Brad and Jessica,
is the October 26th wedding we did for Calisse and Morgan.
Various notes here...some I went over with you Brad when we saw each other, some I didn't...notes for Jessica are down below.
When it comes to preps, the two most important things I like to get are sound bites (people making remarks to each other) and shots of people traveling (arriving shots, exiting shots, driving shots, etc.) from one location to another. Aside from that, preps consists of makeup, hair, getting dressed...things that happen at every wedding and are thus less interesting. Of some importance, yes, but secondary to sound bites and travel shots. While I do like establishing shots, the best establishing shots for me are ones with the principal subjects in them (such as the first shot of this video), otherwise it's just a shot of a building. Sound bites are more important than travel shots.
I used a Lowel Tota to light preps at a wedding recently and it did wonders for the footage. I'd like to start using these on both bride and groom preps; I own three and one is all that's needed. They kick out tons of light and are very quick and easy to setup. That's not to say they should always be used, as it depends on the lighting of the room, but it's a good tool to have on hand.
During the first dance, in the future I'd like a camera to capture the bridal party and parents watching the dances. We typically have a camera with an 80-200 looking on the bride and groom, so that camera can swing around for about 30 seconds and capture those reaction shots.
The two worst mistakes I made was overexposure in some shots, and not having the right angle on the groom during the vows; I needed to be back further so the bride didn't block him at all.
The DJ feed during the ceremony only captured music and not the microphone. The DJ feed probably would have been better sound quality than the lavs we had, but the lavs of course did get the job done. Unfortunately the reader (who, unlike a church, has no podium when outside) has no good audio feed since they weren't laved up and we didn't capture the DJ's mic. We've run into this issue before. Perhaps we should treat outdoor weddings with a reading and no podium like we do the speeches, using our own mic stand with a lav attached, or to be sure to lav up the speaker (I now own two lav + mic sets, meaning we have four between the two of us), though in this case there were multiple speakers, so a mic stand probably would have worked best.
For the formal dances, I gave you a 24-70 so you could get wide, medium, and tight shots; I wanted variety on the second C100. We had three other non-C100 cameras rolling so as a C100 operator the C100's purpose was not to get a conservative safe shot; you were supposed to try out different focal lengths, and if you could think of any, different angles as well, try a tilting down shot, etc.. Instead you kept the camera at 70mm the whole time and never created any variety to the shots you were capturing.
During preps you need to talk less; there were times when you were recording and I would have liked to use the audio but your voice was in the background rending the audio useless.
During preps try to create movement with the monopod instead of shooting only static shots. Push in, pull out, adjust focus while doing so, move from one object or subject to another, etc. Static shots are good for some things, but a lot of the time I want movement in the shot. It's tougher to get a clean shot when doing movement on the monopod, so when there's time, sometimes it's good to get both a movement and a static shot. For example, if the guy is putting his cuffs on, you might do a tight push in shot on it, or a push in and pan from one cuff to another, and then for safety, grab a quick static shot.
You need to adjust your angles and shots more often. For example, you had a medium static shot of the groom buttoning his sleeve, and held it for 20 seconds, along with another 40 seconds of similar shots. Shots only need to be typically 2-3 seconds long, so once your shot is set, hold it good for at least three, but generally no longer than 10 seconds (so maybe aim for 5-7 seconds), and then you can switch to a tight, a movement, etc., different type of shot. If people are talking it's a different matter because your shot duration depends on what they're saying (though often you want to turn to get a shot of the person they're talking to), but for something like getting dressed, you're on a limited schedule before they're done buttoning up, so you want to get as much variety as possible.
A lot of your shots of people's faces were below their eye line looking up at them; you need to raise your monpod so that the sensor is at the same height as the subject's eyes. You were doing this in general. Aside from in general, in particular, if you're down low filming the cuffs, you can't simply pan up to their face if they start talking; you have to raise the monopod to get their face shot otherwise it won't look right. If it doesn't look right it's useless. Better to miss the shot while setting up than to get the shot and get it bad, because with the first at least you tried and are now properly ready for the next shot.
You got lots of good static tight shots of cuff link stuff, but you need to get more wide shots of that and in general. Even with the 35mm if you step back far enough you can generally get a two-person shot of it. The Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 is an amazing prep lens on the C100; I wish we would have had two on that shoot.
When the guy's go to Men's Warehouse, you didn't get a single wide shot, so it's difficult to even tell where they are. An establishing shot would have been nice, but if there wasn't time for that, at least a wide shot in the shop. Again, with the 35mm you can simply step far back and get a shot of all the guys in the shop together. When the guys were leaving, you stood in one place and almost got a wide shot, but it was brief and out of focus, and instead of fixing the focus and staying there as the guy's were still heading toward the exit, you stopped recording and didn't film anymore at the shop. Every shot there was very tight, and again had that issue where you were shooting very low looking up at them, as if you were a 4 1/2 foot tall filmmaker. Even for those who are short, they would need to keep the camera at the subject's eye level and flip the LCD downward so they can see it. You said everyone was in a hurry while there, but it takes two seconds to adjust the height of a monopod, and you had way more than two seconds to do so.
During the speeches, I was manning A-cam on the speaker, and also adjusting the microphone for each new speaker. Brad was manning B-cam on the bride and groom. The bride and groom don't move much, so while we do want a little variety of bride and groom shots (perhaps a closeup of each alone), for the most part the static two-shot of them should be about 80-90% of all shots of them during speeches. Thus, when A-cam is unmanned as the A-cam operator goes to adjust the microphone, B-cam operator should go and man A-cam, particularity since B-cam doesn't need much adjustments, while each new speaker on A-cam requires readjustment. Brad did adjust A-cam some of the time, but missed some other times. Of course, B-cam operator can also be the microphone adjustment person, so it really just depends on who's doing what, but in any case A-cam needs to be manned most of the time to adjust for each new speaker.
