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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old September 17th, 2007, 08:46 PM   #1
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Shooting First Wedding in 2 Weeks...

I've been reading this forum, watching the videos you've posted, and reading the comments for several months now. Some of the work I've seen here has just blown me away, and I have gleaned as much information as I could from your posts. So, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience here for those of us just starting out. It has truly been invaluable.

I have very little experience with video other than shooting family events with my little Canon Elura, but I've done a little photography so I'm familiar with what a shutter speed (oops almost spelled shutter with an "i" instead of a "u") is and what an aperture is. I've been using iMovie to create photo montages and family videos, but so many glitches forced me to try Final Cut Express. I am far from being comfortable with FCE, but I feel limited by iMovie so perhaps it's time to really learn what FCE can do.

Anyway, here's the deal: My best friend is getting married in a couple of weeks and he asked me to shoot his wedding. He wasn't planning on hiring a professional videographer, so if I totally screw it up it won't be the end of the world. I don't think my Elura will quite fit the bill, so I rented an XL2 to play with to see if it was something I could handle. I was pretty much overwhelmed. So many choices! So many settings! Black Stretch? Gamma? Knee? Oh my god, where do I start? Still, the quality of the video that I got out of it was far better than anything I've done before, and that was just using the Automatic Mode. So, my first question is: Do any of you use XL2's? And if so, what settings do you recommend? Or, should I just stick to Automatic? I've seen elsewhere on this forum that somebody recommended using the 60i setting to produce better slow motion video, and elsewhere it was recommended to use the 24p setting for that "film look". Is it common to switch between two frame rates? Or do you pick one film rate and stick to it? What about all the other settings like Black, Knee, Gamma, and Gain? Do you program the preset buttons for certain situations and turn them on when necessary?

It will be an outdoor wedding at 6PM Pacific Time. I visited the site last week at 6PM to see where the sun would be and it seemed to be at a decent angle, not too harsh, filtering through some trees along the Western edge of the property. But by 6:30, the B&G will be entirely in the shade. They expect the actual ceremony to go 30 to 45 minutes, so I'm hoping it starts on time. I plan to rent 2 cameras, a wide angle lens because the 20x lens that came with it before was just too powerful, and a wireless mic system. The location has an amp with mic inputs and plenty of electrical outlets, but the amp looked to be in pretty poor condition stored beneath a wooden deck covered with a plastic trash bag and was the home of a large colony of crickets. I'm not counting on having it work properly when I need it, so I'm looking into a backup audio source. I plan to put one camera with the wide angle lens on a tripod off to the side or possibly behind the B&G during the ceremony and using the other camera hand held to catch the entrance of the wedding party etc. I will be at the rehearsal to better determine camera angles etc. and I plan on getting to the ceremony plenty early to help set up, and shoot some B-Roll stuff (I learned that one from you guys, heh heh). Any other words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Patrick
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Old September 17th, 2007, 11:23 PM   #2
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Patrick,

I would say leave the camera on auto and focus on smooth camera work and capturing all of the moments.

It is amazing how fast an event can go by when you are working.

One tip, if they have a professional photographer, just follow there lead to find out when the big events are happening like cutting the cake etc...

Anticipation is very important in getting good video.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 12:16 AM   #3
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Hi Tim,

Thanks for the tips. My friend met with the photographer this evening and he didn't seem too pleased when he found out there was going to be a videographer as well. He told him to tell me not to follow him around and to stay at least 15 feet away from him. He seemed to have a general disdain for videographers and basically told him that what he does is far more important than what a videographer does. People want to see the photographs and don't sit down to watch the wedding video more than once or twice.

The ironic thing is that I am the one that recommended this photographer to my friend. I wanted to use him for my wedding, but I couldn't afford him. We hired someone else and still regret it to this day because he sucked.

