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Old April 11th, 2013, 09:48 AM   #1
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 11th, 2013, 10:43 AM   #2
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Apart from what you've mentioned i'd say you need to match your cameras before shooting (which shouldn't be too hard as they are all the same). Stop reframing as you shoot, DSLRs don't handle that well.
Unless you have a very steady hand (which i don't think you have) get some support. Be careful with your shutter speeds as it looks like some of the footage is ghosting/stuttering. Turn up the sound when they are saying the vows. if you can't use a tie mic (I can't as it's not done here) then have a couple of recording devices (one on cam and one set up next to a speaker perhaps) and if you can't monitor them have one track recording at a low volume and another higher. Be careful when jumping around chronologically, sometimes it works well and other times it doesn't. It worked really well when you jumped from the dress at home to the dress in the church but then you jumped around and got a bit lost. Practice makes perfect!
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Old April 11th, 2013, 11:49 AM   #3
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Thanks, Andrew.

The ghosting seems to only happen once I upload to Vimeo. I watched the render on my hard drive and it's not there.

We do use a tie mic. I had adjusted the levels once, but obviously not well enough. I'll fix it. We use Tascam pocket recorders and external mics on cameras.

We tried matching custom white balance on site, before ceremony, but obviously did a poor job. I thought back and realized I matched the cameras to EACH OTHER, but they were placed in very different locales, making the light different.

Thanks. I really appreciate it. I'm really working hard to get better at editing AND shooting and learning as much as I can. The reframing and steady hand stuff is my wife, mostly. I got her a beautiful Manfrotto fluid head, and even in the footage I used, you can see she went hand held.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 02:27 PM   #4
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Hi Robert,
Well you have courageously posted your video for constructive criticism, so I assume that is what you are looking for!

Firstly let me say that I am firmly in the full length documentary camp, and rarely shoot with more than one camera. I have also been shooting weddings professionally for 27 years so I have a fair amount of experience. I have said all that, as I have no axe to grind at all but want to make it clear that my comments are based on experience and to try to help.

There have been some examples shown on this forum of outstanding short form wedding work to an extremely high standard, and you should very carefully examine some of these as that is clearly what you are aiming for.

If you are charging for your services, then there it is essential that you are able to at least master the basic mechanics of your cameras, i.e. exposure, aperture, focus etc. Bearing in mind that you said that you use three cameras, and that the footage you have shown is a short form, I am surprised by the amount of poorly exposed shots and the number of out of focus moments on main subjects. You said that your wife had over exposed shots of the Bride's preps, but my wife trained for several years before I would let her near a paid wedding. You must have total confidence in others in your team if you are relying on their footage, plus losing a card with valuable footage on is really not excuseable. I never take a card out of a camera until I get ot home, where it is immediately digitised to hard drive.

There are also a lot of moments with very unstable footage and jerky pans that I found quite troubling. And some colour variations between cameras in the ceremony. I understand from the way that you have put it together, that you are looking at a time shifting approach, but in fact I find it seems a little disjointed with a jumble of inserted shots.

The overall impression to me is a safety in numbers approach with cameras, rather than technical care. To give just a couple of quick random examples, during the bride's preps, there is a very quick shaky pan from the bride to someone else in the room and filling half the frame to their right is a big black tripod. Shortly after that, there is a hand held shot of one of the bridesmaids talking to someone off camera, but she is stamding to the left of the frame looking to the left, which leaves everything in the right half irrelevent. There is no 'looking space' which is very basic stuff.

Frequently the music is too loud for the natural sound and there is not a lot of consistency in the overall sound level of the production particularly the vows, the most important part. There are numerous other things that I could point out, but the point is to be constructive, so here goes.

Firstly I think you should concentrate on more tripod use, even when it seems inconvenient as the improvement in overall stability will take away the amateurish feel of many of the shots. Getting well framed shots quickly at a wedding takes care, so try to be aware how what you see in the viewfinder will look like on the screen. Try to properly white balance all the cameras for continuity and rebalance whenever there are lighting changes. Only use pans if they are relevant to the content and try to avoid getting people between you and your subject during the shot. There is no substitute for good camerawork, so don't rely on post production to make it work, so one camera with a great cameraman will always give better results than four poor cameramen.

At the editing stage, avoid cutting to a totally different shot part way through a zoom and definitely don't jump cut loud upfront running audio to a totally different audio sound, it can be very harsh and irritating. Time shift editing is extremely difficult to apply well to a wedding and needs great insight, story telling and skill. Although you aspire to that style, it is so easy to end up with a mess of jumbled up shots with no cohesive direction, so I would concentrate on smoothness and stability first, coupled with good visual flow. Use music to illustrate and add to the mood rather than dominating it, allowing the day to shine through.

