Tidal Videographer Guidelines

​Welcome to Tidal Wedding Films!  We’re excited to have you working with our team.   Whether you are new to filming weddings or an experienced professional, please take the time to read these guidelines all the way through to the bottom.  We update these from time to time so keep the link for reference down the road.

The Basics
 

Bookings:  By now you should already be set up in our system to receive booking offers via your Tidal gmail address.  Once you've accepted a job, you are expected to fulfill the responsibility of filming that event. 

 

***If you will be unable to shoot on a day that you are assigned, please contact Dustin@tidalweddingfilms.com at least 30 days prior so he can find a replacement for you.**  

 

After you've accepted the gig, your Google calendar will automatically be updated with the wedding details (Bride and Groom Names, Wedding Date, and Venue Location)  We will email you the timeline of events for your shoot.

How to dress:  We ask that you blend in with the guests and wear something you would wear to a friends wedding.  Dress to impress.  Don’t be too casual (No jeans, No shorts).  We don’t require or ask that you wear all black, it's not part of our style since there are usually no other guests wearing all black.  A dress shirt and slacks are perfect.

At the Wedding:  Always arrive at the event / wedding at least 30 minutes early.  This gives you time to park your car, sync your cameras, double check batteries and camera cards, take a breath, etc.  Expect the unexpected. Your car will break down, there will be traffic, you can’t find the venue, etc… plan for those things.  We pay lead filmmaker's an additional $50 to show up early and fly the drone.

 

Our philosophy is, “If you’re right on time, you’re late.”

  • You will receive a timeline of events for your gig prior to the day of the shoot.  Please study this timeline in detail and remember names of important wedding party members, locations and times of specific events, etc.
     

  • We bill our clients by the hour, so you are technically "On the clock" from the moment you begin filming to the moment you are finished filming.  You are expected to begin filming at the start of the timeline.  You may not be paid if you begin filming earlier than the timeline indicates, unless it's approved by the client at the shoot.  If you are asked to stay longer than initially requested, please tell the clients you are happy to do so and they will be billed according to the rate on their contract.  Tell them as a videographer you are only hired to film their event and have no information about their contract or rates.  You must get approval from the client for any overtime at the day of the event.  Be sure to tell Tidal about your overtime in your invoice and you will be compensated at your usual rate.
     

  • Keep your phone with you and place it on vibrate in case the clients or assistants need to call you.  Please don’t use your cell phone in front of clients.  Step out of sight to check it if absolutely necessary.  It can give the wrong impression when clients see you standing around with your phone out.  It looks like you have somewhere else to be or something more important to do.   If you are on a break, please use your phone in a private area where no one can see you.

Best Practices

These tips help our team stay consistent through the entire wedding season.  Please follow these procedures for every shoot.

 

  1. Format your camera cards before the start of the event.  Anticipate using more than 1 card per camera. 
     

  2. Please don't wait until your camera card is full to change it. Make a habit of changing your card between the ceremony and reception if needed.
     

  3. Make sure your camera has the correct date and time stamp, and is in sync with the your other cameras (As well as the assistant's camera)  Please remind them if needed. 
     

  4. Please record in the highest quality your camera allows for.  We typically film all b-roll at a minimum of 1080 60fps.  4k 60fps is preferred.  You can film the ceremony and toasts at 24fps, but all other clips should be filmed at 60fps.
     

  5. Follow the 180 degree shutter rule.  That means your shutter speed should be twice what your recording frame rate is.  So if you're filming at 24fps, set your shutter to 1/50th.  60fps, shutter at 1/125th  Obviously this is not exactly double, but it is as close as most Mirrorless cameras will allow.  NEVER allow your shutter speed to fall below your recording frame rate.  (Example:  60fps at 1/50th shutter)
     

  6. Film the ceremony and toasts in 24fps.  Ideally in 4k.  Do not cut - film the entire ceremony in one continuous clip (If possible.)  This makes it much easier to sync and create multi-cam edits in post production.  Some cameras are limited to 29 minutes, so be sure to restart recording before time runs out - just try to film the ceremony and toasts in as few clips as possible.
     

  7. Lead filmmakers must use 2 cameras to record the ceremony and toasts.  See Camera Setups below for more on this.  
     

  8. Do not delete any clips during or after the shoot, even test shots.  We will edit the clips during our post-production process.
     

  9. ALWAYS place your own lavalier microphones on the groom AND on the officiant.  When a sound system is present, please also plug an external recorder in to capture that clean audio feed.  We always need a minimum of 3 sources of sound recording and we never want to rely on the sound from the camera.  Refer to the preferred equipment list below.
     

