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Canon GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon GL2, GL1 and PAL versions XM2, XM1.


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Old October 5th, 2002, 10:50 AM   #16
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I rarely laugh out loud at posts but "can you liven him up a bit?" That was priceless : )
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Old October 5th, 2002, 10:54 AM   #17
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Trust me, it is something I would do. I suffer from foot-in-mouth and cranial-rectal inversion all the time. I can't fix it so I feature it ;-)
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Old October 6th, 2002, 09:12 PM   #18
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John,

I overlooked that you all ready own a GL2. However, if you buy another cam other than a GL2, you'll have to spend some time familiarizing yourself with it before doing a major shoot like that planned wedding.

I usually just use 1 cam to shoot a funeral, but always bring a second one as a back-up and perhaps even use it for the burial segment (beginning with when the coffin is carried out). I prepare both cams before the shoot, at home, so when I arrive the setup is minimal. Then it only takes me about 5 minutes to set-up. The cams I use are 2 older 1 chip JVCs (GR-DVL9500U). I think with your previous cams, they would work just fine for weddings and funerals. However, if you plan on NLE, digital is the best way to go, like with that D8 you have used previously, or better, the GL2.

There are no trade secrets as far as I know, just skill and creativity along with some tips and tricks. Experience is also an asset. On the shoot, it's only logical to assess the setting, and quickly. What I do is "roll" on the deceased's picture, if there is one set up, and/or the casket and flowers. Usually appropriate background music is piped in, if it is not, I dub in music later. Next, I shoot the corpse, if the casket is open. I may set myself up at a different area and perhaps zoom in slowly, then stop the cam, and restart it with an upper body shoot. The next scene would be back to the casket or flowers, perhaps at from a distance. This portion amounts to maybe about 5 minutes. You may also begin with shooting the outside of the funeral home, and then begin with what I just described.

When the first speaker begins, record him, with a close-up perhaps. I position the tripod near the front and to the side, for the least amount of obtrusiveness. This way you can also focus in on the people attending---and with people who have a story to tell, with their faces. Get a good variety of the people, but pick out the oddballs and the ones who sob the most (and the ones which look like they have just seen a ghost). These are the best subjects. I shoot "faces" in-between the speakers.

Only use slow zooms and pans, and sparingly. You want to have a laid-back, sad look---with an almost morbid atmosphere---but with an overall story built up with the smaller, individual stories---like with a puzzle. The people's faces/reactions (sadness) are these little stories. Putting them together shows more of the complete story of the fallen star. Shoot so that you build up to the really sad part (were they pick up the coffin). People will break down, and you will want to capture this. This is a funeral, a story of someone's life that's just ended. Make it a good story. The reactions are part of what tells the story. Now there is a reprieve from the lesser climax. The casket is put in the hearse, people are going to their cars, and everyone is going to the subject's final resting place. Capture a couple of minutes of this, if you can. Perhaps use a high angle shot, perhaps a low angle shot with the casket sliding into the hearse. Do a slow pan of the crowd.

The climax comes with the prayers at the burial and finished when the casket is lowered into the ground. People are going to break down the most here, take advantage of this. The resolution will be when everyone leaves and/or at the wake, for food is usually served. Focus in on the sad people who are not eating or eating slowly or crying or telling a story about the deceased---whether a sad or happy story. Don't shoot the people who are happy, though. This will spoil the theme. After everything is done, I put in something about the person between the footage, and dub in music where it's needed. Remember that you are shooting a story, with a "through-line." A wedding is a different story. It is upbeat, and requires different technique, but it is also a story, nevertheless. This is how I shoot funerals, and I use the KISS method (Keep it Simple Stupid). It works.

Weddings require more creativity, and you have to be "on the ball" (work faster, don't miss opportunities---create opportunity, and organize), but with funerals, it's easier to experiment with creativity.
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Old October 8th, 2002, 02:21 AM   #19
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Thanks to everyone that posted a reply. It has helped me a lot.
Frank, the info on funeral shoots is really interesting. I'm saving the page in case it comes up in the future. It's really something I never thought of. It gets the little hampster in my brain going on his wheel.
Thanks again.
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Old October 8th, 2002, 08:43 AM   #20
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<<<-- Frank, the info on funeral shoots is really interesting. >>>

Agreed. Sounds like you create a nice memory for folks. Neat stuff.
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Old October 8th, 2002, 09:59 PM   #21
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I sometimes do it for free, when I get contacted by the funeral home and asked. Deaths sometimes come suddenly and the family is unprepared financially. Plus it's good practice for me---and gives me something to do.
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Old October 8th, 2002, 11:05 PM   #22
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Excellent post, Frank... as usual. Good on ya,
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