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


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Old June 2nd, 2008, 01:55 PM   #1
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What would you have done?

So I was shooting a wedding on the weekend. All VERY last minute...got a call on Tuesday prior! As a result I had no itineraries, no idea how the day was supposed to flow etc but Bride kept saying "Oh whatever..." Fast forward to the reception...I knew there were 5-6 speeches but had to be on my toes because they would just begin unannounced to me!

I had just filmed one (Bro of Groom) and ducked into the washroom. As I returned I notice the B&G are getting up to say thier speeches (I guess they needed to speed stuff up). I grab my camera start taping and notice there is FOUR mins left on tape!!!. I always have a cassette in my pocket so I get it ready to insert at a dead moment. I'm down to less than one min of tape, bride makes a joke, during the laugh I switch tape. Bride begins SERIOUS talk about her DAD!!! and I miss the first 3 sentences and catch the "thanks dad" bit!

What would you have done? I've seen photographers who will interupt ANY moment to stage a shot to ensure they don't miss ANYTHING and I think that interfere's with the natural "flow" of the moment and turns the most touching moments (like first dance) into staged theatrics.

So...would you have asked her to pause while you reloaded? I think there is merit to "staging" to ensuring that YOU (and B&G) have a great finished product, but I prefer to let the day unfold naturally while I "document" what occurs. I'm an outspoken, outgoing person so while I am "comfortable" with interupting a speech in front of 260 guests I'm not sure I think it's "appropriate"?

By the way...lesson learned...I will never again shut off the camera before checking the minutes on the tape!!

Any opinions/advice?
Thanks!
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 02:10 PM   #2
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I think it is totally inappropriate and unprofessional to interfere with or re-stage something like this (even though photographers often do). The solution is to have more than one camera and stagger the tape changes, or - IF you can guarantee a total of 60 minutes or less - always start a session like this with a new tape.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 02:28 PM   #3
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This thread will probably be 50 or 60 pages if everyone who has had this happen to them chimes in!

I refuse to stage anything. Most people would understand in a situation like this, honest mistakes can happen.

The first thing I do when I get to a reception...Make real good friends with the DJ. He is the one who can save your butt by slowing things down a little for you.

I very rarely meet with B&G to discuss itinerary and go over the flow of the day. It is what it is and I just have to be on my toes. I admit, my videos may suffer alittle bit because of this, but my theory is most B&G's have enough on thier plate to worry about the videographer. If they want to meet, and find this an enjoyable part of planning their wedding, then I will spend as much time as they want. Every time I have given a client the option to meet or not, they choose not.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 02:53 PM   #4
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if it is only 3 sentences, you take her apart, ask kindly to redo this just for you, looking right in the camera.
you do not even have to say you miss it, but something like "Hey it was very cool, but i am sur your father would appreciate to get that more personnaly, juts talk to the camera like if it would be him, you will see it will be great"
take 1 minute and everybody is happy...
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 03:01 PM   #5
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Times like that would make the thousand or so bucks I'd spend on a CF recording unit for my XH-A1 worth it.

Also, I'd suggest getting a separate audio capture as a back up so in case you get cut off while switching tapes or something, you can cut to reaction shots during that part in post but still have audio.

That Olympus DS-30 discussed in an earlier thread is getting more and more appealing.....
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 03:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Ganglfinger View Post
The first thing I do when I get to a reception...Make real good friends with the DJ. He is the one who can save your butt by slowing things down a little for you.

I very rarely meet with B&G to discuss itinerary and go over the flow of the day. It is what it is and I just have to be on my toes. I admit, my videos may suffer alittle bit because of this, but my theory is most B&G's have enough on thier plate to worry about the videographer. If they want to meet, and find this an enjoyable part of planning their wedding, then I will spend as much time as they want. Every time I have given a client the option to meet or not, they choose not.
I feel the same way. I shoot a few hundred events per year and about 1% of the time I meet the B&G before the event.

The best way to mitigate this IMO is to ask the DJ to hold on for a minute I'm going to take a lea. DON'T let ANYTHING HAPPEN PLEASE! That way the DJ can tell whoever to hold on just a sec until you get back.

All situations are different. I really like the suggestion of asking the bride to repeat the speech in a "more private" way !!! Thats hilarious! Is this something you learned from experience? :)

We can all be Monday morning quarterbacks but since it's over just cross fade and hope for the best :)
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 04:45 PM   #7
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My opinion is that if the B&G were not interested in having a set schedule and weren't interested in keeping you in the loop as to when things were going to happen then it's their own fault. If a DJ was in charge of things (couldn't tell if there was by your post), then you should definitely be talking to him.

As for restaging, I would say don't do it. It's not the real moment and it will NEVER be. The B&G will always know the moment was staged and it will just be a reminder that you missed something. Of course, if the B&G want to restage it, then I guess go for it.

I had a similar situation where there were only supposed to be 2 toasts (best man and maid of honor). I had 25 minutes of tape left and felt I had plenty since individual toasts rarely go beyond 5-10 minutes, and are often more like 1-2 minutes each. Not this time. Both of them ran me about 15 minutes, and then the bride took the mic and talked for 5 minutes, and then the groom took the mic and talked for 5 minutes. I was literally about to run out of tape when he wrapped it up and then the DJ asked if the father of the bride would like to give a toast. He got up to do this and I intercepted him and let him know I need a minute to change tapes. He said okay, then proceeded to start his toast 10 seconds later. I missed the first 30 seconds or so of his toast and just put it in the video that way. B&G never said a thing.

