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Old April 11th, 2013, 09:48 AM  
8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
Robert Benda Robert Benda is offline April 11th, 2013, 09:48 AM

We are finishing up our 8th wedding, and after one year of this, we're looking for any feedback. Two of us have been shooting on three Canon T3is but just got our first 5d mark ii after we shot this one.

It's what I call a final rough draft, my last chance for changes, of the 10 minute video. We had some trouble with one SD card going missing (parent interviews and groom getting ready, which I'm sick about); and the other shooter (my wife) has some footage that is way over exposed (which I'm really mad about), but I did my best to fix it (dropped Gamma as much as I could, and some color correction).

Suggestions are welcome. I'll also be doing a 4-5 minute cinematic.


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Old April 12th, 2013, 05:24 PM   #16
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Evan, that's a great trailer and you have undoubted shooting and editing skills, but it ain't a wedding video it's a trailer!

Nobody is disputing that with the right skills, experience and multi cameras and equipment, one can make beautiful video with focus pulls, smooth glider shots,steady cams etc. The point here though is that Robert wants advice based on what he has shown and where he is now, particularly with experience and handling of basics including equipment.

It is more about what is practical and achievable now, rather than what is possible in the future once experience and confidence is there.

Roger
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Old April 12th, 2013, 05:31 PM   #17
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

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I'm going to be the guy that plays devil's advocate and says that I actually think DSLRs can be quite well suited to weddings
Ofcourse you are right Evan but that was not the point me and others where trying to make, Robert shoots video together with his wife, which is good as dslr's do benefit from a 2 person shoot, but you both should have the same expertise, which dslr's do require, and it's just that what is missing. You should have good experience using videocamera's first before even thinking of getting into dslr's. Even experienced photog's that think to make a sidestep to video for extra income are often in for a big surprise as well when they see it actually is a totally different world, just the fact that I can press a photobutton doesn't make me a instant wedding photographer either.
With the use of "regular" large dof videocamera's you can let less experienced persons shoot greater video in run and gun situations, when I see those totally blown highlights I know that if Roberts wife would have had a small handicam that I also use, the footage would have turned out great.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 05:42 PM   #18
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Hi Robert,

Just like everything else, practice makes perfect. I do not see why you should get rid of your current gear albeit you really need to practice and learn shooting with them. Im not gonna start a DSLR vs. Videocam discussion, there are always pros and cons to both sides.

I would hold off on selling your old gear and buying new ones, this will not solve your problem. Learning to work with the tools you have now will. All you really need to do is learn the basics and keep practicing...I haven't seen what you did on the previous 7 weddings but by this time you should have figured out some basic techniques on shooting and editing. With all the great wedding videos around, you can easily pick up things and learn.

What i noticed that you need to improve on:

Steadiness, smooth movements and more steadiness - please use a tripod, monopod, slider or a glidecam to steady your shots...there is a certain style to shooting handheld or with a monopod but that takes a lot of practice to perfect, that walking from behind the couple shot is not good.

Learn to use the 4 major DSLR components properly - Aperture, ISO, shutter speed and white balance. remember its Aperture first b4 ISO and donít even fiddle around with the shutter speed unless your going for a special shot. Make sure that all cams have the same settings before heading out to shoot.

Color grading - i saw a lot of "pumpkin orange" people

Lighting- don't be afraid to light up a scene if need be. We shoot with really fast lenses(1.4 and 1.8) and still use lights.

Not a fan of zooming in and out and reframing shots on the fly...I do it but it doesn't make the edit.

Hope to see your future work! Good luck, keep it simple and most of all have fun!


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Old April 12th, 2013, 06:01 PM   #19
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

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I would hold off on selling your old gear and buying new ones, this will not solve your problem.
It will solve his problem on very short notice, like I said about those totally blown shots of the bride which would have looked ok with a regular videocamera.

He (or his wife) has to make the choice to either spend a lot of time getting the basics right with his dslr's or spend a little bit of time getting better results much quicker with semi-automatic videocamera's. I just think that brides can not be a testsubject during the time you are trying to find out how to get it right. It's better to start of right quickly and then slowly change to dslr's, sliders, steadicam and so on but if you just use a handicam and a simple tripod you can get great results.

