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


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Old September 20th, 2007, 11:46 AM   #1
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First wedding Saturday and a question...

I know there have been about 165468435732 "my first wedding" posts so I will certainly make good use of the search function. However it does seem like a rite of passage to post such a thread as you embark on your career, so I am excited that it's now my turn.

I am just wondering when you are shooting a wedding with 2 cameras, one in front, one in back, which do you prefer to man? I have another shooter helping me, and originally planned to man the front camera myself but is this the best plan? Which do you prefer and why?

Also, any other words of advice or encouragement are most appreciated! :)

Thanks,
Cara
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Old September 20th, 2007, 12:56 PM   #2
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Well, as I always tell folks getting ready to do thier first wedding - breath! ;-)

As for which camera to man, I always man the back camera which really starts in front for the procesional and then as the B&G make their way up to the altar I make my move to the back center. In my area their are very few venues (churches) that allow a manned camera on the altar so it becomes a safety shot as well as a face shot if I have placed the camera correctly AND the B&G stand where they are supposed to AND if the officiant doesn't block it. It sometimes is a crapshoot.
Anyway everything you need to cover can be covered from the back center after the processional.
The readers, the officiant talking and the B&G face each other for the vows so it works out well from there. If they light a unity candle generally you get that from that position, if she goes to pray at the hoily family (Virgin Mary for Catholic ceremonies) and for the recessional the back center works well.
For Jewish weddings or weddings that aren't in a religious venue things are a bit differnt, consult with the officiant as to where you can shoot from. I know some folks say not to talk to the officiant but even after 25 years I always do because I might be going back there again soon and I really want to be on the good side-not relegated to the balconey and I've seen it happen.
Good Luck
Don
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Old September 20th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #3
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I agree with Dan, I always prefer to be at the back, you get most of the action from there and if on a good centralised tripod you can zoom right in for the action.

It is sometimes annoying when the bridesmaids get in the way but nothing that going to the rehersal can stop. I always try when not to far away to make it to the rehersal to make ssure I am going to get what I need.

I agree that having a good relation with priests etc is important. I ofter go back to the same churches and have a good rapor with most.

We often get to film from the right or left of the bridge and groom as well but very rarely infront of them.

My advice would be if you have a choice, stand on the brides side, usually shorter than the groom so more chance of shots but remember, if she turns to him you will loose the ring giving from either side...

Good luck and let us know how it goes....relax, remember to have mics turned on (yes I had one off on first wedding!) and REC in the view finder ;) (never done that one mind)

Vince
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Old September 20th, 2007, 09:14 PM   #4
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aaaand 2 more questions.

for the ladies (or men with ladies/wives for assistants) what do you normally wear? i am omitting all jewelry (except for my wedding ring and a watch), so i don't have earrings and bracelets clanging about. i plan to wear black slacks but just had a baby in July, so alot of my clothes don't fit quite right. i was thinking of buying a black top/blouse but will i look too morbid?

also, for everyone, how do you strike the balance between blending in/not interfering and getting the shots you NEED to get? Is it ever okay to ask someone to move if you absolutely can't get around them?
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Old September 20th, 2007, 09:44 PM   #5
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Well I'm not a lady and I haven't slept in a Holiday Inn lately but I can tell that for many years all I wear at weddings is all black. Shirt, pants, shoes and socks! We'll stop there as we don't want to embearess anyone especially myself ;-)

Most of the female camera ops I have seen also wear all black, tops and slacks. Again we'll stop there as I have no first hand knowledge :-0

It's quite common in the AV industry to wear all black (called 'show blacks) so you have a tendency to blend in and disappear. I've have been mistaken on more than a few occassions for the priest at Catholic weddings. (funny since I'm Jewish but probably attend church more than a lot the parishoners)

