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


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Old January 8th, 2009, 04:01 AM   #16
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I shoot single-cam. I'm in the same boat as Stephen, with no budget for another cam and about 8 things on my need-to-get list before a second cam. My solution is borrowing a second cam from my girlfriend's mom, who happens to be something of an artist and video enthusiast too. My cam does hd but hers does not, so I shoot in sd. I tell my clients that hd is an option (I can author bd on mom's pc), but only in my single-cam package. Haven't had any bites on hd yet =)
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Old January 8th, 2009, 05:47 AM   #17
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Up until 2-3 years ago I only did 3 cam weddings. When I realized that people were no longer buying any of the "add-ons" and really looking for deals I had to offer 1 cam weddings ($495). Now I do them all the time.
I explain that it is a "highlights" video and that small portions of the ceremony might be cut out if someone stands in front of me or if I have to readjust the camera or whatever. No one seems to have a problem with this, and if they really want the entire ceremony they must buy a multi-cam package.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 07:05 AM   #18
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I offer 1 cam for $995 but I explain the risks in detail. If I have an extra cam that day I take it and set it up in the back and run unmanned, which is almost always.

I use the single cam package to attract customers, but they almost always upgrade to 2 cams before ceremony.

Or I will run two cams and then when I start editing I call and explain I ran a second camera and how much better their video will be if I add the second camera, they ALWAYS pay for second camera at that point.

Offering single camera weddings is for me a sales tool primarily. Though I actually did use only one camera once last year. It worked out fine because the venue was extremely small.

I have turned away a few who were set on single camera if their wedding was at one of Cincinnati's very large, dark Catholic churches with a very long aisle. I would rather turn away business then to risk putting out a poor video.

Last edited by Jeff Harper; January 8th, 2009 at 09:13 AM.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 07:10 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
I"m a single shooter as well with a "ready to go" backup camera in my backpack. I also agree with Don that shooting with one camera makes you a better shooter as whatever you do has to be done right from the first time so you pay much more attention to everything you do.
This does not mean I'm limited in post, I use every single minute available to shoot b-roll footage. The only limitation I have is when doing creative stuff during the ceremony as there is virtually no time for this.
Actually, the same applies for a photog, most of the time their alone as well and also have to get it right the first time.

Working alone is a risk, I know, but so is basejumping. You just need to prepare as good as possible and try to calculate the risks you take and then close your eyes and jump. :)

Hey Noa, nice analogy about Base Jumping. Do you jump? I have about 350 base jumps and over 9,000 skydives myself.

Anyway, regarding single "manned" cam op wedding shoots. I started offering them about a 2 years ago. My rates for 1 manned cam op shoots aren't cheap (about 2,300.00) and 3,500.00 and up for multi-cam op packages.

My edits are all "short form", no matter if I shoot alone or with 1 or 2 other cam ops...most of my clients finished films have a run time of about 30 minutes and I do not offer long form style finished movies....never did and that goes back a long time from today.

It takes me about a day to cut most of the work and another day to rap things up with menus, audio sweetening, cover art, etc.

When I shoot alone, during the ceremony I ALWAYS have at least (2) unamned cameras going as back up and lavs and other audio sources running to those unmanned cameras as back up and additional audio. I wouldn't do it any other way.

Single manned camera op packages work very well for "short form" style edits....but maybe not as well for long form style edits??

Don is right on about what he stated.

When you shoot alone, you pay A LOT more attention to how you shoot imo...and that is just a good habit to have anyway. You can not afford to shoot sloppy as a one man show.

When I shoot Super 8mm packages, I also shoot these alone most of the time. again my style is not so much for everything to be seen in it's entirety and this is always discussed with clients so they know what to expect. To date, all of my clients prefer this style over the long form style of editing.

I have 3 Sony Z1u's and an HC5, plus I still have 3 Sony PD150s so back up cameras is not an issue for me. I would not recommend anyone shooting a wedding with one camera, and NOT having proper back up gear to cover you butt.

