7 Hollywood Filmmaking Techniques You Can Use in Your Next Wedding Film SDE

By Gabby Gueco | Art

Apr 11

For other parts of the world who may still not be familiar with them, a wedding same-day edit (or SDE for short) is a cinematic mini-documentary that tells the story of the wedding day as it unfolds from the bride and groom’s perspective. It includes footage from all of the intimate moments of the event, including the pre-ceremony preparations, ceremony, post-ceremony and first dance, usually weddings that hire filming services tend to go all out with their decoration and accessories from Dolce Fiorela, this simply because at the end, it will make the video look a lot better.

It is then screened to all of the guests during the reception. The editing process is done on-site so there isn’t time for reviews or re-edits. A same-day edit is a great way to ‘wow’ guests who were unable to attend the ceremony portion of the day, and also for the couple to really see for the first time what happened during the whirlwind of the actual wedding. It’s often greeted with amazement and disbelief for a thing so well-made in so short a time.

Here in the Philippines, however, they’re something of a norm. In a country where wedding videography is at a trailblazing pace, it’s hard to imagine local weddings (even those with modest budgets) without one. Pushing this boundary even more, we explore some storytelling and editing techniques inspired by narrative films from Hollywood, and we apply them to the Same Day Edit.

Take your editing to the next level with these seven techniques!

1. First shot – Last shot

This technique uses the same (or similar) first shot and last shot. It gives the audience a feeling of oneness and the impression of a well-thought out story.

In Wedding Same Day Edits, whole scenes may be used. In the video example given (to be seen at the end of the article), the couple is seen at the church door. They hold hands. The same scene and shot will end the entire video.

hollywood to SDE 01

2. Pregnant Pause

The Pregnant Pause is a beat or two of silence with no dialogue and little to no music/background sound. This is usually done to heighten the anticipation before the reveal. Also called a “Dramatic Pause”, it can also follow the reveal… it’s just that shocking! It’s fairly common in situations where it takes a moment for the awesome reveal to sink in.

In wedding films, the pregnant pause is dependent on the type of music used. For instance, it may be placed to coincide with a silent part of the music. It may also be used to end the 1st sequence, heightening the effect of introducing a second song.

In the video example at the end, a slow motion image of the wedding rings is used as a visual for the pregnant pause.

3. Parallel editing

Parallel editing (cross cutting) is the technique of alternating two or more scenes that often happen simultaneously but in different locations. Simultaneous scenes often culminate in a single place, where the relevant parties confront each other.

This is mostly used in depicting a bride and groom preparing simultaneously in different locations. The cross cutting between the bride and groom adds tension and drama. The reveal: they will eventually meet in one grand union. This technique may also be used in the scenes where the groom is patiently waiting at the aisle.

4. J-cuts and L-cuts

Think about the films we watch and the dialogue sequences within them. During these sequences, the editor isn’t constantly cutting back and forth to each character as they talk. Doing this would be very distracting. Instead, an L-cut or a J-cut is used.

The L-cut technique sees Character A speaking, but then the scene cuts to Character B as Character A continues their dialogue. By doing this, the editor allows the viewers to see Character B’s reaction as Character A speaks, allowing for a better overall understanding of the scene.

As for the J-cut, a common example of this technique is when we hear the priest’s homily but we only see him after a few shots of the couple. It is most used when the bride and groom recite their vows while the video features the guests.

Using a J-cut or an L-cut is all about keeping the flow of the edit moving without becoming boring. If a J-cut or L-cut is performed properly, then the audience will never notice it taking place. This same theory is really true for any editing technique.

hollywood to SDE 02

5. POV

A point of view shot, also known as POV shot, is an angle that shows what a character is looking at. Typically, POV shots are placed in between a shot of a character looking at something and a shot showing the character’s reaction.

POV shots tend to represent what an actor sees. However, POV shots can also be used for inanimate objects. Great examples can be seen in the television series Breaking Bad, wherein we are given the point of view of everything from a stovetop to a dryer.

The Point of View is most commonly generated not by the shot itself, but by the preceding and/or following shot/s.

In Wedding Films, the groom’s POV is commonly used as the bride enters the church. He sees her for the first time. This sequence can be seen in the video example.

hollywood to SDE 03

6. Jump cuts

If you do not cut on action and the two shots are along the same visual axis, the result is a jump cut. Jump cuts are jarring, disconcerting, and pretty much unacceptable—unless that is the effect you want for narrative reasons.

Jump cuts can also be used to compress time. But again, it is a very specific look and the director must plan the scene very deliberately to make it work.

In Wedding Films, jump cuts are acceptable and may even be used as cinematic style, especially for upbeat music. Be careful not to overuse jump cuts as it tends to quickly tire an audience.

In the video example, the cuts are made during the placement of veil and cord, thus giving an interesting effect.

7. Add Background Noise

Consider what sounds are important in this scene. You may already have existing sounds that highlight the ambiance of the setting, but consider inserting a sound or two that will stand out and deepen the meaning of your scene.

You show birds suddenly flying from being perched? Why not put a sound effect of flapping wings? Showing an overhead shot of an intersection? Place a sound of traffic. Church bells may also be placed to coincide with the establishing shot of a church.

In the video example, church bells, pop sound effects, and crowd’s noise was added.

In conclusion, a wedding SDE film is no different from Hollywood fiction films. It employs the same language and grammar used by well known directors. As wedding videographers, we may take advantage of these devices to elevate our storytelling to a higher level. Studying these techniques and applying them cost nothing. You will get an instant upgrade in creativity without even buying the latest toy, gadget, or equipment in the market.

CLICK HERE if you want to learn more about Same Day Editing!

Joel Pangilinan
Glenn Pineda
Michael Vincent Villanueva

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