This what I do with little handicam's: (only steadicam and very shallow dof shots are from a t2i but all tripod and slidershots are sony cx730's.)

and if you think you can't do weddings with them, here's another: (same here, only steadicam is dslr, all the rest is handicam footage) during the church recording all 3 handicams used where in full auto, try doing that with a dslr and get those results...and look at the vows/ring exchange shot, that's handheld...
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Old April 12th, 2013, 06:11 PM   #20
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Lack of zebra, color varieties, and mic on the groom says sell those DSLR's and Purchase a Panasonic, Canon or Sony Videocamera (2)
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Old April 13th, 2013, 09:32 AM   #21
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

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Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
Evan, that's a great trailer and you have undoubted shooting and editing skills, but it ain't a wedding video it's a trailer!

Roger
Well for firsties it's a reel haha, but my full length videos are around 15 minutes, and I find that that's the exact length my target client wants. I think invalidating the existence of that as a real product is ridiculous, it's like a feature guy going to a commercial DP and saying their work isn't a real video, it's just a 60 second spot. Different beasts, both equally valid.

Just a quick note to Noa: I wasn't saying you were invalidating DSLRs, but a couple people mentioned that " DSLRs should not be let within 100 miles of weddings " which is ridiculous.

EDIT: Also: Most of the shots I saw that were clipping really bad werent actually overexposed, they were just clipped. Way too high a DR to bother shooting in. If you look at other skin tones/dresses they're not overexposed. My biggest problem with the whole thing was just wayyyyy too much contrast and too little stabilization, as well as not knowing when NOT to shoot (EG: super harshly lit clipped shots).

Just my 0.2, I dunno that a handicam would deal with clipping any better. I would say you definitely want to practice manual exposure like crazy though. And shoot flat.
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Old April 13th, 2013, 09:55 AM   #22
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

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Most of the shots I saw that were clipping really bad werent actually overexposed, they were just clipped. Way too high a DR to bother shooting in.
So you are saying that this could not be prevented? To me that looks like a serious overexposure, has nothing to do with DR or any limitation the t3I might have, I never have an image that looks like that on my t2i unless I overexpose. Also the concerning shots where indoor, why should one not bother to shoot in those circumstances?
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Old April 13th, 2013, 12:00 PM   #23
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Evan, I think you are being unnecessarily defensive! I am quite aware that your video was a showreel, and my point was that it was not really relevant to the original point of the OP asking for advice on his own work. Neither did I dismiss the short form as irrelevant. As you correctly say, there are potential clients that want just a short form which I am sure you are very competent at producing.

However, I know from my own experience that there are plenty of short form producers that would not be able to produce enough length of continuous quality footage to produce a full length documentary style. That is not because they are incompetent, but because different types of shooting are required. Certainly covering a 60 minute Catholic service in it's entirety with a single DSLR would present a problem. Most DSLR videographers that I have seen, consider it essential to have 2 or 3 cameras present plus additional off board sound recording. Add to that the type of stylised footage that short form tends to need, would make it difficult to capture that style with continuous fixed position shooting.

The current popularity for using DSLR cameras for wedding video is because of the creative and artistic possibilities offered. In my opinion, that is at the expense of the greater ease and speed of capturing a wedding using a video camera, and the opportunity of capturing many depths of a scene which are sometimes vital. DSLRs make for a much higher work, and equipment load with far more chance of getting things wrong as we see in Robert's example. Again in my opinion, the DSLR is best used as another tool in the armoury to offer artistic and creative possibilities, rather than the only or main tool.

Again you are correct in saying that short/long form is also culturally influenced, with most UK wedding clients preferring the long form. I delivered a wedding this week, and the B&G were in tears at times as they watched every second of the 40 min church service, laughing at their slips and at people not singing the hymns etc. The whole video was 95 minutes long and they were disappointed when it was all over and decided to watch it again!

You probably get a similar response from your short form, so it's whatever floats your boat :-)

Let's get back to helping Robert move forward, and as Noa said, experimenting on Brides is not the best way. My advice would be to concentrate on a good stable nicely framed wedding, shot from the easier platform of a video camera, and maybe use one of the DSLRs alongside rather than independently, to gain experience of more artistic shots that can be dropped into the edit, rather than relying on it. Keep the edit to a linear flow and concentrate on a smooth visual flow that tells the story of the day. Whether you make that long or short form, documentary or cinematic is your choice, but initially concentrate on the basics.

