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


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Old June 6th, 2003, 05:36 PM   #1
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before shooting a wedding

have a wedding booked for next week. first wedding i'll be shooting with my pd150. shot only one wedding prior to this one, and that was a while back and on s-vhs.

the event will be taking place outside. guests are invited for 3pm, ceremony starts at 5pm, then there's a dinner and dancing. should end around 10pm.

i'll be bringing:
about 5 hours of tape
a wireless transimitter to hook up one channel of sound to the dj console
a mini light with battery pack and belt


anything i might be forgetting? any advice from experienced event videographers? - don't see me as competition unless you plan to do business in tel aviv (-:

thanks
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Old June 6th, 2003, 05:41 PM   #2
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- Bring help. Someone should watch your stuff, help carry and back you up.

- Eat first.

- Test test test unless you want to spend X hours and then discover that there was an issue with the hardware that gave you five tapes of nothing. Test recording, audio.

- know the schedule so you can be in position beforehand. Well beforehand.

- bring business cards.
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Old June 6th, 2003, 05:46 PM   #3
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specific questions that have come to mind:

what kind of camera support would you suggest (tripod, monopod, shoulder brace)?

should i use my century .65 wide-angle adaptor?
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Old June 6th, 2003, 05:58 PM   #4
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All three. With a long ceremony you'll thank the existence of a tripod. However, you mentioned dancing festivities. Well those are good with you in the action. i.e. with stabilizer. The monopod might do in a pinch and also allow you to rest for static shots.

With the wide angle, it would be good during the reception. During the ceremony how far are you from the front? If you are close enough that you don't have to zoom in (and risk vignetting with the adaptor), then no problem. I've never used that adaptor but I've heard about vignetting problems. You would know better.
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Old June 6th, 2003, 08:05 PM   #5
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I would bring more tapes, and show up earlier, to catch the arrival of the B&G, family, etc. If you have extra batteries and chargers, bring them, and maybe a power adapter for the camera. If you can set up somewhere close to power, it may save you time when it's time to switch batteries.
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Old June 6th, 2003, 10:31 PM   #6
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I shoot 2 camera ceremonies and single cam reception. I've only had more than 4 hours 1 time and that was a wedding with about 1000 people and a wedding party the size of a small village. However always bring more tape than you think you need. Tape is cheap, I always have 7 or 8 63 minute tapes in my case.
As for shooting, I personally use my WA even for the ceremony except sometimes the 2nd cam is way too far away, then no WA. The manned camera has it on. I can zoom into a tighter shot and get tight enough for a CU of the ring and kiss.
Audio, wire the groom for the ceremony - be it wireless or MD- use on cam shotgun for ambient and speakers if no other way. I've been doing that for years and it works fine (at least for me) HEADPHONES!!! I'll say again :) HEADPHONES!!! A must have!
If you can't hear it you're guessing. Even cheap ones are better than none. You'll want them for both the ceremony and the reception.
Camera Support-I use tripod for sure-ceremony and reception (intro's-1st dances-speeches-prayer and the ceremony.) I generally do the procession handheld and then move to the tripod as the B/G go towards the altar-2nd cam covers-sometimes (if I can make moves) I use monopod. Once in a blue moon, if the ceremony is like 10 minutes, I use shoulder brace for the ceremony.
Batteries-extras-nothing worse than trying to explain to B/G that you can't work cause your camera doesn't have power :(
Eat before you go-some feed you some don't (it's in my contract to eat) it's a long day.
Get there early-keep your eyes and ears open all day-watch for the unusual-the cute-the different-keep calm and do what you do best.
ITEM LAST! IF POSSIBLE-Go to the rehearsal!!! That way you'll find out what you can and can't do-where the best angles are-which way the B/G will be facing-where the bridal party will be-sitting or standing and where.
Of course after all that remain flexible. Nothing changes so fast as the details of a wedding!
Good Luck, Have Fun,
Don B.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 04:07 PM   #7
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Quickie advice for those about to embark on shooting their first wedding video singlehanded. In no particular order, here's tom's top ten tips.

1) If at all possible visit the location beforehand to assess the layout, lighting, powerpoints for recharging and to be nice to the priest/officials.

2) Check out the parking access to enable a quick getaway from house to church to reception.

3) Have a checklist for the Big Day, so you don't forget a single thing. Don't use new untried kit on the day.

4) When shooting, shoot lots. Remember, this day will never come again. Much easier to edit down your master tapes than to lengthen them.

5) Dance on your toes. Stay very alert. Concentrate on keeping the camera still (unless you're adept at tracking). Get big powerful closeups. Shoot people, all the people. A bit of the location, but go back and shoot more people. Remember we're all here because people like looking at people.

