Time to Start
Regardless of what you call it (or if you’ve even settled on a unique name yet), it is time for you to start producing Same-Day Edits (SDEs) in your market. The SDE is a fabulous promotion tool that can add huge profits to your bottom line. If you have ever thought about jumping into this heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping type of production, be sure you know what you’re in for. It may increase your blood pressure by 50%, but it’s just as likely to increase your business by at least 30% if you produce and present it well. So bring plenty of business cards—you’ll need them!
2006 EventDV 25 All-Star Laura Randall of the Seattle-area studio Edit 1 Media, who has been wowing the West Coast with her SDE productions for several years now, says her company realized a huge jump in bottom-line profits when Laura and her husband, Chris, started delivering SDEs. "Last year, twenty-five percent of our bookings had an SDE component," she says. "This year, it’s closer to sixty-five percent, and that is a huge increase in our revenues."
Eric Model of Reel Moments, which is based in Nanuet, N.Y. and produces more than 100 SDEs per year, says an SDE "is what I call a walking business card. Every time we do one we hand out at least twenty-five business cards to people who can’t believe what we just did."
Two-time EventDV 25 All-Star Mark Von Lanken of Picture This Productions in Tulsa, Oklahoma, jokingly quips that he and his wife Trisha added SDEs to their award-winning studio's offerings because they were bored and did not have enough stress in their lives. They have also recently started giving out DVDs of their finished products as a wedding favor to the guests at the end of the wedding.
Riccardo Marrone of Montreal started producing SDEs less than two years ago and walked away with a top WEVA award for his SDE production in 2006. "We love the response we get from our SDEs," says Marrone. "It’s that feeling of accomplishment like you just finished first in a race."
Mike Callahan of Burlington, Massachusetts, a major SDE player in the New England market, adds, "You are no longer just ‘the video guy’ but the artist who miraculously put that amazing video together in a short period of time."
Different Types of SDEs
My premise in producing an SDE has always been that most of the guests at a wedding do not really know the essence of the bride and groom. Once the guests drive home, after the wedding, they will talk about how the flowers, music, food, and ceremony were all wonderful, yet all they can say about the bride and groom is that they looked happy.
In addition to a short montage of the wedding itself, my typical Wedding at the Wedding includes a presentation of about 90 photographs. The bride and groom introduce—via pre- produced interviews—reflections about their ancestors, family, and friends. They talk about how they met and why they fell in love. The bride segues into the SDE component by saying how she has been looking forward to her wedding day and how she can’t wait to walk down the aisle with her father. Once she says that, we dissolve to aisle footage of the bride and her father. The groom talks about how much his bride means to him as we dissolve to footage of the bride and groom seeing one another for the first time on their wedding day. (See Video Gallery Clip #2 at www.halslifervideo.com.)
Our Wedding at the Wedding is about 12 minutes long with a two-minute SDE component showcasing the ceremony, first dance, parent dances, and other special wedding moments. The SDE component is one element of our video presentation, included among other video elements that tell the history of the bride and groom. Many times, to entertain the guests and to showcase the personalities of the bride and groom, we will add humor to our productions. (See Video Gallery Clip #3 at www.halslifervideo.com.)
The secret of the event videography business (and especially the SDE business) is that people enjoy seeing themselves on the screen. When you add humor to your SDE product, you will find that you have truly entertained the audience while telling the story of the bride and groom in an enjoyable manner.
Is it History, or is it Wedding Highlights?
There are currently two prevailing views of what an SDE production is. Some videographers, like myself, produce Love Stories, photo montages, and Legacy Biographies (though, again, different videographers use different names for the same types of productions) to show the viewing audience the history of the bride and groom. The SDE in such a production becomes a magical add-on piece that the audience does not expect. Other videographers produce solely a video highlight of their wedding footage and wow the audience with their editing craft. While this makes for a shorter and less comprehensive presentation, it delivers a wow-factor punch to a degree that videos with archival components (however compelling or artfully crafted) can’t quite sustain. Whether you go the route of the wedding highlights SDE or the route of the highlights and history SDE, it is your creativity and editing style that will put a personal mark on your productions. (See Video Gallery Clip #4 at www.halslifervideo.com.)
