Published Sep 10, 2009
Special to OneWed By Nathan Maulorico of Unknown Films
Depth of focus: The range of image distances corresponding to the range of object distances.
This term is well understood by most filmmakers and videographers - it’s an important part in what we do. Without depth of focus, it would be impossible to place objects or people where you want them in the frame. It would be impossible to make your vision clear to the viewer.
There’s also another type of depth of focus, the type filmmakers must have inside themselves in order to truly capture an event and create a story out of what they have captured. For an artist, the real “focus” becomes what is happening around them, and the real “depth” is how much they become a part of what is happening.
I am a firm believer that in order to get a point across, you must understand what the point is in the first place. If the filmmaker doesn’t understand what he or she is filming, the feeling and emotion will be gone when the final product is shown on screen. When is comes to a live event such as a wedding, real understanding of the emotions and happenings of the day plays a crucial role in the outcome of the film.
With that said, here are few thoughts from my point of view as the person chosen to film a wedding:
A wedding has effects that last a lifetime, and to have the honor of filming that event for a bride and groom and creating their movie is a privilege. Just think: 50 years from now, when the couple watches their film again, some memories will have faded, some may have been remembered in a way that didn’t actually happen, and, sadly, some will have been forgotten all together. Without the film, there would be no way to recall the day except from memory. So not only is it my job to record what happened, it’s also my responsibility to make a new memory for someone I don’t know much about.
There are a few questions that I ask almost every bride and groom when I meet them the first time, though sometimes the questions change depending on the personality of the couple. They might be questions like: What is your favorite color? How did you meet each other? When did you know you fell in love? What type of music do you listen to? What did you eat today? It’s not the questions that matter so much as the feel that I will get from the answers. I make an honest attempt to get to know them. My goal is to create a film that I think really represents them, together.
From the second I arrive (and even before), I must become concerned only with what’s going on around me. It may seem strange, but I try to figuratively become the subjects that I’m capturing. The camera I use is not just for seeing what’s in the frame; it’s a tool for seeing into real people. I must have true focus in order to extract the images I see and reconstruct them into the film that they will have to always remember the day.
I feel that I have to become a part of the event and move the camera around everywhere it needs to be in order to catch that perfect angle that expresses much more than an over-the-shoulder or tripod shot ever could. My body moves with the lens, and my mind thinks with the event. Maybe I’m daring enough to try a camera movement that I’ve never tried before, or think of a shot that has a deeper meaning if you look closer. That is the only way an artist can record.
It doesn’t stop there, either. All the footage has to be used like paint — put onto a canvas with a sense of structure and order to create the piece of art. I never, ever, allow anyone who was not at the wedding to edit the wedding footage. I am the painter, and only I can use the paint I made to fully recreate what I saw with my own eyes. Others may give advice and help, but the main editor will always be the one who had the opportunity to feel what the day was like and will be best able to describe everything firsthand. I think this idea is forgotten by most.
Editing clip by clip, I take into account many of the likes and dislikes I gathered from the couple, either from questions or what I noticed while spending time with them. I cut and create with a sense of making what I see flow gracefully with what I hear. Whether it be a traditional or very nontraditional wedding, I press every key and click every mouse button with depth of focus in mind.
Depth of focus, in the end, is what really sets some videographers apart. One may be hired to shoot your wedding, and another may be hired to create a work of art. Every day I dream of another way to make my own art blend with what my clients hire me to do. I make a promise to myself and to my wedding clients that I will make every film art, and not just a video, because it includes a part of me in it.
I find myself watching some wedding films over and over again after they are complete just because I’m so happy with the way they turned out — like staring at a painting in a gallery. I hope that all the bride and grooms I film do the same. Entertaining, emotional, and keeps you coming back: that is a wedding film.
Depth of focus is what an artist makes of it. He or she can produce a video that has no real feeling, or become a part of the film and bring the emotion to life.
Catch Nathan Maulorico's award-winning wedding film on Youtube!