Vortex Cinema Production | Raw_Footage








“Can we buy raw footage of our wedding day?”

We get this request a lot from our couples. As a general rule, Vortex Cinema Production does not provide our couples with raw video footage/files.  All and all, we don’t begrudge those requesting it. You may be trying to save a few bucks, or maybe you just want to have some fun and edit it yourself. Maybe you feel like you are missing something that you would liked to have had captured in your 12 hour day. It may even be that you misunderstand just what “raw footage” actually is. We get it.  Hopefully through this we can make a compelling case that not only do you not need raw footage of your wedding day but that there are a few very good reasons you don’t even WANT it.


About “Raw Footage”

Raw footage isn’t available the way it used to be years ago when wedding videos were shot on tape. Though I don’t recommend it, as it isn’t very cost effective for everyone (most of the best footage will already be used in your film).  If this is something you “must” have after reading all of this it can be offered and delivered, it just take a lot of work and planning on our part and can extend the turn around time by a few weeks. If you are ordering this as part of your package just know by adding this option it can easily double the price of your package depending on how many camera’s and how long your day was. An Event such as a wedding as much data/footage that is arrived from a full day shoot it would be impossible to put it on a single DVD. It would take several if not dozens of discs in order to make it high-quality enough to comfortably view.  Every time we start/stop our cameras on a wedding day (generally we have up to 4 camera’s running at any given time) a new file is created on our media cards. That data is then copied to a volume (hard-drive) throughout the day to create redundancy and backup your precious footage.  Because of this process depending on the length of your day (usually 10-12 hours on average) there will be literally thousands of individual files and you would have to watch all of them separately.


What is “Raw Footage”

Raw footage is the unedited footage taken directly from our professional camera. It has no color correction, no cuts, no off camera audio, and is filled with unused footage that never makes it to the final version of your edited wedding. Vortex shoots weddings with the intention of being edited and, as such, have hours of footage of things like napkins being folded and close ups of the brides make up, not to mention all the major events of the wedding day. Some of this footage is shot several times until we get the shot we want so the other shots can be outright ugly.  It is not uncommon for Vortex to have 600 minutes of footage that must be reviewed and edited into the final delivered pieces that you as the bride receive.

Many people confuse the term “raw footage” with a digital version of their edited wedding film. This is easy to confuse and is usually just as easy to clear up with someone. We gladly deliver all edited videos in a digital format to our clients. We want it to be easy for them to enjoy their wedding film in any way they choose. Unlike edited footage that looks and sounds beautiful, raw footage may look dark or even a bit brown (depending on the camera and the lighting situation) compared to the final product as we shoot in a flat image so that we can bring colors and content out in the edit. This footage almost never has great audio if it has audio at all, as the camera may be very far away from the subject and we only use this audio for syncing purposes for our professional recorders.

The amazing thing is that Raw Footage takes up a lot of space. It could easily total up to an average of 200-400 GB per wedding (depending on how many camera’s and length of wedding)!  What's more incredible is that after we edit your wedding the size of your overall project balloons to about 300-800 GB.   Additionally, when the files come out of our camera they are in a format that requires special, professional software to view and manipulate.  So unless you are an adept video professional or encoder and have similar, expensive equipment to what we use you likely won't be able to view them.   Also, many parts of the day were shot with multiple cameras from different angles so all of these files showing the same thing from a different perspective would also have to be watched separately as well.  This is why we offer "documentary edits" of your ceremony, first dance, parents' dances and toasts.  This allows you to view these parts of the day in their entirety as if they were being broadcast on live TV with all of the angles cut together for optimum viewing.  The quality is very nice, too.


Why you don’t want raw footage of your wedding.

Despite our reasons for not offering raw footage, I think a better argument can be made that most couples who inquire about raw footage don’t even really WANT it…

Raw video footage is a very daunting thing, indeed. It exists in folders with names like “Card 1″ and with nondescript file names like “IMG_4067.mov” that give you no clue as to what content is in it, unless you shot it yourself. It would only be useful to someone if you plan on reviewing and editing the all 10 hours of footage yourself. Most don’t. The fact is most people don’t have the time to deal with this massive project. For a professional editor it will take at least 30 hours to edit a wedding, but it can easily creep upwards of 50 hours depending on the event or client.  Needless to say, it would take someone who was not a pro a lot longer.

Video editing is very hard on your computer. Part of what make s a pro editor fast is the investment they have made to get the best gear they can possibly get to make the process go smoothly, and that includes some serious computer horsepower. Not to mention the cost of storage. A wedding film that is not backed up is one power surge away from getting erased. At Vortex we back up everyone’s wedding… Twice. Redundancy is the name of the game.

Not to mention that video editing is hard! Seriously, it is. No matter what anyone else would leave you to believe, taking three camera angles and three off camera audio sources, syncing them up, and editing them takes a good amount of skill to do correctly and should not be attempted lightly. A good editor is so much more than just someone who can “work computers good”. They are a good storyteller with the understanding of feel and timing necessary to bring life and gravity to the footage they are editing.

You don’t need raw footage if all you want is a digital version of your wedding. Any modern wedding videographer will provide this to their couples. You simply will not be able to re-edit their work, and for most people that’s totally fine. 

Do you still want raw video footage?

I want to make one thing abundantly clear. We love the various wedding blogs that are available for to help our couples to become educated consumers. They are great tools for them to learn about wedding planning “dos and don’ts”.  In many ways they are our bread and butter because they let people know about our company and services and create demand for creative, high-end photo and video. For this, we here at Vortex are forever grateful! In light of this, we offer a bit of advise to those reading them to get tips for planning your dream wedding and booking your photo and video professional: Take their advice with a grain of salt. Most of the writers are not photo or video professionals and are unaware of what goes into making these works of art come to life. One of the bits of advice many of our brides are given is “Ask your videographer for the raw footage.” Frankly, we think this is bad advice for most couples. Before you request raw footage from us or any videographer ask yourself a few questions

   1. “Do I want to invest upwards of 50 hours editing my wedding?”
   2. “Am I capable of doing a good job editing my wedding?”
   3. “Is my computer capable of editing video?”
   4. “Am I comfortable getting anything less the the fullness of the artistic vision of the video professional I am hiring?”

Most likely the answer to those questions above is a big “No” for most people. Honestly, do you really need more job in your life or to have to worry if Uncle Jim will loose all your wedding footage?

Still Want your Raw Footage?

So all this having been said, you find yourself still wanting it? Then let me walk you through the process.

The way we deliver raw footage is (once payment is received) we purchase a 1TB hard drive, transcode all of the raw files to a format you can watch on your computer (provided it is fast enough to handle full 1080p video files natively,) watermark them to prevent unauthorized editing and re-distribution and then transfer them to the hard drive.  This process takes hours-upon-hours of work and rendering time on our systems; systems that are normally used for editing films throughout our day.  There's also the matter of intellectual property and copyright.


The files themselves are copyrighted by our studio the moment they are created under Federal Copyright and Intellectual Property laws.  Therefore, by giving them to our clients we maintain legal ownership of the files although you are free to use them for personal viewing use only.  This means no other media outlet, production company, professional or amateur videographer or hobbyist can use them for any reason.  It may seem harsh but we've actually had former clients and their friends and relatives use our raw footage to edit their own videos and pass it off as their own work to go into business for themselves.  So the idea that my trade secret, my very means of providing for my family is basically an open book to be read and reverse-engineered once the files are released is the very reason we charge for the footage files from the beginning.  It's a matter of principal and I truly hope by explaining what goes into preparing raw footage for our clients, you will understand our reasons for charging the premium that we do for it.


Thanks for reading :-)