Look forward to you next example Robert,

Roger
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Old April 13th, 2013, 03:54 PM   #24
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Andrew M, I'm not one to endlessly test equipment to destruction, pixel peeping footage of cats in coal cellars or gretag macbeth color charts propped against grocery packaging etc so I won't be uploading comparison files. Just too many variables. And its boring!!!

But I did shoot a first wedding ceremony where the AC90 was included a few days ago.

It was a demanding scenario. The venue a cramped dark interior barge permanently moored on a hotels riverbank. Challenging areas of backlighting through windows. Mixed lighting by virtue of tungsten ones close the the couples faces.

I placed the AC90 where I might otherwise have a TM900. One thing I like very much about the TM900 family is its automatic backlight compensation feature. This works great for when you have a bright window behind your subject – it always seems to get it right and can even cope with changes in backlighting midshoot if the sun is going in and out of clouds thereby changing the exposure. But with the TM900 you have to switch this feature on every time you start up – its cannot be made sticky; however it doesn't seem to hurt to switch it on even if its not actually needed.

The AC90 has a similar feature of course. However it did appear to cope with the backlighting better without needing to trigger the compensation. A number of physical buttons (in addition to the touch screen) can be assigned to features such as switching on this compensation and I have done that. You can actually toggle it on and off mid-clip.

The auto focus was fast and accurate but those who prefer manual do have a get out of jail free card in the “push AF” feature – again a physical button. This means that if you are working on manual and get in a mess or something quick and unscripted happens you press that button and it jumps to autofocus – maybe saving the day :- )

One of the two rocker switches that can control zoom – in addition to a lens ring – can have its speed of zooming set to off / slow / medium / fast. The slow option is very usable should you wish to do a gradual zoom in or out.

Its considerably larger than consumer sized cams of course but not so large that it cannot sit on a discreet lightstand instead of a hunking great tripod, and it shouldn't restrict your movement in a tight area or cause a distraction.

Thats just a few preliminary observations on it.

It can't compete with a 5DII in very low light but its still good, and for the rest of the day may ensure that you get the shots that the dSLR shooter misses whilst they are f**ting around juggling their accessories.

Incidentally I covered this wedding using 4 video cams in addition to my main job which was shooting the stills. This shot from another wedding shows the interior of the barge from the rear. All the “action” takes place on the raised platform at the front:

Ref 006-3183-03_wdlr Ashton Lamont Photography, Copyright

It is not practical to move around once the ceremony is underway because it is so cramped up there. I stood to the front right (as seen from the back) with the AC90 and two 5DII's (for stills). On this occasion I also had a TM900 at the rear to the right framing the couple from behind. Another TM900 was attached to a wall light fitting at the front top left using a friction arm. And a Gopro was attached the rails that you see adjacent to the steps. The front two cams caught the bride and the groom, the gopro caught the guests, and the rear cam got the establishing footage.

I suggest you could not begin to get that level of coverage using dSLRs that must be babysat among their other “features”. And the cramped conditions are not at all untypical of UK venues, added to which there may be restrictions on operator movement and equipment placement.

So often the sample reels offered by dSLR users feature what are almost ideal shooting conditions – plenty of light, lots of space, clients willing to participate in what are clearly setup shots on what is supposed to be their wedding day.

Got to say also that there seems to be a tendency to call “cinematic” dSLR artistic, with the implication that longform documentary is not so. In my opinion neither are artistic and nor should they be. I'm going to pick on Evan now – sorry Evan :- ) But that reel is not artistic. Its just a procession of shots of detail. Easily half of its length is occupied by dress shoes tables etc. There is no emotion except that supplied by the music. Sorry again !!! Its not meant to be cruel or personal but just an observation that that is the nature of these reels.

Clients are easily influenced by what they are offered. This is not surprising as they don't get married all that often and do look to their photographers and videographers for guidance on what they ought to do. Its also a fact that people buy what they are shown in this business. This means that just because you see enthusiasm from your clients at the outset it does NOT mean that what you are offering has real staying power and the ability to gain you referrals years into the future.

To distil all that for the OP: its a hard life so make it a little easier on yourself by using the right tools for the job. Unless you are in a niche market you are probably using the wrong tools at present. If you stick to dSLRs and / or big kit you are very much limiting the numbers of weddings at which its even practical to shoot. In general be very wary of what may be short term trends and advice from some apparent experts (not within this thread) who may not even have many weddings under their belts let alone be earning a fulltime living at it.

