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Old August 7th, 2008, 12:50 PM   #1
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Weddings: How intrusive are you allowed to be?

I am not a wedding videographer, and really don't plan on it, but I have a curiosity I hope someone will indulge. I have been wondering about how you set up for filming the actual ceremony.

Assuming the church wedding. If you are shooting let's say 2 or 3 cameras, where do you set them up? Where do you place your mics? And in general, how intrusive are you allowed to be?

For the advanced shooters out there, are you able to put a small camera on a stabilizer and move about the audience? Can you put a tripod somewhere behind the minister/priest and get the over-the-shoulder of the vows? I've seen mention of a dolly, but I couldn't imagine this in an actual ceremony.

I am also curious if you have ever had a couple that wanted a true "Hollywood" type wedding and were willing to go along with the very intrusive nature of fixed mics, and cameras in awkward places. I'd imagine the number of people who would go for that would be incredibly small, but I'm wondering if anyone has had a client like that.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 01:09 PM   #2
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That's really a loaded question ;-) The short answer to 'how intrusive can you be" is this. it depends!
Here's what I mean. 25 years ago when I'd walk into a church to shoot the ceremony they would look at me like I just arrived from another planet. The B&G simply wanted a doco of thier day. Nothing fancy nothing but a straight "news shot". Obviously things have changed over the years but in MOST churches (at least in my area) you are failry restricted as to where you can be and what you can do. This is really up to the officiant but in most cases that I've encountered you can not be on the altar and in many cases you can't even put an unmanned camera on the altar. That really limits your options but here's the thing. If you TELL the B&G up front then there is no expectation for the ceremony other than doing a superb job of documenting it. Of course there are exceptions to every rule (never say never-never say always) I've done outdoor ceremonies on the waterfront where the officiant told me I couldn't be up front to get the processional-the brides mother overheard that and together we had some "words" for the officiant and he did relent-he really had no choice even when he threatened to not do the ceremony (mom didn't care-her brother was a minister and would have gladly performed the ceremony) Video was that important to them.
Camera placement and movement are up to the officiant and frankly I've found MOST Catholic churches and priests to be more open than some other religions. Not all but most. Especially the younger priests. More in tune I suppose. As for moving around during the ceremony again I can only speak of the many many many churches I've been in in my area but most kinda frown upon it. IF you do move it has to be small and non invasive-they don't want people looking at you vs the B&G nor do they want anyone detracting from the ceremony and I can understand that. HOWEVER there are places and time you can move andbe fine. Move down the side aisle when the guests are standing for prayer. I've moved up the center aisle when they are doing that to get the couple giving the flowers to the mothers but it's slow movment. Most people don't even notice. I've shot in places where the officiant says 'hey, if you stand here up front it's a grat shot' and others that have said you can be anywhere just don't get between me and the couple and don't put the camera in my face. OK no problem. Moving around doesn't necessarily give you the best shot, but a 2nd camera on the altar and 1 in the balconey can really help cover some moves and give you something besides the back of their heads. It's a lot of common sense and logic and talking to the officiant or co-ordinator at the venue. Of course it helps when you shoot in the same place 5 or 6 times a year for say about 10 years. They get to know you and know that you will not do anything to purposly detract from the sancticy of the ceremony. After all it is still a religious ceremony.
Anyway that's my look at it YMMV!
OH YEAH!!! Mics. I put a lav on the groom another on the lectern and use a shotgun on my 2nd camera and a hypercaroid on my primary camera. So far I've been blessed with really good audio using that setup BUT it is subject to modification if it's an outdoor ceremony or in a banquet facility or hotelt depending on haw the music and officiants mic are set up. If it's thru a DJs sound board I do things a bit differently. but it all comes out in the wash. Good audio.
Don

Last edited by Don Bloom; August 7th, 2008 at 01:12 PM. Reason: forgot to add
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Old August 7th, 2008, 01:19 PM   #3
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Nice point Don. In Toronto though I find Catholic priest to be stricter than other denominations, I even shot a wedding in my Parish Church and the priest who I know personally, gave me the usual limitations, stay left or right and don't step on the Altar. I make it a point to speak with the priest with the groom present so he knows the limitation and what to expect. A second unmanned camera in the altar would help but then again it is up to the priest.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 01:52 PM   #4
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My goal is to get the best footage possible while being as invisible as possible. The location really helps determine how this works out. Churches tend to be pretty restrictive, but outdoor weddings (most of what I tend to draw) are much more lenient. We have a church in our area that nearly blacklisted me for "leaning" out into the aisle as the bride entered. Later, for another wedding, I was reminded not to "lean".

I can understand not wanting video guys running around drawing all sorts of attention, but when "leaning" to get a shot (which otherwise ends up being a shot of the backs of people's heads) is a problem, I have a problem with that.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 02:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
My goal is to get the best footage possible while being as invisible as possible. The location really helps determine how this works out. Churches tend to be pretty restrictive, but outdoor weddings (most of what I tend to draw) are much more lenient. We have a church in our area that nearly blacklisted me for "leaning" out into the aisle as the bride entered. Later, for another wedding, I was reminded not to "lean".

I can understand not wanting video guys running around drawing all sorts of attention, but when "leaning" to get a shot (which otherwise ends up being a shot of the backs of people's heads) is a problem, I have a problem with that.
Funny they don't allow us to do that but a guest can practically step on the middle of the aisle during the march and block your view without any reprimands.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 02:12 PM   #6
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Funny they don't allow us to do that but a guest can practically step on the middle of the aisle during the march and block your view without any reprimands.
Exactly. Annoying isn't it?
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Old August 7th, 2008, 02:35 PM   #7
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Exactly. Annoying isn't it?

