View Full Version : Equipment, technique question for my 1st Wedding shoot
April 22nd, 2012, 11:56 PM
The title is a dead giveaway, but to summarize, I was ask to do a wedding shoot for early September, and since this is my first, I thought I better start planning right away to ensure a smooth shoot.
It's an outdoor shoot, so it'll be from 4:30pm to 11pm. where I'll need to shoot the ceremony, the cake cutting, some candid crowd shots, 1st dance, the walk of the couple from the ceremony to the party (about 3/4 mile walk, approx 10 to 15 mins)
My first question is, I need to invest an on camera light (preferably one I can mount on the shoe) for my video camera (it's a Sony HXR-NX5U), and welcome any recommendations that would help. (budget for the light is between ($50 to $200)
Second question, what should mount/brace would you recommend? (budget is $50 to $150) Since it's a small/intimate wedding crowd, I may not have the option to bring a 2nd camera person so have to prepare for the scenario it's just me, and will need to be able to run arround and shoot.
Third question, a follow up to single shooter question. What advice would you give in prepraring for the shoot, and what obstacles to avoid.
Thanks again for all your help, and look forward to hear your thoughts.
April 23rd, 2012, 12:50 AM
I personally prefer the LED lights that use the power LED's rather than the multiple bank of 3mm LED's Mine current lights are very compact and have 6 x 3W LED's and run off standard Sony FP 750 batteries and last all night. If you look on eBay for the 5010 video light you will find them well below $100 and they are robust and awesome... !!
I use a shoulder mount rig virtually all the time at weddings except when one cam is on a tripod...mine is home built to it suits my Panasonic AC-130's exactly but you will find some good ones on-line!!
The shoulder rigs from India would also suit your budget nicely ...stuff from Redrock Micro is really awesome but very costly The crowd at CineCity in India have rigs in your price range or you can do like me and just make one yourself ...Take a look in the Panasonic AVCCAM forum and I have some pics there of my current rigs in the AC-130 posts.
Just remember you also need fixed lighting at the reception, wireless mics or recorders and plenty od spare batteries and cards!!!
April 23rd, 2012, 06:11 AM
Thanks Chris for your help.
Yep, batteries,and cards are on the top of my list.
I may have a hard time, convincing the couple to wear wireless mic, so may see if I can position a 2nd
camera close enough with an external mic..
April 23rd, 2012, 07:36 AM
Robert, you don't have to convince the groom to wear a wireless. Just inform the bride the vows will likely not be heard without a wireless mic, and let her make the decision. Wireless mic on the groom is standard practice for a reason. If she is ok with not hearing the vows, then fine. You should offer the option, so later when they complain about not hearing the vows they cannot blame you.
April 23rd, 2012, 07:48 AM
I did have a groom once that refused to have a mic but the priest was only too happy to have one..during the vows the bride, groom and priest/officiant are all pretty close to each other so it's essential that you have a mic on one...your vows will really be awful with a on-camera mic ..brides especially are usually very softly spoken ..if she can't hear her vows then the ceremony is sorta pointless to shoot!!
Audio is absolutely critical for wedding ceremonies!!! Outdoor ceremonies will be especially tough as sound dissipates much quicker!! If it is an issue then find out if the officiant will be using a PA system?? You might be able to strap a tiny lav to his mic so you get decent audio. In all cases I definately wouldn't try and mic from the camera ... take a look at the setup ..you may be able to hide a DVR close to them but the accepted way is still a lav mic on the groom's jacket
April 23rd, 2012, 08:29 AM
Since this is your very first wedding shoot, the best advice I can give you is to shoot the wedding as if you were paid 10 million dollars for the job and tell yourself that you want to win awards with it. Give yourself no excuse for any mediocre result.
This means, do whatever it takes to get the most beautiful shots, capture the cleanest audio, tell the best story and make the most amazing movie that ever existed. Wow your client and impress yourself with your own work.
This should be the goal you should set every single time. Don't walk into the job thinking that it's just a little wedding gig and/or you're not getting paid enough for the work so you're just going to "try" and see how it turns out.
This is what will allow you to make a difference in your career and decide whether you want to eventually become one of the top award-winning wedding filmmakers in the industry living the good life or become an average wedding videographer who will struggle all his life to look for gigs to pay his bills.
With all that said, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Watch the work of the top dogs in our industry and ask yourself "what does it take to become as good as them?"
Your wedding is in September, which means you still have a few months to watch, analyze, learn, practice, practice, watch again, analyze again, compare your result, practice some more. Then, show up in September at the wedding and be in your best form. Your career will start setting from then.
This is the mentality and determination I regret I didn't have when I first started in the industry and now I'm playing catch-up. I wouldn't want a fellow wedding videographer to waste any of his time like I did.