Pete

Last edited by Peter Riding; April 14th, 2013 at 04:04 AM. Reason: got left and right mixed up when describing camera positions!
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Old April 14th, 2013, 07:44 PM   #25
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Hi Guys

I don't want to start another DSLR/Video war as we have already had plenty of those with heated discussions so that's simply history. Surely the bottom line here is to cover the wedding for the bride correctly and completely? All the other comments are 100% correct and if you cannot provide stable footage with your DSLR's then by all means use a camcorder for the base coverage and your DSLR's for the eye-candy (like that expression from Noa!!) Remember it's the person that's behind the camera that counts, not the camera and brides really couldn't care less if you have a DSLR or video camera to do the job. I also use a GoPro at weddings to get a different angle on the wedding ceremony and yes, sometimes the footage is awesome and sometimes it really sucks!! Rather stick to something that gives you a solid backup of the wedding from start to end that you can rely on and then go for the little bits and pieces that makes your video special. That way if you totally mess up on the eye candy stuff you at least have your base footage to fall back on ... if the eye candy shots are fantastic then use them all or just some but make sure you have the so-called "boring" footage to cover your back.

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Old April 15th, 2013, 02:34 AM   #26
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Peter R,
"I'm not one to endlessly test equipment to destruction, pixel peeping footage of cats in coal cellars or gretag macbeth color charts propped against grocery packaging etc so I won't be uploading comparison files. Just too many variables. And its boring!!!"
Lol, I agree! I'd prefer to see the results of a camera working in a real life situation like an actual wedding, concert, etc.
Anyway, did you feel the AC90 was good enough to shot a wedding? I'm very much torn between a XA10 and the AC90. I like the features on the AC90 but as I said, I have yet to see any really good footage. Whilst the XA10 looks a bit fiddley, I think it has a lovely image from what I can see.
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Old April 15th, 2013, 06:41 AM   #27
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Hi Andrew

I nearly bought AC-90's but decided the new Sony EA-50 was the camera to beat! The one thing that really put me off the AC-90 was the fact that you only have manual levels on the XLR channels which is fine for ceremonies but once you are at the reception with audio varying from 30db to 120db, manual control just doesn't work and would be a nightmare!! Weird, they provide auto level on the internal mics but left it off the XLR channels completely

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Old April 15th, 2013, 08:14 AM   #28
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Chris, that's not really a problem for me as I usually record manually on 2 different channels, one recording low and the other which I monitor. I've never had any great problems using this technique. Did you try the ac90?
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Old April 15th, 2013, 08:17 AM   #29
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

This post has morphed from Robert's gutsy presentation for the critics to devour into Dslr vs Video to which Videocamera to purchase.
Robert I also have my wife as a second shooter. Thank goodness I don't use DSLR or she would have quit years ago.
I join the others that recommend a Videocamera but not a short zoom like the AC-90. A Panasonic AC130\160 would be my choice for greater coverage possibilities and marital bliss.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:42 AM   #30
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Greg, I think morphing is OK in this case because the most appropriate choice of equipment in relation to the OP's level of experience and aims is a key element. Good point about the wife's viewpoint; we can't expect 2nd shooters to have the same dedication as ourselves :- )

Andrew, the AC90 is new to me but I have used several TM900's on scores of weddings over the past 2 years and the results have been terrific in all but the lowest of lighting - don't ask me for a gain setting or an f-stop as my brain works in a stills mode not a video mode :- ) The AC90 being in effect a big brother of the TM900 / X920 series, an X920 with knobs on so to speak, I don't expect to be disappointed. Next wedding outing is not till 27th.

Chris, the issue over the levels is not a concern to me because I always use external recorders except in emergencies, but I think your observation may be wrong. I need to check in more depth but I'm pretty sure that if you go for 2 channel mode and have the mic going into the 2nd XLR you can get auto levels on it.

There are two manuals - one more or less a quick start and the other more detailed. I couldn't find these online for PAL when I was researching but obviously I got them on disc with my purchase. If anyone is interested I've put them on my site briefly here:

http://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/manual...al-part-01.pdf

http://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/manual...al-part-02.pdf

I also researched the EA50 following Chris's advice but decided against it mainly because of its larger form factor - compact unintrusive equipment being part of my USP. It was tempting though with its touch screen auto focus selection point - could be highly attractive for those of us working with several cameras alone. Oh and its ability to take other manufacturers lenses all be it with an expensive adapter and some loss of functionality. Its shallower depth of field capability is actually a negative for me.

Pete
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