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


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Old January 7th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #1
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Anyone do single camera weddings?

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?
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Old January 7th, 2009, 11:16 AM   #2
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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.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 11:18 AM   #3
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If the client understands the limitations of having only one camera and that's all they are willing to pay for AND you think it's worth it... go for it!
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Old January 7th, 2009, 11:21 AM   #4
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I tried it, once. Chickened out and fired up a second camera anyway.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 11:46 AM   #5
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Personally I would never shoot a single-cam wedding, but that's because I don't ever want to be in a situation where I have to explain to a couple that we have no footage because the camera died or whatever. Even if the couple knows the risk in advance, I don't want to be in that situation.

That said, I would say there is a healthy market for single-cam weddings. There are plenty of couples who have virtually no money for video that would jump at the chance to get anything on tape. So just make sure they know the risk up front and make sure you're okay with dealing with a potentially bad situation.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 12:02 PM   #6
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The single cam option is one of my wedding package, but I never recommend the couple unless they have almost no budget for the video.. just like Travis said.
I have done 2 single cam out of 20 wedding I did this year, but both of them, I personally did not enjoy that much... because I was thinking at whole time about the editing that there were just too much thoughts going on during shoot. And I felt like every single shot has to be p-e-r-f-e-c-t whereas if I have 2nd cam, I know I have cutaway shots while I tried to get the best shot at the moment. Even though I had unmanned 2nd cam while I do solo, I would still much prefer manned camera over unmanned. no doubt.
Just my 2cents.

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Old January 7th, 2009, 12:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin McDonald View Post
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 agree with this totally. I lost one wedding before, Im not going to do that again.

So, Im gonna set up an unmanned for the ceremony (if I do this). That will help prevent a possible total disaster. I just have to resist the temptation to use the footage later. Doing that would circumvent the one cam shoot economy.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #8
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I'm a single camera shooter... not by choice though.. I would love to have another unmanned camera set up somewhere... I've done both, and it's a lot less stressful when you have a backup.
Unfortunately for me it's not in my budget to go out and buy another camera :-(

I think the best advice is to set up a second camera somewhere just in case something happens. You don't have to use the footage from it.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 01:27 PM   #9
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Im a single camera operator.

For a while I used to set up a second camera but got tired of it.
Instead i got myself a CF Recording device to back up my tape recordings.
In my opinion a second camera, unless its manned is pretty much useless.
If you miss something its probably because you weren't paying attention.
I have a second camera sitting in my bag ready to go if needs be but thats it.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #10
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This has been discusssed several times before. You might get a lot of useful info if you search the site. Can't remember the thread titles, but you should be able to find them.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 01:31 PM   #11
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Well, I've only ever shot one cam weddings (except twice), but as I said before, I previously didn't target weddings, so it wasn't a huge deal. I've only shot about 25 over the years, and while I've had near disasters, it wasn't due to footage failure. This year I'm planning to do more so I'm picking up an an HV20 for backup. But before you guys torch me too bad, let me explain. There is tremendous value in having two skilled videographers covering a wedding. Especially once you've worked together for awhile. One can play it safe, while one goes for the money shots. That being said... Is a two camera wedding worth double, because it's twice the work/cost. A two camera edit is also pretty onerous. And if you're paying a body to just to stand by a locked off tripod, that's expensive insurance. I would use a second camera to b-roll the vows. Other than that, I should be able to get all my shots, the back-up cam is in case of camera failure.

If someone wants to pay me $2,500.00 then I will add a second cam. No problem.

In my market, I have a hard time selling a $1,200 wedding. This is one of the reasons I've avoided weddings. It's just not worth it. I sure can't pay another camera op and spend the extra 15 hours capturing and editing the 2nd cam. I can't imagine adding a 3rd Cam.

So the angle that I've been working on is less the typical wedding and more the shorter form 'Love Story' (highlights type). Where I have the vows, the dress, families etc, mostly in montage form. The last wedding I shot only had the vows (about 6 minutes), the rest was scenes set to music.

Here's what I would typically do. A) arrive early B) shoot lots of B-roll - not necessarily to use, but in case of disaster. Shots of guests looking forward as they're waiting for the ceremony to begin. Flowers, decorations etc.,As far as prep footage goes, if I can only cover one, it's the bride. I moved my camera twice during the vows (continuing to record audio), and cut around it in post.

One camera weddings aren't for everyone. As I said, I'm adding an HV20 as a back-up, that I will lock off for b-roll coverage of the vows.

I think that we should strive to make better films with what we have rather than adding cams and ops just for insurance. Don't get me wrong, if the clients are paying then WTH.

I would think though that a really good camera op could salvage some great footage from a wedding with even a $500 DV cam in their bag.

Let the flaming begin.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 02:08 PM   #12
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I would say that about 75% of my weddings are single operator weddings. It's a little limiting but we run an unmanned wide angle to cut in, and in my market it makes a very acceptable wedding video. We really hustle to tear down and set up, and shoot as much in-between action that we can, and we've had a great response with it. We usually sell a single operator wedding for about $1000.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 02:38 PM   #13
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years ago single camera weddings were pretty much the norm-the cost of gear back in the 80's (that's 1980s not 1880s) ;-) really limited the number of cameras one could afford. Frankly I think everyone should shot some weddings with a single camera. Thats not to say you shouldn't have a spare handy, but it's one mans opinion that when you shot a single camera wedding you become a much better shooter. First you really have to pay attention to what's going on, SECOND you learn how to do slow pans, zooms, tilts. You learn proper framing and exposure and how to tell a story from a single point of view.
Now having said that, today I do use 2 cameras. My second cam is unmanned and runs a "safe shot" hopefully somewhere from the front to get face shots but that's not always possible. I DO however shot as if that camera is NOT there. You never know what's could happen. The shot might get blocked, the tape could break in the camera, the battery could die, the camera could die, all sorts of things can happen most of them bad. SO if you use multiple cameras try shooting as if they weren't there and I think you'll find that your footage from your primary camera will be even better than it already is.
Please keep in mind I'm old school and it's just my opinion.
YMMV
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Old January 7th, 2009, 02:47 PM   #14
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Don, I couldn't agree more with all of that.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #15
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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. :)
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