Lead Filmmakers / 2nd Filmmakers

 

 

The lead filmmaker is at the wedding to provide full coverage of the wedding couple.  That means they will be alongside the bride, groom or both for the whole day.  Solo lead filmmakers should stay with the bride when the bride and groom can't be filmed at the same time.  For example, when the bride and groom are getting ready at the same time in different locations, film the bride and catch up with the groom later on.  Solo lead filmmakers are expected to run 2 cameras during the ceremony and toasts at every wedding.  For further explanation, see the Camera Setups section below.  Solo lead filmmakers are responsible for covering footage of the bride and groom as well as details, aerial and venue footage. 

 

The 2nd filmmaker's priority at the wedding is to cover the overall event from a different angle than the lead filmmaker, as well as the event details (table settings, cake, flowers, etc). 

 

*Whether you are a lead or a 2nd filmmaker, we are not looking to have you be hidden. You are part of the experience!  Maintain a happy energy and interact with the guests.  Always be looking for something to film and don’t film the same thing as the other filmmaker unless you're getting a complimentary angle you both agree will help better tell the story.

  • Introduce yourself!  Always introduce yourself to the parents (especially mom), bride and groom, bridal party, etc.  This needs to be done the moment you see them.  It’s all about first impressions. You can set the tone for the entire day. You need to make sure they know that you understand how important this day is.  Remember, this day is the biggest day of the parents’ lives also.

  • There are always 10 guests watching you. Don’t ever let them see you on your phone, eating, drinking, goofing off.  Sounds silly, but guests have been known to make up stories about vendors!


    Camera Setups

We have worked hard to develop a style that is modern and clean, so it will be enjoyable to watch for years to come.  Our filmmakers use gimbals to add camera movement to their footage.  Gimbals are great tools, but we also need good, clean basic shots where the camera is locked down on a monopod or tripod.  Follow the tips below to capture dynamic, beautiful footage that will give our editors flexibility when they create the final video. 

Shoot with zoom lenses and switch up the focal lengths often.  The majority of our work is shot on a 24-70mm f2.8 lens and we switch the focal lengths constantly.  Ultra-wide and telephoto zooms have their benefits, too - but you can get away with the 24-70 for most of the day.

Use the gimbal properly.  Not every shot requires camera movement.  First, hold the camera steady and capture the shot without any movement.  Then get another clip with movement.  Make sure you move decisively, from one point to another, then hold.  We do not need shots that "bounce" back and forth or forwards and backwards.  

Ceremony:  We always use at least 2 cameras when filming ceremonies (with the exception of elopements)  If we have 2 filmmakers, we'll film with 3 cameras for the ceremony.  Solo filmmakers should have their A Camera on a gimbal in their hands and their B Camera on a tripod.  2nd filmmakers should focus on getting crowd reactions during the ceremony - the lead filmmaker will have the bride and groom covered.

 

Ceremony Cam A:  Stay on the gimbal with your A Camera on a 24-70mm lens for the entire ceremony.  Make sure you have the tripod legs fixed to the bottom of your gimbal so you can set it down.  Stand at the arch before the ceremony starts.  Record the officiant and groom walking down the aisle from the front with little or no camera movement.  Be sure to record wedding party members coming down the aisle, too.  Crouch low for small flower girls or ring bearers - get on their level.  Stand back up before the bride's music comes on and record everyone standing up for her.  Slowly swivel around to get the groom's face as he sees his bride walking down the aisle.  Then swing back to record her walking down the aisle.  No need to zoom, just record her walk early enough to get her full body in the frame.  (Brides want to see their dress in action)  As she gets closer to the groom, swing yourself out so you can get the bride, her father and the groom in one shot.  We always want to capture the hand off.  After the bride is given to the groom and they settle in by the arch for the ceremony, slowly walk backwards out from in front of everyone and out to to the back of the ceremony.  Set your gimbal down on the ground at the very back of the aisle and zooom in so you can get the bride, groom and officiant in the shot.  Then go check your B camera on the tripod to make sure it has a good shot.

 

Ceremony Cam B:  Put your B Camera on a tripod with a 35mm or 55mm lens on it.  Place that camera behind the gallery, on the opposite side of the arch (in the back).  Set that lens's focus so that the couple is sharp and make sure to record at f5.6 or smaller.  Record in 24fps at 4k resolution if possible. 

Toasts:  It's important to try and get the bride, groom and the person giving the toast in one shot.  Ask the DJ to facilitate this by handing the microphone to the toast giver only after they've stood next to the couple.  Setup your B Camera on a tripod and use it to capture all three of them in a full-body shot in 24fps at 4k resolution.  Stand by the tripod to monitor that shot and use your A Camera to grab shots of the crowd clapping and laughing at the toasts.  These reaction shots are super important - do not skip this step!  The bride and groom like to see people having fun at their party.


