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


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Old September 24th, 2007, 09:33 PM   #1
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Your suggestions for mastering my camera?

I still haven 't really mastered it - have focused more on other skills for some time. Now I"m sitting down to really concentrate on camera skills for hte next few weeks and trying to come up with a plan to get started. Some key areas I want to master are manual exposure, manual focus, steady shooting, lighting and whatever else you guys recommend. (I had an earlier thread on manual exposure and will review that as well). The goal is to master the technical aspects of my camera and to be as prepared as possible to handle different types of events with one camera. Would welcome suggestions about what worked for you in teaching yourself to be a better shooter. Thanks =)
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Old September 24th, 2007, 09:51 PM   #2
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One thing that I found very useful was to study the fundamentals of photography. Exposure, depth of field, and other elements that come from photography have direct application to videography. I'd also recommend just shooting a TON with your camera. Find out how to achieve the shots you want by practicing them. Practice is essential. Getting your hands used to doing what you're thinking comes with time. So get out there and shoot. =)
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Old September 24th, 2007, 10:07 PM   #3
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Yes, I don't even know where to start. Just even trying to come up with events that are happening, things to go shoot.
Maybe I'll go to my local outside mall and just practice.
I do have a photography background but I've forgotten most of it. After reading a posting in another thread, I pulled out my old Ansel Adams zone system notes and am still reviewing the chapter.
I need to learn to expose under different lighting conditions, but being in some settings might require getting permission to be there with a camera. People wonder what you are doing.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 11:21 PM   #4
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Definitely practice makes perfect. Nothing teaches you faster than getting back to the edit bay and seeing your mistakes. The trick is to do it with un-important projects first.

I've invested a lot of money in learning, but it's the time I spent that really paid off.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 12:58 AM   #5
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I'm in the same boat, but find I can't get motivated to 'practice' for the sake of it, except for real small things. I find I need a real project, rather than make believe one, so have initiated various shooting situations. Actually, all the weddings I have done so far are 'real event projects' I'm using to get experience - experience in shooting, camera placement, audio, camera control, photo composition, video editing, case and dvd cover making, etc etc, the whole nine yards.

A couple of days ago I initiated a situation where I'm going to film a speaker at a conference who is going to use PowerPoint - which needs to be incorporated into the editing. I just got home from work and there is an email from one of the conference organisers saying they would like me to film all the speakers!!! And what was I expecting as a recompence???

Well, that is not what I was expecting, and now I have a load of 'real project' stuff directly connected to content I am passionate about, to learn on and get some pay for - the latter maybe.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #6
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I'd get to the business end quickly, and let them know you can shoot, but not for "free", not to mention editing... maybe there's a budget or a longer term plan that they are willing to cut you in on!
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Old September 25th, 2007, 06:22 PM   #7
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Hey Kell,
I was in your shoes about a year or so ago, and decided I needed to finally learn all of this stuff I've been winging for so long. I decided to go here...
www.tulsaweddingfilms.com
If you click on Videographers, and then look in the top right corner there is some info on their upcoming workshops. That experienced changed the way I shoot. It is expensive, but it is totally owrht it. Very small groups usually, and these guys are the best teachers. What I couldn't get from training DVDs, forums, etc. I got from them. Awesome experience. I am a full time videographer today because of that class. Practice is so important as well, but I needed a foundation to start from which I did not have. I have that now, and can build on that foundatin. Anyway my two cents. Good luck. Also try to find a videogeapher in your area and get them to use you as a second shooter. This is also invaluable experience.
Bill
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Old September 25th, 2007, 10:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kell Smith View Post
I still haven 't really mastered it - have focused more on other skills for some time. Now I"m sitting down to really concentrate on camera skills for hte next few weeks and trying to come up with a plan to get started. Some key areas I want to master are manual exposure, manual focus, steady shooting, lighting and whatever else you guys recommend. (I had an earlier thread on manual exposure and will review that as well). The goal is to master the technical aspects of my camera and to be as prepared as possible to handle different types of events with one camera. Would welcome suggestions about what worked for you in teaching yourself to be a better shooter. Thanks =)
Two things a former film school teacher taught me...

- Recreate lighting scenes from magazine photos - this is mostly practise with light set-ups. We did a weekend workshop on this, which was great.

- Go to a local airport and shoot planes landing and taking off - obviously trying to maintain framing and keep the cam steady. Even with a good tripod/head, it can be tricky (esp. a tight shot)
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Old September 25th, 2007, 10:37 PM   #9
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You want to LEarn? Then put tape in the camera and shoot anything and everything that moves...BUT write down EVERYTHING that you do. IE Shutter,Iris, gain, ND filters anything. Shoot the same scene at various shutter speeds, f/stops, gain...what happens if I use an ND filter here rather than not...EVERYTHING! Then load up your computer and look at the footage on a production monitor or TV to see what it looks like and soon you'll know the camera as well as the back of your hand. THEN you can concentrate on THE SHOT not the camera.

Don
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Old September 27th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Keep them coming!
I went through the local online event calendars and put the dates into Entourage of things that are happening. I guess I should just pick one and go.
It would really be great though to find events that I could get paid for, even a little bit and offer them something in return.
It seems like with a lot of things you have to get permission, also. For instance the suggestion about filming planes taking off - it's a good suggestion in terms of something that moves away from you, so you have to figure out how to work with the focus, maintain framing etc. But I'm sure Homeland Security would have some reservations about people hanging out at airports with cameras! However I could take that suggestion and apply it to something similar, like maybe a car race which would apply the same principle.