For a prime example of a videography studio that opts to show only the wedding highlights as the main production of his SDEs, one should look at the exceptional work of Jason Magbanua, the Filipino videographer who won the SDE categories of both the WEVA CEAs and 4EVER Group AAAs in 2006, and took home Best in Show honors at Video 07 in Jacksonville. (For a look behind the scenes of 2006 EventDV 25 All-Star Magbanua’s SDE approach, see Julie Hill’s June article, A Day on the Job with Jason Magbanua.)
Paul Basile from Houston, Texas, an early innovator of the SDE, often starts his SDE with a lively photo montage. "It makes a good opener, plus it fools the audience into thinking they will only be seeing a slide show. Once they see footage from the wedding they begin to clap, and I know the audience is appreciating my talents."
Philip Hinkle of Stoughton, Wisconsin, a rising star in the SDE world who recently faced off with other Midwestern videographers in the 4EVER Group’s Iron Videographer competition in Detroit, enjoys, at times, producing a sensitive Love Story followed by an SDE. Adam Mancini, who has been teaching WEVA and 4EVER Group attendees the secrets of his SDEs, has mastered the art of turning his SDEs into party favors. "We have mass duplication towers available and we can produce 150 copies within minutes of our video presentation."
Promoting your Business
You know your market best, and whether you produce a standalone video highlight or add a historical component to your SDE, you will always add value to your bottom line because you are promoting your product in front of new potential clients every time you showcase your work. The promotion element here is key; if we do not promote ourselves, no one else will. You have worked hard and endured a lot of stress to make your SDE fabulous. You want to produce more of them so you might as well tell the audience that you did all this work.
A simple logo identifying your company will work promotional wonders. Personally, I like to dissolve up a simple logo at the end of the presentation, but I also sneak one in before the video starts. When the video first comes on-screen, I put up a visual slate that is cut into four quadrants. One quad has a countdown, one has color bars, one says "Audio Test," and one has my company logo. What the crowd thinks they are watching is a technical test of the video. What they are really seeing is one more promotion of my company logo.
To get even more promotion for your efforts, once your SDE is over and the crowd is applauding, walk over to the bride and groom to videotape their reaction. The bride will usually be very emotional and many times she will give you a hug in front of all her guests and thank you for your hard work. Keep the camera rolling because you will want to show this footage to the next potential client who visits your studio. (See Video Gallery Clip #5 at www.halslifervideo.com.)
Speaking of studio demo sessions: How do you promote your SDE product to clients who have never seen one? I used to show a finished SDE product to a potential client and would try and explain how powerful this product would be when shown at their upcoming wedding. Somehow the showing of an SDE at my office lacked the same excitement it generated a few nights earlier, when I showed it in front of 300 applauding wedding guests.
Now I re-edit my SDE footage for studio use, cutting in audience reaction shots from the live presentation every 20–30 seconds to show potential clients how the SDE looked to the wedding guests and how it moved them. We’re all video editors, so this additional edit should be a piece of cake for any one of us. Once a client has viewed the audience reaction while watching another couple’s SDE, they will usually realize that they want to have their guests feel that same crowd-pleasing excitement.
Advertising your Product
I used to advertise in the Yellow Pages, the Knot, and local hotel directories. In return, I received a lot of phone calls asking me how much I charged but very few new clients. I realized that callers were simply going down a list of videographers and calling around to see who was the least expensive.
I no longer advertise in any print media. Most of my referrals come from word-of-mouth recommendations while the bulk of my leads come from people who have seen my work at an event. Once a client calls, I point them to my website to view video examples of my weddings and my Wedding at the Wedding SDE work.
There have been situations where a bride and groom were excited to have us produce an SDE for their wedding, yet when their wedding date drew closer, they decided, because of budget constraints, not to have one. When this happens I will reduce my investment fee for the bride and groom. I would rather show an SDE at their wedding and not make a profit than not show my work in front of 250 new potential clients. Even though we charge extra for it and it’s probably the highest-impact premium option we offer, once we grow accustomed to producing SDEs during a wedding shoot, it becomes one of the easier premium options to deliver, and certainly the one with the best return if we do decide to give the work away.
