Hello soon-to-be Brides and Grooms!
As I had mentioned a few blog posts back, I really want to use this blog as a form of eduction for couples and even aspiring filmmakers. This post could potentially be useful for filmmakers too. However, I really wanted to take a moment to explain to any new engaged couples that are researching wedding filmmaking, why great audio is SO crucial for your wedding film. I made a post a few weeks back talking about music selection for your film, but this is a little different. I am talking about the actual audio from the day, such as the vows and toasts! These audio clips are something you do NOT want to miss out on.
Ask your Videographer/Filmmaker what they use to capture audio!
I have heard horror stories of the couple's filmmaker not explaining fully their audio process, and when they received their wedding film NONE of their vows or toasts were recorded. Sometimes these audio clips are recorded but the actual audio has so much background noise, the important part of the audio can't even be heard! These are worst case scenarios but it is always a smart idea to ask what they will be using to get their audio! The widely accepted industry standard for capturing ceremony and reception audio is a LAPEL or LAV mic. This mic is a small and discreet mic that clips on the lapels of the grooms suit coat. The particular LAV that I use is an omnidirectional mic, which means it will capture audio in more than one direction. This allows me to capture the bride, groom, and even the officiants audio with one device. Because the mic is so close to the people who are speaking there is very little wind noise or background noise. The filmmaker will sync that audio with his footage in post production for crystal clear playback of your ceremony. Typically this mic is running into a small field recorder such as a Zoom H1, which will easily fit into the grooms pocket. (( I will leave images of this gear below ))
"But Josh I don't want to wear a mic! It's invasive!!"
It is definitely your prerogative to not wear a LAV, however, just realize if there is no line in to the DJ's equipment, then your audio from your ceremony will be unusable or very close to it. Due to the nature of how loud weddings can be, and how far away the camera typically is from the subjects, in camera audio is not "good enough".
Along with the LAV mic be sure that your filmmaker has a backup device to capture audio. This could be in the form of a 2nd LAV on the officiant, or with a direct line into the ceremony audio. Most ceremonies will be held over a PA system, and the filmmaker can tap directly into that with a larger recorder. This will capture any audio that leaves the speakers during the ceremony. I use the Zoom H4n field recorder, with XLR cables. This method is the best way to capture audio if you have a friend who will be playing an original song, or if other people will be speaking during the ceremony that will not be located near the altar. You filmmaker will usually check ahead of time to make sure your DJ or officiant has a line in to his equipment, but it can't hurt to double up and make sure they do yourself as well.
What about the Reception/Toasts?
My method to capture toasts and any other needed reception audio is typically the "direct line in" method I talked about earlier. I do this for a few different reasons. Firstly I do it because of the nature of receptions. They are typically very fast paced in nature, which would make swapping a LAV to each person giving a toast very antiquated and slow. I could potentially hold up the schedule or even miss footage by having to mic each person. Also, plugging into the DJ's equipment tends to be a little easier and fail safe than plugging into ceremony audio. Lastly I am a lot closer to the people speaking during the reception so in a pinch the in camera audio would work!
It is our job as your wedding filmmaker to deal with all of this confusing technical stuff! However, I truly believe in the power of education. Personally it would make me feel a lot better if I even remotely understood how my wedding filmmaker was going to be capturing my audio! That is why I made this post! I hope this post can give you a running start to understanding a bit more of what your filmmaker does, and in turn help you decide which one is right for you!
If you have any more questions about audio or wedding films in general feel free to shoot me an email or a PM on Facebook! I am a huge nerd when it comes to this subject and I would love to chat with y'all! :) Thank you for reading and good luck with the rest of your wedding planning process!!
Joshua Bryan Medlin
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