Planning a Virtual or Zoom Funeral or Memorial Service

Oh how times have changed. With our current restrictions in place, even things like funerals and memorial services have been impacted. With many areas restricted to only a few people or immediate family, the celebration of life that is shared with the whole community is harder to do. Recently we’ve seen an increase in people requesting a Virtual or Zoom Funeral or Memorial service. At a recent memorial service (mass and burial) we had almost 300 viewers either Live or within 48 hours of the service.

So, now that streaming, zoom, and web based virtual options are being considered viable solutions. I put together some information to help you understand the various options that are available for your funeral / memorial services.

Live Streamed Memorial

While of course your smart phone can be used, we look at providing a more specialized live stream. With the use of 4K cameras, and wireless mic systems the quality of a stream goes up dramatically. You can choose single camera systems, or even multiple camera systems with 3 – 5 cameras and additional audio sources. When Streaming, the result is typically a “broadcast”. While your family and friends can use the chat options during the stream, it’s a one way process, a broadcast.

Zoom Funeral

Here I may bring just a laptop computer with a single camera and wireless microphone that connects to Zoom. An option we offer is a being there station. This is a 40″ monitor, a camera, speaker and wireless microphone. Not only can your Family and Friends be with you during the service, you can also interact with them immediately afterwards.

Virtual Funeral Guest Experience

So, where do we stream or zoom these remote or web based funeral / memorial services too? – For streaming I’ll often use YouTube set to unlisted and then linked to a private page on our website. Here your guests have access to a single place where all of your memorial links can be listed…

– Memorial Photo
– Poem or Memorial Message
– Program
– Virtual Guestbook
– Memory Slideshow
– Streaming Links and Details
– and anything else you want to share

I’ll also use Zoom, Crowdcast, Facebook, etc., for publishing. This is an area we’ll discuss to find the best fit for your memorial service and your guests.

What about connectivity to the Internet?

Here are several methods that can be used with remote funerals.

1) Using a cell phone as a hotspot. – While the simplest, also the most unreliable. Not only do we need to worry about that carriers coverage, speed and bandwidth, are you inside or outside, but also possible interference from everyone else’s cell phone.

2) Using church or location WiFi. – When indoors this is often a good option. The concern is that when streaming we need a SOLID connection with at least 10 mbs upload speed. This can also be influenced by the number of users that have access. When outside, the WiFi may not have repeaters so coverage will be less.

3) Using a dedicated encoder / bonded connection. – Since there are no do overs with funeral services, I’ll use dedicated hot spot modems as well as an encoder that includes bonding. So, let’s break this down… An Encoder is used to professionally stream data to the service that is hosting the stream. Bonding is where 3 data modems (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) all sending your stream at the same time. In the “cloud” the 3 different connections are “bonded” together to provide a redundant set of streams. We’ve got to be pretty remote or in a very heavily “shielded” building to not be able to get a usable connection.

What about a finished Funeral or Memorial Film?

Ahhhh… An option I have with all of the streaming options is to film your service with 3 cameras and additional audio. While not always used for the Streaming or Zoom options, I take all of the footage and audio into the studio and create an edited finished film. I guess the biggest part of this is that when streaming audio, it good but when I get into the studio I have ways of making it even better.


OK. I’m thinking that your probably a little overwhelmed and really just want to know if a Virtual or Zoom Funeral or Memorial Service will work for you. For just about everyone the answer is yes. Give me a call and we can discuss the how so we can address your specific location and needs.

Send me a note or call 707-481-7282

Thanks – Ken

Planning a Virtual or Zoom Wedding

Over the last few months most of our weddings have chosen to postpone to 2021. While that has been happening, I’ve been looking at how we can support those couples that still want to have late Summer / Fall small or micro weddings. These weddings have come to be described as a Zoom Wedding, Web Wedding, Remote Wedding, Virtual Wedding and of course Live Streamed Wedding.

As we enter August and our busiest season in wine country for weddings, many couples are choosing to go ahead with a small and intimate weddings. In doing so they are still wanting to share their special day with family and friends. So, now streaming, zoom, and web based virtual options are being looked at as solutions. To assist in the research, here are a few thoughts on how to best utilize this technology into your small wedding.

Live Streamed Wedding

While of course your smart phone can be used, we look at providing a more specialized live stream. With the use of 4K cameras, and wireless mic systems the quality of a stream goes up dramatically. You can choose single camera systems, or even multiple camera systems with 3 – 5 cameras and additional audio sources. When Streaming, the result is typically a “broadcast”. While your family and friends can use the chat options during the stream, it’s a one way process, a broadcast.