Really annoying, you are practically helpless when they do that.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 03:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
I am also curious if you have ever had a couple that wanted a true "Hollywood" type wedding and were willing to go along with the very intrusive nature of fixed mics, and cameras in awkward places. I'd imagine the number of people who would go for that would be incredibly small, but I'm wondering if anyone has had a client like that.
I had a client that didn't necessarily want a "Hollywood style" video, but rather the bride's mother was legally blind. While the mom was in the front row, she really couldn't see anything clearly. The bride wanted me to capture the ceremony in as much detail as possible so her mom could later watch it by sitting right in front of the television. We actually did shoot on a tripod over the minister's shoulder.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 04:37 PM   #9
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Interesting! I hadn't thought of accessibility issues. That could truly be a lifesaver for someone who is nearly blind or even very hard of hearing.

Maybe I have different sensibilities, but I don't think having a camera anywhere would bother me in my wedding in the least. Nor would I get married in a place that got uptight about it. Not casting aspersions on others, just giving my opinion.

But it sounds as if it's pretty hit or miss what you can get away with. I noticed that you guys have said you lav the groom. No one has mentioned the bride, so am I to assume that micing the groom is enough for you to pick up the vows and such from the bride cleanly?

This stuff is all very fascinating to me.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #10
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in almost every case the grooms mic will get the bride unless she whispers. It will also get the officiant when he stands within a couple of feet of them to do the vows.
Anumber of years ago Idid mic the groom, the bride (her insistance-she was breaking into broadcast news) and the officiant as well as the lectern and even set 2 shotguns by the musicians. Yes I had someone I knew running the mixer but frankly it really wasn't all that much better than what Ido now.
BTW, placing the mic on the bride was a bit of a challenge but she knew what she was getting into and appearently didn't mind me coming in while she stood in her, ahem, undergarments,to place the the body pak and run the mic up thru her bra. The bodypak was fastened to her panties. Thank goodness she wasn't wearing a thong ;-)


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Old August 7th, 2008, 05:21 PM   #11
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I have always had the thought of why can the guests be there but I can't? I'm about ready to go in early set up 2 cameras 1 with the audio and then sit in the pews with my little handycam as a guest. As a guest I can probably get away with more "leaning".
Problem is I'm pretty well known to a lot of churches in the area and they'd blow my cover:-)

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Old August 8th, 2008, 07:30 AM   #12
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So far weve always filmed with one camera on a tripod and one Steadicam, however steadicam footage of the ceremony just doesnt work. Its not a steadicam moment so wil lbe doing all tripod this weekend. No one seems to mind but thats because we were being slow in our movements which si why the steadicam didnt work.

Mic on the groom, captures everything if you have omni directional. Shotgun mic for everything else.

Church of England ceremonys are always REALLY restrictive. No movement, no photos, no noises, no flash from the togs and generally there soooo small you can never get in front of the couple and end up with side and back shots. This weekend may change all that as the groom is an ex-videographer and has planned the day to a T.

We always tell them that the ceremony is not guranteed and we will do what we can with what we get but most just want you there to film the words anyway so audio is a must. We could go handheld and try to blend in but were there with larger cameras with shoe mounted wireless recievers along with all the other gear so we stick out, why not go the whole hog and go steadicam as well.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 03:01 AM   #13
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I had the best experience EVER this weekend.
The couple had a minister from another country flown in, he was super great. The church was T shaped, and a balcony right above the entrace.

So I was alowed unmanned camera on the balcony (where the solist singer was standing, she was super nice), I had my assistant sit to the right 'wing' of the T with a static locked down camera that got a good view of the bride. With my manned camera I was first at the altar, then ran to the back and placed camera on tripod, and during the hymns I ran around right and left sides to capture audience, bride/groom from different angles etc. For mics I had one wireless on the groom, and one on the floor close to the minister.

The final results looks like it is shot with cameras all over the church. Very cool :)

My only problem is that I had a total of 8 minutes to setup the cameras and mics (the couple before realy pushed the limits of time), so I didnt get to whitebalance the cameras, resulting in too far away colours. I might ask for some help in what do do with that, as Im not that good with correcting :(

Besides from being utterly stressed by having 8 mins to mic the groom, altar, placing 3 cameras on tripods while guests walking in, it was a fun experience.

I might also add that I was hired for cermony only, then when I got back home (40 min drive), put kid to sleep I got called by the planners. The bride wanted more video !

So I drove back and taped the reception 'on the fly'. At first dance and cake it was so dark I just had to say 'ok, I need to put on some light here', and turned on on harsh cam 10w light :) It doesnt give the best results, harsh shadows etc, but I got the shots. And noone seemed to be troubled by it. Many even gave some hefty solo dance when the 'spotlight' was onm them :)

Great couple, great evning, just too bad about the color thing
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Old August 20th, 2008, 05:06 AM   #14
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When weve had the WB way off i have yet been able to get it back to how it should be. The colours we wanted simply wernt there. So needed to get a little arty and do some deliberate colour messing. If I dont get a chance to WB with the missus and a piece of paper I just use the brides dress. Better than auto.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 05:56 AM   #15
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Hi Perrone. The happiest thank you messages I've had from the b & g after watching their wedding film always include the words, '...and we didn't even notice you were there'.

I find this quite amazing as I'm everywhere, all the time, non-stop. But of course on their special day they're excited, jubilant, engrossed, and I'm really just a service provider.

So I stick to tripods and long telephotos for as much as I possibly can. I intersperse it with lots of moving wide angle shots as well of course, but back onto the tripod and pick them off from afar is the technique that earns me the most praise.

tom.
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