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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old November 15th, 2007, 02:17 PM   #1
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Tips for 1 camera wedding.

Hi guys

I'm interested in tips for shooting a wedding with only 1 camera. The 2 things that particulary bother me is the ceremony and speechs, the rest is fairly straight forward with one camera. I've put together a good shot list and I have plenty of idea for cut aways.

What I'm worried about it getting the most dynamic feel to the edit without leaving visual holes anywhere that I will think DOH, how am I going to fill that one. Not having a second angle to cut to really makes the main camerawork harder I guess as you can't rely on the alternate angle.

That said I have a small sony cam but today I tried to match it to my XL2 and I just don't think its going to happen.

Any tips much appreciated ?
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Old November 15th, 2007, 02:34 PM   #2
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One thing you could do is ask the still photographer for some files. They may or may not provide them depending on their deal with the client. If you can get them you can use some to montage over a spot.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 02:36 PM   #3
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When I first started out, I did about 5 single cam weddings. I hated it!
It was very difficult to capture all the bridal party walking down the aisle and then sprint to the back to capture the start of the ceremony.

And then when you delivered the finished product, it was just so boring. But I guess you get what you pay for.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 02:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mat Thompson View Post
Hi guys

I'm interested in tips for shooting a wedding with only 1 camera. The 2 things that particulary bother me is the ceremony and speechs, the rest is fairly straight forward with one camera. I've put together a good shot list and I have plenty of idea for cut aways.

What I'm worried about it getting the most dynamic feel to the edit without leaving visual holes anywhere that I will think DOH, how am I going to fill that one. Not having a second angle to cut to really makes the main camerawork harder I guess as you can't rely on the alternate angle.

That said I have a small sony cam but today I tried to match it to my XL2 and I just don't think its going to happen.

Any tips much appreciated ?

all my work is single cam. You just have to time your movements and use B-roll to cover shots. Also, slo-motion helps to cover gaps :)
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Old November 15th, 2007, 03:02 PM   #5
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I think with this type of wedding/shoot, you have to control the shots more, i.e. set them up etc. For example; with the speeches, you will need to have them wait till you are ready, and then stand in a place that you can get both the toasters and toastees, we do this with our multiple camera, and with a single cam wedding, it is even more important.

Regariding using a single chip b roll, it's better than nothing, and might pay off with you having to spend less edit time.

Disclaimer; the above opinions are those of the writer and do not necassarily relfect the views of the station or stockholders.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 03:54 PM   #6
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Many thanks guys, there is some usefull stuff to be thinking about in there.

As I say I've planned the thing out pretty well but as I'm not used to events shooting its going to be a nervous prospect to come away from the 'safe stuff' !

I'm guessing the best bet is to shoot the ceremony like one continuous flow. Make pans and zooms visually exceptable where ever possible and then use cut aways to add some dynamic to things in the edit. I think I'll probably run the little sony anyway to cover myself if I make any big errors.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 04:57 PM   #7
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One shooter

Hi Mat,

First off, good for you developing a shot list with plans for cutaways - many miss that point early in their career. Not knowing more about your editing style, it's hard for us to say more about what/how you should be shooting. For instance, perhaps you're employing heavy-duty dramatic cinema techniques (classic music, lots of slow-mo panning with dutch angles with foreground movement, reveals, etc). Or maybe you're envisioning more of a photo-journalistic approach. Then again, as Josh pointed out, perhaps you'll do a creative photo montage (maybe even using video freeze frame if not stills from photographer - nice for post-ceremony photo session). Or you might use a lot of jump cuts in a story telling sequence, perhaps transitioning from the bridge to be with dad, next giving her away at the church, next close-up expression of him during the vows, finishing the theme with them at the father-daughter dance. You get the idea, depending on how you edit, your one-camera shot sequence will vary.

One suggestion I would strongly recommend - do not pause or turn-off your camera when not shooting (assuming you have enough battery power). You don't want a tape jam, dirty head problem (associated with pause), etc to spoil your footage. Worse yet, in the heat of passion sooner or later we've all felt that sick feeling getting out of sequence between record and pause mode - nothing like thinking film was running during the vows only to later find out the camera was paused :--(

Finally, you can look in this forum and elsewhere for XL-2 preset to match with a Sony camera. But perhaps you'll simply want to blur filter, go B/W, etc in post to overtly address the discontinuity between cameras.

Good luck, Michael
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Old November 15th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #8
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I agree with the advice to use the second camera. You wont get it to much exactly but leaving it on wide will make the edit a whole lot easier, and it could really save your butt.

