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


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Old June 3rd, 2007, 01:09 PM   #1
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My first wedding - buckle up!

The setup - I was filming as a favor for my boss, it was his friends wedding. They asked only for the shot of them going to the podium, other than that, do what I want. I arrived there and had to setup 3 cameras, H1,A1, and a small panasonic. I had 'help' on the H1, but she had no clue how to use it. It was up to me to try and figure out what was going on, and who anyone was as there were no introductions or anything. Luckiy I made friends with the photographers right off the bat. I eventually ran into the co-ordinator about 10 minutes before showtime, and she told me what was going on. It left little time to finish scenery shots, and before I knew it the grooms men were halfway to the podium (no music cue, no verbal cue, they just came out). Horrifed I spun around and saw the bridesmaids ready to come down the hill. I rushed over to a prethought out spot and started filming (I hope) I wish i had brought my glidecam but i already had 3 cameras to worry about. The panasonic was set up to film the brides friend who would sing as she came down. As i followed the bride and her father with a panning, (it looked great) i realized i wasn`t recording :( I also realized I had been shooting with +12 gain from a previous day using the camera. Holy nightmare batman! I did my best to set the cameras up for the vows, though I know none of them picked up the audio (it was outdoors with no mics, and we don`t have any lavs at work). As the groom said I do, the photographer was right in the way of my groom camera....another important shot.....gone. After that they went over to a reception hall. The H1 went home with the girl using it at that point, so I only had 2 cameras and tripods and access. to worry about. After moving all
of the 40 lbs of stuff in one go, I noticed the bride and groom and family went by the water for pictures. I quickly ran down there to get some footage. I learned that from there on i should shadow the photographers. It was very hectic and very tiring. I got some decent shots there. Then on to dinner. I was filming the toast handheld, and was late to the start of it (since they moved everyone important from one side of the hall to the other, i had to push through the crowd. So I was still behind a few people and filming over a womans shoulder...she turned her head right into the camera! And her hair got stuck in the screw for the hood! Catastrophe! So that was the third
most important shot ruined. By now I was feeling defeated. After that was the easy stuff...just filming a bunch of people dancing footage, and that was the whole wedding...no cake, no other formalities. After a bunch of dancing I packed up.

Things I learned :

Always meet with the bride and groom and/or wedding coordinator so you know whats going on and you can plan how to capture the moments.

Pack light, take only what you need to survive.

Have a partner that knows what they are doing. For a first wedding I`d strongly advise being a videographers assistant so you learn the ropes. Diving in head first hurts.

I understand why they usually set a day aside for videography now. Theres no time for setting up shots on the frantic wedding day.

Be in shape. Good thing I`ve been going to yoga and the gym. I did alot of running up and down hills with the tripod and camera, that alone is good for a day in the gym.

Pay attention to detail. I was so tied up in trying to get the shots perfect that I overlooked the obvious smaller things like +12 gain right on the display, as well as not noticing it was in pause mode as the bride walked by.

Firestores are tricky. They don`t always record when you push record. Need to train the eye to need the red record lamp before concentrating on anything else.

Have fun! I did have a great time, the photographers were a huge help, very accomodating and friendly. Enjoy capturing other people in their moments of joy and you yourself will have joy.

And most of all, if your doing a wedding as a favor, don`t expect it to be gold, especially if its your first wedding :| I am a perfectionist trying to be more leniant, its hard, but what happens happens and you can only do so much with what your given. I`ll be praying when I get to editing that I`ll have enough decent footage to make the video worth remembering. Here`s hoping!

*add-on* I just realized I recorded the wedding over my auditions i held last week for fighters for a short film I`m making.....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooo!
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 03:31 PM   #2
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and this is why i no longer do free weddings or "favors" for the friend of my second cousins mothers daughter-in-law. everything typically goes completely wrong and the non-paying client is expecting the best. each free wedding that i have ever done as ended with the friend or family member being upset that i didn't do this or i wish you would have gotten that shot. and they always bring up "well we did give you a thank you gift card". Well a $50 gift card to Best Buy is definitely not worth a full days work or countless hours editing.

