inside the World Record Wedding
Posted Feb 21, 2006

The Sacramento Professional Videographers Association (SPVA) has been around for only one year, but their mission statement says it all: "This Association is dedicated to raising the level and perception of professional videography in the greater Sacramento area." With the World Record Wedding Video Event held on February 15, 2006, the SPVA set out to do just that.
(Photo by John Zale, WEVA International)

Mike Jensen, president of SPVA, says only 20 percent of Sacramento brides include videography in their wedding budgets. Last year, SPVA members began brainstorming on ways to address this issue and bring video to the attention of brides. They asked themselves, what assets do all videographers have? Video cameras! They thought it would be great to get the videography community together to videotape a wedding, and create some publicity for the event around the idea of having over 100 cameras, potentially the most cameras ever assembled to shoot a single wedding. Thus, the idea for the World Record Wedding Video Event was born.

Choosing a location was very important, and the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento fit the bill. There is a wrap-around second floor balcony where the majority of cameras could be placed to capture the ceremony without becoming obtrusive. Not all of the 100-plus cameras used were manned, but 65 professional videographers (approximately 10% of whom were women) participated in the event. They came from a dozen states and two continents, including California, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Massachusetts, and one from Australia. Jensen contacted the UK-based Guinness World Records prior to the event about securing recognition as an "official" world record, but was told that the British royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981 involved more video cameras, although Guinness refused to divulge the actual number.

Formal world-record issues aside, the purpose of the event was to bring local and national attention to the importance and value of professionally produced wedding video. In addition, it provided a unique educational experience to the videographers by letting them view some of our field's finest videographers "in action" as they documented the day. Here's how the World Record Wedding looked from the videographers' perspective—on the inside looking in, as it were.

This event was organized by members of the Sacramento Professional Videographers Association and co-sponsored by the Wedding & Event Videography Association (WEVA). WEVA Chairman Roy Chapman said the association's involvement began at last year's Expo when the idea was presented at the local association presidents meeting. Roy liked their concept, and WEVA began working with the SPVA to build educational programming around the event.

Where does one find a fun-loving couple to become part of video history? Sacramento Bride & Groom magazine did a casting call through an email blast. 15 couples expressed interest. Five were chosen to participate in a round of interviews--including one with a marriage therapist—with Alysia Thomas and Farai Melton emerging as the couple of choice. For their participation they received $16,000 in free services including videography, photography, a judge, a cake, flowers, a limo, and more.

It was quite obvious from the beginning that this event was well-organized and well-thought out. Members checked in and had to show serial numbers on their cameras. We received a commemorative black polo-shirt with the logo, name tag, and an agenda for the day. A security guard was even hired to watch our equipment. Everyone was pre-assigned a shooting position and we all had different angles to shoot. I was number 82, and my assignment was to shoot the close-ups of all the groomsmen. My husband, Bob, was number 83, and his assignment was to shoot the close-up of the Judge. And so it went on around the entire balcony with specific assignments for the videographers. The majority of the cameras were up 30 feet in the second-story balcony.

In addition, WEVA and the SPVA provided educational videography seminars and demonstrations for the professional videographers in attendance. After the rehearsal at the Galleria Library, we rode a bus over to the Julia Morgan House where David Robin of Encino, California-based Boulevard Video Productions shot the bridal preparations. Over lunch we watched some of David's previous work until the bride was ready.

There were two Grizzly Pro r-Three remote cameras and a live feed from David's HD camera. Videographers watched the three-camera live feed videographers in another room on two side-by-side screens. David was relaxed and professional as he shot the bridal preparation. He wore a microphone so we could hear his lively commentary as the shoot progressed.

Dave Williams, president of Philadelphia-based DVideography and a Glidecam retailer taught Glidecam techniques and answered questions from videographers on the Capitol steps. Dave had the Glidecam 4000 Pro with Smooth Shooter body-mount connected to the Glidecam vest he was wearing. Dave has been using the Glidecam for five years, and he demonstrated how easy it is to set up, balance, and use. The footage is so smooth it is like the camera is floating on air.

Mark Von Lanken of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Picture This Productions joined Williams to document the photo/video session of the bridal party and family on the grassy area next to the Capitol building for the same-day edit that Mark and his wife, Trisha, would produce later in the day.

