When it comes to using slow motion Philip White seems to be a fan. This is something I find really interesting, because I’ve always considered slow motion to be a little bit cheap looking. Studying Philip’s films has made me change my mind. The difference I see with his footage is that his shots tend to be on the more static end of the spectrum. He doesn’t use a gimbal or a slider, or a jib (yes, people are actually using jibs at weddings,) so his shots tend to look more elegant because he is able to spend the time to compose them properly. The slow motion can be a great way to simply add or take away time from the film in the edit. You can speed up the pace or slow it down. This simply offers more flexibility in post. Keep in mind that too much flexibility is not always a good thing. Seventeen angles of a ceremony offers my flexibility, but you’re not going have fun editing them all together.
One thing I’ve noticed with some of Philip’s work is that it can have a substantial amount of noise. The weird thing is this almost never looks bad. The conclusion I’ve come to is that noise will make a bad shot look worse, but if the shot is good to begin with it really won’t make that big of a difference. This is doubly true for the couple who probably won’t even notice noisy footage. Once you can compose a nice image you don’t have to worry about a small amount of noise in your footage. So, learning and practicing good composition is a good place to start.
A note about adding grain overlays to your footage to make it look more analogue and vintage, or filmic. This can be really… really cool. However, I have discovered that adding grain to 8 bit footage can just make it look horrible regardless of how clean it was shot. If you have clean footage from a 10 bit camera though put as much grain on as you’d like and it will just keep looking better. In my opinion more is better. This does not apply if your footage is already noisy though. In my opinion, adding grain to digital noise only makes the footage look worse.
Pacing is one of those things you can learn by watching other people’s work and studying it. I’m going to make a video on this in the future. Mr. White is a master of many things, and pacing is at the top of the list. He uses stills at the beginning of each of his scenes to break up the flow and slow motion to slow things down even further. He also takes a unique approach to covering a wedding that is worth studying.
Philip White has a free guide on this you can read here
He explains what he does as not worrying about making sure you can tell what’s happening. He would probably say that his goal for 90% of the wedding coverage is meant to confuse the viewer. Follow that link above and check out his composing guide where he lays out most of his techniques for creating dynamic compositions.
This is probably the most important point you can take away from his shooting style. Philip is not just shooting like a photographer. That is, his not trying to show everything in each shot. Instead he shows you little pieces and when you put all of the pieces together you have an interesting sequence. Don’t shoot like a photographer. Shoot with the intention of showing little pieces that you can bring together to create a sequence.