Regarding "single" manned camera packages being the cheap way for brides to have videography for their wedding, THAT depends on who's doing the work. I do not consider my rates on the cheap side for a one manned camera op package.

I like producing these style wedding films for my clients, it's much less editing in the end and they still get a very nice polished film.

I do about 40+ weddings per year and the past 2 years have almost been split with multi-cam op packages and single manned packages.

As long as you can pull it off, why not offer them.

On another note, I am now offering photography as well so I will be splitting the workload with photo shoots, and single and multi-cam packages.

For anyone thinking about offering single manned camera op packages it's a very good idea to think about how you're going or how you would like to edit the final cut first. This should help you plan out your shots so you're not scratching your head on game day.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #20
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Declaration of non-interest: I don't do weddings for profit at the moment but have done plenty over the years.

I think it's far too risky not to have another camera running at least for backup. You don't have to use much (or any) of the B cam footage but may save your a*s if a critical shot is blocked or missed.
I just eliminated the single camera shoot from my service offerings this year. I haven't shot a single cam wedding since Feb which was the first and only single cam pf the year (and that was a freebie for a friend.... and looking at the footage, it still was not the best footage as a result).

I told the brides at the wedding show this weekend, if your "friend / relative" is shooting the wedding for you on 1 cam, then you are gettign what you paid for..... static & boring shots of your wedding day. With two cams I can show your faces, not just the backs of your head.

We shall soon see if the $2500 in printing, design, & booth fees bring in the bookings to recoup that cost plus make any money this year (or even to stay in business!)
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Old January 8th, 2009, 01:41 PM   #21
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Hey Noa, nice analogy about Base Jumping. Do you jump? I have about 350 base jumps and over 9,000 skydives myself.
I consider jumping into the videobusiness the most exciting thing I ever did :)
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #22
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I am a single camera operator and I thoroughly enjoy it. Ofcourse I always have a second camera sitting in my bag ready if anything goes wrong. Occasionally, at the reception when there are long cues to congratulate the couple ( a custom in my country) I have the main camera on tripod and use the second camera to film various shots of the guests.

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Old January 8th, 2009, 09:32 PM   #23
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If you have 2 cameras, I don't see the point in using just one. Set both up at the very least, if you find in post that you need additional footage because you had to reposition your "manned" camera then you have the option to pull footage from your second camera. I don't know about you guys, but I don't spend that much more time in post than I would if I had only one camera, sync up your footage with each other on two different video tracks, then just just cut out sections of each so they switch back and forth between shots. If you don't ripple delete, your timing stays the same (unless you had to change tapes) throughout the entire ceremony. At most you'll spend 30 min extra because of the second cam in post.

1. you'll be able to move around more with cam one to get different shots
2. less stress
3. better quality video=more referrals

That to me is well worth the extra time.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 10:43 PM   #24
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I'm on the same track as Don Bloom and others. I've been shooting weddings on and off since the early 80's when good video gear was expensive and having 2 cams was almost never heard of unless you owned a TV station. I must agree with Don, in that shooting single camera makes you a better cameraman. In all those years I only ever had one mishap, and that was at a mate's wedding, where the groom (mate) had for some reason turned off the wireless mic. (NEVER shoot a wedding for a mate). I now only shoot weddings as freelancer for other video businesses and it's always been a single cam shoot. I still get cutaways, just in case.

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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:36 PM   #25
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I don't go back as far as Steve or Don, but I went to film school in 1990-91, we learned to shoot on Bolex 16mm film cameras, edit real film on a Steinbeck, and recorded sound separately on a Nagra. When you're using one camera, especially when we shot film, we were trained to be hypersensitive to what was going on in the the frame (no reviewing footage till it came back from the lab). If you think weddings are stressful, try loading a film magazine inside a black cloth bag, hoping it's loaded properly. We were taught cinematography - composition, framing, headroom and lead room, lighting. Up until the last couple of years, every great movie ever made was shot with one camera.

