Do I Want the RAW Video Files from my Wedding?

Today we’re diving into a question that’s frequently asked when discussing wedding videography – “What are RAW video files and do I want them?”

The short answer is absolutely not. But because people keep pushing this as a selling point, we’re going to dive in.

So, let’s unpack this.

Understanding RAW Video Files

Before we discuss whether or not you should want them, it’s crucial to understand what RAW video files are. Simply put, a RAW video file is the unprocessed, uncompressed footage straight from the camera. It contains all the data captured during shooting, making it the highest DIGITAL quality version of your video footage. This does not mean the highest VISUAL quality.

Unlike edited videos, which are compressed and adjusted for color, exposure, and more, RAW files offer greater flexibility for post-production editing. However, this flexibility comes with some caveats that you should consider.

The Quality and Flexibility of RAW Files

The biggest draw of RAW video files is their quality. With all the original data intact, these files offer the highest possible image quality. This means that if you or someone you hire has the knowledge and software to work with RAW files, you can manipulate the footage in post-production extensively without losing quality.

However, bear in mind that this flexibility requires expertise in video editing to do.

RAW files are not like your usual video files; they’re not readily playable or shareable without first being converted into a more standard video format.

The Drawbacks: File Size and Usability

One of the main drawbacks of RAW video files is their size. Because they contain all the data captured by the camera, these files can be incredibly large. For example, a full day’s worth of wedding footage can easily take up hundreds of gigabytes.

You will need specialty computer equipment with a decent amount of space and RAM to view these files. It is not possible to simply drop them on your regular laptop or phone and play them.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, RAW files require specific software to view and edit. If you’re not familiar with video editing, a RAW video file won’t be of use to you.

What You Actually Want

What people are usually asking for when this question comes up is “Can I have every single clip you snagged on my wedding day so I can see each little bit?”. This is a perfectly reasonable question- just know that it will take significant work on your videographers part.

We need to take the RAW files, dump them into a timeline, organize in some way (usually chronological), sync the audio and then color and export the whole thing.

The resulting timeline won’t be what you think it is. Our camera is not rolling every second of every day. I generally shoot in 10-30 second bursts to grab exactly what I need from each scenario. You will also hear your videographer and photographer talking to one another throughout these clips. We will be coordinating, planning and executing a variety of things that is captured by the in camera audio- but has nothing to do with you or the scene that is happening.

To sum it up, RAW video files offer unparalleled quality and flexibility for those with the technical know-how to exploit them. However, their large size and specific software requirements make them less user-friendly for couples who simply want to relive their wedding day through a beautifully edited video. If you want to see everything that happened, ask your videographer if they offer doc edits!

Still trying to decide where to go from here? Check out these blogs to help you learn more about the wonderful world of wedding photography and videography with Rebecca Ann Aesthetic

Ultimate Guide to Wedding Videography Terms

How Wedding Videography has Evolved

Why Those “Full Wedding Package for $1200” ads are a Scam

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