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


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Old October 24th, 2008, 09:37 PM   #1
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advice for an EXTREME newbie

Ok, I'm going to be in my sisters wedding in Dec. so I am having my friends use my cameras to shoot the wedding.

They will be using three sony z1s

What would be your advice to me/them
Keep in mind, these guys are NOT video savvy. I'm pretty sure they understand phrases like Rec. start/stop, zoom, pan, tripod and camera. that's about it.


I'm terribly new to this too, or else I would be full of all kinds of great suggestions ; )

Thanks
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Old October 24th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #2
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Your friends are video newbies and they're using Sony Z1s? Wow.
My first suggestion is to use fluid-head tripods. You will be disappointed with cheap tripods, especially using heavy cameras like the Z1. I would also consider what you are doing with audio. An on-camera mic won't cut it inside a church. I would try to put a wireless lav on the groom, or possibly a lav with an audio recorder. This way you will pick up the groom, bride, and officiant.
I have never done a wedding before, so some others on this board might be better suited to answering the specific concerns of shooting a wedding ceremony. Good luck.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 11:30 PM   #3
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Since they are all total newbies, forget having them try anything creative. Have one of them set for a nice wide shot. Have the other set for a nice closeup of the bride and groom's faces. Have the third get a medium shot of the bride and groom. Instruct them all to get their shots set ASAP and then lock them down. None of them should be trying any creative panning or zooming. Just get the shot set as quick as possible and keep it. The editing will be much easier in post and the result will look much nicer.

If you're feeling adventurous, you could have either the 2nd or 3rd shoot try and get some creative shots, but if they really are total newbies, don't risk it. They'll already have their hands full just operating the camera properly.

Words of advice.

- set up the cameras in advance and preset the focus for each one

- make sure the focus setting is on manual

- preset the white balance and exposure for each camera

- instruct each of them to check the timecode once they push record to make sure they are recording
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Old October 25th, 2008, 12:16 AM   #4
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Those are some great tips!

For audio, Right now I'm shopping for a Sennheiser G2 Lav. mic. which will go on the groom.
I also plan on getting a Sennheiser ME 80 Shotgun, but I'm not sure what camera I should put this on. Also I'm hoping to plug my Zoom H2 into the board if I can.

I don't plan on using anything but then the nicest tripods I can get.

Travis, all of them have shot one or two weddings before. But that's still very new. I really like your Idea about the second and third cameras trying to get some slightly more creative shots. Fortunately, their lack of experience will keep them from trying anything crazy, I would hope.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 02:56 AM   #5
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to repeat something Travis mentioned:


tell them to keep the camera view STILL, i repeat STILL, for the majority of time....what i find with newbies is, they think 'oooh, zoom button, must use that every 2 seconds'

it will drive you crazy in the editing stage!
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Old October 25th, 2008, 11:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Wakefield View Post
to repeat something Travis mentioned:


tell them to keep the camera view STILL, i repeat STILL, for the majority of time....what i find with newbies is, they think 'oooh, zoom button, must use that every 2 seconds'

it will drive you crazy in the editing stage!
Yes. I had this problem with the people helping me tape.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 12:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Richard Wakefield View Post
to repeat something Travis mentioned:


tell them to keep the camera view STILL, i repeat STILL, for the majority of time....what i find with newbies is, they think 'oooh, zoom button, must use that every 2 seconds'

it will drive you crazy in the editing stage!
Cant agree more, people think of video like stills, "Oh, theres the rings being exchanged, ill zoom in and get that". 1 second later they zoom out. its like they think of the zoom as taking the picture. So tell them to leave zoom alone, never use it.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 07:58 PM   #8
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I concur with what everyone is saying - one camera wide in the back, set it for a wide shot, have the operator zoom in once everyone is up front, and out just before the presentation/exit. Even better would be to have a small HD cam AND the z1 with an op.

Second cam is up front, again set it a bit wide and zoom in on the bride for the ceremony. no zoomzoom, just a couple to frame the shots. I've found it's frustrating to have shot too wide a framing - you do need certain critical shots to be tight(er). Zoom with a purpose, but ONLY when absolutely needed, preferably when another cam has the shot/angle so you can cut it in post.

If you've got an operator who is familiar with moving around and getting the tight shots, they should be up front for the procession/handoff portion, then depending on the situation rotating into position to get speakers/groom side vows and rings tight, and out to the back to get the couple leaving.

Have all three ops at the rehearsal, with cameras, so they can walk through the shot sequence and know what they need to be on at each part of the event. That will help make the "live fire" experience a bit easier!

You want the most stable and well framed shots when editing, I use unmanned tripod mounted cams with preset framing/angles so I can work my way around as the ceremony progresses and zoom to pre-chosen framing, and still shoot some handheld... with operators, you could get better or worse results depending on how closely they follow the ceremony and the shot list. With any luck you've got 3 angles (4 if you add a small safety cam) to choose from in editing - you should be covered.