Zoom Wedding

Here I may bring just a laptop computer with a single camera and wireless microphone that connects to Zoom. An option we offer is a being there station. This is a 40″ monitor, a camera, speaker and wireless microphone. Not only can your Family and Friends be with you during the ceremony, you can also interact with them immediately afterwards. Often I’ll place the monitor in a place where the couple can glance over during the ceremony at their on line guests, and of course the guests are immersed in the wedding as well.

Virtual Wedding Guest Experience

So, where do we stream or zoom these remote or web based weddings too? – For streaming I’ll often use YouTube set to unlisted and then linked to a private page on our website. Here your guests have access to a single place where all of your wedding links can be listed…

– Engagement Photo
– Invitation
– Program
– Virtual Guestbook
– Wedding Website
– Streaming Links and Details
– and anything else you want to share

I’ll also use Zoom, Crowdcast, Facebook, etc., for publishing. This is an area we’ll discuss to find the best fit for YOUR wedding and YOUR guests.

What about connectivity to the Internet?

Here are several methods that can be used with remote weddings.

1) Using a cell phone as a hotspot. – While the simplest, also the most unreliable. Not only do we need to worry about that carriers coverage, speed and bandwidth, are you inside or outside, but also possible interference from everyone else’s cell phone.

2) Using venue or location WiFi. – When indoors this is often a good option. The concern is that when streaming we need a SOLID connection with at least 10 mbs upload speed. This can also be influenced by the number of users that have access. When outside, the WiFi may not have repeaters so coverage will be less.

3) Using a dedicated encoder / bonded connection. – Since there are no do overs with weddings, I’ll use dedicated hot spot modems as well as an encoder that includes bonding. So, let’s break this down… An Encoder is used to professionally stream data to the service that is hosting the stream. Bonding is where 3 data modems (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) all sending your stream at the same time. In the “cloud” the 3 different connections are “bonded” together to provide a redundant set of streams. We’ve got to be pretty remote or in a very heavily “shielded” building to not be able to get a usable connection.

What about a finished Wedding Film?

Ahhhh… An option I have with all of the streaming options is to film your ceremony with 3 cameras and additional audio. While not always used for the Streaming or Zoom options, I take all of the footage and audio into the studio and create an edited finished film. I guess the biggest part of this is that when streaming audio, it good but when I get into the studio I have ways of making it even better.


OK. I’m thinking that your probably a little overwhelmed and really just want to know if Live Streaming, Zoom, or a web based Virtual Wedding will work. For just about everyone the answer is yes. Give me a call and we can discuss the how so we can address your specific location and needs.

Send me a note or call 707-481-7282

Thanks and have a great celebration! – Ken

Ceremony Live Streaming

So, what about Live Streaming your wedding ceremony in a Covid 19 world?

– Maybe your wedding day celebration will be a little smaller than originally planed due to various State and local guidelines but you still want to have all of your important family and friends be able to participate with you during your ceremony.
– Or maybe, you’ll choose to postpone the big celebration, but still want to get married on your scheduled day and share your ceremony with all of your family and friends.
– Or yet another maybe, you’re just going to do a simple, midweek, small, elopement style wedding ceremony.

So, whatever YOU choose to do, I’m here to support you with your Live Streaming needs.

So what are the options?

There are several ways to Live Stream your wedding ceremony. Below are a few of the options we can provide you with.

DIY – For any booked wedding, I’m happy to provide a tripod and smartphone / tablet adapter at no charge. Requires a strong enough cell signal or a venue that has strong enough WiFi. Of course you’ll need a smartphone or tablet with Cellular / WiFi capabilities and Facebook or YouTube installed and previously tested for live broadcast.

Recommended placement would be with a family member in the front row. That way they can hold the device during entrance, and then attach to tripod in front of them set at a height of about 3 feet for the remainder of the ceremony. This way you have un-obstructed view and are close enough to pick up officiate and couple audio.

Dependable Basic Streaming – I can set up a single camera with the officiate on a wireless mic using a PRO level Live Stream system. If your venue has WiFi great, but it’s not required. This system uses up to 3 cellular modems on 3 different cellular networks / carriers. The signals are then all “Bonded” together so we have multiple connections to the internet at the same time providing a stable connection. This allows for ceremonies at the beach, vineyards, etc. Live Streams can be broadcast to Facebook, YouTube, or, we can host on a private web page on our website, or yours! Your live stream can also be saved for later viewing.

Streaming Goodness – I can set up a multi camera Pro Level Live Stream System. Starting with the single camera system described above, we can add additional cameras, additional audio, and then do switching between cameras during the ceremony. Your ceremony then becomes a true live event to be shared.

