For Brides: How Raw is Raw Footage Really?

The blogs say you need it. It sounds like you should have it. So…what is it exactly? 

This is a conversation we found ourselves having pretty regularly during consultations about two years ago. With the question came a lot of assumption about what raw footage actually was! This was at a time where we did not offer it as a part of all of our packages. I’d ask the couple why they’d like the raw files which was often met with “It would just be nice to have, you know?” or “I read an article on the Knot and that was one of the questions to ask your videographer.” I’d laugh and explain to them what it was and some would say “That would be awesome!” Others would scrunch their nose and say “Oh, I wouldn’t use that.”

SO HERE IT IS! The be all to end all conversation about what you can expect when you receive or do not receive raw footage from your videographer. But first, a little history.

Most videographers will not give you the raw footage for your wedding day. It’s a personal choice that most creative film makers (wedding or otherwise) make before anything is shot. Typically, in the world of production, this footage can be bought and sold at a cost outside of the production that the videographer was hired to shoot. The agreed upon service is often a finished product and the rights of the footage itself legally belongs to the person who “pulled the trigger” unless otherwise signed away in an agreement. They’re free to use it, sell it, or delete it according to how they see fit. It’s similar to the world of photography where a photographer will deliver the finished edit but almost never the CR2 or “raw” unedited files associated with each image.

This brings us to the decision we made about a year ago! After turning many down we took a long, hard look in the mirror and really asked ourselves…”Why not?”

So, what is it?

The days of tape and film are long gone. The current world of video shooting and camera culture requires many film makers to shoot on digital cards or mini hard drives. Every time we push start and stop on the camera it creates it’s own unique “file.” For us, this file can be a 7 second dress shot or a 28 minute shot from your ceremony (our cameras only allow us to record  28 minutes at a time.) We’ll often shoot our creative shots multiple times to allow us more options when in the edit bay so a couple close up shots of a dress in addition to a couple wider moving shots is very common. More than likely, a lot of these shots will be cut out or “left on the cutting room floor” for the creative edit. We call ours the recap edit but you’ll also see the terms trailer, short, or summery video. These shots almost never include us setting up a camera in the corner of a room and pushing play because well…that’s bad filming. The number of “shots” or “files” can completely depend on the day as well as the number of shooters working on a wedding day.

At the end of the day, the raw footage is really for an editor to upload the footage into a software and edit. It’s also a great archive in case you decide to have something put together at a later date.

The raw footage is also what it states…raw. This means no color correction, no audio enhancing, and no editing whatsoever. It’s delivered exactly the way it comes out of the camera.

Raw Footage at a glance

Raw Footage at a glance

What it is not.

Just because you receive the raw footage of your wedding day DOES NOT automatically mean you’ll have a full length ceremony angle. We at StopGoLove like our backups. When we shoot our recap video with one shooter we’ll often set up a wide camera on a tripod as a cutaway shot to give us options to edit the recap video. However! Because this camera is unmanned, guests will often stand in from of it, kick the tripod legs, or Hulk Hogan body slam this camera onto the ground. Because of the risks, we cannot guarantee a full length camera angle of any event on the day unless a second videographer is on-site (which we can do if interested!)

The raw footage is also something that is not watchable as a stand alone item. Don’t get me wrong, you can watch each individual clip but in the way the raw footage is delivered, you cannot just watch the clips as one, long video.

So why do we like it? Why did we decide to deliver it to all of our clients?

Trust me, it’s a lot easier to say “no” and let it be that. We do however, think there is value in delivering the raw files to all of our clients. Mainly, I think people value having all assets shot on their wedding day. It becomes incredibly valuable when a family member passes and there are a couple unused shots that can be found in the raw footage. This would be lost otherwise.

We also know that this footage is only going to be used personally. With StopGoLove’s Raw footage deliver unlimited use, non-commercial, unedited, high definition footage. The property is still owned by StopGoLove but you are free to use it for almost anything except resale. Most are totally fine with this.

At the end of the day, like anything, it’s important to decide what’s important to you! Hopefully this clears up some confusion when it comes to acquiring raw footage of your wedding day. Any more questions can always be asked through our contact form on!

Jared is the Director and Co-Founder of StopGoLove.