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


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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:16 PM   #1
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Big Time OOPS

I was capturing some footage from a recent wedding today and noticed something that is a major problem. Right before everyone starts coming down the aisle, the groom's mic cuts out never to be heard from again. Normally this isn't a HUGE problem as we plug into the soundboard, but at this particular little old Catholic church, there was nothing to plug in to. The rear camera is too far away to catch anything of use from the vows and now I'm at a complete loss about how to handle this situation. We do have a CYA clause in our contract about gear failure, but that's just to keep from being sued, it's not like pointing out this clause will smooth things over with the client. Any good ideas?
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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:25 PM   #2
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If you don't have any audio at all....your scr*wed.

Does the church record the service, was anyone else filming with a handheld. Did you have any radio mics, mini-disc...anything.

Surely, the rear camera can yield something? You could run it through Sound-Forge and maybe get something useable?

If not........learn from this mistake.

Next best is to get them to re-do it, preferably in the church, Write their lines out, then get them to re-do just the vows. The rest of the ceremony, you could maybe cut to some hymns culled from a previous video?

Alternative No 2 is to see if they fancy the humorous route and go for the badly dubbed Japanese movie version.


This could so easily be quite a few of us. Sorry it was your turn for the Bad Luck Fairies!
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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:39 PM   #3
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RULE TO LIVE BY
ALWAYS MONITOR AUDIO!

During the Ceremony my headphones NEVER leave my head.
I always split the audio such that one channel is wireless on Groom and the other is camera shotgun. That's why cameras that can handle two separate audio inputs are important.

Even with a single input camera, had you heard the audio cut out you could have pulled the cable out of the input jack causing the camera to go back to the built in mic.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:40 PM   #4
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I like Alastair's Japanese suggestion...

But really, that sucks for you.

Your front camera was recording audio only from the wireless? Usually you would have a second channel available that would have got ambient sound from a shotgun or something. You might be able to get that to work.

You could ADR just the vows.

OR have them record their vows, not trying to match what happened, and use that as a voiceover to an edited down version of the ceremony with music underneath.

Hope you get out of it okay...
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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:57 PM   #5
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We've done 50+ weddings and this has never been an issue before. Nice time to have a wake up call. Geesh.
I was on the front cam with our trusty wireless plugged in. Like I said origionally, the audio was there at the beginning. What I usually do is monitor the audio right after I begin rolling and if I've got the groom I tend to unplug the headphones cause I don't like a lot of extra stuff hanging off me while I'm shooting. Looks like I'll leave them in from now on.

The front camera was an FX7, so there's no second ambient track to fall back on. As long as the mic is plugged into the 1/8" jack, the on-board mic is disabled. Looks like the wireless is going to be on the rear cam from now on.

The church does not record, like I said in my origional post, they didn't even have a sound board to plug into. There was no way to get audio from their house system. It was a simple old Catholic church with no modern anything. We usually do plug my trusty old MD player into the house sound, but nothing here.

Someone asked about running the rear cam through Sound Forge. The problem with that is the groom was the shy type and pretty much wispered his vows. I can get something out of the bride, but the groom is hopeless.

The voiced over vows might be an option... I'll try to exhaust everything else first. We'll figure out a technical way around this, I was just wondering how to handle the client. Anyone else ever run into this problem? How did you handle the client?
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Old August 16th, 2007, 01:57 PM   #6
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First of all, did the mic go bad or did it just "cut out". In other words, if you fired up the mic right now would it work? The reason I ask is because if the mic just plain broke, then I would explain that to the couple. Certainly they will still be disappointed, but it helps your case because you can't predict a mic failure.

However, if the mic just cut out, then it's probably done it before . . which means you knew about the issue and didn't provide for an alternative. In this case, you can still approach the client with an explanation that your equipment failed, but you should also consider giving them a substantial discount in my opinion.


I would highly recommend investing in much better wireless mics, or going with digital voice recorders (this is what I do). DVR's are nice because they free up your cameras to record additional audio. Some would say that the downside is that you can't monitor them. But really, if your mic goes out in the middle of the ceremony are you going to stop the ceremony? Nope. So being able to monitor your mic is only somewhat useful at a wedding in my opinion.

Sorry about your troubles. I know how it is to be in your situation, and it's not fun at all.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 03:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
First of all, did the mic go bad or did it just "cut out". In other words, if you fired up the mic right now would it work?
The mic worked just fine the following week for another wedding so it must have been a battery problem. I've been using rechargable batteries and my guess is that they've reached the end of their service life. I rotate sets of batteries for each job and I'm guessing that set is no longer holding a charge. It held one long enough to power up and work for a few minutes but then cut out. Thats my best guess at this point. Yet another lesson learned here, DON'T USE RECHARGABLES.
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
However, if the mic just cut out, then it's probably done it before . . which means you knew about the issue and didn't provide for an alternative.
Hmmm... maybe I'm in a bad mood because of my current situation, but that sounds a bit accusatory to me, especially if you don't know my gear. Which leads me to my next gripe
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
I would highly recommend investing in much better wireless mics
I use Lectrosonics mics. How much better do you want me to get?