Sorry if I have sounded a bit brutal and it is of course just my opinion, but the most important point of all is that if your client is happy, then everything else can be inmproved with experience. :-)

Roger
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Old April 11th, 2013, 03:49 PM   #5
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

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Originally Posted by Robert Benda View Post
Two of us have been shooting on three Canon T3is but just got our first 5d mark ii after we shot this one.
Hope you don't mind me being honest, I"d sell the 5d and two t3i's, keep one t3i for eye candy shots where you can benefit from it's shallow dof and you might use it for anything stationary, like speeches where nobody moves and when the lights are low. Then get 2 high end handicams instead, they are much more forgiving then your dslr's, even in full auto they"ll get your exposure and focus right, your color will be like you see it and if necessary use aids like touch focus or use a manual exposure control through a small lens ring or turning knob (depending on the brand you buy). They will provide you with very stable handheld footage, some are almost equally sensitive in lowlight compared to your dslr with a fast lens and they hardly show any grain in low light and the zoom can be butter smooth.

Then you can focus on content and let the camera's do the rest. In general the footage in the trailer you showed looked quite bad at times in terms of color, exposure and focus and if you plan to keep holding on to dslr's (which require much more experience then a regular "video" camera to get it right) I would spend all the free time you have to get the basics right because the way it looks now will hurt your business more then it will do you any good.

Just that you know, I use high end handicams as well and they give me great results as a solo shooter.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 05:17 PM   #6
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Good points Noa and I agree with them all. DSLRs might be the current fashion for movie making, but forget the image and go for a good finished product. DSLRs are not the easiest to use for even experienced videographers, whereas good quality video cams may not look as exciting, but will give you the ability to learn your craft while being much easier to get good results with.

Another advantage with video cams is that you have a good quality built in digital sound recorder which you can use with or without external mics.

As with Noa, nearly all my wedding work is done that way.

Roger
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Old April 11th, 2013, 08:32 PM   #7
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

There appears to be a massive amount of shaky footage. As others have stated, DSLR's are not a good tool for handheld footage. Invest in some monopods. It does a world of difference.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 09:19 PM   #8
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Hey Robert.

I couldn't watch most of the video due to my internet connection.

I have the same arsenal when it comes to camera bodies (2 T3i's and one 5d). Personally I love them, but it takes practice. One thing I like about the 5d is it's ability to shoot at a high iso (at least vs the t3i's). Don't be afraid to shoot with a higher iso and and close down your aperture, that will make focusing a little more forgiving.

I do NOT trust my second shooter, and he's pretty good.... I always like to personally cover bride and groom prep. Since the timing doesn't work out, I usually schedule a time to start with the groom (early in the morning). I always tell them they can take off the suit as soon as I leave, I don't care.... Just as long as I get my shots for the story. The nice thing about that is I can setup lights, and really build the scene the way I want it. After shooting the groom I catch up with the bride.
When it comes to the second shooter and I shooting together (such as ceremony). I dictate all the camera settings, I stay in constant contact via a headset and walkie talkie.. I tell him exactly what the shot composition will be and camera settings.

Best of luck,
Steve
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Old April 11th, 2013, 09:38 PM   #9
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Thank you for the criticism so far, especially you, Roger. YES, I do want it. This is about improving, not stroking my ego.

I think I'm going to print these out for re-reading. Your notes, Roger, including the 3 camera approach being about safety, are spot on.

I re-watch this with fresh eyes and your notes and realize the mistakes, even in editing. I have put together a long form, straight forward video (about 1 hour) that doesn't screw around. I see this one and suddenly hate the time shifting, though I may use it in the shorter, five minuter.

Our pricing has been very low, so far, only a few hundred dollars for the work and selling ourselves as NOT true professionals, not yet. Our tag is 'better than your uncle'.

THANK YOU.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 01:44 AM   #10
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

I think noa has got it spot on when he suggests using real video cameras. I'd probably start by leaving your wife with a videocamera in auto shooting the wide stuff so she can start learning about framing. When she has mastered that she should try mastering exposure and focus. If she can get a good quality wide safety shot this means you concentrate on the close ups and details with your dslr. Maybe you could sell your 5d and a ts3 and buy a canon xa10/20?
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Old April 12th, 2013, 03:35 AM   #11
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

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Originally Posted by Andrew Maclaurin View Post
I think noa has got it spot on when he suggests using real video cameras. I'd probably start by leaving your wife with a videocamera in auto shooting the wide stuff so she can start learning about framing. When she has mastered that she should try mastering exposure and focus. If she can get a good quality wide safety shot this means you concentrate on the close ups and details with your dslr. Maybe you could sell your 5d and a ts3 and buy a canon xa10/20?
Agreed. I've had my two 5DII's since June 2009 and by now I've pretty much decided that dSLRs should not be let within 100 miles of weddings except in specific sets of circumstances such as shooting the 1st dance in very low light where you cannot use any supplementary lighting or get the venue to up the ambient lighting enough. The risk of fouling up or getting subpar footage is just too great at these one-off unscripted events because of the constant battle to get these square plugs into round holes.

I suspect that the current craze among videographers for highlights and shifting springs from their having in truth missed a bunch of important stuff which would otherwise make a full documentary style video very mediocre.

Yes I have a load of fast lenses including the 50mm f1.2L and the 70-200 f2.8 IS so I can do shallow depth of field. But so what? Why would I want that at a wedding? Why would the bride not want to see the reaction of her guests in the background in the same frame as she makes her vows? Why would she prefer her eyelashes in focus and her nose out of the depth of field :- )

A high quality still image will often do a far better job of an establishing shot of say the venue exterior or a a slider shot of table decorations, maybe adding some pan or zoom if attractive.