General Tips:
 

  • Framing - This should be obvious, but we don’t need / want electrical cords, luggage, trash or random people in our shots.  Please take the time to clean up the scene, move your camera, etc. to avoid these things.
     

  • Flash -  Avoid capturing flash in your shot.  It cheapens the look of the film and we try to avoid it in our final edit altogether.  The only time you should be forced to capture flash is during formalities like the ceremony or toasts / cake / bouquet toss, etc.  Otherwise, try to avoid it or reshoot “moments” to replace the flashed versions
     

  • Still shots -  If the clients are still (i.e. smiling at the photographer for portraits) then be sure to move your camera.  Either zoom in, use a gimbal, or pan slowly across their faces.  Video is about movement - no one needs static video of still photos.
     

  • Slow-mo -  We shoot everything at 60fps.  Just because you’re shooting in “slow-mo” doesn’t mean you can move very quickly and it will look good later.  Keep in mind your movements should remain slow and intentionally cinematic.
     

  • B-Roll -  Always look for interesting elements to help tell the story of the day.  Set the scene with a few tight shots of details like flowers and trees before getting a wide angle pan of the overall area.
     

  • Genuine Emotion -  A lot of people are uncomfortable in front of the camera.  If you see the bride or groom going “stale” - shake ‘em up a bit!  A few genuine laughs will go a long way in the highlight film.  People want to show that they were having fun!
     

  • White Balance - Proper white balance is critical.  Do not use Auto White Balance.  The best choice is to manually set your white balance using the Kelvin settings.  If you're not familiar with Kelvin settings, select a pre-programmed white balance setting that's appropriate for the scene.  (Example, Sunny, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, etc.)
     

  • Expose for the highlights -  While we don’t have RAW editing capability, it is still better to preserve the highlights than to overexpose for the subject.  During the daytime, you should expose for the bride’s dress.  At High ISOs, the opposite is true - try to overexpose by about 1/3 stop when you are at ISO 2000 or higher.
     

  • Shutter speed -  The general rule for video shutter speed is to double your FPS.  For example, if you’re filming at 60fps, your shutter should be at 120.  Stop the aperture down or use an ND filter to get shallow depth of field in bright sunlight.  *You may have to use a slower or faster shutter speed when shooting indoors under artificial lighting to avoid flicker.  Never set your shutter BELOW your frame rate.  At its slowest, your shutter speed should match the frame rate.
     

  • Movement -  Hold your shots!  Plan your shots and keep them simple.  If a subject is coming towards you, let them fill the frame and walk out of the frame.  Don’t worry about trying to zoom out or twist around awkwardly to keep with them.  We’ll just cut to the next shot in the edit.
     

  • Rack-Focus -  The best part about DSLR video is the lenses!  Don’t be afraid to utilize shallow depth of field to rack focus between subjects.  Just be sure to expose correctly.  You may need ND filters in bright sunlight.
     

  • Dancing -  Try to get a mix of full-body and tight shots on people’s faces.  Speaking of faces, get out on the dance floor!  We want to see people’s expressions, not just their backs.

Sound

 

Sound is actually more important than video.  Bad sound will make even the prettiest footage unusable.  Here is some advice to capture amazing sound at every wedding:

Make sure all of your cameras are set to record audio.  Set them to auto-level.  We will never rely on this audio for professional production, but we do need the scratch audio for synching in post.

Ceremony Sound:  Place lavalier mics on both the groom and the officiant for the ceremony.  Make sure their microphones are about 10 inches away from their mouths.  Ask them to give you some test audio in their natural speaking voices.  Monitor the recording levels on the mics and set it so the levels never peak above -6db.  Preferably, use a lavalier mic that records locally to itself and records a backup track with at least -10db difference from the level you set.  

For ceremonies that have a sound system, use an external recorder like a Zoom H4n to plug in to the soundboard or speaker for a clean audio feed.  Ask the officiant to speak into the microphone to get a level reading on your recorder.  Make sure nothing peaks above -6db.

Toasts Sound:  For toasts, plug your external recorder into the DJ's sound system, have him speak into the microphone and make sure levels never peak above -6db.  If there is no sound system, use a lavalier mic for each person speaking.  Place your other lavalier mic out of sight on the head table in front of the bride and groom to record their reactions to the toasts.  You can also use your external recorder for this if it's not already plugged into the sound system.

