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A Videographer’s Thoughts: The Fear of Sound

Matt The Cinematographer1The first thing I often hear when wedding guests realise that I’m not photographing but filming is this:

“You’re not recording sound are you?”

It’s an understandable concern, after all when you’ve had a few drinks and are relaxed and chatting to your friends you’re bound to occasionally get a little loose-lipped and say something that you probably didn’t want recording. As documentary style videographers though the last thing we want is for people to be worrying about what they say and acting unnaturally (or indeed not enjoying the day) in our presence. This is of particular concern when it comes to the speakers at the wedding breakfast or the groom during the ceremony who (depending on the choices of the individual videographer) may be asked to wear a hidden radio microphone or recorder in order to pick up every word with crystal clarity.

So I think it’s time we put your minds at ease. Anything you say that gets picked up by the microphones and is either private or potentially inappropriate will NOT be included in the couple’s wedding video. In fact with most videos now set to music and often including audio only from the speeches and ceremony or perhaps interviews with the couple and/or their guests, the chances are that much of the audio recorded on the day might never even be listened to by the videographer themselves…

Take the ceremony for example. As we’ve already mentioned the groom may well be asked to wear a radio mic and, as the videographer may for example need to go outside to capture the arrival of the bride, there’s a chance they may start recording the feed from the radio mic a few minutes before the bride’s expected arrival. This is doubtless going to lead to a certain amount of small talk from the groom and those he is talking to before the ceremony which surely the videographer will listen to before they find the start of the ceremony right?

Well no, they won’t. Videographers (in the majority of cases) normally record radio mic feeds in one of two ways: either by plugging the receiver directly into their cameras so that the audio is recorded directly onto the video footage or they might use a stand-alone sound recorder to capture the sound separately and sync it back up later. In the case of the former the videographer is likely to simply watch the footage and see where the ceremony starts (if indeed they set their cameras recording before the ceremony begins), whilst with the latter they are likely to be opening up the sound files in software that shows them what’s known as the Waveform – a pictorial representation of what the sound is doing, and in most cases simply looking at this will tell them where their useful audio starts and ends. If, for example, they’re looking at the waveform of the groom’s mic then the loudest bits are either going to be the groom speaking or the guests cheering – either way that’s the area they’re likely to skip straight to rather than listen to 20 minutes of quiet audio which is presumably likely to be the groom speaking to the best man before some louder audio shows us that the bride’s entrance music has begun.

The Fear of Audio Sample Shot

Videographers often record hours and hours of footage on a wedding day, often with more than one camera recording at a time even if they’re only looking to produce a 5-10 minute end film. For most, whilst some of the general sounds picked up during the day might well be included, that means that they’re going to be skipping straight to the audio they know is likely to be most relevant rather than listening to every single word spoken as they simply don’t have the time to listen to every last second of 20 hours of footage. Even if they do happen to pick up something that they weren’t meant to hear it’s important to remember that the purpose of the wedding video is to bring happiness to the couple and their families, not to include comments that are likely to upset them!

So when you spot the videographers walking around don’t fear their microphones, when it comes to a wedding loose lips won’t be sinking any ships today.


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