As Eric Model says, "My staff gets bored when we don’t show an SDE at a wedding. It has become so automatic and commonplace for us that it is rare when a bride opts not to have us produce one."
Jason Magbanua, who brands his SDE productions "OnSite MTV," adds, "We treat each SDE as a masterpiece, worthy of audience attention. I feel bad when a bride decides not to have one shown at her wedding."
Adam Mancini of New Jersey-based Mancini Productions (and Eric and Adam, a Metro NYC partnership with Eric Model) says, "Once you do your first SDE, you are hooked, it’s addictive. Guests leave the wedding talking about your video talents."
Your First SDE Production
Your first SDE should be as stress-free as possible. One way to minimize the stress involved is to keep it short and not be too ambitious. I would suggest producing a short 60-picture photomontage and adding a 90-second SDE component to your production. Videotape the bride and groom on their wedding day saying, "We want to thank all of our friends and family for sharing our wedding memories with us."
Edit this statement from the bridal couple between the photomontage and the start of your SDE. You'll need to integrate some music with your video at this point; if your tendency is to use popular songs with your videos, regardless of the associated copyright issues, choose something happy and possibly with nostalgic appeal on the order of the Turtles’ "Happy Together." This type of song will bond the oldest member at the wedding with the youngest member. It is also the kind of verse-chorus-verse song that you can easily edit down to 90 seconds. [EventDV does not endorse the practice of using copyright-protected music without the permission of the copyright holder or the payment of a compulsory licensing fee, but in recognition of the fact that it is a common industry practice, we’ll reference it where relevant until the pertinent issues are resolved.—Ed.]
Your first short photomontage and SDE will be a treat for the wedding guests, yet they do not have to be on the same creative editing level as the ones the Von Lankens, Philip Hinkle, or the Randalls have produced to achieve the desired effect. These creative pros have mastered their editing styles with their highly involved productions. You have not, so keep it simple and short. For example, in your first production, use basic dissolves between the 10 to 14 highlight shots of the ceremony and reception that you include.
Just in case you run into editing problems, bring along a standalone photomontage that ends with a closing graphic after the last photograph. The only people that know you are going to do an SDE are your staff and the bride and groom. The audience is not aware of what you are producing, so if your first SDE does not work out, the audience will at least enjoy a short photo montage and never know what they missed. (You can always sort the rest out with the bride and groom the next time you meet with them after the wedding day.)
Greater Boston videographer Mike Callahan (Black Tie Video), whose pacing and video editing of SDEs makes him one of the best in the business, recommends first-time SDE editors go through a couple of trial runs before doing the real thing. "You should bring your laptop to a few different weddings and edit some practice SDEs while everyone is on break for dinner," he says. "Since you won’t be showing this product, you can get a feel for the timing and pacing of your editing."
Once you have finished editing and are ready to show your SDE, you want to make sure your AV support system is fired up and ready to go. Although some videographers prefer to outsource the AV component to the DJ, hotel staff, or third-party vendor, most SDE professionals want to be in control of the final product by bringing their own equipment.
Besides our screens, sounds system, draped carts, and laptop, we bring a spare projector, extra cables, and lots of extension cords. To keep the stress level at a minimum, I have my AV person set up the equipment on the dance floor during the cocktail hour to test out the system and to allow us to figure out where to place the projector for best projection. We then break down the system and store it away from the celebration until we are ready to show it after dinner.
Once you have wiped the final bead of sweat off your forehead, flash a smile as you watch a preview of the finished product; you are now ready to showcase your work. Most videographers like to show their production towards the end of dinner because the dance floor is empty and the band is on break. This is a good time to set up your projection equipment. Try not to show your product directly from the computer. We like to make a DVCAM copy and show it from our deck. DVDs can skip and computers can freeze. Word to the wise—lay it to tape!
When it is showtime, have the bridal couple introduce their video. This is a good time for them to thank their guests for coming and to also invite the audience to move their seats closer to the screen. This bridal couple introduction will allow the guests to focus on the front of the room where you will be showing the video. Once the audience has moved their chairs and settled down, it is time for you to promote your video craft via your SDE.