Uploading your footage:  We use Dropbox, so that is the preferred method.  We can also accept footage via Google Drive or We Transfer.  Here is the process after you've filmed the wedding.

Create

  1. Create a folder on your home computer titled (Date) (Bride First Name) + (Groom First Name)Wedding

  2. Create subfolders labeled Footage and Sound

  3. Create subfolders inside those folders labeled Cam A, Cam B for Footage and Lav and Line-in for Sound

  4. Upload all of your footage and sound into the appropriate folders

  5. Upload the master folder to Dropbox

  6. Once it's completely uploaded to Dropbox, share the folder with sheffield.dustin@gmail.com.

  7. When you share, type the overall number of files and total file size in the comments section. (i.e. 197 files, 265 gb)

  8. After you click share the first time, click share again and make sheffield.dustin@gmail.com the owner of the folder.

  9. Do not reuse those camera cards until we have confirmed all the footage has been received.

 

Payment:  Tidal pays contractors via direct deposit through Quickbooks online.  In order to be paid in a timely manner after your event, you will need to send us invoices for the work you perform for us.  You can send your invoice at the same time you send the Dropbox link to the footage you've captured.  Please include the following information on each invoice:

 

  • Your name

  • Date of event

  • Bride-Groom/Event Name

  • Number of hours worked

  • Total amount to be paid

 

Please email your invoice to dustin@tidalweddingfilms.com.  You can send one invoice for each event, as it is completed, or combine and send invoices together if more than one event is worked during a pay period.​​
 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Shot Lists

We never work directly off of shot lists as we film events, because we think that slows down the creative process and takes all the fun out of being spontaneous.  With that said, please review these lists every once in a while to brush up on shots you may have forgotten about. 

Lead Filmmaker

 

Set the scene
 

  • Creative gimbal shot showing off the venue

  • Gimbal shot coming from behind something to reveal the ceremony site

  • Rack-focus of flowers at ceremony site

  • Gimbal walk-through down the aisle of ceremony site

  • Gimbal push-through of archway at ceremony site

  • Gimbal walk-under of treetops with light streaming through the leaves

  • 10 quick details shots (Cake, flowers, centerpieces, table settings, etc)
     

Bride Getting Ready
 

  • Closeup shot of bride getting makeup done

  • Silhouette of bride getting hair/makeup finished

  • Gimbal walking away and towards hanging dress

  • Bride petting / admiring her dress

  • Closeup of bride’s ring hand brushing down the dress

  • Bridesmaids toasting drinks

  • Bridesmaids in matching robes having a good time

  • Mother or MOH helping bride into her dress

  • Bridesmaids lined up admiring bride in her dress

  • All bridesmaids working together to adjust bride in her dress

  • Bride walking with bridesmaids towards the camera

  • Bride spinning or twirling solo in her dress

  • Closeup of bride looking out window

  • Full-body silhouette of bride looking out the window

  • Gimbal orbit of bride smiling at the camera

  • Closeup of brides eyelashes / earrings / necklace when she’s in the dress

  • Bride reading card from Groom
     

First Look (If applicable)
 

  • Gimbal reveal of bride walking up behind the groom

  • Closeup of her hand on his shoulder

  • Mid-shot of groom’s reaction with bride in frame

  • Orbit of bride and groom kissing

  • Follow shot of bride and groom walking

  • Mid shot of bride looking back at the camera while walking

  • Closeup of bride and groom joining hands (just the hands)
     

Ceremony
 

  • Gimbal reveal of bride walking down the aisle from front (use the guests)

  • Grooms reaction when seeing bride

  • Mid shot of dad handing bride to groom

  • Mid shot of officiant smiling

  • Gimbal shot walking down the aisle with bride and groom at alter

  • Orbit shot from behind the seated guests while ceremony is in progress

  • Mid shot of the kiss

  • Wide shot of bride and groom coming back down the aisle

  • Stop them for another kiss shot mid aisle*

  • Bride and groom kissing with flower petals / bubbles raining down
     

Portraits (During cocktail hour)
 

  • Gimbal shot of bride and groom embraced, smiling at the camera

  • Orbit of bride and groom forehead to forehead

  • Bride and groom with wedding party celebrating

  • Tilt down from the sky (or trees) to bride and groom moving in for a kiss

  • Brides hands clasping around the groom

  • Closeup of ring exchange
     

Grand Entrance
 

  • Gimbal shot of everyone walking in
     

First Dance
 

  • Orbit of bride and groom on dance floor

  • Closeup of couple smiling at each other

  • Closeup of brides hands on groom
     

Toasts
 

  • Bride, Groom and Toaster in the same frame (Tripod)
     