6) Check over your kit very carefully. Check whitebalance, exposure, focus settings are all as you require, and are happy with.

7) Check with the bride if she's asked you to do this film. Ask exactly what she'd like you to record. I had one bride who insisted that I never let the camera stop even for a second. They called me one-shot tom for months afterwards.

8) Try to be in two places at once. Wear unobtrusive clothing, take a brave pill and move amongst the guests, filming and smiling graciously.

9) Decline alcohol (difficult one this) as drinking time is lost filming time. You can't do 2 things well, so concentrate on getting the footage. Don't be tempted to shoot stills; it requires a different mind set.

10) Edit ruthlessly, you hear me? Keep the original masters for sure, but if possible get the happy couple to see your edited masterpiece before they see the long version.
Remember your video camera is a sound recorder that just happens to record pictures at the same time. If you stop recording mid sentence the conversation will be nonsense wheras the pictures may be fine.

Tom.

PS. Funnily enough I've just this moment come home from filming a weddind all day. I'll tell you - it's always a relief to rewind that footage and see the pictures safe and sound on the tape.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 05:19 PM   #8
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thanks for the advice. if you think of anything else by thursday, let me know.
adi
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Old June 7th, 2003, 06:50 PM   #9
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You've received a lot of good advice.

The best I've ever received was:

1. Make friends with the Wedding Coordinator/location manager or whomever is calling the ceremony shots. Try to at least talk with them without the presence of the wedding party.

For several reasons: 1. They are the only people who can OK you doing something out of the ordinary with regard to camera/lights placement, etc. 2, and most importantly, the rehersal never covers everything that is planned. It just doesn't. So go over the schedule with this person and make certain that they just didn't forget to 'practice' the poem reading or solo or something else. It always seems to happen.

2. Make very good friends with the DJ. This person controls the reception. Timing, music, access to house sound, etc. You will know when and where you have to be somewhere and when it's OK to sit and eat or drinks some water.

With their help, a Wedding can even be a bit fun. Without it, it can be a real difficult time.

If you are going to do this often, consider joining WEVA where you can get good advice, training, insurance, and even a free merchant credit card account.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 03:19 PM   #10
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What aboutr lighting guys...Any suggestions? For the ceremony and for the reception. Especially if the B&G would like shots of their friends dancing in almost complete darkness.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 03:47 PM   #11
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I've yet to find a B&G who want lights used. They want to preserve their intimate environment. PD150/VX2000 and DSR-300's can get quite good pictures in environment where you cannot read the menu.

Just to be safe, I always carry a couple of NRG battery belts and the NRG VariLuxPro lights with variously sized bulbs. I've used them once for part of a reception then quietly talked the house manager into slowly boosting the lights a bit.

It is an issue to discuss before the wedding.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 04:41 PM   #12
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Thanks, Mike. While Signing the contract the B&G expressed that I absolutely have to get their friends dancing and having fun...I've been to weddings where the Videographer has a strong quartz light that becomes real distracting and annoying, I'm guessing that you are right about a handled light, so turuning up the lights up a bit should suffice...huh?
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Old June 10th, 2003, 05:40 PM   #13
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With a VX2000 or PD150, one can get OK video, not super video but OK video that retains the ambiance of the reception instead of making it look like high noon, without external lights.

If you adjust the lights upward slowly enough, nobody will notice. Usually the site manager will accommodate the concept. Take a shot of the slider position so you will know where it works OK for video just in case you ever go back.
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Old June 11th, 2003, 06:58 AM   #14
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thanks for the advice. bought a monopod today and made a nylon belt with velcro to fit around my waist. fastened a piece of pipe to the front of the belt so i can stick the bottom end of the monopod in there to help keep my pd150 steady during long ceramonial shots. put a stills camera neck strap around the top for extra support.

i think i'm pretty much set. thanks again.

adi
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Old June 15th, 2003, 09:57 PM   #15
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If possible, get the nervous bride and groom while they are getting ready. You know, the bridesmaids helping to fix her makeup and dress, etc.

Be the eyes and ears of the B & G throughout the whole process. Keep in mind that this day whizzes past them, and your job is to trap it for them for the future.

You might also get a copy of the stills taken by the still photographer and incorporate that into a montage, if that's in the budget.

Preparation time can yield some good shots, too. Look for the baker putting the finishing touches on the cake, etc.

And keep a watchful eyes for kids... particularly during the reception. You can get killer shots of the little ones, and they are always the stars in the eyes of the adults.
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