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


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Old December 17th, 2007, 12:25 PM   #1
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Scheduled times?

After having a couple weddings in a row where I didn't feel like I had time to get some shots I wanted/needed of the bride and groom, my wife suggested that we begin scheduling a little time for ourselves on the wedding day much like the photographer does. Initially I liked the idea, but now I'm trying to figure out how to make it work.
Anybody out there doing something like this?
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Old December 17th, 2007, 12:37 PM   #2
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Ethan:

We thought about doing this but it just seems the couple is so stressed with being pulled different directions that you get some push back on this. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask them and I bet you will get 40% of the B&G's to do this. For us we don't like to stage shots...not saying that is good or bad...its just not our style on the wedding day. The shots we might stage a bit are some ring shots.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 01:05 PM   #3
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Ethan:

We thought about doing this but it just seems the couple is so stressed with being pulled different directions that you get some push back on this. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask them and I bet you will get 40% of the B&G's to do this.
I have the same concerns about asking anything more of the B&G's as well, that's part of the reason I'm unsure about this idea.

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For us we don't like to stage shots...not saying that is good or bad...its just not our style on the wedding day. The shots we might stage a bit are some ring shots.
John,
I like your work and like that we both can get to a good end result with slightly different methodology. Let me explain why I do what I do.

I like to stage a few "beauty shots" of the bride in a nice setting if I can. It's always nice to have these in my back pocket when it comes time to edit.
I also find it good to be able to stage a few shots of the B&G so I can hollywood up some moments between them. I find that a large number of couples we shoot are so busy doing this or that all day that they tend to not have any little moments together that we can catch on the fly.

I can remember that on my own wedding day my wife and I didn't slow down long enough to enjoy each other's company until a random slow dance half way through the reception when everything else was finally just background noise and we had a "moment". If these don't spontaneously happen during the course of the day, then I'd rather mock something up so that I know I have it for the final product.

**controversial personal wedding video theory warning**

I look at our final product as a magical story of their day... not necessarily reality retold, but reality enhanced. It's like a memory on steroids... albeit romantic steroids. With this line of thinking, I'm perfectly ok with not having to stick to the original script when I'm re-telling their day and therefore I'm more than ok having to stage a few shots to re-tell their story in a "better than it really was" style.

Before anyone goes ballistics on my personal theory, just remember that it's just my personal opinion. Not saying mine is better than yours, it's just how I do it. I completely get those who are all about preserving the integrity of the moment by not altering it. I just prefer to preserve the feel of the end product by altering reality if necessary.

Why did I just go down this road? No clue. Maybe it's the lack of sleep combined with 2 cups of coffee. Maybe I shouldn't hit the submit button... but I will.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 01:08 PM   #4
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Ethan,
What John said about couples being stressed is often true. It would be best to talk with the photographer de jour, tell them what you'd like to do. Unless your request is unreasonable or the photog is, they should be able to let you take the lead for a few minutes. The bride and groom will generally go along. As you know, every wedding is slightly different but expressing to the photographer what you need to do to deliver your best should get you what you need most of the time. Good luck.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 01:42 PM   #5
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Ethan:
Point well taken. I'm not going to rule out staged shots because as you have explained well....they certainly have a place. This wouldn't be at the ceremony location and probably will not work for every B&G but what about maybe having them dress back up after the honeymoon to get some cool shots. This may or may not work for what you were wanting and maybe a little off topic.

One thing you might consider is really working on building relationships with several photographers and then try and build it into their timeline somehow. It really shouldn't take too long to do what you want to do. Let me know how it goes.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 01:52 PM   #6
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what about maybe having them dress back up after the honeymoon to get some cool shots.
We've done this in the past and if I'm going to keep doing this I need to charge more $$. It's an option, and it might be what we have to do to get the style we want. I'd rather not, but if I have to, I will.
The biggest problem with this is that right now we're in an odd situation. Four months ago we moved from the Northern part of the State, to the Southern and now when we do a wedding we have to drive 5 hours back up to where we've got everything booked. This makes doing the re-shoots a bit of a hassle. Otherwise I wouldn't fight the idea.