Among the visual highlights—and technical challenges--of the wedding day were two dove releases. Both were captured with a 24-camera Matrix shot (a 180-degree panoramic movement around a single subject), organized by Eric Leis of the SPVA, who placed the 24 cameras in a semi-circle. Each camera had to be a VX2000, VX2100, PD150, or PD170 since they all have the same optic lens. The cameras were measured for the same distance. The first shot was a tight shot which focused on the couple each releasing their single dove. The second shot was a wide-angle view showing all the doves being released. On the second-day seminar, Eric showed us a rough-cut of the Matrix tight-shot, edited with Adobe Premiere using four frames of video per second.

Throughout the entire day, Kathy and Al Ritondo recorded comments and happenings for their Wedding Video Talk podcast show. This was truly coverage in the field as they wore their equipment and carried multiple microphones to all the different locations of the day.

The events were also videotaped and edited by Bruce Himmelblau and Sue Lawson of Chicago-area Blue Sky Video Productions for the WEVA News Minute. In addition, the wedding was broadcast over the Internet by a live-switched webcast by Alan Fitch of Life Events Video and Pacific Clearstream Media Group.

The many videographers on hand to shadow the major players virtually joined the bride and groom to watch the Von Lankens' Same-Day Edit (SDE) in another room as the couple watched it in the reception hall. The showing of the SDE was scheduled for 8:30pm but it was delayed one hour as Mark and Trisha finished up the edit (given the nature of the event, they had to go through more pre-ceremony footage than they're accustomed to for a typical SDE). It was certainly worth the wait. We watched the SDE on a screen and watched the couple's reaction on another as a separate camera was trained on them. How touching it was to see the bride reach over and wipe the tears off of her husband's cheeks. It was a priceless moment as all of us in that room fully realized the emotional impact that a Same-Day Edit can make. Seeing this has certainly inspired me to want to do one.

Later in the evening, Alysia and Farai Melton couldn't have been more appreciative and articulate in their words as they expressed the value of their wedding video experience with the Von Lankens. Some of their comments included, "I am truly blessed that we got to do this; I'm so honored that you picked us. When you add the other dimensions such as sound and the different trick shots, when we actually look at the other parts of the wedding and not just ourselves, it really brings it all together in a way that a still picture doesn't show."

Brett Culp of Creative Video Productions (CVP) also documented the day in a "behind-the-scenes" style interviewing the bride and groom, the bridal party, the florist, the security guard, etc. John Goolsby of Cannon Video Productions, who referred to himself as Brett's assistant, also helped document the day.

The second day of the event included seminars and a luncheon buffet. Kevin Shaw showed footage from the latest HD cameras including the Sony FX1/Z1U, JVC HD100U, Canon XL H1, and Panasonic HVX200. When asked which camera had the cleanest image in low-light, Kevin said the Sony FX1 and Z1. However, he said each camera has its pros and cons and based on your needs, you would choose different cameras, and that there are additional issues to consider if you plan to edit in widescreen. Jim Faust discussed the audio systems used on the Judge and asked videographers to choose which audio piece sounded the best.

That's mostly what the event looked like from the inside; keep in mind that half the purpose of the "World Record Wedding" was to heighten the profile of wedding videography outside the industry. The local CBS affiliate dedicated a segment of its late-night news program to the event, as did local TV station KCRA. There will be a feature story on this World Record Event in the next issue of Sacramento Bride & Groom magazine. The WEVA Public Relations Committee will be releasing a Press Release template that participants can use to publicize their own participation in this event.

Some professional wedding videographers voiced concern in the weeks preceding the "World Record" event that it would devolve into a circus atmosphere and add to the public perception of wedding videographers as an obtrusive presence. And on popular videography forums like Video University, the response to the first public presentation of the event—the Webcast—was generally less than positive (although a misunderstanding of the purpose of the Webcast--to present a finished product, which it did not purport to do--may have contributed to that impression).

By contrast, wedding professionals and other brides in the Sacramento area expressed excitement about this event. In fact, one bridal consultant, Jackie Young of Every Little Detail, even postponed her vacation by two days so she could be at this event. And a subsequent Web posting of the Von Lankens' SDE drew mostly rave reviews in the same online forums.

Extensive coverage from this World Record Event can be found on the official World Record Wedding Video Event Web site. There you can watch the full testimonial from Alysia and Farai Melton, the Von Lankens' Same-Day Edit, the webcast, the WEVA News Minute, and an online photo album, and download the podcasts.