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


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Old April 24th, 2009, 09:47 PM   #1
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SDE tips and tricks

Hi guys

I've seen amazing SDEs around and am about to start doing some. Can anyone point me to the right directions? like tips and tricks maybe? what to do and what not to do?

i'm using mbp with fcp 6. shooting with tape. haven't got ex or Mii yet... nor firestore :(

still have a lot to buy eh....

thanks a lot.

santo
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Old April 26th, 2009, 09:28 AM   #2
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Hi Susanto,

There are many ways to approach a SDE and a lot of is depends on your circumstances. I have a few questions for you. Do you work alone? Is there a break between the ceremony and reception? Is the ceremony and reception at the same location or is there a very long drive time? Do you like to plan things in advance or do you like to go with the flow?
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Old April 27th, 2009, 03:59 AM   #3
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Hi Mark,

I don't work alone. There will be 3 people on the team for SDEs at the moment because we haven't got the hang of it yet. In the future probably will try to cut it down to two but not sure yet. Well we can say at least we'll have two people.

there should be a break between ceremony and reception otherwise it is virtually not possible right? I do have minimum 2 hour break time between ceremony and reception for SDE clients. Is that good enough? I'd say I'm quiet a fast editor but I never experienced editing SDE so cannot tell whether I'm fast enough or not with all the pressure going on.

I guess people would choose the song before hand yeah? I don't think there will be any time to choose the song on location.

Santo
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Old April 27th, 2009, 08:46 AM   #4
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Hi Sunto,

3 people will be great. It is possible to do a SDE without a break between the ceremony and reception. In our market, the photographer will spend 20-30 minutes taking pictures after the ceremony and then the reception starts, usually without a cocktail hour. Having at least a 2 hour break will really help you.

Here are some step that we use.

I think it is easier to edit a SDE to an instrumental song. That way the edit goes faster when you are not trying to match the words of the song to the edit. It also makes it easier to add in the vows or any other VO from the day.

I think it is also easier to edit fairly close to the way the day happened and not use a lot of time shifting, but if you style is to use a lot of time shifting, then go for it.

After the song is selected we lay it down on the timeline and trim up the beginning and end, that is when there is dead space at either place. If the song is really long, more than 3.5 minutes, I look for a way to edit back the length and make a condensed version. If that is not very possible because of a key change or for whatever reason, I will look for a good place to get out of the song early, if I need to.

Then I study the song and listen for natural places for the prep, brides entrance, kiss, etc...I place markers on the timeline as a target to where I want those key moments to land. It is really cool if you can include a few reception shots and 2-3 first dance shots, but that may be overload for you first SDE. If you end the edit with the kiss and exit from the alter, it will still wow the guests and the B&G will love it.

Once I have the key moments planned out, I go back and plan out the shots in between...2-3 church establishing shots...prep shots, etc. I plan out each time I want the shot to change between the church establishing shots and the Brides entrance. That way I know how many Prep shots I need. I am editing very closely to the feel of the music until the Bride makes her entrance.

If you add in their vows and drop down the music for the ceremony portion, you don't have to edit as closely to the beat and feel of the music.

As far as shooting for the SDE...There are many ways to approach this as well. It makes it much easier if you have three cameras. Then you can have one camera dedicated as a SDE camera for Prep. Not that you can only use footage from that camera, but it makes it easier to capture footage from just one tape than two or more tapes.

If using a dedicated SDE camera is not feasible, have each shooter identifiy potential SDE shots during prep. Do your camera allow you to put color bars on the footage? If so, have the shooter flash the bars for a couple of seconds after a potential SDE shot. That way the editor can fast forward through the tape and when they see the color bars show up, just go back one shot and capture that footage. This is a great technique when shooting with a camera like the Panasonic HMC150 because it makes a little picture icon for each shot, so it really speeds up the shot selection process.

