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


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Old August 12th, 2008, 05:27 AM   #1
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Question to all who use XH-A1s at Weddings

I don't want to pester just Patrick with this question :) , and in actual fact i'd love to know answers from lots of people in the industry!

I've shot so many weddings in Auto mode for most of the day with the XH-A1, i'm not afraid to admit it. Obviously I have the odd tweak of manual functions when need be.

But the ability to get better footage by knowing the camera's technical capabilities can be beneficial, e.g. for dimmly lit churches (gain settings, shutter speed, aperture, WB etc etc etc).

So how do you all tend to shoot? Any preferred settings or rules? Auto or Manual?
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Old August 12th, 2008, 06:02 AM   #2
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Richard - I wince when you tell me you shoot weddings in auto - really I do. OK, as a one-man-band there's a limit to the disciplines you can keep under manual control, but auto exposure? Nevernevernever.

The white dress will under-expose her face, and even more so if she's dark skinned. His dark suit will over-expose his face. The huge windows behind the best man as he speaks, the sky above the church's bell tower, the chrome glinting off the limo's trim, the white iced cake on the silver tray, the white girl in white dress getting out of a white Rolls Royce that's fitted with white-walled tyres.

How does your auto exposure cope with that little lot? I can tell you - by constantly jiggling about with the iris blades in an effort to feed those chips a constant dose of light it levels the playing field, but at huge visual cost. This isn't what life's about. It's dynamic range that keeps your movie visually and audibly interesting.

tom.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 06:49 AM   #3
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Tom: sorry, before you assume the worst of me, i DON'T rely on AutoExposure...it's the one thing i'm constantly looking at and manually changing....

i basically film in Auto Mode, but alter things as and when i need be (maybe this is wrong and i should stay in Manual?). my question is, what do others do?
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Old August 12th, 2008, 07:05 AM   #4
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The A1 is not a good auto camera. I shoot manual all the time but you can shoot in TV or AV mode. i always have my auto gain off and i set my gain from -3 to 12, i don't go above 6. other than that it is a fab camera.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 07:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Wakefield View Post
i basically film in Auto Mode, but alter things as and when i need be (maybe this is wrong and i should stay in Manual?)
Er - you mean the focus, white balance and audio levels are left to the automation and the shutter speed, gain and iris are locked down good 'n' proper? In which case I forgive you :-)
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Old August 12th, 2008, 07:29 AM   #6
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Always lock shutter speed and exposure in the church as well as white balance each camera. You know when you have forgotten to lock exposure and you move the camera to a window and........well you know!

I use exposure controls as often as I can but do get caught from time to time when I have much to think of.

I nearly always use manual focus.(Very rarely leave it in auto) for me it opens up the creative and artistic shots which I like to get while moving and pulling and shifting focus from one point to the next. something I missed with the flycam!!!

I also go manual with audio and monitor audio through headphones.

I believe the sooner you can go fully manual the quicker you will see the difference and your camera will become your best friend!

Cheers,

John De Rienzo
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Old August 12th, 2008, 07:41 AM   #7
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Alright John

I do all the things you list there, so maybe i shouldn't say i'm mostly filming Auto! :)

In Auto Mode I continually override auto-focus with manual to be creative, and lock exposure, change white-balance etc.

I'm trying to find out what people do as habit? A mixture of modes (TV, AV, Auto), or stick to one, or...?
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Old August 12th, 2008, 08:15 AM   #8
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As you know were running FX1's but they all have the same features.

Full manual most of the time but never full auto. Not sure how much control you have on the Canon's as the FX you can go full auto, full manual or choose which bits the camera controls and which bits you have.

FX1's have the abilty to set an A and B whitebalance so we do one for inside the venue and one for outside so we can quickly switch. We always whitebalance both cameras against the same piece of paper in the same location. If were stuck we use the brides dress. As long as there both the same its easier to fix later.

Manual iris as it often under exposes to compensate for her dress. In the church unless its sunny always full open f1.6.

Gain, always always try and avoid it if possible. It makes everything so grainy and you can get away with shutter speed and iris. Its not until it gets dark the FX1's need some and by tthat point its going to make it grainy no matter what.