Anyway as for asking someone to move it depends on where and when. At the ceremony I would never ask anyone to move. They are the invited guests not me. I will move the few inches or foot around them to get the shot. HOWEVER if I have left myself no way out then I would tap them on the shoulder and just whisper to them to ask the if they would be kind enough to move a few inches to the (pick a direction). I try very hard not to put myself in that position but sometimes there's just no room.
At a reception I don't even bother. It's easier for me to move slowly and carefully to prevent camera shakes and whatnot.
As for getting the shots, that's what I am there for. I'm not a fly on the wall guy but I'm also not an in your face person but I do have a big camera (or small depending on the job) which has a light on it and oh yeah, a red light on the front that says """RECORDING!!!!! LOOK OUT I GOT YOU IN MY SIGTHS AND I'M A GREAT SHOT""" Just having some fun with it but really I need to get the footage -I'm not a spycam so I get out there on the dance floor (yeah I've been bumped, elbowed and even danced with. Try that with a 15 pound camera on your shoulder while keeping the framing and not getting sick while looking thru the viewfinder) :-(
Am I the most unobtrusive guy around? Nope. The most intrusive? Nope. You do what you feel comfortable with.
Relax and have fun but remember you only get one chance at the wedding-there are no do overs. Take a breath, count to 3 and do what you know how to do. Make video!
Don
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Old September 20th, 2007, 10:24 PM   #6
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Cara, I will differ from the crowd here and say that I like to stand on or behind the alter whenever I can. Off to the side, but as close as I can get to the B&G.

People want to see faces in their videos, not backs from a distance.

The back camera is good for wide shots and processionals.

I also like to stand on the Brides side for another reason, the women are the ones who want to document the day and they are the ones who will want to watch it the most.

They would rather see their guy's face saying his vows than their own.

Just my opinion from a married man.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 01:41 PM   #7
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Cara -
It's not "morbid" to go all black/dark - it's "stealth mode" <wink>. Being unobtrusive is the professional way to go - you can always have a colorful jacket or vest to add some style when you're not shooting should you wish.

If it's an outdoor wedding, beware that black gets a bit hotter than white, so the date/time/location may play into your clothing choice.

If you have two shooters, make sure you both start your cams, use a clap or flash to sync to later, and DON'T TURN THE CAMS OFF until the weddings over - this is for editing... and important.

If your front cam can move a bit they can try moving between B & G side, but there's typically not much time, so in theory you could both be up there and cross, or if you've got a decent little 3rd cam, put it on tripod for the opposing angle. I shoot two cams crossed at the front, unmanned on tripods, most times this gives good angles of both B & G vows, etc.

And yes, getting the groom on tape is good - asked a friend of mine if he'd watched his DVD yet... answer: "I know how it turns out"... wife had watched several times already though! Most reccomendations are to get the bride since it's her day, BUT I think the wives like to have the "evidence" on tape if they need to remind hubby what he said <wink>...
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Old September 22nd, 2007, 12:13 PM   #8
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Cara, I have to agree with Tim Polster as far as which is the "primary" camera. Where we may differ a bit is which side to use. Tim may be right when he says the ladies will be watching the video the most, but in our experience, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BRIDE. With that motto, we usually try to face the bride and concentrate on her with the front camera, and catch the occasional telephoto closeup of the groom with the camera in the back.

But, I'm sure there are as many techniques for shooting weddings as there are videographers.
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Old September 22nd, 2007, 06:16 PM   #9
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"Cara, I have to agree with Tim Polster as far as which is the "primary" camera. Where we may differ a bit is which side to use. Tim may be right when he says the ladies will be watching the video the most, but in our experience, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BRIDE. With that motto, we usually try to face the bride and concentrate on her with the front camera, and catch the occasional telephoto closeup of the groom with the camera in the back."

I second that. It seems to me that few grooms are interested in the video.
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Old September 22nd, 2007, 07:20 PM   #10
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A wide, non-moving shot is easier to setup and more reliable than a closeup.
Perhaps just having two cameras near the back, one for a reliable backup, wide shot, and one for all closeups, would work.
But, of course, this wouldn't give you much perspective change.
Just some thoughts as I haven't filmed any weddings myself. Certainly, though, keep in mind that wide shots are more reliable if you aren't planning to adjust it through the ceremony.
For inteviews, I find this technique to work well. One adjustable camera following any action/movement, and one catching everything for when I mess up. Ha.
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Old September 23rd, 2007, 11:53 PM   #11
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welp, i did it, and i lived. i learned alot but not the things you may think...

1. All black slacks and blouse looked WAY professional. Almost like a uniform. That is for sure the way to go imo. Comfortable shoes are a must and though i wore the most comfy "dress" shoes i have, my feet kill today.