So How Much?

*For all new 2020 – 2021 scheduled wedding bookings:
– Our single camera / audio ceremony system can be added to our Highlight, Short Story or Feature Collections for just $300.
– A mid-week stand alone single camera ceremony system is just $600.
… $800 for Fri, Sat or Sun.
– If you need to postpone any 2020 – 2021 wedding, and booked the live stream option, we can still do your ceremony live stream on your original date.
– Interested in a multi (3) camera system? Pricing starts at $1,800.

* Dependent on Federal / State / Local restrictions.

So, in this unusual time, I hope these options can provide you with a sense of confidence regarding the ability to share your wedding with family and friends just in case changes must be made. ~ Ken

Capturing Wedding Audio

Maid of Honor Speech vineyards

Someone once said… audio is 80% of a film… Have you ever watched a TV show where the “synch” was off? Even in the beginning days of films… someone played a piano or organ in the theater. On your wedding day, your audio is what allows us to tell your story, and it’s what takes you back in time 20 years from now.

Now for the scoop…

So… what’s the deal with fear of microphones? I get the whole speaking in public thing, and maybe people think that when we put a mic on them it’s going to blast thru the PA system. Well, the good news is that the mic’s we use when recording your wedding ceremony video will not go into the PA and will only be used during your film.

Maybe we should think of microphones as our friends. Have you ever watched a movie, video, or something on your smart phone and couldn’t understand the words? or was scratchy? or maybe even a WINDY day? Often the film work can be beautiful, but if the audio “sucks” (a technical term) the complete experience is not so great. Creatively, I feel that audio is probably a little more important than the filming, especially during a wedding.

Since we are (hopefully) only going to film your wedding day once. We tend be overly cautious about using multiple microphones / recorders as we don’t get a second take or do over. Our typical wedding ceremonies are recorded with several audio systems.

  • on the officiate
  • on the groom / partner
  • sometimes on the bride / partner
  • thru the sound board if a system is used for additional speaker / readings
  • in front of live musicians if they are a part of the ceremony

When combining great audio with our multi camera approach, we feel our wedding ceremony films are pretty amazing to watch.

Some of the Audio Gear we bring for a Wedding

What about your reception speeches and toasts? While it seems like should be simple, there are several things that can make the process challenging.  We’ll use various options to capture these amazing moments on video and audio…

The primary and most common way for quality audio and clear speech? We’ll have a microphone on a mic stand. Often taped to it. Why? Here are a few of the things we have experienced during receptions…

  • People… Besides the basic fear of speaking in front of an audience… Most people really have no practical experience holding a microphone, let alone holding a microphone while they are reading from a piece of paper or smart-phone. Sometimes it works well, often the mic ends up too far away to pick up the voice or worse… ends up going up and down like a yo-yo. Other times the mic seems to just fall away and towards everyone else. And the most entertaining… when the speaker talks with their hands, or they start channeling Leonard Bernstein and start waving the microphone like they’re in front of an full orchestra.
  • Pacing… Some people have a hard time in front of a group and staying still, meaning that they will pace, and or walk around. While not in itself a bad thing, depending on the layout, they may walk out of the light, or make it difficult to get a nice stable, close up shot.
  • What’s in the background? We want the person speaking to not have to visually compete with their background. Bad stuff? In front of a window so they look like a shadow in your film. In front of a bunch of exposed DJ equipment… or by a door leading into the kitchen with staff moving about…
  • Lighting… often it’s already getting dark when speeches are occurring, so we like to have the area lighted.

Now we do understand that every venue is unique, and you have a vision of how you want your day to unfold. So, while the above describes the ideal way (and why) for us to capture quality audio, and video, we are happy to work with your vision of your wedding.

In Summary.

While this seems like it could be a lot of things to think about, even overkill, your wedding only happens once. Capturing quality audio is important to your enjoyment of your films for the rest of your lives, and even beyond.

If you would like to know more about how we film and capture your wedding day audio, drop me a note and I’d love to chat about your specific venue and circumstances.  

Have an Amazing Wedding! – Ken

Technical Note: During your ceremony, if you or anyone in the Bridal Party feels the need to have a smart phone in a pocket. Be sure to power off, or at least place in airplane mode. Just imagine during the vows, a bridesmaids phone goes off playing “I can’t get no satisfaction” as her ringtone… what else needs to be said.

Wedding Video Guestbook

We all love it when the people close to us share stories from our past, sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing, and sometimes sweet. These are the stories that remind us of who we are, and where we’ve come from.