April 23rd, 2012, 12:46 PM
I'm pretty new myself at this, my thoughts after doing the first one was:
get a good steady tripod my original tripod was terrible!! - I got a Libec LS-38 2A
get a second camera (for B Roll)
audio is key - you'll get away with so so video but if people cant hear whats being said - it's a disaster. My first wedding i just had onboard mike - it wasn't the greatest! - I eventually went for a wireless mike that i tape to the officiant's one and the same at the venue.
Again the first wedding i had no light and while you can get away without lights most of the time they are handy to have for a bit of fill in backlit situations or where the light has lowered to almost darkness. - The light i got was a Sony HVL-LBPB (not cheap) but it has a dimmer and Spot, flood-lighting, Light diffuser etc. runs off NP-F970 battery
I didn't have a shoulder brace and hand held the cam throughout - I have Glidecam HD 4000 but still looking at shoulder mount options.
If you can visit the location around the times of the actual event - it's good to know the layout and the conditions. I didn't the first time and struggled a bit to keep up. Also if they have a rehearsal it's a good idea to attend so you know what to expect. This happened to me, I was asked to make sure that i caught the client's niece singing, I did but i was on the other side of the church, so all i could see was basically a singing bunch of flowers and greenery, it took a lot of creative editing to cover that one up.
April 23rd, 2012, 02:46 PM
Outdoor weddings are tough at the best of times. Lighting changes constantly, not just where it's at, but temps and of course brightness. You need some sort of light on the camera for when the sun goes away. You need it as well if shooting backlit scenes. Well, you may not need it but it makes things a lot easier.
As for audio, if the groom and officiant don't want to wear a mic going back to the camera to capture the vows, then you need to find a way be it hiding a mic on the "altar" which in most cases doesn't work real well or if they have a PA system of some sort then use a mic in front of the speaker going back to your wireless or DVR. I DO recommend using a 2nd camera even if unmanned to give you a cut away shot if needed.
As far as specifics, for example, I did a wedding Saturday. Ceremony and reception all in one location. Different rooms. The ceremony was quite dark and had white sheer drapes which had uplighting so was mostly backlit if shooting from down the center aisle which IMO is the preferred place to shoot since all the action happens centered. Luckily I had just gotten 2 of the 160 LED lights from Amazon. I placed them on lightstands and hid them by the 2 pedastils at the end of the aisle and were only about 8 feet from the "altar". Backlighing problem solved. B&G not only didn't notice until after but thanked me for lighting it up so the guests could see. I had 2 cameras on the "altar" hidden behid the draping and poked the lenses out thru the splits of the curtains so I could get face shoot as they faced in. I set the shots and ran the cameras unmanned as anyone standing behind would have been seen thru the curtains. For audio, I micd the groom back to my camera, ran my drum mic in front of the speaker (the DJ supplied a speaker and wireless mic for the officiant) and ran a boomed shotgun to one of my cameras for the celloist who was sitting close enough to the "altar" that a 20 foot XLR cable worked out.
I loaded the footage this AM and the audio is great as is the footage. What I mean by that is the B&G are lit so you can actually see them.
Moral to the story...You don't really know what you're going to run in to so you have to be prepared for anything. As I always say, weddings are like breaking news events. They haoppen fast, they happen once and you don't get re-dos!
Do the best you can with what you have at the time. I'm sure it will be fine.
April 23rd, 2012, 03:07 PM
Reading between the lines you probably don't want to spend a whole lot of money on this one-off shoot; all be it if it goes well you may consider adding this service.
So a few extra points from a single shooter:
Shooting events like the ceremony with just one cam is likely to be very stressful for you unless the intention is to deliver highlights and not a longform edit. Buy or hire a cheap but good small camcorder such as the Panasonic TM900 or X900 and put it on a lightstand (they can get higher than tripods so can get over guests heads). This is your B cam and an insurance policy. It would be locked down to one position most of the time but you can of course move it. You should be ready to adapt to new and unforseen circumstances at such a fluid event as a wedding anyway, anything from guests standing in front of your locked down cam to people making speeches from unexpected places etc. Even less stressful if you can stretch to two B cams.
You don't need to go to the expense and learning curve of wireless as you can simply use a small recorder such as the Zoom H1 in the grooms pocket attached to an affordable lav like the Giant Squid. Before you go to any higher expense for lavs do remember that it will be outside, possibly in a breeze, and therefore the sound is what it is - you may be lucky to get pristine sound with even the best equipment.
If you can stretch to it have one or more extra H1's with clamps and small stands that you can position close to speakers without having to lav them up - which takes valuable seconds and which can cause resistance from the people involved.
A decent shotgun mic on your main cam can be a lifesaver if all else fails.