2. Go to the gym. i am so sore from all the walking, running, crouching, kneeling, bending i had to do all day.

3. Don't shoot your first wedding 2 months after you have a baby. Especially when you are breastfeeding.

4. If you are breastfeeding, bring your baby or a pump.

5. Be cool, calm and collected. Because everyone else is a bundle of nerves, and a confident attitude is a nice contrast.

6. Introduce yourself and make nicey nicey, but don't ever tell the photog that you'll be happy to move if she lets you know you're in a shot. The photog will proceed to tell you this all day long.

7. Bring lots of bottled water and some sort of snack.

8. Get licensed so that if the minister doesn't show (not kidding - this happened) you can fill in.

9. Charge what you're worth because this is a demanding job and requires alot of hard work.

10. Wear your wedding ring so that when the groomsmen hit on you, it's easier to blow them off "nicely".

11. Become friends with the coordinator and dj. they will make your day alot easier by giving you a heads up on what's happening next.

And finally the most important thing i learned is that this is beyond a doubt the exact thing that i want to do for a living. i LOVE it. As i was filming the vows, i realized i had a gigantic grin on my face, and tears in my eyes. i love weddings. i love my camera. i love editing things to create an emotional response. i love all those things mixed together as a job. i love the fast pace. i love feeling wiped out afterwards. i love watching the footage and then overflowing with ideas that i can't wait to implement. i love doing this just exactly like i thought i would. some people want to do events to make money for their real passion. event videography actually is that passion for me. and after having done sports and documentary style and even some short films for film class, wedding videography was my "goal" and after finally experiencing it, it really is my favorite.

Gawd i'm such a girl. i guess if i can't have any more weddings, i just want to go to alot of them.


ETA: I chose to run the front camera and I pointed it at the bride. I thought about my own wedding pictures (i don't have a video of MY wedding) and when i look at them, i do look at my husband and say "awww" but mostly i am looking at how great I looked that day. Woman are romantic, yes, but they are also vain. We like to see how WE looked on the day we are at our most beautiful. In the future if I can't run 3 cameras to catch all of it, I'll just ask the bride what she prefers.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 03:47 AM   #12
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Great to hear all went well Cara, and as for the feeling of loving weddings, you are not being a girl, I love to see the reaction when I present the finished item... It is also great to know that you have a job spending your time with happy people and a happy event (well 95% of the time).

Also glad to say that item 3 and 4 on your list will never affect me!
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Old September 24th, 2007, 03:51 AM   #13
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Sounds like you did well and really enjoyed it. Congrats.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 04:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Baker View Post
Also glad to say that item 3 and 4 on your list will never affect me!
Hope that counts for item 10 as well :D

Cara, I didn"t know women were vain? ;) I filmed a weddingdance a few months ago but the place was so small I couldn't get a full view of the bride and had to film them from the waist up. Later she was not satisfied about that because SHE was not completey in the picture. She did'nt say anything about her husband. :D

You gave a very good description about the feeling I also have with a lot of weddings, I get the same grin on my face, especially when I'm editting. The only way for me to know if I done it right is if it "feels" right. Like getting that same "awww" feeling you get. :) and it just makes me happy.

Only after doing a wedding every week between about May and September In September I"m actually glad I can take a break because I'm totally burned out. I still have to deal with a backlog of 1 month of editing but that's OK because the fysical part (The actual filming) which had really worn me down is over now (I don't accept weddings at the end of the year, just to get some breathing sapce.) I was actually getting sick a lot of time the past weeks so staying fit is important.

I still love doing weddings but it can be hard at some times and it's not allways fun, but compared to my previous job I gladly take all the disadvantages that come with it.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 05:35 AM   #15
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I've only done four weddings - for friends and to get experience - but the last one was incredible in that the bride just never stopped smiling the broadest smile you can imagine, right through service, and hardly took her eyes off her man. It was delightful...

And even though I'm not related, except through my youngest daughters marriage, and have seen the wedding video over and over from editing it, after the bridesmaids are all in and the music slows up and has a long note signalling the bride is entering - and the camera catches it, I find I choke up...every time I see it... even do so as I write this...How about that!
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