Family gatherings are where these stories often get told. But with the full celebratory nature of a Wedding, it seems the best stories are told. When you have a wide range of family and friends in attendance, the stories just seem to flow.

Now, if there was an easy, and unobtrusive way to capture these moments… While growing up and attending weddings, it was always like a bad game waiting for the videographer to sneak up on you like a pouncing lion with the dreaded bright light and microphone in your face. While blinded by the light I would hear… “Would you like to leave a message for the couple? ” Actually yes, but at that moment it was like being a deer, frozen in place, staring at the bright light. Not knowing what to say. So while I would have like to have said something special, funny, or sweet, it was usually more of a grunting hello and “Congratulations!” Maybe this is why so many people have a fear of speaking in public.

Fast Forward…. Now that I film weddings with amazing couples for a living. I understand the desire for the comments from your guests. However… having been traumatized in my youth, I just don’t do the roving camera in your face thing. What I’ve come up with instead is a “video guestbook” option.  Simple name, and a pretty simple and non invasive process.

We start with finding a great spot where the background has some interest… gardens, sunset, dance floor, etc. Once we have finalized the location, I set up a camera on a tripod, a light (sometimes 2) a wireless microphone and probably the most important piece, a permanent chalk board with ideas on what to say to the couple.

Now here’s the cool part, once we have everything set up, we leave the area. We may stop by every 5-8 minutes checking on things, but your quests aren’t being watched by some person with a camera that they really don’t know. Again, our goal here is a fun and easy experience.

Normally we film for about 90 minutes during the reception. When your guests are ready, they make their way over and leave you some personal and authentic thoughts and/or messages.

After your wedding, when we deliver your films, there is a seperate wedding “video guestbook” video with your family and friends telling stories, laughing, crying and simply being themselves for you to enjoy for many, many, many years…

Want to know more…

Have an amazing wedding! – Ken

Destination Wedding Videos

couple kissing in front of winery doors in napa valley

It’s funny, when someone asked me about destination wedding videos, I used to think about Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, etc. But living and working in the Napa – Sonoma Valley Wine regions, I find that often means Napa or Sonoma for a lot of couples.

Often, a destination wedding consists of a core group of family and friends, maybe 40 – 60 people. Traveling somewhere for not only the wedding but for a sort of vacation. You have the opportunity to indulge in local attractions, customs, music, and sometimes the the location itself.

As I’ve done several “local” destination weddings, here are a few ideas for the Napa – Sonoma area.

⦁ The obvious, wine tasting.
⦁ Probably not so obvious, beer tasting. or maybe a distillery tour.
⦁ The not, not so obvious a culinary tour.
⦁ Maybe a leisurely Wine Train adventure thru the Napa Valley.
⦁ Possibly, golfing, kayaking and zip-lining.
⦁ And finally, why not go for it with a once in a lifetime event like Hot Air Ballooning over the vineyards at sunrise.

Hot air balloon during Napa valley Destination wedding.
Reflection of a Hot Air Balloon on a pond at sunrise.

It really doesn’t matter what you’re in to, the point is that there are lots of really great options for you and your guests. Having us capture those experiences with your family and friends brings another dimension to your destination wedding video.

Bonus: When we have the opportunity to “hang out” for a few days, something interesting happens. I get to know more about you, your history, and your guests. We have the opportunity to capture some really fun footage, and sometimes come up with something very personal to you.

Example Destination Wedding Moment

During a Lake Tahoe destination wedding, I was sitting with the bride looking out over the lake and she asked, “What about a cake reveal?” Having never heard of such a thing, my response was “Tell me more”.

As it happens, the person baking their cake is a highly regarded baker, and she was surprising them with their cake. Since we had the run of the resort, we coordinated with the baker to arrive before rehearsal. I would meet up with them, and we’d set up the cake in a walk in cooler.

So, the groom brought two ties down to the rehearsal to use as blindfolds. Once they were blindfolded, they entered the cooler, arms and hands outstretched. As the blindfold – ties came off, their expressions when seeing their cake were priceless!

While this may not be something that you would do, a casual conversation may lead to something neither one of us thought about until that moment. This is sometimes how a magical moment that is uniquely you unveils itself!

Destination wedding cake reveal after rehearsal.
So this… is a cake reveal!

Random Thought:

Remember, a destination wedding doesn’t always mean flying somewhere. Maybe it’s your favorite vacation spot an hour or two away. Maybe it’s where you spent your first vacation together. Once you leave the routine of daily life, you create a magical escape. In the future, when you travel back in time with your videos, it’s like vacationing on your sofa.

So, are you going somewhere special and/or exciting for your wedding? Let’s Chat!

Have an amazing wedding! – Ken