Nathan - sorry you had to learn the hard way, but we've all been there. Weddings are a brutal business but it sounds like you are on the right track
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 04:38 PM   #3
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Welcome to the wonderful world of wedding video... not for the faint of heart (or the out of shape)

I think a lot of people underestimate what it really takes to document a wedding fully. On the flip side, you can do a lot of creative cutting to do a short form video that ain't bad. If you're lucky, you'll be able to pull a rabbit out of your hat in post!

I start my cameras early now, as long as I know the wedding isn't a long one - better to set them running and get SOMETHING that have the whole thing start (haven't yet gotten the 2 minute warning I always ask for...) and be scrambling to get the cameras going. This also is why going to the rehearsal is REALLY a good idea - this is a time when you can iron out they bugs and camera positions and everyone is a bit more relaxed (and you might get invited to the dinner <wink>). The wedding day is NOT the time to figure out the whole deal, at least not the first few times - everyone is on edge, distracted, and pretty much concentrating on OTHER things - this is where the "video guy/gal" has to be focused on THAT element and think through as much as possible in advance. Otherwise, you'll learn a lot from the experience, most of it knocking your self confidence down to about nothing... sounds like you managed to tough it through, so ya did good!

FWIW, I prep my gear the night before (and I may have shot some stuff at the rehearsal...), AND double check it right before I head out - batteries charged, camera settings set the way I want them, tapes cued and a brief segment recorded/played back to ensure against a bad tape. And I pack one smaller box with the main gear, a fanny or belt pack for the backup batteries and tapes, etc., and another box for the "wish I broughts", just in case. If I need something hopefully I can make a run and grab what I need.

Hope you find good stuff in the edit - I usually am pleasantly surprised when it's all said and done, and creative editing can do wonders - you'll know you nailed it when you it sends that little shiver down your spine as you play it back - if you've got a couple of those, your boss should be happy!

DB>)
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Old June 4th, 2007, 12:17 PM   #4
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Noooooooo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Quattrini View Post
*add-on* I just realized I recorded the wedding over my auditions i held last week for fighters for a short film I`m making.....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooo!
And there is another item to add to the checklist.... always use a brand new tape for each wedding. First off it virtually eliminates the chances that the tape will be worn out. Secondly it assures you that you aren't eliminating prior footage.

I think you did get a pretty unlucky deal with all the things that went wrong. Hopefully this doesn't turn you off to filming weddings, but it does sound like an all-inclusive crash course in what to expect.

Jason
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Old June 4th, 2007, 12:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Quattrini View Post
So I was still behind a few people and filming over a womans shoulder...she turned her head right into the camera! And her hair got stuck in the screw for the hood! Catastrophe!
Geez, I hope that's on video.

As other's will attest to, this is by far one of the most challenging businesses. Many people are so used to crappy video done by someone who just bought a three pack of VHS tapes down at the CVS store, that they really don't realize the complexity and challenges in this business.

We have all been where you are at some point, we've all had our Holy crap, I can't believe it moments. But as mentioned before, this business is not for the faint of heart. You do, you learn and you do better the next time.

May the swartz be with you.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 01:33 PM   #6
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Nathan, congrats on surviving your first wedding shoot. That ends the terrifying part. Now you get to edit the footage and face the frustrating part. You'll ALWAYS find that you needed "just one more clip" when you get to the edit bay.

Lots of good tips in the above posts. One thing I always do is attend the rehearsal. On wedding day, things never go exactly like they did in the rehearsal, but it helps to have a general idea of where to place the camera. It never hurts to have an alternate location picked for your shots, either. I'll write this info right on the wedding program so I know where to go and when. Then - if possible - I'll stick around after the rehearsal or get to to the wedding early enough to do a "dry run" a couple of times. You need to remember your locations. It just doesn't look professional to pull out your program and read it while the ceremony is going on.

Just remember; you'll see your mistakes and places where the results don't match up with what you visualized. Your client will see that their special day has been captured on video. They have a lot of emotional stock in the day, so they will see past many - if not all - of the minor technical problems that are readily apparent to you. This is no excuse to give a bad product though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post

...creative editing can do wonders - you'll know you nailed it when you it sends that little shiver down your spine as you play it back...

