bride in tears walking down the aisle at Ravens ait, London wedding videography by Nelson Films

The Videographer vs Cinematographer question, Discover the 3 key differences and which is the best!


Videographer vs Cinematographer is a tough question to properly answer and the discussions and opinions in all the online forums are quite diverse and overlapping. That said, and for the purpose of wedding films they are essentially ways of describing the same thing. The same can be said for using the word "video" or "film".

Both duties include capturing footage, a videographer is usually one person or part of a small crew and is often found capturing live events such as weddings, they have to think-on-their-feet and be quick at capturing the moment. A cinematographer is usually part of a much larger high-end production crew, all with specific duties and working to pre-planned artistic directions.

I am guessing that you have read the word cinematographer on other wedding sites and are now confused about the difference?

Now we have covered the basics and before you read on, ask yourself this one question… when searching on Google for someone to film/video your wedding, did you type videographer, cinematographer or wedding film maker? Most people tend to search for a videographer in relation to wedding films so that should be a good indicator of why you still read lots about videographers for wedding films.

A cinematographer sounds modern, cool and on trend, whereas a videographer may sound somewhat traditional.

1 - Out with the old and in with the new ways to capture your wedding film

The Old Way - 10+ years ago wedding "Videographers" were know in the wedding industry for creating very long 2-4 hour "Videos" of the day as it unfolds, filled with messages from guests and less than ideally edited footage, think of the Blair Witch movie but with a bride and groom and a tad happier! Traditional videographers wouldn't really tell much of a story, they would just record and send the video as it was, with minimal editing. Couples would invite friends and family to a viewing and quite frankly bore the pants of everyone! Luckily, things have now changed.

The New Way - In today's world people don't want to sit through a 4-hour presentation of your wedding day, couples much prefer a highlights film of the wedding to share with guests online or at parties, and keep the ceremony and speeches videos for their own enjoyment, an intimate way of reminiscing about the day or getting to see and hear past family members.

Within the wedding industry the words wedding Videographer or Cinematographer are interchangeably used depending on the person's point of view. So there's no need to be worried about the use of these words when looking to hire a vide-cine-matographer! Theres another new word 🙂

Videographer vs Cinematographer - Best man reading speech at De Vere Beaumont Estate Windsor By Nelson Films

2 - Videographer vs Cinematographer, how does my workflow compare?

You will often find cinematographers as part of a larger production team where each person has a different role to play. The cinematographer is shooting and composing around the action, a sound guy is taking care of audio, a crane operator might be moving the camera in to position and someone else will even be racking focus... for each camera! This is all guided by a director to the producers requirements! Thats a ton of people involved!

A run-and-gun wedding videographer-film-maker has to deal with all of the above, it's a complicated process and takes a lot of skill to get good results, luckily, the advancements in technology make it more affordable 'and' possible to produce wedding films that are just like short films, giving the user a more cinematic experience.

I produce films using multiple cameras from different angles and during post-production I switch between shots at key points, I also use colour grades and 2:35 video aspect ratios to give the viewer a more "cinematic" story telling experience.

When filming your wedding I have no control over the lighting conditions, we can't stop the day going ahead because of bad weather. But in darker indoor spaces I can setup some lighting to get the best quality video possible.

I use on-body or table-top microphones and sync them to the video clips in post production, this gives me a clear audio signal that makes your video sound as good as it looks.

I use Sony A7siii mirrorless cameras, Sony lenses and DJI gimbals, high quality and reliable tripods and monopods and shoot your film on the best quality video codecs at 4K 50p. It's worth noting that the Sony FX6 is Netflix approved and its baby brother, the A7siii has much the same technology making it the perfect camera to shoot your wedding film.

Cinematographer(s) would also use multiple cameras but also pre-setup the scene in a controlled way to ensure that the lighting portrayed that part of the story, for weddings this is just not possible and would be too distracting to your wedding day.

The crew would setup multiple audio sources on booms and hidden microphones and later mix audio in the studio.

A large scale film will use large production cinema cameras that are way over the top for wedding films as it goes against being discreet and less intrusive.

So, as you can see there are lots of crossovers when asking about Videographer vs Cinematographer, the lines are blurred and thats a good thing, because it makes creating a beautiful wedding film so much more accessible than traditional methods.

3 - Videographer vs Cinematographer, are either more or less creative?

No, not at all, just watch the films and decide if you like the style, thats your best way of determine whether the videographer or cinematographer is right for you.

Closing thoughts about the videographer vs cinematographer question!

Having your wedding filmed is becoming very popular, this is because is it more affordable than ever, the films are more emotive, they look like "real-cinematic" films as you would expect from a modern documentary film, and couples are realising the true value of film.

If you have the budget for a larger crew to cover your wedding, then you can seek such a team online as I may not be your ideal match. A worthwhile note of course is how much distraction to your wedding day can you handle?

For most of my clients, my skills and offerings as a videographer strike the perfect balance of cinematic looking moment driven films, and I recognise that the most important parts of your day are firstly becoming married and secondly enjoying the experience of getting married, shared with your family and friends.

You can read my post on "why hire a wedding videographer" here.

So, try not to get hung up on the idea of Videographer vs Cinematographer, what's best or more creative etc because it doesn't matter about what the film maker calls him or her self, it's all about the finished product.

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