If your cameras do not have color bars, or it is not easily captured to tape, just have them shoot a few seconds with their hand over the lens, or whatever the cue is, just have a system to help the editor know what shots to look for. By using this technique, you don't have to capture all of the prep footage and more importantly, you don't have to go through all of the prep footage, which saves time and on a SDE, wasted time is your second worse enemy. What is the biggest enemy? Equipment failure...Have backups.

If you live close to enough to the ceremony location, and assuming it's a church, you could get a couple of exterior shots days before the wedding. That way you already have them on the timeline. Then you just need an interior shot on the wedding day.

In our tape based days we would capture to the laptop during the ceremony if the back camera could shoot from a balcony. You could also do this with the front camera if you had a long enough firewire cable and a second laptop. If you just have one laptop and your third person is not shooting, have the third person capture to the laptop and if they could do this from the front camera, that would be ideal, assuming you have your wireless mics on the front camera.

Another idea for the ceremony, is to have the back camera write down the time code to the key moments as they happen. This really saves time in capturing the back camera footage.

As far as playback, when we were shooting DV, we did not have to render or encode for output back to tape. With our NLE, Edius, when the edit was done, we would hook the camera up to the laptop, with a fresh tape, and output the timeline to tape. It was much faster than encoding for DVD. I'm not sure if FCP will let you do this or not.

Some people prefer to show the SDE from DVD while other prefer tape. On a few occasions we have had to playback from the laptop, but I don't like to do it that way and now that we are on HD, it is not an ideal output choice.

I have only covered the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully this will give you a few ideas.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 10:08 AM   #5
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O MY GOSH..

Thank you for the well explained step by step process you just did..

I'm very grateful for you to take the time to write all those stuff.

They are definitely helpful. I just have to digest them and try to imagine applying them in my style of shooting and editing. The color bar thing is great.. our cameras can switch back and forth between bars so thats not a problem. The only thing with that is that I don't like the feeling that I don't have all the footage ready to edit while I know that its a lot to do with time saving...

20-30 minutes to do SDE is crazy.. I don't think I'm up for it at the moment.. That would take some skills and experience to do that. Lots of pressure I presume.

Laying the edit back to tape is also handy, we can just capture the HD footage downressed to SD and then lay it back to tape. Do you just hook up the camera to the projector via AV cable? does it work with widescreen alright? I'm using XH-A1 and sony fx1.

I guess now one obvious problem is to capture the footage from the ceremony..

I can have my third operator to capture the prep during ceremony but then i'd have to spend time capturing the ceremony footage afterwards.. and to capture the whole 1 hour ceremony is a no go. I think I'd have to just capture the walk-in, some preaching, then straight to ring exchange and kiss eh...? That's when I'm planning to end it anyway.

Any DON'T DOs to share regarding SDE??

Santo
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:02 AM   #6
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Hi Santo,

You are welcome.

Just to clarify, we do not edit SDEs in 20-30 minutes. We edit during the reception. The goal is to show the SDE after dinner, but not too late in the evening because many of the guests start to leave as the night goes on.

The FX1 has an S Video output and you can run an S Video cable 30-100 feet. I don't remember is the XH-A1 has an HDMI output or not, but that would be a good solution, that is if your projector has HDMI, I'm just not sure how far you can run HDMI.

There are dozens of ways to do a SDE, you just have to figure out what works best for you.

DON'T DO's?
Don't spend too much time trying to make the perfect masterpiece. If you include the vows or other VO, spend time making sure they sound good...not too soft of too loud. People will be more forgiving of some visual things, like the shot not falling exactly on the beat, or WB colors not be absolutely perfect, or a little shakiness at the beginning or end of a shot, but if they cannot hear the vows...they will notice that much more.

I keep bringing up the vows or other VO because there is so much emotion in hearing the human voice. It's one advantage we have over the photographer, so take advatage of it!