Manual audio. Find a nice setting without too much hiss and so their levels are high and lock off.

Shutter speed. Now this is a good one. Normally lock it off at whatever you need to but on days where the suns in and out I tend to lock everything else off but set the shutter speed to auto and let this control the light.

Focus, always manual. To focus I tend to zoom right in and use the 'Push Auto' button. This nearly always finds the focus and then release, locked off. Why the zoom? You zoom out and focus manually or using the same tequniue, looks ok. zoom in and you will see its not as sharp as it could be.

When using the glidecam I may go auto if Im doing a shot which goes from one focal point to another but often its a moving around glide and pull away so the fixed focus will do.

In dim church
f1.6, no gain, shutter speed 50
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Old August 12th, 2008, 09:05 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=Danny O'Neill;919541]Manual iris as it often under exposes to compensate for her dress. In the church unless its sunny always full open f1.6. Shutter speed. Now this is a good one. Normally lock it off at whatever you need to but on days where the suns in and out I tend to lock everything else off but set the shutter speed to auto and let this control the light./QUOTE]

OK Danny - if you need f/1.6 in the church for correct exposure it means you can't use the zoom at all - and this must be pretty limiting picture-wise. At full tele it would give a picture a good 1 stops under-exposed - not good.

Next point - if you don't have the shutter speed (1/50th) visible in the v'finder then the camera will vary the shutter speed to control exposure - i.e. you'll be in auto-exposure mode and will suffer the same problems of under-exposure of the white dress and so on.

tom.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 09:42 AM   #10
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I could go into all the tiny specifics about why and how I shoot on certain modes, but with weddings especially, there are so many different circumstances, cases and situations that can really change those at any time. For the most part, I shoot M: manual and leave it on there all day. This gives you sooo much control and believe me, if you start using it, you'll learn a lot, a lot faster. You have so much more control over every aspect and it may seem like a large order to be constantly monitoring each setting all day, but it will become natural and second nature if you make yourself do it. Then, of course, you'll start producing much better images overall..making every shot count and not relying on the camera hoping that it will choose the right settings for you.

Just my 2 cents..good luck!!

Matt
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Old August 12th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #11
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Also worth mentioning richard is here in the UK so we have clouds, sun, clouds, rain, sun, blinding sun, clouds, rain.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 11:13 AM   #12
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cheers Matt, that's the sort of answer i think i wanted to hear...i'm making an executive decision then to start using this camcorder in full Manual, and learn it inside-out!

like the clips on your site btw
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Old August 12th, 2008, 11:52 AM   #13
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If you shoot run 'n' gun stuff Richard (and I include all sorts of event video in this) there are limits to what a human being can keep tabs on. Of all the auto facilities on your camera I'd say that it's the auto exposure that makes itself most obvious, so lock that down.

Now the focus. It's ok to let the camera find focus in its auto mode (and the Z1's 'focus assist' is a boon at such times) but good to lock it once the camera's found it. The auto focus will always turn the right way, will never need to rock 'n' roll like you will.

Then there's the white balance. So easy to set indoor or outdoor, so only worth manually setting it in difficult (marquee) situations.

The auto facility that's least likely to be noticed is the audio. With a limiter in place it's the one discipline that I'm happy to leave to the automation, especially if I'm composing the shot, choosing the focal length, checking the zebras and the focus, switching the NDs in and out and making sure I don't drop to smaller apertures than f/5.6.

tom.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 12:11 PM   #14
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Tom, great tech talk!.

Bottom line is get to know your camera inside out. Know where every button is and what it's used for so you don't have to fumble trying to find it mid shot.

This will become second nature in time with practice, and the benefits gained, as well as the expereince and joy in getting that sweet shot is worth it.

Cheers.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #15
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If I am moving around a lot I put the camera in TV mode.

I keep the exposure lock on all the time (so it is effectively in manual mode) except when I want to change the exposure. If I push the exposure lock button the camera goes into auto exposure; another push and it goes back into manual (I picked this idea up off DV Info but can't remember who posted it).

I keep the focus in manual and use the push autofocus button to focus.

I always white balance manually.

If I am using a Steadicam Merlin I put it all in auto.
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