C-cam, the GH2, was a wide shot of the speaker and bride and groom. Since the set distance between them was different, only one group could be in focus at a time, making the shot look bad no matter what. The camera should have been adjusted to the same distance from both groups so they could both be in focus.
For the down the aisle monopod shot, before the bride enters you want to turn around to look at the groom, and take your time. You also want to do this at least once while a bridesmaid is coming down the aisle; the groom reaction is more important than a random bridesmaid shot. On a short aisle, you may only have time to do the groom shot while a bridemaid is walking down, while on a long aisle, or when there is considerable pause from when people stand up to when the bride actually starts processing, you can turn to the groom then. Generally there is a considerable pause; when there is, always use this time to get the groom shot.
Once the bride started coming down the long aisle, you were looking down at the bride who was far away, and I was in the shot since she was still far away, rendering that shot useless for the highlight since I was very noticeable in it, and since it was a distant shot. After about 40 seconds of useless far away bride shots, once the bride was closer, you finally turned around and got a shot of the groom, but didn't take enough time to get a useful shot. You took about 8 seconds to compose the shot, and another 4 seconds to adjust the overexpsosure of the shot; once you were composed, had lowered the exposure, and your shot was acceptable, you then only held your shot for 1 second and 14 frames, which is not long enough to use. So you didn't get a usable groom reaction shot. Taking 12 seconds to compose and expose the shot isn't that bad, but only having 1.5 seconds of usable shot is, as was wasting 40 seconds on useless distant bride shots that could have been spent on the groom. Once the bride is close down passing the congregation and down the aisle, we do need a good safe shot of her for the documentary, but when she's far away like that and I'm in the shot, we don't want your angle on the bride at that point.
Jessica's angle of the groom had pretty severe raccoon eyes which your angle and camera didn't have, but will have to do for the groom's reaction shot.
Once the bride was close down the aisle, as you can see of your shot in the highlight, the camera is not very steady and it's filming low looking up; the camera needs to be at eye line with the subject and you'll have to work on steadiness. Looking at my shot at 3:44, which you're in, you can see you're holding your camera at armpit height, bending your neck down to look at the viewfinder or LCD; the camera should be at the subject's eye line, which in this case would be your eye line since the bride was about your height. That's not to say you need to adjust the height of the monopod to the different heights of each person coming down the aisle (since there isn't enough time; generally during preps there is enough time to adjust for each individual's height), but shooting from your armpit would only be good if everyone coming down the aisle was 4.5 feet tall. I believe you've been doing this for awhile on many weddings which could explain why your down the aisle monopod shots often look so bad; I'm just glad we caught this issue before someone died. Once we start breaking into the midget wedding industry I'm sure these shots will be invaluable. However, there is also the issue of armpit stench getting on the camera rental, so let's please avoid armpit shooting from now on.
Regarding exposure, for the bride you were likely zoomed in to 105mm on the 24-105, and then zoomed out to around 24mm for the shot of the groom. Once on the groom, you were suddenly overexposed. While the lighting in general may have been brighter on the groom, the thing to take note of here is that the 24-105 lens loses around a stop of light when fully zoomed in as opposed to when zoomed out, making it a 24-105 f/4-f/5.6 lens when zoomed in regards to light transmission (T-stop). Something to be aware of if you haven't had much experience with the lens. The new Sigma 24-105 f/4 doesn't have this problem because Sigma is awesome.
When the bride got near the congregation for the processional, you turned the camera around and away from the groom and got some overly tight underexposed useless shots of the bride before she passed you. The role of the back center camera during the processional is to get reaction shots; the groom is the primary reaction shot to get, and congregation and bridal party reaction shots are secondary. So, for that camera, you don't want to film the bride at all, except the back of her once she passes you going down the aisle, at which point you're still focused on the groom and whatever shot you can get of him if he's not blocked from view. If he is blocked from view, if possible you want to try to readjust your shot so you can get him back in the shot, or to shoot reactions of the guests looking at the bride approaching.
For the first look, since you were alone you want to get both sides, so a shot of the bride and a shot of the groom. So after getting your shot of the groom, you should have ran around to the other side to get the bride's shot; instead you stayed in one place the whole time and we never saw the bride's face. We didn't need a clean shot of it at all times since it's not required to be in the documentary, but we did want different angles for the highlight. You had zoomed in a lot, and could have gotten closer instead, which helps with getting better syncing audio and creating a less distant and more personal feel to the shot. You stopped recording while they were still embracing; you want to keep filming it until they're completely done with the first look.
You seemed to be touching the camera quite a lot during the ceremony, so remember that once you have your shot set, to keep your hands off the tripod so it doesn't shake. I'm all for making adjustments to make sure the shot is perfect, but the camera was getting a lot of bad movement even when adjustments were not being made, which I assume is because you kept your hands on the tripod most of the time. This was probably your biggest issue of the day.
When you were in the limo, you kept the shot on the bride and maid of honor the whole time. You need to get shots of other people and objects in the limo so there's something to cut to, otherwise I can't use multiple cuts of the bride without it being a jump cut. Basically, get more variety in a case like that. In the final edit, I could only use one shot from the limo since there was nothing to cut to.