The Z96 video light and its successor are very affordable and work well. Lots on Ebay but watch out for knockoffs.
April 25th, 2012, 05:09 AM
Handheld can be OK while there is action but fairly static scenes like the ceremony are much better handled with a tripod or monopod. Video from a 2nd camera will make the finished product far more entertaining to watch.
April 25th, 2012, 09:56 PM
Wow! Thanks everyone for the feedback. It's taking me awhile to sort out the info.
So please let me know if I summarize correctly of what's been suggested.
1) The on camera lighting recommendation as of now are
a) 5010 video light
b) z96 video light.
c) 160 LED light
2) Options to addressing audio issues.
a) Mike either groom or bride or priest? with a wireless (which case I'll need to borrow/rent buy)
b) Use existing shotgun mike from my nx5u (have an azden shotgun for back up)
c) use a handheld mike as back up audio close to groom/bride (I Have a Q3HD)
d) Find a place close by to record audio hidden away.
3) Strategic shooting advice.
a) Use a 2nd camera for B Roll shoot (I have a 2nd NX5U or if its unvailable, zi8 as last resort)
b) use a tripod (I have a Manfrotto with a 503HDV tripod head) to capture WS of cerimony
either manned or unmanned.
c) Scout the outdoor location
d) Get a second shooter (do either B roll or static shot)
4) For 2nd camera
a) To capture B-roll shoot
b) (if possible) acquire monopod, 2nd tripod, or shoulder brace over handheld
April 25th, 2012, 10:43 PM
2) Options to addressing audio issues.
a) Mike either groom or bride or priest? with a wireless (which case I'll need to borrow/rent buy)
I personally never would or have heard of anyone putting the mic on the bride. There just isn't a good way to do it discreetly. Stick with the groom and/or the priest and you should get great audio from the bride via their mics.
April 25th, 2012, 11:11 PM
I have never had to mic an bride either..You would have to have a white lav and cable and a white transmitter and where on earth would you put it anyway!!!
I find that if you mic the groom keep the lav quite low on the lapel and your priest and bride audio is a lot more balanced..putting the lav high up on the jacket lapel ends up as really loud audio from him and a whisper from the bride...lower down your mouth to mic distance for both is a lot more consistent
Something else I always take to the ceremony is a light stand and my little Gopro Hero 2 and run it from start to finish shooting a medium wide shot CCTV style of the entire event...that footage really comes in useful when the best man steps backwards in front of your main camera or the photographer stands in front...the section recorded while to get them to shift out of the way is neatly covered by the high up wide footage and no-one can ever block that camera 15' up in the air. It's saved my bacon a few times already plus the high wide shots look rather cool too used in moderation!!
April 28th, 2012, 08:22 AM
Another aspect of capturing great video at the event is knowing how to work with the photographer, and how to achieve your shots while repecting the house rules of the church and reception hall. There is a great ebook which discusses this very topic. Its a must read for any newbie.
Start Up a Photography or Videography Business On A Shoestring - Learn From The Pros How To Generate Good Income In Your Spare Time: Jeffrey Goldberg, Irving Goldberg: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
April 30th, 2012, 02:42 PM
1. Ask the bride who is her priority-her or groom. Usually her if they get split up.
2. Ask her who is the priority-photography or you. Usually photographer.
3. Let her tell event manager, photographer and family you'll be there and will need to allow you to do your job.
4. Go on the rehersal day to check the places out. You can get shots then , too.
5. Bring ziplock bags. All used batteries and cards/tapes go in one. Mark bags. And never, ever leave camera or cards out of sight!! They must stay with you at all tomes, even in bathroom.
6. Lens cleaner microfiber cloth.
7. Polarizer or nd filter as spare, uv filter on lens to protect it from bumps.
8. Small camera bag for it all with everything accessible and balanced when worn.
9. AC adapter and spare 100' power cord in car just in case batteries go.
10. All batteries get a full charge week of, then full run down. Pencil in how long they last on each on, charge partially, then charge up fully the day prior.
11. Pen and paper/pad.
12. If your camcorder/camera had zebra for peaking, learn.
13. The more you move about, the wider you go on zoom. Otherwise, everyone will get sick watching camera shake.
14. Learn to walk backwards filming, steady.
15. pack water, food/bars to snack on. Breaks may come late.
16. East a quick dinner, then go around the tables to get Thanks and Well Wishes from everyone.
17. Learn who the family members are beforehand! You must get them on tape. Important friends, too.
18. If you use lights, diffuse. Else, often too harsh.
19. If camera has it, 1/30th or 1/15th second shutter speed modes when lighting dims. High iso if supported, but watch out for noise.
20. Printed maps. Printed schedule.
21. Always ask church & reception directly where camera can be as well a if the allow tripods. Some don't close, and you'll be in the far back.