DB>)
You got it, DB. You get the music and visuals mixed just right and it's amazing. Music swells as they kiss. Pushed whites with diffusion/glow running at 80% speed. Gets 'em every time. ;)
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Old June 4th, 2007, 08:55 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the insight. It was what it was, and I did what I could with what I was given. I mostly highlighted my goofs, but there were plenty of fun times to be had as well...I had typed a much more balanced post of good/bad but the forum refreshed for some reason and deleted everything I typed originally, so my second go was an abbreviated more angry version haha. I saw so many things that I could improve if I ever do it again, top of the list, having a partner with a clue. Right there everything is cut in two. As for the tape, I had my firestore with me, but I had started using the tape and decided why not use it up before having to strap the firestore to my side. Oops. Funny what 90 degree sun and a little overtiredness can do to a brain ;) We`ll see how the footage turned out, there may still be hope ;)
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Old June 28th, 2007, 05:03 PM   #8
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heres the trailer

This is the best of the best of this day. Hope you all enjoy it, feel free to critique too ;)

http://www.kiukle.com/temp/shortwedding.wmv
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Old June 28th, 2007, 10:36 PM   #9
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Beautiful video, especially for a first time edit. Nice work. The only suggestion I would offer at this point would be to try and bump the contrast and saturation in some of the shots to get more impact.

Oh, and the first rule of thumb for doing weddings is that SOMETHING will always go wrong. The more experience you get the less of those "somethings" you'll have per wedding and the less problematic the "somethings" you do have will be. Good luck.
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Old June 29th, 2007, 01:08 PM   #10
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Well done

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Originally Posted by Nathan Quattrini View Post
This is the best of the best of this day. Hope you all enjoy it, feel free to critique too ;)

http://www.kiukle.com/temp/shortwedding.wmv
The problems of the day are NOT noticeable to me! Well done. The usual technical questions follow.... What editor? How did you do the "still pictures" with white frames? Was that key framed or part of an effects package?

Looks good!

jason
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Old June 29th, 2007, 02:21 PM   #11
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Thanks Jason. It was edited all with Premiere Pro 2.0. The snapshots were done by exporting the frame, taking it in to Photoshop, reduce to %93 size and add white border...then by bumping up/down (with keyframes) the levels > RGB White Input Level. I would like to find better music for it, but I don't know of any free music to use of the romantic kind.
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 09:01 AM   #12
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Nathan,
Nice video. I recognized the track from Freeplay music - nice selection.
The photo effect was nice - a bit too fast at the end. That could also be done easily in After Effects, and since my editor is slow and I don't have Premiere, that's how I'd do it.
How did you make the flash - was that just pumping up the gain?

Thanks
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 03:15 PM   #13
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yea the 'flash' was made by increasing/decreasing the levels > RGB White Input Level. I finished the DVD, cd label, and case insert...its off to the bride and groom...hope they like it! And thanks to everyone who helped me out.
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 08:17 AM   #14
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That was a rough way to get into the business, but when looking at your film it turned out allright. You"ll notice that when you are doing more and more weddings you get to anticipate what will happen. Allmost every wedding here in Belgium follows the same tradition so I allready know in advance when it's time to open the eyes in the back of my head. :)

I think you have rehearsals you can attend, no? That's something we don't have here and would make things easier. I allways go into all the weddingdaydetails with the couple a week before the wedding and I allways talk to the photographer en coordinator at the beginning of the day to know what is planned and from there on it's a lot of improvising.

I started with weddings in 2005 and still like doing it, I even like it when it gets hectic because it gives a real adrenaline kick and when you are at my age that makes you feel 20 years younger. :) But on the other side I'm like a small kid who can't wait to open his christmas present when I"m capturing my footage. I don't know how it is in the US but here we can put whatever kind of music on the wedding video and that makes a big difference if you are editing a fotoshoot on a song of U2 or something similar. That's when all the real fun starts. Just make sure to keep that enthusiasm and whenever you make a mistake, learn from it and move on and you"ll get there.
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