Oh yeah, if anyone is "hand held" with the Z1, be sure they use a monopod or something, or get them a coupon for a chiropractic visit for compensation...
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Old October 26th, 2008, 02:05 PM   #9
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Fortunately, their lack of experience will keep them from trying anything crazy, I would hope.
Never .. EVER .. assume this. I've had 'experienced' operators break my "no zooming" rule. You have to be very clear about what you want, and let them know not to break the rule unless they simply don't have a shot. In my experience the "lack of experience" in a shooter will tend to drive them to zoom and pan and move the camera much more (so they feel like they are doing something), and they will do all of those things badly.
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Old October 26th, 2008, 02:46 PM   #10
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The 1 or 2 weddings they shot, were ones that I did the editing on. So I do have a pretty good feel for how they handle a camera and Believe it or not, it was the people with the most experience that had the worst video, to the point of being mostly useless. The one's that think they're pretty experienced, so they try to get "really cool shots" that really end up looking like crap. But I do really appreciate your point. and I will make it a point to stress minimal (if any) movement.

I am writing down sort or a checklist/how to guide fore them. Mostly just anything that I can think of that they need to do or remember to do. And I have now added that to it.

I'm also trying to come up with a shot list. Any suggestions there?
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Old October 26th, 2008, 04:22 PM   #11
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Hey, even experienced shooters sometimes miss the shot, so that's where I fall back on the unmanned ones - no operator errors <wink>. Main thing is that they understand to frame the shot, and LEAVE IT ALONE unless there's a specific reason for the change.

Shot list...

processional - get enough of each pair bridesmaids/groomsmen that with a little slo-mo youv'e got coverage (and I typically break the zooming rule all over in this segment so as to follow the march...)

Bride coming in and up the aisle... shot of groom reaction 2nd angle

Handoff from FOB to Groom

speakers/readings/musicians where applicable

lock down on preacher for the blah-blah...

tight shots from the sides for vows - close up of B&G

Ring exchange - one tight, one out a bit if you can co-ordinate...

unity candle/mixing sand/first communion if that's part of the ceremony

The kiss

the presentation (Mr.& Mrs....) and the exit.
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Old October 26th, 2008, 04:30 PM   #12
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I agree with Dave. Set the shot and then hands off the camera. A ceremony is NOT the place to try to get "cool" shots. It is however the most important day in the lives of that couple and I have NEVER done a wedding where they said, "Hey do some cool stuff in the ceremony". They want good solid stable footage and good audio. The "cool" stuff comes later.
Now if you've got 4 cameras going and got it covered from all angles and have the opportunity to get some creative stuff without getting in the way of the ceremony fine, go for it otherwise...
Just my opinion

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Old October 27th, 2008, 12:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Dortignac View Post
Ok, I'm going to be in my sisters wedding in Dec. so I am having my friends use my cameras to shoot the wedding.
They will be using three sony z1s
What would be your advice to me/them
Keep in mind, these guys are NOT video savvy. I'm pretty sure they understand phrases like Rec. start/stop, zoom, pan, tripod and camera. that's about it.
I'm terribly new to this too, or else I would be full of all kinds of great suggestions ; )
Thanks
For hte rank newbie camera ops, I would say the instructions to them should be "DON"T TOUCH IT unless something quits working."

With 3 cams, you can get good placements, rehearse with the bridal party where to stand (or more importantly, where not to stand). The cam ops should only be there to try and solve very big problems (like people standing in the way). In that situation I would consider extensive 1 on 1 tutorials with whoever you think is the best and brightest. That will be the person that shoots a only two moving shots... the isle walk up / back.

The other two are to sit behind the camera nad make sure nothign bad happens to their shots. In my setups, cam 2 is wide from the back facing down the isle, and cam 3 is groom side or stationary un-maned looking down the isl from behind the preacher.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 12:56 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
Never .. EVER .. assume this. I've had 'experienced' operators break my "no zooming" rule. You have to be very clear about what you want, and let them know not to break the rule unless they simply don't have a shot. In my experience the "lack of experience" in a shooter will tend to drive them to zoom and pan and move the camera much more (so they feel like they are doing something), and they will do all of those things badly.
The impulse to "do something" is strong in novice shooters. Heck I remember having that problem jsut a few years ago.

Nothing like having to edit the footage you shoot to learn what not to do. If the operators are always AND only shooters (aka they never had to edit their own footage) then they will never learn what not to do. Ok, never is a harsh word, but I just dont' see how stern warnings and admonishments after the fact can substitute for looking at the footage on the timeline and saying "See how you zoomed in here.... so did cam 2..... and cam 3.... do you all know what that means for the final edit.... that I can't use ANYTHING for those 8 seconds..... quit zooming!"

One valuable tool might be some sort of comms system for the ops. If they feel the compulsion to zoom / pan, make them check with the other ops so that only 1 cam is moving at any given time. But that takes some real coordination and I just don't recommend it for newbies.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 07:12 PM   #15
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One valuable tool might be some sort of comms system for the ops. If they feel the compulsion to zoom / pan, make them check with the other ops so that only 1 cam is moving at any given time. But that takes some real coordination and I just don't recommend it for newbies.
I did just purchase some radios from B&H, but I also just stuck them back in the mail cause they were practically worthless, having a maximum 2 hr battery life : /

So I'm currently shopping for more. even if they aren't gonna be zooming or panning or anything else, with the cameras, it never hurts to have communication.
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