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


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Old April 15th, 2008, 06:39 PM   #1
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Advice for Shooting a Wedding - Solo

Just starting out here and I could use the help. Anyone here shoot solo and have some words of wisdom?

I'm more concerned about the ceremony and how to deal with two cameras.

What has worked for you guys?

Thanks so much for your responses!
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Old April 15th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #2
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Hey Nick,
For sure it is hard to shoot solo. But you can get around it.
1. You have to know what is happening when. When you know what's next, you can setup your cams and be ready on time.
2. That's pretty basic, but keep both cams running all the time (for easier sync). It's easier to control them and you don't have to run between the aisles and risk missing something.
3. For most parts of the ceremony (readings for example) keep two cams next to you on tripods. One at a person reading and the other at the couple and doing cutaways.
4. For the vows - setup main cam at the beginning of the vows (when they're still just getting ready to start the vows) in the main aisle and run to the second cam, which would be nice if was on the groom's side to see the bride, and frame it. Then it's up to you if you stay with the second cam and do different framing shoots throughout or go back to the main cam to be safe.
Important thing - make sure beforehand that the photographer doesn't get in your shot when you're not there (at the main cam).
5. If you're using two lav mics (for groom and minister), record both of them to the separate cams. Just in case one gets down.
6. Always pretend that you only have one cam, the one you're with at the moment. You never know what is happening with the other (dropouts, defective battery, tape or ignorant photographer, glued to VF of his camera, bumping into your tripods legs).

There are also some parts of the Mass (if you lucky and they have one), where you can be creative and leave the ceremony by itself and get some nice shots. But that's only if it's the full Mass, which is 60 min in general.

That's my 2 cents
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Old April 15th, 2008, 08:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Avdienko View Post
Just starting out here and I could use the help. Anyone here shoot solo and have some words of wisdom?

I'm more concerned about the ceremony and how to deal with two cameras.

What has worked for you guys?

Thanks so much for your responses!
never trust an unattended camera. Period. They will time out and go into power save, get bumped, run out of tape, etc. From the start, on 2 cam shoots I involved a second (usually my wife) to man the other camera. Even if it was stationary wide angle shots, I much prefer to have it manned.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 08:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jason Robinson View Post
never trust an unattended camera. Period.
Never trust the client to pay somebody to man it either.

Really... I wish everybody had a free spouse to do this but it's just not feasible for solo shooters. I shoot alone (usually) and keep 2 other cameras rolling and somehow they never get kicked, go into standby or fail. And if they would fail... chances are the person working it wouldn't be able to figure out why anyway. And if you can't do enough planning to change tapes then LP mode works fine for long ceremonies.

The first reason to get a 2nd shooter should be to add to the scope of your production and not to babysit a camera lest somebody "kick" it.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 09:03 PM   #5
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Shooting solo with 2 cameras . . . I would do this . . .

Put one camera in a position to capture a "safe" wideshot of the event. Place the other camera (and man this one) to cover the bride and groom from the side that features the bride's face.

Either that or, if you have a good enough zoom and if a balcony is available, then place both cameras in the balcony and set one to wide and zoom the other in. I like the first option better, though, because it allows you to also get shots of mom and dad, or the flower girl falling asleep, or whatever.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #6
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I've basically been a solo shooter for 25 years (sometimes need and have a 2nd or even 3rd shooter but rare).
While I agree it's more work and not to trust the 2nd camera, IF you use 2 (or more) and I do on every shoot I shoot my prime camera as if the other(s) aren't there. IOW, slow steady moves, slow thoughtful pans (no swish pans allowed) proper composition and exposure. I learned how to shot with 1 and having more is a luxury. There are lots of people out there shooting solo with 1 camera and frankly doing a great job of it. Pretend the others aren't working concentrate on the one you're shooting and what ever you get from the ohters is gravy.
I know some folks would never think of using less than 2 or 3 or even 4 but honestly a well shot 1 camera ceremony can be just a well done as a multi-cam ceremony maybe better because of the care taken in all aspects of the shoot. There is no 'well my other camera will cover that move' what if it dies on you? OOOPS!
Like was said before, scout the place, know the order of things that are to happen, anticipate, be on your toes (not literally)...some comes from experience some from the wedding program, be ready for anything.
Know your gear. Inside and out. I can't believe the number of people I meet that go out with a brand new anything and have never even tried it other than to open it, charge it up, and learn a few buttons or whatever. If you have to think about your gear then you can't think about the SHOT! That's what's important. Nothing else. Getting the shot and getting it right. Getting it right means knowing you gear. Like the back of your hand.
I don't mean to sound like a grump but I can't stress it enough.
Other than that, have fun, enjoy yourself and do the best job you can.

Don
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Old April 16th, 2008, 02:08 AM   #7
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I'm also a veteran of single camera weddings since 1988. The manned multi-cam is a blessing when the client can afford it. But having an unmanned wide shot camera will also save your hide in a pinch.
I would offer my services as 2nd camera (unpaid) for a WELL REGARDED local videographer. Contact the Sacramento Professional Videographers Association http://www.spva.info/
Offer them your footage (make a dub for yourself), and you will learn more, and do so in a more relaxed manner. There is nothing more electrifying than live TV (which is what you're doing when covering a wedding).