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One thing you might consider is really working on building relationships with several photographers and then try and build it into their timeline somehow. It really shouldn't take too long to do what you want to do.
That's kinda what I was thinking too. Talk to the B&G and find out who their photog is and give them a call, take them out to lunch if we can and build a little good will with them. It would be even better to go the StillMotion route and have an in-house photography team to do weddings with so you can closely coordinate with them to get exactly what you need.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 06:26 PM   #7
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Ethan - I'm new to this but I have wondered a few times about your question of scheduling our own time with the B&G. I just shot my first love story and it was a nice change of pace to have total control over what I wanted to shoot. I guess it can't hurt to ask for it. I would think that those clients who felt strongly about having a great video would be inclined to say ok. BTW I really like your work. Your clips are so easy to watch and just have a great feel about them. Would you mind sharing what gear you are using? Are you shooting in 24P?

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Old December 17th, 2007, 11:31 PM   #8
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I just shot my first love story and it was a nice change of pace to have total control over what I wanted to shoot.
Feels good to have total control doesn't it. I wish I could have a whole weekend to stage and direct an entire wedding to be shot the way I see it in my head.

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BTW I really like your work. Your clips are so easy to watch and just have a great feel about them. Would you mind sharing what gear you are using? Are you shooting in 24P?
Thanks for the compliment. I'm using a hodge podge of gear and will be for a while. The stuff you've seen on my website was shot with my trusty old VX2000, a rented PD170, and a borrowed HVX200. The HVX was a former employer's camera (loved that camera) and it's footage is mostly overcranked 24p that was laid back to DV tape (29.97) using a KonaLH card connected to an older pro Sony deck. It was a convoluted workflow, but it was the easiest way for me to edit everything on the same timeline using my home computer and FCP4 before I had Studio2 with it's fancy multi format timelines. If you saw any 24p it was the overcranked HVX stuff.

Now that we've moved and I no longer have access to the HVX and PD170, I bought an FX7 that we shoot along with the trusty old VX. We've been toying with the idea of getting a HV20 to use as a third camera and to test it's viability as a VX replacement. I can't talk myself into pulling the trigger quite yet though. It's the poor low light performance and limited manual controls that have me spooked. Heck, compared to the VX in low light, I want to toss my FX7 out the window most days, but when it's good, it's GOOD.
Our on camera lighting is cheap little sony's that use the same batts as our cameras. Good enough for a reception, but that's about it.

I fly my cameras on a Merlin and sometimes use DVRigPro during the ceremony when I don't feel like being tied to a tripod. We use cheap Libec tripods, but for the style we shoot, I don't need a super nice fluid head. The only time we're on the tripods is at the ceremony and there usually isn't all that much movement needed at those. They work for us.

Our audio is pretty simple. Just a Sony wireless right now (sold the more expensive stuff a little while back... not needed after testing a friend's sony) and I use my ancient Sony MD recorder to tie into the house sound if it's available. When house sound isn't available, I'll setup the MD recorder with a small handheld mic near a speaker (old catholic churches) or by the choir/ensemble/wherever.

We color everything in post using the older Magic Bullet Editors filters, but I'd like to get my hands on their newer plugin. Can't remember what it's called off hand. When I upgrade my old dual 867 G4 to an iMac next year I might spring for it. I use my Dell 2407 monitor to color correct off of. It's pretty close to being accurate after some self calibration. Close enough for wedding work anyway.

Basically we're keeping her running as cheaply as possible; duct tape, bailing wire, and a prayer. I see no need in going out and buying a ton of new gear if the old stuff gets the job done. But... if I were to go out and get a bunch of stuff, it would be this:

Camera:
2 x Sony EX1's with 16gig cards (raise the prices and backup on those cheap little laptop drive sized USB hard drives. dump the footage in them, put a sticker on them, and done)
2 x HV20's
Letus Extreme
Nikon 28mm, 50mm lenses for said Letus

Computer:
24" iMac loaded
2 x 1.5Tb FW800 raids. (one main, one backup)
New Magic Bullet plugins
NeatVideo plugin (if they ever make it for Mac)

Audio:
Countryman lav mic (tiny and sounds great)
Solid state recorder (haven't done the research yet to know what's good)

Lights:
Kino Diva's (for dark hotel rooms, bridal rooms, wherever)

I think that about covers it.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 08:34 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the detail Ethan. From the look of your work, you would never know its duct tape, bailing wire and prayers! I think your idea of a lighter duty tripod makes sense. From my limited experience I've found that my heavy duty tripod really limits my mobility. Some of my best footage came from sticking my HV20 on a cheapo tripod, closing the legs and hoisting it over the dance floor. I have a wedding in two weeks and may even try playing with a monopod. I do like the HV20 which I use in combo with my XH-A1. My only gripe so far is the funky little dial you need to spin for manual focus. Hey maybe Santa reads this forum and will surprise you with a few items from your wish list!

Art
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