If all you can pull of is 1-2 minutes, start there. It doesn't have to be a 3-4 minute masterpiece. Don't sweat the small stuff and more importantly...don't let them see you sweat it. ;-)
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Old April 27th, 2009, 09:51 PM   #7
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Mark,

I feel the need to comment on this thread even though I don't have anything to add about SDEs beside stay calm its easier to edit when you are calmer than if you are freaking out. Stay calm and don't get worked up. I will show in the final product. But what I need to say is that your explanation of how to edit an SDE was incredible. The thought you put into your post is the reason why these forums are so helpful to the new comers to the industry and one of the reasons I feel like I have improves so much since I started. Thanks for contributing so much.

Louis
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Old April 27th, 2009, 10:43 PM   #8
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Wow what a wonderful informational piece. I wonder if this could be a sticky in the wedding/event forum? It is such good info...thanks for sharing!
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Old April 28th, 2009, 02:17 AM   #9
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From my last experience, I can vouch for bringing almost every cable you own, as well as power supply for the feeder unit (in my case, the HV30). My editor didn't have a mini-firewire with him, mine was in a car parked blocks away...but Radio Shack nearby had a cable for $40 (!!!) I had to have my editor run there, which cost valuable time. Make sure the DJ/projectionist (if its not you) has the right gear for potentially hooking up to your laptop/edit system (if you don't have time to make a DVD, this is your best bet).
Pre-planning and coordination with the shooters will save you loads of time in post. I'm going to try the bars trick on my next one (thanks for that!).
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Old April 28th, 2009, 07:33 AM   #10
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Hi Louis and Bryan,

Thanks for the kind words.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 09:09 AM   #11
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Very well said mark! We do SDE in every wedding we documented.

Pls visit A.G. Garza ? Wedding Videographer for some of our works.

Cheers!
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Old April 28th, 2009, 10:46 PM   #12
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Hi Mark, well said! this should sticky! I think the idea of having an SDE camera helps a lot. In Singapore, we have normally get 4hrs to edit an SDE and we only have a one man operation budget.

Having 2 cameras to handle for an SDE will be pretty challenging. Got to think of how to get the footage digitized on a concurrent basis as far as possible. Workflow and pre planning is really very critical.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 01:08 AM   #13
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I am thinking about making the 5D a SDE edit. Quick capture, high quality, easy to edit with, etc. Plus the main purpose of a SDE is to impress everybody at the reception and get the client excited to see the full video. The quality of the 5D will do that and more.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 01:08 AM   #14
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Hi Mark!

There isn't much I can add to that, except to stress the pre-planning. I'm shooting to tape, so one thing I do is capture the entire prep/processional portion during the remaining part of the ceremony. That will have a big portion of what will end up in the final edit. My goal is to have everything in the computer by the time I arrive at the reception site to start cutting. I've jotted down some notes where the money-shots are when I'm shooting so I can scan through the footage to get those, but its nice having everything available if you need filler or end up having more time to than you thought and can make it more complex (as if that ever happens).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Von Lanken View Post
... On a few occasions we have had to playback from the laptop, but I don't like to do it that way and now that we are on HD, it is not an ideal output choice.
After trying every option for presentation last year with HDV footage I found that with my current set-up running the program off the laptop to the projector was the only way I was able to show an HD version within a very restricted amount of time. As a bonus you gain that extra time normally needed to dump to tape. I am not satisfied with the quality of the in-camera downscaling so my goal was to edit HDV natively and show the program directly off the timeline without having to go through the lengthy conform process that is necessary in FCP when outputting to tape (or DVD for that matter). I avoid conforming by playing the program full-screen to the projector, which acts as a second monitor for FCP's Cinema Desktop Preview feature. I have DVI cables that run from the laptop to the projector up to 50 foot lengths so I can have the laptop near the audio amplification source.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 01:11 AM   #15
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Hi Louis,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Maddalena View Post
I am thinking about making the 5D a SDE edit. Quick capture, high quality, easy to edit with, etc. Plus the main purpose of a SDE is to impress everybody at the reception and get the client excited to see the full video. The quality of the 5D will do that and more.
I agree about the effect an SDE can have, but I don't necessarily think that the picture quality is the main reason they're a valuable marketing tool. Its more about what you do with the camera and in the edit than what you're shooting with.
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