Wedding videography can trace its roots back to before the advent of the modern video camera through 8mm and 16mm films. When film was the only way to capture moving pictures, a few enterprising individuals would take the family 8mm camera and film the weddings of friends and family. These film cameras had a major limitation in the form of 4-minute load times. After exposing 4 minutes of film the operator would have to load a new film cartridge. The high cost of processing and the fact the majority of them could not record sound to the film further limited the industry. But there were a few individuals who had turned the documentation of weddings into a business.
1980 saw the introduction of the first consumer camcorders by Sony, with other manufacturers soon following suit. With the introduction of these first camcorders, wedding video documentation evolved from something only for the rich into something for the masses. Early adopters were primarily hobbyists who at first started recording the weddings of friends and family, then went on to do jobs for pay.
The early days of professional wedding videography were primitive, with the equipment generally reproducing low image quality. Cameras required bright lights, had fuzzy pictures, poor color saturation and single-channel, poor quality audio. The cameras were bulky, with a separate unit that connected to the video recorder via a cable, severely limiting the videographer’s movement. In post-production many wedding videos were not edited. Generation loss was also a limiting factor because of the nature of analog video tape.
From its earliest days and through the 1980s, Wedding Videography developed a negative reputation of interfering with the festivities it was meant to document. The bright lights required to produce a quality image were damaging to the atmosphere many brides and grooms wanted to create. As the market expanded, it was flooded by many individuals who had little experience and technical knowledge, which left a negative impression on the clients. Consumer technology available to the wedding videographer also could not equal broadcast quality of the time.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the state of the industry began to shift for the better. Videographers began to get organized behind regional and national organizations, the largest and still active organization being Wedding and Event Videographers Association International (WEVA). Manufacturers created a market between the professional video camera and video camera consumer levels which became known as prosumer which met the needs of this niche market.
Towards the mid-1990s, the manufacturers introduced the next evolution of cameras with digital cameras which removed the last of the technological barriers that had impeded wedding videography since its inception. The cameras were small, mobile, worked even better than the already good analog cameras on the market in low light situations and allowed the videographer to be discreet and not an intrusion on the events. These prosumer digital cameras were even adopted by many commercial producers because of their size and the quality of their images.
Post-production creativity took a major leap forward with the introduction of advanced tools like the Newtek Video Toaster in the early 1990s. This led to the introduction of other relatively inexpensive non-linear editing systems (NLE) which offered the editor many more creative options. But the delivery method still relied on an analog viewing system, VHSvideo tape. This changed in the late 1990s with introduction of the recordable DVD. Weddings and events were now recorded digitally, edited digitally and delivered digitally, greatly improving the image quality.
By the late 1990s, wedding videography had expanded beyond documentation of weddings. The majority of wedding videographers preferred to add the additional term of “event” to their description of service. New offerings such as Love Stories, Photo Montages (a retrospective collection of photographs set to music), music videos, family biographies appeared. Anniversaries, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, and many other one-time events were also being documented in large numbers on video. The general skill level of the industries members improved and post-production capabilities reflected the standards of commercial productions. As the industry grew the consumer began to have options, both in the length and the level of creativity, for how their event was portrayed.
Ironically the progenitor of video, 8mm, super 8mm, 16mm and even 35mm film stock is enjoying a revival within the wedding videography industry with some studios offering a combination of the video formats with the film formats and others offering film stock only production. Another major shift in how wedding and event video is produced and delivered is occurring with the introduction of High-definition video Technology and Blu-ray discs, using such DSLR cameras as Canon 5D Mark III. Production equipment once limited to the commercial studios began to appear in the wedding video industry; Steadicam units, sliders, 3D, Live Webcast, jibs and other camera movement systems. Post-production editing tools improved with the introduction of more capable computers and software.