Anyway, I was really excited about this, but after hearing these comments... well, it's just taken the wind out of my sails. I thought it might be something I would enjoy and if I could learn to do it well, maybe even make a few bucks later on. Do you run into this very often? Do all photographers think they are the elite? If I'm going to be the shmuck getting in the way, then I'll attend the wedding as a guest and leave it at that.

Thanks again,

Patrick
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Old September 19th, 2007, 12:23 AM   #4
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Tim,

By the way, on your website the video links for the small file are the same for Example #1 and #2.

Patrick
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Old September 19th, 2007, 01:59 AM   #5
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Pat -
Look through this forum for some "perspective" regarding photogs... it's an interesting read. And yes, many photogs treat video with great disrespect... they want to have "their day" all to themselves. I guess some of them realize that once we are shooting 30p or 60p at high resolutions we can pull stills off the tape any old way we want, and they might not be so "important".

Myself, I work with my wife on stills, I shoot video - I've got cover stills, and she can ask me for frame grabs if she missed something... and gee whiz, the CLIENT gets to decide how many times they want to look at the pix or watch the video, not some stuffed up vendor...

If you're shooting two cams, put one up front and one in the back on tripods, zoom/pan the rear as needed, it won't be the most dymanic video, but if your friend really wants video, it's HIS (and the bride's!) wedding, NOT the photographer's... and you wont' be in the way, unless the guy's a real serious jerk and goes out of his way to screw you over...
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Old September 19th, 2007, 04:27 AM   #6
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Patric. Don't get put off because of this.

I guess the photographer will try to get the best possible result, as would you. The couple decides to go with both photo and video which is more or less ok for 'most' pure photographers, just not this one. He might had some bad experiences in previous weddings and from what you say, additionally feels that photo is far superior to video. IMO he is WRONG. Because something used to be done a certain way, does not imply it has to stay that forever.

Keep a low profile, and take the breath away when you deliver the finished DVD. Then you get a feeling of what is most impressing. Photo or DVD.

From my own experience, photo is expected to be exactly what it is, professional postures, sharp and balanced stills. Nothing new, just a well known professional product. A well edited DVD will by far making more direct impact, and in some cases cause emotional 'overflow'...

I'am not saying photo is a goner, but the 'full motion' medium is so different and extremely more powerfull thus should be treated that way - at least with respect.

You could 'occupy' important angles/posistions by placing tripods before people arrives. Stay out of your own frames, do your own audio and use instinct to pick the right scenes. Keep rolling both cams all the time, that makes cutting easier IMO. Bring a digital photo camera with timer and put that up on the podium facing the couple if you cant get your hands on a third camcorder.

Just my 2 cents
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Old September 19th, 2007, 07:39 AM   #7
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Patrick,

I would have to say that overall, my experience with photographers has been positive.

I always find them before and talk to them like a professional collegue and expect the same in return.

You have a place there too, so don't let him get you down.

BTW, thanks for the heads up on my website, I will fix it today.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 09:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Alonso View Post
Anyway, I was really excited about this, but after hearing these comments... well, it's just taken the wind out of my sails. I thought it might be something I would enjoy and if I could learn to do it well, maybe even make a few bucks later on. Do you run into this very often? Do all photographers think they are the elite? If I'm going to be the shmuck getting in the way, then I'll attend the wedding as a guest and leave it at that.
Patrick,
What do the bride and groom think about all this? Do they want the video or not? It really doesnt matter what the photog wants. He isnt the one getting married. I would respect the photogs wishes to not get in his way (obviously) but if he confronts you remind him that your job is to create the best possible video for the bride and that it isnt up to him how you do your job. The tricky part is to address him respectfully but firmly so as not to create a ruckus during the wedding (which will no doubt not make the bride happy).
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Old September 20th, 2007, 08:20 PM   #9
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Thank you Dave, Ronny, Tim, and Adam for your encouraging words.

Yesterday my friend told me he had to go visit the photographer to give him his final payment, and I told him I was going with him. I decided that this would be the determining point on whether or not I would do this.