Best of luck
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Old November 15th, 2007, 06:08 PM   #9
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I've said before so I'll say it again.
Years ago when cameras were FAR and away more expensive than they are today (25 years) most all of us shot with 1 camera and today I still rely heavily on the principles of a 1 camera shoot.
SLOW planned moves, slow tilts, pans, zooms. Anticipate the action and frankly most weddings don't have a lot. Widen out the shot BEFORE you move especially a pan then reframe the shot. Generally when a reader goes to the podium in a church there is about a 20 to as much as a 60 second delay -once the reader has been announced make a slow pan to the podium, frame it and leave it. One of the problems people have today is their hands are always on the cameras. Frame the shot and leave it alone.
Yes a 2nd camera is great and yes today I use 1 or even 2 additional cameras BUT I always shot as if they aren't there because they could crap out on you, the battery might die, you might forget to hit record, there could be a tape jam, it could get blocked out, any number of things can go wrong. If you shoot as if there is only the one camera but have some good footage from the 2nd great. Get lots of B footage, stained glass or whatever interesting details are there in the church. Get a program at the wedding so you know whats going to happen next and if you do get blocked on a shot, at least shoot into the direction of whats going on. Anticipate, stay steady, keep your hands off the camera after you've framed the shot and you'd be surprised what you can do with 1 camera.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 06:43 PM   #10
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I have been working alone the past 3 years and one of the best tips I read here come's from Michael, you can't risk a dirty tape head warning and/or a standby sign in your viewfinder. If you let the camera run continuously you are eliminating that risk.
Furthermore, get a backup cam, even if it doesn't match up with your main cam, it's better to have something then nothing if your main cam breacks down. Also this cam has to be armed and ready and very close to you, I carry mine in a backpack that's allways on me, it may look strange but I am up and ready within 30 seconds if my main cam would fail. I rather look silly then not being able to deliver a complete dvd.

Pan, tilt and zoom very slowly and use every opportunity you have to make as much b roll footage as possible, only then you can "a" cover up mistakes you made and "b" give the impression you are doing a 2 camera shoot. It also gives you more room to make a more creative edit.

Assure you have backup audio as well, nothing that is linked to your camera because if that fails, you have nothing. Better to use an iriver and a zoom h2 or h4 as 2nd or 3rd audio source.

Assure you have everything you need on you, not in a bag 10 meters from you but within hand reach, especially a cleaningtape, spare battery or spare dv/hdv tape is crucial.

Make a strap on your tripod so you can hang it over your shoulder if you have to move outside at the end of the ceremonie, (never leave your equipment behind), in that way you still have both hands free to operate your camera.

Quote from Andre:
"when you delivered the finished product, it was just so boring. But I guess you get what you pay for"

I"m sorry to say Andre that if it was boring it was not because it was a single camera shoot, I have seen multicam edits that looked more boring then my single cam shoot. Filming alone requires you to be much more creative in both filming and editing, I am not denying that a multicam is not better, ofcourse it's allways better, easier and safer but boring single cam shoots have more to do with the man behind the camera and the pc.

In my case I rather say that my clients get much more then what they pay for. :)
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Old November 15th, 2007, 07:03 PM   #11
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Guys....I can't thank you enough for all these pointers. Tomorrow I'll be making some written notes on this thread. You've been informative and you've also set my mind at ease in some ways!

Cheers and I'll be sure to post a quick note and let you know how its gone!
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Old November 16th, 2007, 06:50 AM   #12
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I agree with Noa. A boring product has little to do with whether it was shot with 1 camera or 12. IF it was boring shame on the editor. That's as simple as it can be put. I've done about 1200 weddings in the last 25 years and while some might fall into the boring catorgory it's not because I shot with 1 or 2 or 3 cameras, by myself or with 4 other cam ops. It's because 1) the wedding itself was boring. The couple weren't into the camera, the wedding party was no fun, the DJ sucked and no one danced (nice excuses all) BUT the real reason they might have been boring is ME! I got lazy in editing an was BORED so I made a boring production. GOOD quality and the couples were happy but in my eyes it was boring.
I guess it happens to everyone once in a while although no one want's to admit it but after you do this long enough EVERY WEDDING LOOKS AND IS THE SAME (in our minds) and by the end of the season, you (I) just want it to be over so maybe it's us. ;-()
Some of the most exciting stuff I;ve seen was done as a 1 camera shoot.
Number of cams don't meant a thing!
Don
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Old November 16th, 2007, 07:43 AM   #13
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Ughh, 1200 weddings?? we should start calling you "Master Don", I am still counting to reach my first 100. :)
I also see that at the end of the season I tend to get a bit lazy, yesterday I finished editing my last wedding for this year and to tell the truth, I'm glad it's over for this year, I really need the time now to recharge my batteries.
Usually in the beginning of the season I'm full of idea's and I want to change the world, at the end of the season I'm glad that the world keeps on turning without me. :D
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Old November 16th, 2007, 01:07 PM   #14
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Yeah I know what you mean. I've got 3 more to shoot and with those 9 to edit. 5 are on the computer now and am editing each one a bit here and a bit there. I figured I'd try that to see if I can relieve some of the 'boredom'. Doesn't seem to be working ;-)
And people ask me why I keep talking about retiring (or at least cutting my schedule way back)
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Old November 17th, 2007, 11:29 AM   #15
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I take my hat off to all single camera shooters - I don't think I could do it.

One tip which someone told me about - quite possibly on this board - is that if you want to go from say a wide shot to a close up - do it when there's no dialogue - crash zomm as fast as you can - then in post production slow down the end of the wide shot to cover the zoom (probably les than 1 second) then cut straight to the reframed close up - few people would notice the slight slowing down. I tried it - works a treat.

Ian
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