The 'raw' deal
If you’re not familiar with the video realm, the concept of ‘raw footage’ is something that can seem rather foreign, and one that is often misconceived.
To cut straight to the point, raw footage is the equivalent to the pots of paint an artist uses to paint a masterpiece, or the clay a pottery artist uses to mould pottery, or the individual instruments played within an orchestra, that - when played in unison - are used to compose a symphony. In other words, raw footage is the building blocks video editors like myself meticulously sculpt to create a polished video.
When it comes to wedding videos, gone are the days of the mid-90s when the daggy uncle Graham whips out a camcorder to film 10 hours of continuous, shaky and pixelated footage. If you were to try and watch back such footage today, you’d most likely think “was this filmed with a toaster?!”
That, in essence, is the earliest form of raw footage. During the pre-digital age of filming on SD cards, the footage would have been filmed onto a cassette tape existing essentially as individual clips captured whenever uncle Graham pressed record… yep, even when he accidentally pressed record and was unknowingly filming his feet.
Without the ability to transfer the footage onto a computer and cut it together with the proper editing software at the time, this raw footage style, warts and all, was an accepted practice. Today, however, it is a vastly different story. If you were to deliver a wedding film shot like that… well, it would pretty much belong in the bin, as it would be simply unwatchable.
For most weddings I film, over the course of a 8 hour day I would shoot over 500+ individual clips, with a combined size of over 100 GB. That’s not to say all of these clips are useable, either. Some would bare imperfections; some angles may not be as good as another that I shot of the same moment; a guest may walk into shot and momentarily block my camera, rendering it unusable and so on. It’s fair to say if this was handed over to the client, it would essentially be like that aforementioned painter handing over his pots of paint to the customer and expecting them to be just as excited as they would buying the finished piece.
This is why the editing process is such an important step, and why the raw footage holds little value without it. When you hire a wedding videographer, you’re paying for their skills far beyond what seems like being able to simply point a camera and film. You’re enlisting their creativity from the production process right through to the edit; the structure of the story, trimming footage, the colour grade, the sound mix and much more. On top of this, the editing process gives the overall video a style, a personal creative touch in re-telling the story of your important day.
So whilst asking for the raw footage is a nice thing to have for archiving purposes (particularly if you have the hard drive space), make no mistake that without the editor weaving their editing wand, the magic doesn’t happen.