There is no greater thrill for a videographer than to see his SDE presentation on the big screen while looking around the room and seeing everyone attentive, applauding, crying, and laughing at the video production that just a few minutes ago the videographer was sweating over to finish. (See Video Gallery Clip #5 at www.halslifervideo.com.)
The ROI of SDEs (Financial and Otherwise)
When your SDE production ends and your logo comes on the screen, you will be toasted like a king or queen. All night long, guests will come up to you and ask if you were responsible for that work of art. People will say they have never seen anything like it. For a videographer there is nothing more satisfying than a successful SDE production, and nothing more stressful.
All night long, guests will ask for your business card and congratulate you on your fabulous production. You will gently say, "Thank you," with a huge grin on your face as you shake hands and pass out your cards to your next potential client. So is all this stress and extra hassle of SDEs worth it? Yes! Yes! Yes!
As Adam Mancini says, "SDEs have brought fun back to producing weddings." Paul Basile concurs: "SDE productions have increased my market exposure and increased my per-wedding average fees by over thirty percent." And Laura Randall says, "I love the rush. It makes my day go faster and I love the instant gratification of knowing that I’m getting paid to market myself to 200 people. What’s not to love about producing SDEs?"
Everyone loves the SDE production yet not everyone loves the SDE videographer. Some photographers, DJs, and party planners may feel threatened by the applause and rave reviews you receive when you show your production. Now that the SDE is propelling many videographers to the top of the pecking order, we have to be diplomatic in dealing with the egos of other vendors.
When a vendor shows some resistance to your showing a video you can try to win him over by including SDE footage of what the room décor looks like, showing the photographer snapping a picture of the bridal couple, and showcasing the band with the bride and groom dancing their first dance. Just as the audience enjoys seeing themselves on the big screen, so do the other wedding professionals who work alongside you. Promote them in your SDE, and you’ll have them in your corner in no time. Welcome to the world of SDEs. Once you complete your first production, you will be entering into a select group of videographers who understand all the excitement, stress, and financial benefits of these crowd-pleasing productions.
Hal Slifer is known to his clients as a Video Historian and has produced thousands of family histories for clients throughout New England for more than 25 years.
|Location ||SDE Title ||Editing System ||AV Support ||Wedding Fee ||SDE Fee ||Add-Ons ||SDE Length ||% of Clients Booking SDEs |
|Paul Basile |
|Houston, TX ||Wedding Day Edits ||EDIUS ||Yes ||$4500-$5000 ||$1495 || |
Photo Montage, Love Story
|5-6 min. ||60% |
|Mike Callahan |
|Burlington, MA ||The Instant Replay ||Vegas ||Yes ||$2000-$4895 ||$1495 ||Photo Montage ||8-10 min. ||35% |
|Philip Hinkle |
|Stoughton, WI ||Same Day Edits ||EDIUS ||Yes ||$1840-$3390 ||$900 ||Photo Montage, Love Story ||8-15 min. ||25% |
|Makati City, The Philippines ||Onsite Videos ||Premiere Pro ||No ||$2000 ||$400 ||Usually none ||3-4 min. ||95% |
|Adam Mancini & Eric Model |
|Metro NYC ||Theatrical Wrapups ||EDIUS ||Yes ||$3000 ||$1400 ||Usually none ||3-4 min. ||65% |
|Riccardo Marrone |
|Montreal, Quebec ||Instant Edits ||Final Cut Pro ||Yes ||$1200-$3000 ||$1000-$1400 ||Photo Montage ||7-12 min. ||50% |
Laura & Chris Randall
|Seattle, WA ||Same Day Edits ||Premiere Pro ||Yes ||$3400 ||$1500 ||Usually none ||3-5 min. ||65% |
|Hal Slifer |
|Boston, MA ||Wedding at the Wedding ||Final Cut Pro ||Yes ||$2500-$4000 ||$1800 ||Legacy Biography, Photos ||8-12 min. ||95% |
|Mark & Trisha Von Lanken |
|Tulsa, OK ||Wedding Day Edits ||EDIUS ||Yes ||$2500-$10000 ||$1000 ||Love Story ||3-4 min. ||60% |