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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old August 3rd, 2008, 01:59 PM   #1
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Getting Started

Hi all:

This is my first post here on the DVI forum. I am extremely new to the videography arena, but a seasoned wedding photographer. We are looking to add video to our arsenal eventually, and I am in the initial stages of researching & planning our business.

A few questions for you guys:

1) Software -- If we are going to be editing on a PC platform, what is the software system of choice? My assumption is that Adobe rules the video world the same way they rule the photography world. Any advice on software?

2) Camera -- We are Canon shooters...the XH-A1 seems to be the camera of choice for many of you. Is this the best all around choice?

3) Flying Gear -- there seems to be two choices for flying...the Glidecam 4000 and the Stedicam system. If budget was not an issue, which one would you choose?

Thanks in advance! I'll have lots of questions for you guys! Thanks for allowing me to join your forum!

~ Charles
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 03:58 PM   #2
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Hi Charles - welcome!

Boy that's a big question you've got there <wink>! You'll find that there are lots of options, and pros and cons of each - probably not dissimilar to the different still cameras and post/editing options.

Budget is a consideration, to some degree... but it looks like you've got a pretty healthy set of choices picked out already.

I'll just toss out what I use...

Sony Vegas 8 Pro for editing - PC based, works for me... it's a tool

Also Sony cameras, work for me, but used Canons and Panasonics once in a while - Sony just works for me, but again, it's just a tool. Panasonic has a new cam coming out that looks pretty sweet too...

Flying gear - I use an agglomeration of various cheap approaches to stabilizing my cameras for motion shots, including an older mini-steadicam copy that is pretty good with smaller cameras handheld (light enough to fly without an arm for short shots, and machined to really tight tolerances!). For a "real rig", I'd go Steadicam with a full vest and arm... if the budget was there...



As far as "add"ing video, keep in mind it's a whole other level and will require some extra bodies running about for a shoot, bodies with some pretty specific skills no less - the tools are about 1/10th of the equation (OK, MAYBE a bit more than that?).
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 04:43 PM   #3
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I'll 2nd Dave. While everything we use is simply a 'tool' it becomes a personal preference.

I too use Vegas, have since version 2 but I've used just about every other NLE out there. I just happen to like Vegas.
As for cameras, I've used 'em all. Pannys,JVC Canon but I'm a Sony kinda guy. Just my preference.

As for flying, frankly if you are going to do that, I would go with something like a real Steadicam. Pilot should do you fine. The GC is a handheld unit and can be very tiresome physically after a while however there is a rather large difference in cost. Also it's a specialty tool that is generally not used for an entire event although I do know people that use them for the entire reception.

Good luck

Don
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 10:45 PM   #4
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Thanks for the welcome Dave!

Yeah -- I realized this was a fairly open ended question, but I figured I had to start somewhere! :-)

Thanks for the recommend on the Sony Vegas 8 Pro software. That is a new one I haven't come across yet. Here is a short list of PC based applications I had uncovered:

Adobe Premiere Pro CS3
Adobe After Effects CS3
Avid Xpress Pro/Media Composer

So adding Sony Vegas Pro 8 to that list...here is a spinoff question:

If you could start over right now with an unlimited budget for hardware & software...would you still be editing on a PC, or would you go the Mac route and use Final Cut Pro?

~ Charles
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 10:48 PM   #5
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Thanks Don! I appreciate the feedback!

WOW -- yes, there is quite a cost differential! I guess that's why the Merlin & GC systems are far more popular.

Have you ever had a chance to use the Pilot system before? Do you know how much of a quality differential there is between something like the GC and the Pilot?

~ Charles

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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
As for flying, frankly if you are going to do that, I would go with something like a real Steadicam. Pilot should do you fine. The GC is a handheld unit and can be very tiresome physically after a while however there is a rather large difference in cost. Also it's a specialty tool that is generally not used for an entire event although I do know people that use them for the entire reception.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 03:54 AM   #6
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Charles, I would download some trials of editing software and see what feels best for you. Only if you want to use FCP the only thing that's left is to buy a mac. Every editing suite has it pro and cons but most professional ones handle the job these days. I use adobe's collection and what I like most about it is how every program interacts with the other. Especially the Encore and Photoshop interaction gives you a lot of designing possibilities to create great dvd menus'.

About camera, actually any HD camera in the prosumer class will do but for each camera you have to consider how your workflow will be and make sure you NLE supports it. Also build or buy your pc after you decided which editing software you choose and follow the specs that are given by the editing software manufacturer. In the SD time it was real easy but now you have so many different formats and each requires a different approach. The xh-a1 does deliver the best bang for buck but expect a steep learning curve, it's not a toy camera. It does have some semi to full auto modes but each with stupid limitations so you have to learn how to operate it manually to get the best from it.

As for flying gear, since your new to it, first walk, then fly. I'd suggest get all the bare essentials like camera, backup camera, pc or mac, editing software, good tripod, good mic for your camera and wireless mic's and get to know your equipment. Once you master all that, then think about flying gear, 35mm adapters or whatever will add value to your image. For starters they do not matter, it's the man/woman behind the camera that will make the difference.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 06:44 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Charles Baisden View Post
Thanks Don! I appreciate the feedback!

WOW -- yes, there is quite a cost differential! I guess that's why the Merlin & GC systems are far more popular.

Have you ever had a chance to use the Pilot system before? Do you know how much of a quality differential there is between something like the GC and the Pilot?