Cake Cut
 

  • Orbit of cake

  • Closeup of couples hands with knife

  • Closeup of cake being cut

  • Closeup of couple feeding each other
     

Bouquet / Garter Toss
 

  • Gimbal shot of bride holding her bouquet, smiling

  • Gimbal reveal of girls catching the bouquet

  • Bride with girl who catches bouquet

  • Mid-shot of groom dancing up to bride

  • Over the shoulder shot of groom getting the garter

  • Mid-shot of groom holding garter up

  • Gimbal reveal of guys fighting to catch the garter

  • Groom with guy who caught the garter
     

Open Dance
 

  • Gimbal orbit of full dance floor

  • Gimbal shot moving through the dance floor

  • Orbit of the DJ or band

  • Tilted angle closeups of people dancing
     

Grand Exit
 

  • Gimbal shot walking backwards with bride and groom through sparkler tunnel

  • Night shot of bride and groom coming together backlit by LED

  • Night shot of bride and groom slow-dancing backlit by LED

Assistant Filmmaker

 

Set the Scene
 

  • Wide angle pan of the venue

  • Establishing shot of the venue sign

  • Closeup pan of flowers or water

  • Slow pan of sunlight coming through the trees
     

Groom Getting Ready
 

  • Details (Shoes, Drinks, Cards, etc)

  • Groom tying shoes

  • Groom putting on jacket

  • Groom adjusting tie / collar

  • Groom looking out window (silhouette)

  • Groom looking out window (side lit)

  • Orbit shot of smiling at camera

  • Groom reading card from bride

  • Groomsmen walking together towards camera

  • Groomsmen toasting / goofing around

  • Closeup of each groomsman
     

First Look (If applicable)
 

  • Full-body shot of the entire first look from the side

  • Couple smiling and walking away hand in hand
     

Ceremony
 

  • Wide angle overall shot of the entire ceremony


Cocktail Hour
 

  • Guests smiling and talking

  • Closeup of drinks being poured

  • Wide angle pan of the entire cocktail hour area

  • Important family members or bridal party having a good time


Grand Entrance
 

  • Reaction shots of both sets of parents

  • Guests clapping / laughing


First Dance
 

  • Wide angle of the entire dance


Toasts
 

  • Reaction shots of both sets of parents

  • Guests clapping / laughing


Cake Cut
 

  • Wide shot of the entire cake cutting


Bouquet / Garter Toss
 

  • Wide angle from the side of both tosses


Open Dance
 

  • Mid-shot of people dancing / having fun

  • Low angle of feet on the dance floor


Grand Exit
 

  • Guests lighting sparklers / blowing bubbles

We use a variety of mirrorless cameras, lenses and sound equipment to film our weddings.  It's not necessary to have the latest and greatest camera gear, but we have. moved on from DSLRs to Mirrorless platforms.  We are truly living in the golden age of camera tech!  Here are the minimum gear requirements to be a solo lead filmmaker for Tidal Wedding Films:

 

  • (2) Full-frame 4k-capable mirrorless camera bodies 
     

  • (3) Zoom lenses (16-35, 24-70, 70-200 preferred)  Prime lenses are fine as long as they collectively cover this overall focal range.
     

  • Gimbal Stabilizer - DJI Ronin or equivalent - no Glidecams please.
     

  • Tripod
     

  • (2) Lavalier microphones
     

  • External audio recorder (to plug in to sound boards at the ceremony and during toasts)

  • (2) LED lights 
     

  • (2) Light stands

Preferred Gear

  • Sony a7sIII, Canon R5, Nikon Z6 II, Panasonic S1H

  • DJI Ronin RS2

  • Rode Wireless Go II Lav Mic System

  • Zoom F6 External Recorder

  • Core SWX Torch LED Bolt 300 Lights
     

 

These are our favorite pieces of gear.  These items can be expensive, but we think they're the best.  We prefer cameras that can film 4k at 60fps and pretty much all of the newest professional mirrorless cameras are capable.  We like DJI gimbals because we've used them for years and they rarely fail.  The Rode Wireless Go II system because it transmits audio to your camera while simultaneously recording locally with a safety track.  The Zoom F6 External Recorder is amazing because it records audio in 32-bit float audio.  That is the audio equivalent to a RAW photo file - the dynamic range of 32-bit float is so high your audio will almost always be recoverable - regardless of the level it's set at when recording.  The Core SWX Torch LEDs are fantastic little workhorse lights.  They're small and lightweight, but they pack a punch!  Remember, these items are not specifically required, they are just our current favorites because they make our lives easier as filmmakers.
 

Gear