I'd rather have one truly talented artist working with a camera, than several camera ops just pointing cameras to cover angles. A wedding is supposed to be about capturing and creating the magic of the day. IMHO
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Old January 9th, 2009, 12:46 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Jeff Kellam View Post
I am sure the answer is yes, but I am not sure if it is common. I have only shot one single cam wedding and it seemed very limiting in post to say the least.

The reason I ask is that I am contemplating a budget single cam wedding for a client. Most of my time in post is spent mixing the camera angles and audio. A single cam shoot would be a much quicker edit.

What do you think?
I've done them in the past on a few occasions (WedLuxe | TV > Colleen & Neil) (WedLuxe | TV > Beth & Nathan) but they are so much more work and a pain to deal with for moments in the film like ceremony and speeches. We don't actively offer 1 camera shoots in any of our booking options at this point. You may find that the edit is quicker but a lot more difficult/impossible to mask any of your unwanted camera movements since you'd have nothing to cut to to "cover" it up.

Hope that helps!
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Old January 9th, 2009, 09:28 AM   #27
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I don't go back as far as Steve or Don, but I went to film school in 1990-91, we learned to shoot on Bolex 16mm film cameras, edit real film on a Steinbeck, and recorded sound separately on a Nagra. When you're using one camera, especially when we shot film, we were trained to be hypersensitive to what was going on in the the frame (no reviewing footage till it came back from the lab). If you think weddings are stressful, try loading a film magazine inside a black cloth bag, hoping it's loaded properly. We were taught cinematography - composition, framing, headroom and lead room, lighting. Up until the last couple of years, every great movie ever made was shot with one camera.

I'd rather have one truly talented artist working with a camera, than several camera ops just pointing cameras to cover angles. A wedding is supposed to be about capturing and creating the magic of the day. IMHO
I'll shoot weddings on film once I have the ability to yell "Cut, lets do that again, but this time can you look into his eyes? Ok? Alright, places!"

Till then, the more appropriate analogy would be to TV shows. What TV news shows are shot with only one camera? Or what late night comedy show is show with one camera? Does Leno or Letterman only use one camera? Of course not.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 12:18 PM   #28
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I'll shoot weddings on film once I have the ability to yell "Cut, lets do that again, but this time can you look into his eyes? Ok? Alright, places!"

Till then, the more appropriate analogy would be to TV shows. What TV news shows are shot with only one camera? Or what late night comedy show is show with one camera? Does Leno or Letterman only use one camera? Of course not.

Jason, I have shot for the Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno and you are wrong....we shot with (1) camera. Not the studio stuff but in the field was one, (me). I have shot a lot for TV and often with 1 camera.

In tv and movies, there is obviously the opportunity for multiple takes(most of the time), whereas with a wedding there is not. I don't think they should be compared as one being easier or harder than the other....they both have their own challenges and obstacles.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 12:22 PM   #29
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In my country 85% of videoguys do it alone. Unforunately we r paid less than the photographers and most of us cant charge enough to get a 2nd guy. I keep a handycam as a backup too.

This has resulted in contract clauses that states that the videoguy will not be held responsible should the tape mechanism fail during a shoot! I cant accept this as a customer but yet, I cant do it for the clients. The best solution so far is a backup cam.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #30
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... I don't know about you guys, but I don't spend that much more time in post than I would if I had only one camera, sync up your footage with each other on two different video tracks, then just just cut out sections of each so they switch back and forth between shots. If you don't ripple delete, your timing stays the same (unless you had to change tapes) throughout the entire ceremony. At most you'll spend 30 min extra because of the second cam in post.
I probably obsess a little too much in post. But besides what you mention, you have two cameras to color grade, another audio track to mix in and compress-enhance-EQ and more footage to run a deshaker script on.
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