I always want to give an explanation to the B&G for stuff like this but I feel more strongly that if you just don't point out the things you see as negatives then 90% of the time they won't even notice or care.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 04:53 PM   #8
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If I can add something it would be to specifically ask your B&G in a pre-wedding meeting about all of the events and special things that are happening at their wedding. They won't always tell you everything but at least then you have asked and can't be held responsible for not getting something that you didn't know would be happening.

A B&G last year did this to me. They neglected to tell me that they were leaving the ceremony in a cool car that was special to them. I had asked them about this kind of stuff during our final meeting, and they made no mention of the car. It turns out they were still unsure if they were doing it a few days before the wedding.

When they walked of the beach after their ceremony I followed them until they went inside a nearby building. The reception was 25 minutes away and things were starting as soon as everybody drove there, so I had to get packed up quick and take off. As I'm on the beach breaking down a tripod I see the B&G driving through the parking lot in this cool car and I'm like "HOLY CRAP!". I grab my camera and got like a 3 or 4 second usable clip before they disappeared.

Fast forward to a year later (this bride is now an assistant for my photographer wife) and we're driving back from an out-of-town wedding and I'm asking her all sorts of questions about her video to find out what she liked best about it, etc. Anyways, she mentions she wishes there was more footage of them driving away in the car and I'm shocked. I had to tell her I had no idea that was even happening. She thought we just somehow magically knew about it.

That's an example of the 10% where they DO care, and it helps for them to know the truth. It sucks to know that happens with my brides sometimes, but I'd rather not hand over the DVD's to the B&G and immediately start explaining all of the things I didn't like about it, especially when they are probably going to be in that 90% that don't care anyways.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 05:31 PM   #9
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There is a chance that a guest was also taping the speach and as bad as it might be, you could use the video or just audio to fill in the blanks.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 07:42 PM   #10
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I do actually make it a point to befriend the DJ ASAP but ironically in this circumstance he was as indifferent as the B&G. Because he seemed to be an unlikely source of support I even approached the EmCee (Brides brother) and made him aware that I would love a little heads up before anyone gave speeches etc... His response "If you see me heading to the podium, then most likely someone will be about to give a speech". Well alrighty!

For those reasons alone (coupled with the fact that B&G didn't even think they wanted a video until 5 days before the wedding) I am NOT sweatin' it. BUT I wondered how you seasoned Pros would have dealt with it. In reality, you Pro's probably don't find yourselves with 4 mins of tape left in the middle of the Brides speech ;-) lol!!
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 11:07 PM   #11
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Couple grand left over

Sounds like grand ma insisted on getting them a "video" and they could have cared less.

I no longer have tape issues. My problems are much more expensive now:) EX.....

The longer than expected speeches have gotten us all. Dude, I wouldn't sweat it either. Good for you. I know we all want to deliver and impeccable product but as someone mentioned, it is what it is and there is no producer calling out "camera three" when you need to make a move. Do your best and thats it.

I had to splice a bunch of audio of LONG speeches which were mostly in russian! on a two cam shoot and one of the cams had audio problems! This was a big one too. :( FYI I don't speekedy russian.

I guess we all live and learn.
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 12:59 AM   #12
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What you did was as good an insinct as any, but note that you can often get a couple extra minutes when the tape meter says you're almost out. If you'd left the camera running you would have gotten the bride's next remark, and then maybe you'd have gotten a better transition moment. Having a second camera and/or separate audio recorder would be a good idea to help avoid this in the future.
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Old June 4th, 2008, 11:07 AM   #13
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Even if you're shooting by yourself, another camera even with a static wide shot is priceless, it enables you move around when you need to and not be perfect all the time... those long speeches can ruin a good day!
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Old June 6th, 2008, 01:09 PM   #14
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Well, this thread hasn't yet gone to "50 or 60" pages, but who knows...? I've read thru all the responses so far and can relate to them all. Early on in my "wedding career " I had asked a DJ to inform me before any toasts were made. He said he would. Later, I told him I was headed down the hall to the Men's room, and asked him to not allow anything to start until I returned. He said he would. Upon my return, the best man was in the middle of his toast. He finished the toast before I could even get the camera up to my shoulder. I promptly called him into the hallway and explained what happened, asking him to repeat himself as best he could...everything worked out fine...

These days, I'm better "tuned-in" to what's going on at the reception, but sometimes I feel like it's someone's personal task for the day to try and throw this old videographer a curve ball! Seriously! It seems like it's intentional sometimes!

Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to re-create a missed toast, and I won't hesitate to stop everything while I change a tape if the toasts go extra long. Really, what are people going to remember most about the wedding day? It'll be what gets captured on tape, and what they see on that DVD over and over throughout the years.

More to the point, I'd probably have been changing the tape as I ran back in from the john, while shouting, "Don't start yet, I've gotta change tapes!" (big grin goes here)

Mark
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Old June 8th, 2008, 02:37 AM   #15
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my possible solutions:
-get tested for ADD
-quit hitting on chicks
-lay off the sauce while on the clock (thats what the dj is for)
-do your job, pay attention, quit slackin'
-roll constant audio
-the world doesn't revolve around you, get over yourself, you are nobody special. the dj runs the show, not you. if hes ready to do the toast, then you damn well better be too

j/k! sounds like you handled it as professionally as possible. i can certainly relate to your frustration... i hate when my performance suffers due to the lack of attention of details by others. lessons like these are the ones that teach you to stay prepared for situations outside of the norm, prevent them from happening in the future, and how to better deal with them when they arise.
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