Knowing the ceremony type helps quite a bit. Doesn't hurt to contact the church ahead of time and talk to the wedding coordinator about house rules and restrictions. Some facilities are very strict in where you can be (and movement is generally a no-no during the ceremony). Good luck!
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 05:30 PM   #8
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Thanks guys for the good words. I have 2 weddings the first week of May. I got my wife to help me out with one of them. Should be fun.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 05:27 PM   #9
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Also, how do you manage sound/audio capture when shooting self+2 cameras? Would you share?
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Old April 24th, 2008, 09:22 PM   #10
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I used to use 2 systems.The grooms mic to the prime camera (the one I was operating) and a 2nd unit on the reader lectern going to the 2nd camera. Unmonitored BUT since it was only a 2nd track for the music and the readers I would test before and set the level and go. It worked put pretty well.
Now however I run the AT1800 series dual receiver. 1 mic on the groom the other to the lectern. The 1800 can be mixed on the receiver to 1 channel OR what I do now is run the 2 output cables to a Y cable to the camera to channel 2. My hypercaroid on the camera runs to channel 1. The receiver is set with the lectern mic to channel 1 on the receiver and the grooms mic is to channel 2 on the receiver. At the start of the ceremony music I run the receiver on channel 1 only and as the officiant starts speaking I switch the receiver to channel 1 and 2 for both mics. You don't hear the switch on and this way I can monitor both mics and even though they are both going to channel 2 on the camera there is little post work for me to do. That makes me very happy. Also I can shut the grooms mic during times when he might be hugging the parents so I eliminate the rubbing noise during those times. I prefer to switch instead of mix so I never have to kill a camera channel track during editing. It's really a simple setup and once you understand when to turn it on and off it works flawlessly. It's almost like using a field mixer. Notice I said almost.
In any case I can monitor all my audio and again my post work has been minimized.
It works for me but YMMV.
Don
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Old April 29th, 2008, 12:06 PM   #11
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Great info, thanks!
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Old April 29th, 2008, 04:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
I used to use 2 systems.The grooms mic to the prime camera (the one I was operating) and a 2nd unit on the reader lectern going to the 2nd camera. Unmonitored BUT since it was only a 2nd track for the music and the readers I would test before and set the level and go. It worked put pretty well.
Now however I run the AT1800 series dual receiver. 1 mic on the groom the other to the lectern. The 1800 can be mixed on the receiver to 1 channel OR what I do now is run the 2 output cables to a Y cable to the camera to channel 2. My hypercaroid on the camera runs to channel 1. The receiver is set with the lectern mic to channel 1 on the receiver and the grooms mic is to channel 2 on the receiver. At the start of the ceremony music I run the receiver on channel 1 only and as the officiant starts speaking I switch the receiver to channel 1 and 2 for both mics. You don't hear the switch on and this way I can monitor both mics and even though they are both going to channel 2 on the camera there is little post work for me to do. That makes me very happy. Also I can shut the grooms mic during times when he might be hugging the parents so I eliminate the rubbing noise during those times. I prefer to switch instead of mix so I never have to kill a camera channel track during editing. It's really a simple setup and once you understand when to turn it on and off it works flawlessly. It's almost like using a field mixer. Notice I said almost.
In any case I can monitor all my audio and again my post work has been minimized.
It works for me but YMMV.
Don
So Don, in essence the wireless is being mixed down into one mono signal, with no switch over noise. This is seamless, and it like running 2 mics into one channel. Am I correct on this?

So channel 2 will be recording 2 different sources to tape, leaving channel 1 free for onbaord ambient audio? Brilliant!
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Old April 29th, 2008, 06:11 PM   #13
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Hi Michael,
Yep, that's about it. I run the 2 wireless to channel 2 of the camera and the on board mic (in my case a Blueline Hypercaroid)to channel 1 of my camera.
HOWEVER, I do use a "Y" cable now so I cancompletely control the 2 wireless. I run the 2 cables from the receiver to the "Y" cable into channel 2 of the camera and then I can turn the gromms mic on and off without affecting the other mic running to channel 2. Previously I would just run them thru the MIX selection of the receiver but I prefer this method at least for now.
Hope that answers the question.
Don
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Old May 1st, 2008, 09:54 AM   #14
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I would be a little nervous about mixing anything beforehand, although I suppose if interference happened you have the ability to just shut off that channel with the Audio Technica's.
I recently did a wedding where I only miced the groom during the ceremony (I know, don't ask) with a Sennheiser ew112. I had a Zoom H2 recorder placed nearby on a table to one side and the Sony FX1's onboard audio from the other side. My wife was at the back with a second cam using a Rode videomic. I scanned and tested the wireless beforehand, but during the ceremony it got really bad interference! I was only about 2 metres away!
BTW I have the wireless receivers going into a Zoom H4 with the XLR inputs.
During the speeches I had a wireless on the groom and one on the father of the bride, again some interference on the grooms mic so I'm glad I didn't have them mixed into the same channel.
Next time I am going to put both wireless mics on the groom.
Live Audio = Stress
Wouldn't it be nice to just have a sound guy? lol
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Old May 1st, 2008, 10:01 AM   #15
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Damian, why the need to place 2 wireless units on the groom?

Why not simply use a wireless and a small audio recorder, and double mic him accordingly for backup purposes.

I shoot weddings at the USNA in Annapolis and wireless isn't aloud in the chapel, no exceptions. I use Edirol R09s and Marantz PMD620 recorders with lavs all of the time and get great results. Yes you can't monitor, but as long as you lock everything down so it can't be switched or turned off, and test beforehand you great great results with no worry of wireless interference.
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