Long exposure videography is one of the cool effects that are somewhat challenging to master. The principle is quite simple and straightforward when you’re shooting photographs. Attempting to get a good long exposure video, however, is a completely different ball game.
The following guide will acquaint you with the specifics and the essentials of long exposure videography. It will also teach you how to get the outcome without having to work extra-hard on footage creation.
What Does Long Exposure Videography Do?
The creation of light trails is a technique that photographers often employ.
The use of long exposure helps for the production of the effect.
Creating long exposure photos is a relatively easy task. Doing the so in video will necessitate some degree of camera mastery.
This advertising video provides a good example of what can be accomplished through the use of the technique:
Long exposure videography looks somewhat surreal, even magical. If you’re filming an outdoor wedding that’s lit by lanterns and candles, you can try out long exposure videography to make the atmosphere dreamy and spectacular.
In photography, you have to increase the shutter speed to five or six seconds and adjust the aperture accordingly. When dealing with moving subjects or objects, getting the same result is not that simple.
This is why most videographers rely on professional wedding video equipment that has special filters or they accomplish the task during the editing and post-production processes.
Do You Need Professional Wedding Video Equipment?
The short answer to this question is yes.
There are clips that have been shot this way and the effect was not created during editing.
Once again, long exposure shutter speed is utilised to smear or blur moving elements (not just lights). Stationary elements remain sharp and clear, creating an interesting contrast.
Long exposure videography tends to deliver the most spectacular results during night time shots that involve fire or moving sources of light. The resulting streaks of light are dynamic and they also illuminate the objects that remain motionless.
To engage in long exposure videography, you’ll need to gear up with the right type of professional wedding video equipment.
Some of the essentials required include the following:
- Tripod: using a tripod isn’t optional because you need to keep the camera completely motionless.
- High quality DSLR camera: this one requires no explanation.
- A remote timer: this is a trigger that allows for the capturing of hundreds of shots over a certain amount of time. The photos are then used to create the illusion of motion in a video.
- ND filter: this one is required to get high quality long exposure videography during the day. Neutral density filters can reduce light intensity while keeping colours bright and vivid. As a result, the shutter speed can be adjusted in daytime brightness to get the coveted blurry effect.
By using the equipment mentioned above and the technique of snapping numerous photos, you will be relying on two techniques – time lapse and long exposure. The two create a very dramatic effect, capturing the passage of time and also bringing in a bit of a motion blur.
Time lapse and long exposure videography will be ideal for a dramatic opening of the wedding video or for putting emphasis on a very special moment.
Here’s one really, really cool example of what can be accomplished when combining the two techniques:
Getting the Long Exposure Effect During Wedding Video Post-Production
If you’re not confident in your ability to pull out the technique during the footage capturing, you can create the long exposure effect during editing.
Obviously, video editing software like After Effects will be required.
Here are the steps that need to be undertaken to get the long exposure visual:
- The first thing that needs to happen is setting the blending mode to Lighter Colour. Once you do that, duplicate the layer and add staggering by one frame.
- Next, you can either apply the Echo effect to the entire video or to the adjustment layer. Set it to maximum.
- Upon the completion of these processes, you will need to prepare for some pretty lengthy rendering work. The amount of time will be heavily dependent on the number of layers and whether you’re going to be using additional effects.
The videographer that created the advertising video we mentioned earlier has put up a detailed tutorial on using the above-mentioned technique. You can view the details here to gain a better understanding of the visual work involved:
Obviously, that’s some lengthy editing work.
If you don’t know exactly how to achieve the effect or what you’re doing, we’d recommend outsourcing post-production.
Wedding video editing can be an incredibly time-consuming process, especially if you want to use a special effect like long exposure. You also risk getting an outcome that looks amateurish if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Putting the work in the hands of experienced professionals makes a lot of sense. You will be saving time, you will be getting a beautiful outcome and potentially, you will be earning more money from the work that you do.
Getting Creative with Long Exposure Wedding Videography
Professional wedding video equipment allows you to do so much. You can easily experiment and diversify your portfolio to attract a wider range of clients.
Blurred lights are the most common result of long exposure videography but simply having blurred lights in the video isn’t going to cut it.
Use the effect in a meaningful, impactful way to increase the emotional and the visual appeal of the wedding video.
Thus, you need to come up with an action plan. When and why are you going to use the effect? What outcome will you be attempting to achieve?
You can use long exposure during the first wedding dance. That’s one really cool idea to boost the dramatic appeal of the moment. Even better is the fact that you can get friends and family involved.
Having people moving lights (smartphone lights, flashlights) around the couple during the first wedding dance can produce something a bit bizarre, warm and really special for everyone who is participating.
Instruct people who will be involved in the shot ahead of time. Tell them exactly how you envision the process. The rest is up to you and deciding exactly how you’re going to produce the special effect.
Capturing the couple under the starry night sky is another very cool idea. This is a chance for you to test out the time lapse and long exposure combo. While you will have to commit some time to making the shots happen, they could produce a really beautiful intro or outro for the wedding video.
Finally, you can use motion blur to put all of the focus on the bride and the groom in the middle of the frame.
For the purpose, have some of the wedding guests moving quickly around and behind the couple while they hold still (embracing each other, kissing, etc.). When you employ long exposure, all of the motion will be blurred out and the sole focus will remain on the bride and the groom.
Final Words of Wisdom: Don’t Overdo It
When using high quality professional wedding video equipment or editing tools, you may feel tempted to employ all the crayons in the box.
This is a serious mistake that rookies tend to make.
In the world of special effects, less is always more.
Try to employ one special effect or intriguing visual rather than a whole array of filters and tricks.
Overdoing the additional work will dilute the quality of the outcome and make the wedding video too busy. Your primary job as a videographer is to capture the special day and the emotion everyone is experiencing. The one thing you’re not doing is shooting a science fiction movie or an abstract short film.
Long exposure is spectacular enough on its own and you don’t need to surround it by other visual stunts.
Also, make sure that the couple knows what you’re going to do and feels comfortable with it. You can make sure everyone is on the same page by asking the right questions, getting the couple show you clips they like and coordinating the use of additional features/filters before the big day arrives.
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