Tim, I took your advice and decided to meet with him and explain that I wasn't there to get in his way.

Adam, if I truly felt there would be any sort of a ruckus I would not do the job. I want the experience but the last thing I need is to create a scene at my best friend's wedding. And they DO want me to do the video, so I thought a face to face meeting before hand would help.

Anyway, he turned out to be a very nice guy that happened to have some bad experiences with some aggressive videographers. We will definitely be able to work together, not get in each others' way, and I'll probably learn quite a bit.

Does anyone have advice on which frame rate to use? Also, I would really like to learn more about how to use the other many different settings so I can take full advantage of the XL2's capabilities. Any recommended books or classes?

Thanks,

Patrick
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Old September 20th, 2007, 09:27 PM   #10
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There are a number of ways to handles photographers like this. One, of course, is the 40 oz Louieville slugger to the temple (his not yours) however that can lead to other challenges at the wedding so we'll forgo that one ;-)

He sounds like he is either a very arrogant pompous ass OR very threatened by video. Pick one! I have had the "pleasure" of working with a few photogs like this over the years and have found the best way to handle them is to ignore them and do your job. Obviously the video is important to the B&G or they wouldn't have hired you (me) so for the photog to say that what he does is more important is BS and just shows insecurity on his part. As for staying 15 feet away, does he have an order of protection? Serioulsy, you're there to do a job for the B&G and if he doesn't like you getting close tell him that you do wear deoderant. I hate people like that and because of my age I can and will and have said things to them that perhaps others can't but the point is you have as much right to be there doing your job as he does and if he doesn't like it, tell him to have the chaplain punch his TS card. I have and frankly most of them are so full of themselves they back off. I did have one threaten me but a good friend of mine who used to play pro football was a guest and went over to the guy and told hime to back off. He's 6'4" 280 and was rather menacing if I do say so. The guy scooted out like a mouse about to get trapped. We all laughed.
Now having shown my nasty side I can tell you that 99% of all the photogs I have worked with over the last 25 years have been decent enough to work with so don't let 1 or 2 jerks put you off.
Remember too that your personality is different than mine so just be yourself but defend your right to be there and do your job - after all, the job isn't for him or you it's for the B&G
Don
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Old September 21st, 2007, 01:26 PM   #11
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Hi Pat -
Excellent call to go meet - sometimes that's the best way to resolve a "issue", go meet and charm your opponent, make them like you! Don's methods are of course in reserve <wink>.

Glad to hear he's willing to work with you anyhow, perhaps this will even lead to more work for you. Sometimes when you've had "bad experience" it causes prejudice that isn't really warranted against people who really are quite nice - this causes about 99% of the problems that result in wars methinks... If everyone would take a few minutes to thoughtfully approach and find common ground as you did, life would be a lot more fun.

Since you got along well with the photog, you should work as a team - he may have angles he can't get, and you can cover, and so TWO professionals should give your friends GREAT memories of the day!! Excellent job, now get psyched to shoot!

Hit the rehearsal, plan your angles, think the real deal through.... I tell everyone to ignore the cameras, but be aware they are there so as not to block shots. Meet the wedding co-ordinator if there is one - just be professional again!

Get there early, shoot some some "b roll" after you've set your gear up, you can get some "getting ready" footage if appropriate.

Start the cams running before the ceremony starts, let 'em run til it's over.

Shoot the reception, co-ordinate with the DJ since they usually run the "events" - be positioned and rolling before each event - entrance/introduction, toasts, first dances, garter/bouquet toss, cake, etc.

I like to get "well wishers" on tape - I prefer to use a "host" from the bridal party or a friend of the family to "emcee" that section.

Get some dancing, some kids going crazy, and anything else that seems interesting/fun.

Make sure you collect up all your gear, go home and sleep, download the tapes later for editing!


PS - prolly shoot 60i unless you've had time to work with 24p some in advance - I typically do my 24p in post with decent results...
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