22. Expect to go 6 hours with one or two minor breaks. Wear comfy shoes!
23. Neck strap it!
24. Make sure you know the camera w/o manual.
May 12th, 2012, 12:12 AM
Sam & David, thanks so much for your feedback.
I went to Video Expo held by the Camera Co, yesterday and picked up at a great bargain the ika ILed 312 kit, in which they even threw in the 312 stand.
As I was practicing to shoot with the light on top of the camera, I notice a couple of things, one the head kinda wiggles, and 2, with the added weight of the light to the camera, it's a little heavy.
My question is.
1) In instance where I need to remove the camera from the tripod to do a hand held shoot,
what device to you recommend to support the weight?
2) other than playing with the shoe mount, to insure it's on securely, what other things
I can do to make sure it doesn't wiggle, or minimize the wiggling.
3) What audio adjustments on the nx5u, you recommend to ensure I don't pick up the audio
of the wiggleness?
July 23rd, 2012, 02:38 PM
Weight - that's something you have to learn to deal with. Pick up some 10lbs weights and start exercising! =D
Pretty much what most videographers have to deal with - a 10lbs rock on their shoulders/arms for hours.
Short of stamina, there's not much you can do except off-load it to a monopod, your body, or something else you can rest on.
(we're assuming a full Steadcam-like outfit isn't in your budget, either =P
That said, neck strap for the camera/camcorder. When you remove the camera from tripod, strap goes around your neck immediately. Last thing you want is to accidentally drop that camera!
Also, you can use it to help stabilize the camera.
If you adjust the length correctly, you can support the camera in different ways. eg. you can have the camera out in front, neck strap tight, and elbow in belly. Lean back a touch and you've got some of that weight down on your belly so your arm doesn't have to hold up the entire camera weight.
SHOE MOUNT for the light/etc SHOULD NEVER WIGGLE or else it's not made right! Talk to vendor!!
Pretty much should lock in tight once you've screwed it in right and no wiggles! Otherwise, you risk both wobbles and the light falling off later.
If you must, piece of thin rubber cut to fit under so that there's no motion and less chance of the light sliding off.
As for audio picking up wiggles, look above!!! A light should NEVER wiggle, wobble, move, etc. once locked down into the shoe!!!! If you don't fix that, there's nothing you can do about the audio (short of having an off-board microphone).
July 25th, 2012, 01:05 AM
Both the early LED lights used to wobble badly cos the mounting foot was very poorly made!! What I did with those is buy myself a mini ball head that had a cold shoe foot on it and then un-bolted the light's foot and drilled a hole in the case and bolted on the mini ball head. It worked very well.
Luckily all my new lights have decent foot mounts that don't wobble!!
July 25th, 2012, 01:40 AM
Get a good monopod for the ceremony - I found that using a tripod caused problems where space was v. tight and was just not as flexible - I bought the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 and it's by far the most useful thing I've bought - pick it up and set it down in seconds without any levelling - sure it takes a while to get good with it and it'll never match up in terms of silky smooth pans and tilts but well worth the tradeoff! - I still use a tripod for the speeches though
Get on the good side of the officiant beforehand, assuring them that you won't be obtrusive/running around during the ceremony etc. Ask about any readings beforehand and where they will happen - you may need to get a mic close to the reader - or better still get a lav on them
Be prepared for the unexpected!
July 25th, 2012, 02:24 AM
No matter how steady you hold a monopod it is impossible to avoid some swaying & weaving so if there is room for a tripod then I always use that over a monopod. Monopods are great for quickly movin from place to place & when your subjects are moving so any untoward camera motion isn't obvious. For speeches & ceremony we always use a tripod if at all possible. We now use these really lightweight Giottos carbon fibre tripods with a simple video head.
Giottos MTL8251B Pro Carbon 3 Section Tripod (MTL8251B) - Wex Photographic (http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-giottos-mt8251-pro-carbon-3-section-tripod/p1031413)
Giottos VH6011-658D 2-Way Video / Birding Head (GTVH6011-658D) - Wex Photographic (http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-giottos-vh6011-658d-2-way-video-birding-head/p1518593)
July 25th, 2012, 05:20 AM
Ditto!! I always have the main camera on tripod the entire ceremony and for all the speeches..I'm running with a second cam on my shoulder so a monopod doesn't work for me at all. If I know the second camera will have to do a fairly long handheld shot then additional to it being a shoulder mount camera I also use a sprung rod that supports the front end and goes to a pocket in a waist strap..They call them ENG rigs and they work great especially if you are doing stuff like the first dance where you are shooting a 4 or 5 minute clip!!
I tried a monopod and found it to be un-inspiring...it resists your movement compared to handheld and it you stay dead still then a lightweight tripod is better!!