But you do make a good point that I've been toying with anyway. And I quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
or going with digital voice recorders (this is what I do). DVR's are nice because they free up your cameras to record additional audio. Some would say that the downside is that you can't monitor them. But really, if your mic goes out in the middle of the ceremony are you going to stop the ceremony? Nope. So being able to monitor your mic is only somewhat useful at a wedding in my opinion.
point well taken. I might end up going this route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
Sorry about your troubles. I know how it is to be in your situation, and it's not fun at all.
No, it's no fun at all. Especially when you've worked hard to brand yourself as "professional" and "higer end". It's not easy to save face in a situation like this.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 03:27 PM   #8
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I sincerely apologize if I came across as "accusatory" at all. That was not my intent.

You're right that I don't know your gear or history or anything, which is why I was providing "if's". Lectrosonics are pretty darn good, so it sounds like you've got that covered. When I used wireless mics, I bought new batteries for every wedding just to avoid the issue you had. I did that because I learned some lessons the hard way while running sound for a church using rechargables. Sounds like you've learned that lesson now too. It sure does suck to learn things the hard way.

Anyways, I was just trying to help and I'm sorry if I offended you at all. I just know that plenty of videographers cut corners, and may ignore an issue and then have it come back to bite them. IF that was your case, then I was suggesting you compensate the couple appropriately. It sounds like it was NOT the case, so you can ignore that part of my previous post. Thanks.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 03:29 PM   #9
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Hey Ethan, I have had my share of audio problems. Just read my posts. I feel for you dude. I had a wedding where I had audio from 5 sources and two of them degraded on me at the point (one of my Irivers got turned off and I ran into some weird wirless issues.) If you want to post what ever audio you have, maybe a short clip, I'll hack at it.

Just so you know, now I grab audio from two digital recorders, a wireless mic, and I run a shotgun on a boom to the front, from the front camera.

I like the overlay of vows with music solution, you could add some reverb to the voices to give them that 'soap opera' audio. Thanks for sharing your story though.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 07:08 PM   #10
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Travis,
I think I was a bit touchy after my troubles. Another lesson learned today is that I shouldn't shoot back with a knee jerk response when I'm agitated. You were just trying to offer your help and I responded harshly. My mistake. I really do appreciate the help.

Steven,
I'm basically going to have to go with whatever audio the rear camera picked up on this one. If there is anything at all from the groom I'll send it your way. From my very short test today I'm not sure there's anything of his vows to work with.

Any good ideas of how to make that work? I have ambient from the priest and bride (she was talking louder than the groom) but I'm pretty sure the rear cam didn't pick anything up from the groom. I'm leaning towards the idea of having the couple voice themselves over, but I'd love to avoid bringing the problem to their attention if at all possible.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 07:25 PM   #11
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Travis,
I think I was a bit touchy after my troubles. Another lesson learned today is that I shouldn't shoot back with a knee jerk response when I'm agitated. You were just trying to offer your help and I responded harshly. My mistake. I really do appreciate the help.
No problem. Like I said, I know what it's like to be in your position, and it's rough. Best of luck to you in achieving a good resolution to the problem.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 07:42 PM   #12
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Take a peek at the footage of the audience and see if there happened to be an 'Uncle Bob' filming the wedding for posterity -- you might be able to get the tape. I'm sure the audio would suck, but its obviously better than nothing.

At my brother's wedding, the still photographer had some screw-up with his digital memory card and lost everything. Quite ironic, since my brother happens to be a professional photograher, and at least 4 other photographer friends were in attendance that day, but none bothered to take pictures.

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Old August 16th, 2007, 07:59 PM   #13
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Hi Ethan,

My worst problem with audio has been a couple getting married on a yacht club balcony in a high wind blowing away from me and large sea hitting the wall behind the couple. A lapel mic was useless, just blew out in the wind, so all I had was a shotgun from ten feet.

The audience and the photgrapher standing next to me didn't hear the vows at all, and all I got was the sea spray noise and the celebrant, who had a PA, but didn't point his mic at the couple for their vows. (Yeah well....)!

Point is, I said to the couple that I wanted to do something extra for them, free of charge, to make their video memorable to them, and I wanted them to come to the studio and do a voice over dubb of their vows, just like the movie stars do!

They did it, it didn't take long, and their parents were so delighted because no-one in the audience heard the vows either!

Just a thought to help.

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Old August 16th, 2007, 08:06 PM   #14
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Looks like the voice over idea is picking up steam. It seems like the best idea so far, other than having to bring it to their attention that something went less than perfect. I might just have to get over the idea of admitting a mistake to them and do the over dub of audio.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 08:06 PM   #15
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I'm leaning towards the idea of having the couple voice themselves over, but I'd love to avoid bringing the problem to their attention if at all possible.
You could always present it to them as a cool and different way to edit their ceremony. Call them up and tell them you are trying a new short-form ceremony montage with music and voice over, and you would like to use THEIR wedding, yes, THEM, for your new short-form ceremony demo. You are sure that this style will be the new rage....

Why call them up to say you screwed up, and could they please help you out?

Of course, if they say no, you are back to square one.

As well, you don't need to present it as a disaster they will be angry over, ask you for discounts, etc.

If you want to be straight with them, just say the ceremony audio didn't work out as you hoped, and you would like them to do some ADR. There is no additional charge, of course, because you want them to have the best possible video.

Never tell them you screwed up and need to have your bacon pulled out of the fire. You're begging for them to badmouth you for years. There is always a positive solution for everyone if you look for it.
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