~ Charles
I don't fly-I'm too old for that but I know a lot of people that do and have studied the various units over the years. While Glidecam and others out there are good products they have all copied the Steadicam design in one form or another and the Pilot seems to have become the rig of choice for DV, HDV and HD small form factor cameras. The Steadicam BTW is the original rig. Designed by Garrett Brown and used for H-wood movies begining in 1976. As for other tech questions about flying I would go to the Stabilizer forum and ask Charles Papert (over 20 years as an operator and he's so good he might even make in H-wood one day ;-) ( he has movies and episodic TV to his credit and is most helpful) Charles King from the HBS forum, Mikko Wilson and many other who are professional flyers can answer your questions.
However again it is costly, takes lots of practice and is not necessarily something that would be on the must have list. As Noa said walk before you fly unless it's 100% necessary.

Cameras, audio gear (don't skimp here it's be with you longer than the cameras), software and computer (build it bigger) camera lighting..invest wisely and with care but remember they are only tools.

I came from deck to deck lineal editing and frankly have never been a Mac guy. Nothing wrong with it but I'm far more comfortable on a PC. If you use a PC now for Photoshop work on your stills I would stay with it if you use a Mac now stay with it. ALL of the NLEs today will pretty much do what you need to produce a quality porduct. It's a matter of which one are you most comfortable with.


Don
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Old August 4th, 2008, 06:55 AM   #8
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Only thing I would add to the excellent advice already put forth. Tripod and head. Don't scrimp in this department. Coming from the stills side, you might get sticker shock but believe me, like audio gear, a good counterbalanced, fluid head and sticks will get you through several cameras. Buttery smooth camera moves don't come from cheap heads.

Best of luck,

-gb-
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Old August 4th, 2008, 07:12 AM   #9
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Tripod and head. Don't scrimp in this department.
I own a manfrotto tripod which I"m satisfied about but 2 days ago I was able to test a Miller tripod that cost about 4 times what I paid for my Manfrotto and eventhough the smoothness of my tripod is decent the Miller was far superior. The biggest advantage it had was that you could adjust the tripodhead horizontal separately. On an uneven floor that's quite a timesaver because you don't have to adjust the legheight anymore.
this tripod could give you buttersmooth motion for sure.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 10:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baisden View Post
Hi all:

A few questions for you guys:

1) Software --
2) Camera --
3) Flying Gear -- ...If budget was not an issue, which one would you choose?


~ Charles
1) for the last 8 years I use Vegas, in the PC platform NLE apps it's the best. very easy to check , install CS3, do heavy rendering, check the system resources usage and timing; on the same machine install Vegas, do the same render, check again, and anything I can do In Adobe I can do in Vegas, but faster (except for one thing, quick motion is easier in Adobe, but that's about it))
2) I've always used sony, cameras, starting from PD's and DSR's, I've tried A1 for some time, didn't work for me, went back to sony, I like :), even with that rolling shutter I still prefer sony.
3) it depends on the camera you wanna fly, for smaller cams like A1 hand held Merlin is just perfect, it's small, light and quick to setup, I wish that EX1 would be the size of PD150 so I can fly it on merlin, now I'm using Merlin arm and vest with the indicam sled on it, it's not too bad, but I'm upgrading to Pilot. it's the same rule - you're always get what you pay for;
best of luck,
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Old August 4th, 2008, 10:17 AM   #11
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Thanks Greg -- this is probably a lot different for you guys. We handhold for 99% of our shots, only using tripods in tricky nighttime situations, or in dismal dark churches when we absolutely have to.

That is a great tip!
~ Charles

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Only thing I would add to the excellent advice already put forth. Tripod and head. Don't scrimp in this department.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #12
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Charles - alarm bells are ringing for me because you've said nothing at all about sound. Others here have mentioned it, but you've not yet picked up on it.

A major aspect to video, as you obviously will know! Clearly WAY higher priority than flying gear!
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Old August 4th, 2008, 11:09 AM   #13
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LOL! You are so correct Martin! Flying is way cooler than sound! :-) Just kidding...

In all seriousness, I've heared that Sennheiser is a good choice all around for wireless mics. Any thoughts on that?

~ Charles

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Originally Posted by Martin Mayer View Post
Charles - alarm bells are ringing for me because you've said nothing at all about sound. Others here have mentioned it, but you've not yet picked up on it.

A major aspect to video, as you obviously will know! Clearly WAY higher priority than flying gear!
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Old August 4th, 2008, 12:17 PM   #14
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Senns are good as are Audio Technica and for a bigger price tag Lectros.
I use the AT 1800 series dual channle receiver mic the groom and the lectern and it's never failed me yet. Audio is 70% of what we see so work with whatever audio gear you decide on and get to know it inside and out before putting it into play. Great audio can help make average footage better but bad audio will take the best footage ever and make it bad. (pysiclogical thing)

O|O
\__/

Don
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Old August 4th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Charles Baisden View Post
LOL! You are so correct Martin! Flying is way cooler than sound! :-) Just kidding...

In all seriousness, I've heared that Sennheiser is a good choice all around for wireless mics. Any thoughts on that?
Well, we're a "Sennheiser house" too: the 500G2 series. Not used much else, so can't compare, but remember audio in general it is a more mature technology than video, and so your audio gear will probably outlast a few changes of cameras - so spend wisely (and generously) on audio gear - it will be with you for a long time and not need constant changing (unless you buy rubbish to start with, trying to economize!)

As to the coolest place to spend your money - to rephrase what Don says: Good sound will go almost unnoticed (as clients expect it), and it will contribute to a great result. However, poor sound will instantly brand you as a beginner/amateur.
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