Raw footage isn't available the way it used to be years ago when videographers shot on tape, primarily. However it can still be offered and delivered. It just takes a lot of work on our end and there's a reason we have to charge for it. There's no way I can put the amount of data/footage that we shoot during a typical wedding on a single or even two DVDs. It would likely take several if not dozens of discs in order to make it high-quality enough to comfortably view.
Every time we start and stop our cameras on a wedding day (there are usually up to 4 cameras rolling at any one time) a new file is created on our media cards. That data is then copied to a volume (hard-drive) throughout the day to create redundancy and backup your precious footage. The only thing is that by the end of our 10-12 hour filming day there are literally thousands of individual files and you would have to watch all of them individually.
The amazing thing is that they total up to an average of 300-400 GB per wedding! What's more incredible is that after we edit your wedding the size of your overall project balloons to about 600-800 GB. Additionally, when the files come out of our camera they are in a format that requires special, professional software to view and manipulate. So unless you are an adept video professional or encoder and have similar, expensive equipment to what we use you likely won't be able to view them. Also, many parts of the day were shot with multiple cameras from different angles so all of these files showing the same thing from a different perspective would also have to be watched separately as well. This is why we offer "documentary edits" of your ceremony, first dance, parents' dances and toasts. This allows you to view these parts of the day in their entirety as if they were being broadcast on live TV with all of the angles cut together for optimum viewing. The quality is very nice, too.
The way we deliver raw footage is (once payment is received) we purchase a 1TB hard drive, transcode all of the raw files to a format you can watch on your computer (provided it is fast enough to handle full 1080p video files natively,) watermark them to prevent unauthorized editing and re-distribution and then transfer them to the hard drive. This process takes hours-upon-hours of work and rendering time on our systems; systems that are normally used for editing films throughout our day. There's also the matter of intellectual property and copyirght.
The files themselves are copyrighted by our studio the moment they are created under Federal Copyright and Intellectual Property laws. Therefore, by giving them to our clients we maintain legal ownership of the files although you are free to use them for personal viewing use only. This means no other media outlet, production company, professional or amateur videographer or hobbiest can use them for any reason. It may seem harsh but we've actually had former clients and their friends and relatives use our raw footage to edit their own videos and pass it off as their own work to go into business for themselves. So the idea that my trade secret, my very means of providing for my family is basically an open book to be read and reverse-engineered once the files are released is the very reason we charge for the footage files from the beginning. It's a matter of principal and I truly hope by explaining what goes into preparing raw footage for our clients, you will understand our reasons for not giving it away for free.