Usually, two's a party and three's a crowd—that is, unless the number three is a third camera rather than someone tagging along on a date. In recent years, as digital video's affordability has attracted droves to the event videography profession, the demand for more entertaining and higher-quality video forces industry professionals to keep on top of not only their equipment, but also their technique. The time when single-camera shooting could satisfy discerning clients is behind us, many videographers say—it's as ill-advised as shooting events with anything but still cameras was considered in the early days of the business.
One studio that has seen event videography in its many stages of development is the Joy of Video, based in Woburn, Massachusetts. Owners Joyce and Joe Bertolami, who launched the business in 1982, have adapted to the changing perspectives of videography to make theirs a leading studio in its market. While the Joy of Video focuses on weddings, they can also shoot baptisms, theatrical productions, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, or cater to any other client request.
Joyce Bertolami's achievements throughout her years in the industry have been acclaimed many times over. She was among the first to be inducted into the WEVA Hall of Fame, and has received WEVA's Distinguished Service Award as well as its Walter Bennett Award. She's also the founder of the National Professional Videographers Association (NPVA), which she started in 1986, and a firm believer in the three-camera approach to wedding videography.
Joy of Home Video
Bertolami's creative streak emerged while she was otherwise occupied, during her 20-year career in the medical field. As a hobby, she often taped her daughters and husband to document her family history. It wasn't long until friends and acquaintances began asking her to tape their weddings.
"We started our business in 1982, so we're pioneers in the field," says Bertolami. "When we first started, we were the first videographer in the area."
Bertolami began producing wedding videos for clients at a time when most families didn't even have a way of playing them. "At that time, when I would talk to a couple about capturing their wedding on video, they didn't even have a VCR in their homes," she says. "You really have to give them credit for having the foresight to realize that this would be a technology that in the future would be available to them, too." Thus the Joy of Video's career in videography spans the entire history of VHS as a fixture in American homes. Today, they're reaching beyond VHS and into the DVD era.
Paving the Way
For the past 22 years, Bertolami and the Joy of Video have gone through many cycles of technology, always managing to adapt effectively with each development. "Every year we update our education through attending conventions and many town meetings to keep current in the field," says Bertolami.
These town meetings are usually conducted by the NPVA. "The thing that gave me the idea of forming that National [Professional] Videographers Association," she says, "was when I first attended a bridal exposition and there was only one other videographer there and many other services had a lot of different representatives. So I approached this other videographer and I suggested that we get together and talk about our message, and see whether we can help organize what we're doing."
Wedding videography was a new business at the time, and Bertolami believed it was crucial for it to "get off on the right foot." Her "most important objective," she says, was "to provide a professional service that would follow through on their commitment to their clients."
This organization has grown to about 100 members with a code of ethics similar to that of WEVA. Bertolami has been a member of WEVA since the early '90s and receives much of her technique and technology advice from fellow videographers she meets at WEVA's annual Expo.
The Rule of Three
By learning from other videographers, Bertolami has been able to keep her videography constantly moving forward. One thing that distinguishes the Joy of Video from other studios is the three-camera approach to filming. Bertolami swears by it. "By having three cameras at a ceremony, we're able to be more unobtrusive because those cameras don't ever have to move," she says. "We can have one camera angled towards the bride, one camera towards the groom, and one camera giving an overall perspective. It's almost like their family and friends' perspective because we usually try to make that a balcony angle, or a back perspective." Bertolami prides herself on being able to capture the reactions on the parents' faces as their children exchange rings or make their vows.
In addition to the multiple angles made possible by three-camera shooting, Bertolami credits the extra measures she makes to capture sound effectively for giving her video an edge. "We're also able to have the additional audio, so that we can have one camera that focuses on capturing the audio of the rings and the vows. We'll put a lapel mike on the groom, but then we'll also have, at the same time, the ambient audio." This allows Bertolami to do all of her editing in post; she never does in-camera editing.
After the event is over, Bertolami says, is when her fun begins. "I do all of the editing. We author our own DVDs and do all other types of video services like tape transfer and creating photo montages for our families," she says.
Bertolami recently started offering a dual DVD package for her clients that includes a full-length video—usually an hour and 45 minutes long—and a 20-minute montage of the entire event on the second disc. "I also make all the unedited video available to the clients, so they can actually have some input into the editing process."
Among the extras Bertolami provides to meet her clients' needs is a Love Story that tells how the couple met. Usually, the Love Story segment is added to the DVD she produces, but Bertolami says she can also prepare this feature for presentation at the rehearsal or reception.
Although Bertolami says her favorite moments are those when a couple sends her a note thanking her for her work, she also relishes using her talent to "do a few community-based programs," she says. "We do one graduation a year for a big school in our area, and that's always very well-received." Her work extends to filming and editing events held by the American Cancer Society. She says she would also like to pursue some work in the film and entertainment industry.
Other Side of the Camera
After years of telling clients how recording their wedding is one of the best decisions they ever made, she recently experienced this first hand. For her daughter's wedding, Bertolami hired a group of videographers that she met through the NPVA to step up her usual three-camera formula to four to capture the ceremony and reception.
As the mother of the bride, Bertolami says, "I saw that by the end of the evening I could not remember one thing. I knew that it was a wonderful event and that everybody had a great time, but I could not remember a lot of the particulars as my daughter's wedding unfolded," she continues. "Each day I see more and more of the value of having things captured on video."