The smallest prosumer video cams such as the Panasonic TM900 have a fabulous performance in full auto including down to quite low light but they can be convoluted when you want to use manual functions. The new Panasonic AC90 is more a big brother. It works great on full auto but the important manual functions are intuitive and easy to access. Its also very affordable. And it looks the part :- )

Pete
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Old April 12th, 2013, 05:22 AM   #12
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

@Peter- what a breath of fresh air your post is.:-) As with Noa's post, I totally agree with everything that you say. I was beginning to think that I was in a minority regarding the general unsuitability of DSLRs for wedding videography.

I also agree that many short form videos come from lack of enough good quality footage to show a long form. A video camera with a wide range of manual controls and efficient auto is perfect for the requirements of wedding filming. Shallow dof in still photography is great for romantic shots where the immediate subject is the focus of the shot, but video is a totally different game where many layers in a scene are important to convey the whole story.

I feel that many videographers move over from the photographic side and are very comfortable with DSLRs and the style of photography that they are used to. It is natural to want to develop that style into a moving record of the wedding, and that frequently means extending the photographic style of posing into stylised and prepared videography. Just as a photo album captures the highlights of the day, then so does that style of videography extend the photo album into a cinematic moving album. That of course also influences others coming into the market who attempt to emulate styles and equipment that they have seen.

There is of course a market for that, but in my opinion, it totally misses the point of wedding videography and the vital differences between the two. A wedding is not a collection of actors waiting for direction and romance/emotion to be added, it is all there already! A good videographer is one who can see and capture that atmosphere and emotion without the need to interfere and direct it. It is also important to see that much of that emotion is not just the couple, but the reaction of other family and friends to the day and the couple. While one emotional moment is happening, that triggers off other reactions, all of which can be captured by the knowledgeable and observant videographer. It's less about setting up cameras to capture the action and more about experience telling you what is likely to happen and to be there ready for it.

There are many things happening at a wedding that many videographers just don't see, or feel is boring and mundane, but they are missing out on opportunities to really show the depth of detail and planning that is all pulled together for a few hours on this one emotional day.

So Robert if you are still reading this, I applaud your strength of character in seeking advice, and your approach to starting at the bottom and working up. Don't be too influenced by the styles and equipment of others, concentrate on the wedding itself and what you would like to show, but more importantly what the client wants. Don't try to stage things, look for the good shots and learn to recognise them when you see them.

Roger
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Old April 12th, 2013, 06:35 AM   #13
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

"The new Panasonic AC90 is more a big brother. It works great on full auto but the important manual functions are intuitive and easy to access. Its also very affordable. And it looks the part :- )"

This is an interesting camera but I have yet to see any quality footage that has been filmed with it in wedding conditions (lowlight, very bright light with white dress etc). Can it really cope with low light situations? or does everything need to be bathed in LED light? I'm yet to be convinced it good enough although I would love to see it succeed. The price and features are great.

I have shot a few almost full length (30-40mins) doc style weddings alone with only my canon 7D and whilst it's great in certain situations it's a pain in the a**e in others. It's not all about huge shallow DOF, because that would be tedious to film and watch. The DSLRs definitely have a lovely image when used well with the background just ever so slightly knocked out of focus. Personally I'd like to mix the 2 and as a solo shooter this can be difficult. Without a doubt a video camera is better for key moments in the ceremony but you can use a DSLR if that's what you have. Just don't use crazy DOF! It used to be easier using my old trusty PD170 but the look I can can get with a DSLR is better. Now I'm planning to mix a canon XA10/20 or a Panny AC90 with the DSLR. We'll see how that goes!
As far as markets for different types of videos go, there are as many markets as there are weddings. Ideally they are all different and hence their video requirements are different too.

Anyway Robert, you can see the general consensus is to try a video camera! Good luck!
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Old April 12th, 2013, 01:02 PM   #14
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

Still reading, Roger. I"m very glad you all could take the time to offer up your expertise.

I'm starting to consider this going forward: selling the two T3is and upgrading to camcorders (Panasonic AC90 or Canon XA10 both price around $1800-$2000) which price about right for what we hoped to spend next time. The Mark ii will be good for low light dances and still photos.

Style is a trickier part for us. We've focused on documentary style for a bit, now, and are hanging around a lot through out the day, apart from the ceremony. All in an effort to find a few stray, unpredictable moments. I really think anything cinematic is apart from the main video and is mostly for them sharing online with friends.

We're going out again tomorrow. I've got these notes printed out for the two hour drive to the wedding.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 05:01 PM   #15
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Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted

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, and often I find that's why the highest paid guys are using. Granted, there are a giant pile of problems to overcome, but in general the IQ far outweighs the difficulties. I also think that long form is more of a cultural/stylistic thing than a standard (short form is just people who can't shoot enough footage for long form is a ridiculous thing to say).

As far as the video, I dont think there's much I can say that hasnt been said, other than find your style, find your niche, and get really good at it.

This is all t3i footage:

Thanks,
Evan
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