And I do have some reservations about showing up places with a camera these days so perhaps I am a bit self conscious. People wonder what you are doing for instance, filming their planes or their buildings or kids on the playground. So it might make sense to have permission to get past that.

I need to get in place situations where I can learn to expose for dfferent lighting situations, and practice different audio situations.

I'd like to be more confident in my skils before putting myself out there for events and would like to spend the next few weeks really making myself ready, just don't know where to start.
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Old September 27th, 2007, 11:54 AM   #11
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The trick to it is to find the people who are interested in what you have to offer. You can wait forever for someone to come along - especially on the internet, or you can just go out and start talking to people. Go out, make friends, listen to what they have to say, and where they are coming from and you'll find all kinds of projects to do.

Funny thing about permission, you just never know until you try or ask. I once needed video of a large busy train station, security at Penn Station, NYC booted me out within 10 minutes. Just on the off chance, we headed over to Grand Central, and they didn't mind at all, we got better footage to boot.
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Old September 27th, 2007, 12:00 PM   #12
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i have found that if you act as though you are supposed to be where you are, doing whatever you are doing, few people question it. While in film class, my teacher asked me to go across the street and shoot some footage of an auditorium that was being renovated. She said they wouldn't allow us inside due to safety concerns, but to shoot as much as i could so that we could eventually put together a before during after kind of thing. I went over and got lots of shots of the outside but that got very boring. So i made my way up to a loading dock, then a few feet inside, then down the hall, etc. I passed several construction workers and a foreman (sp?) and they asked if i was making a documentary about the building. Of course i said yes! and they bent over backwards to help me out. my teacher was beyond thrilled.

Just remember, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. ;)
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Old September 27th, 2007, 12:49 PM   #13
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Don's right - get out there and shootshootshoot. But no need to write everything down as he says, simply tell those microphones what you're doing.

''This shot taken with auto focus, auto audio level, but locked shutter, iris and gain. Steadyshot off, full wide-angle, no triipod.'' That sort of thing.

When you come to replay your footage have 'display' turned on and all sorts of info about every exposed frame will be revealed. Watch the footage on your best TV, and wind and rewind as many times as it takes.

Video is such a great teacher. The best. It's cheap, fast, faithful, patient, accurate - and can be replayed thousands of times without complaining. Would that all teachers were like that.

And every minute you're out there shooting the camera's becoming more and more familliar to you Kell. There'll come a point when you'll look at the scene to be filmed, reach down for the camera and on it way up you'll be turning it on, checking the ND switch, making sure the w/bal and shutter speed are correct and going smoothly and confidently into the record mode.

tom.
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Old September 28th, 2007, 01:48 PM   #14
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I've been teaching video production for 15 years and shooting weddings (just one or two per year for friends) for about 20 years. I think Don's advice is very good. I also agree with Tom's advice that you don't need to take the time to write things down, just say what the setting are outloud (and record it with the footage) :).

I have many "main concepts" that I have passed on to my students over the years. One of them that is relevant to this thread is that our goal as videographers/producers/directors/editors is to make everything we do look better and more interesting than they are in reality. I mean any "Uncle Bob" (I've used that name so much in my classes that one student actually drew a caricature of the mythical man that was pretty funny) can take a camera to an event and tape it. Our job (as I see it at least) is to make things look prettier, more interesting and more exciting than they are in reality. This is the case whether you're doing a commercial for a local restaurant, a promotional video for a university, or a wedding video. This is done through all phases of production, but starts with the shooting.

I'd take all the advice offered in this thread and also add to really concentrate on learning to control depth of field, getting the best exposure in challenging lighting situations (ex: B&G in the shade with a bright sunny background can be a problem), camera stability and getting great audio.

Even though I've worked in commercial production for years before getting into teaching, I still didn't feel 100% confident doing the weddings once I established my company last year. After buying cams from a member of this board ( iad been doing single cam with my XL-1 for years) I felt I needed to get out and really get familiar with them (as well as audio set-up) before I started charging my desired rate. I did 3 weddings for friends for $500 each. This gave me the experience with my new gear. It also took the pressure off because I knew that I'd give them something they'd like but I had more room for slip ups should they occur. Fortunately, all went well. My friends got great videos for little cost, I got experience with my new gear and I even made a few $$$ at the same time.

It's not just the technical setting you need to consider but also composition. Never underestimate the dramatic power of a good close-up. In addition to weddings you can also try an excercise I used to have Intro students try. Take a mundane scene (like someone working at a computer perhaps) and make it more interesting/beautiful/exciting that it is in reality. Another thing I'll add is that most of us generally see the world from somewhere be 5 and 6.5 feet from the ground. Get shots from different perspectives (low/high).

I believe I may be telling you things you already know. If so, this board and the folks on here have been very helpful to me as I've launched my business. I'm just adding to the thread to offer my .02.

-Don B.


"Only those that dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly"
- Robert F. Kennedy
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Old September 29th, 2007, 06:26 AM   #15
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Excellently put Don. Just a few paragraphs, but you sew it up nicely.

tom.
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