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


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Old May 8th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #16
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I guess I don't understand the logic that some have expressed. Sure, I understand that a "single camera" wedding is by definition low budget. I also understand the need to keep the editing time to a minimum so that the job doesn't become a losing proposition due to excessive time spent editing.

However, to me a two camera wedding shoot means two shooters, each with a camera, and a single camera shoot actually means one manned camera. It doesn't exclude a second unmanned camera. As far as a second unmanned camera for backup cut-to footage, it often makes the editing job easier, not harder. Since it is a lower budget production, you may not want to spend extensive time in editing weaving the footage from the two cameras together but there is something in between extensive footage "weaving" and having some safety cut-to footage. There is nothing more time consuming when editing than trying to figure out how you are going to cover for some garbage footage when you don't have anything else to use. What are you going to do if you trip and fall down during the vows? - Drop in a photo montage of the engagement party!?

You will also feel like you have both feet nailed to the floor if you don't have cut-to footage available. I don't care who you are or how many weddings that you have shot, there are way too many unanticipated surprises in wedding shoots to play the he-man hotshot with one camera routine.

Whip pans in a single camera wedding shoot! I really disagree. They destroy the mood and give it an "Uncle Charlie" look. If you are rolling an unmanned second camera, you can whip pan and fast zoom when necessary to capture the shot because you can cut to your unmanned footage when you edit to cut out the fast pan or zoom.

I will share just one example of the benefit of not having both feet nailed to the floor when you know that yours is not the only camera rolling in a wedding shoot. I had the privilege of running a second camera for a real pro in the business. During the vows, he noticed one of the the bride's maids tearing up. (An experienced wedding videographer knows this is common in a wedding and watches for it.) Because he knew that he had two other cameras rolling, he was able to pan over and zoom in on the tearing bride's maid and capture her "moment". He dropped that in at the appropriate point when he edited the footage. That sort of touch adds a great deal to a well-shot wedding because it helps deliver the mood. A whip pan and fast zoom to capture that in the middle of the vows!? Sorry, but I wouldn't want to pay for it.

You still have to be careful though; you can't assume that the cut-to footage is going to be good. Things happen. The pro that I shot with in the example that I just gave didn't "whip pan" to cover the tearing bride's maid. He did a smooth pan and zoom to shoot her. By doing so he knew he would still have good footage even if I were to have shot garbage footage at that moment. One of the things that he told me prior to that shoot was to always shoot like you are the only camera because you don't know what is happening with the other camera(s).

Last edited by Jim Snow; May 9th, 2009 at 10:37 AM.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #17
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Think of the final product as an extended highlight reel instead of a 00;00;00;00 to 00;60;00;00 video of the ceremony. It should help you shoot in a format that captures everything important while still retaining a cinematic touch on a one man shoot.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 11:59 AM   #18
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Run a second camera anyway. Even for single cam packages I use a second camera, period. It is just so much easier in post and the results are just so much better.

Single cam packages are for those trying to save money, and get me jobs that I would otherwise lose on dates that are open and have the potential for going unfilled.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Thigpen View Post
Think of the final product as an extended highlight reel instead of a 00;00;00;00 to 00;60;00;00 video of the ceremony. It should help you shoot in a format that captures everything important while still retaining a cinematic touch on a one man shoot.
Sure that's a style and if that is what you sold and the bride bought, that's OK. But you will spend more time editing and cleaning up the "extended highlight reel" than you will spend on a straight narrative roll with any needed cut-to rescue footage. It still doesn't answer the problem of what to do if during a key part of the ceremony you or your camera is wracked by the spasms of a giant burrito fart and you have useless footage of the vows for example? Why don't you try yelling "Cut - Retake" during the vows at a wedding and see what happens. Being a hack starts with an attitude just like being a pro does - It's just that they are two different attitudes.

Last edited by Jim Snow; May 8th, 2009 at 04:12 PM.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 02:09 PM   #20
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I guess running a second cam is a good practice judging by how many of you do it. And it's not much extra effort to add a shot or two. I was thinking of hiding the camera near the front and then shooting the rest from the back, because I think I can get pretty much everything I need from the back EXCEPT the processional. So one cam to capture the processional then cut to my regular footage. Thoughts?

Martin,
I'm offering this package because it's the only package I was able to offer in their budget. And it won't be more difficult if it goes properly. I don't anticipate doing anything other than a doc style coverage of the event.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 02:23 PM   #21
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Good approach. The layout of every wedding venue differs so your camera placement necessarily varies as well. As you consider the camera locations there are a couple things to keep in mind. Florists have a habit of delivering and setting up a "wad" of flowers and putting them in exactly the wrong place from your point of view - Read blocked shot. The other thing to remember is that everyone stands up during the processional - another shot blocker if you don't anticipate that.

Last edited by Jim Snow; May 8th, 2009 at 04:08 PM.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 02:47 PM   #22
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I wouldn't put my second, unmanned camera upfront. Ninety percent of your video will be from the back, not the front.

Put your second cam in the rear in the balcony. As suggested, be down front to the grooms side, get the processional, then after the hand off of the bride, or shortly thereafter move to the rear center aisle and you can get fantastic shots of the ring exchange, etc. I put the the wireless receiver on the rear camera, not the main. You want a direct line of site for the wireless mic to the cam with the receiver.

If you put your unmanned camera down front 90% of the footage will be useless and defeat your purpose, and the chances of getting anything really great are really lessened.

You can try it the other way, but most of the time when I hide a camera upfront it doesn't do much in the end.

The other benefit of the 2nd cam is the additional audio, which is absolutely critical, IMO.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 04:48 PM   #23
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**Move as if you are in slow motion all the time!

When I shoot a wedding with multiple cameras it's easy to go crazy with whip pans all over the place however even this is never a secure way of shooting. Zoom slowly, pan slowly, hold it steady as if your life depended on it - every shot should be usable. Be patient, I can't hold one shot for too long without getting bored, don't get bored if you are shooting with one camera always keep your style flowing, slow pans even if you know you are going to cut them away, don't go hunting with your camera.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 06:01 PM   #24
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VERY good advice Nick....
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Old May 8th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #25
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While I've used an unmanned cam forward, it's hit and miss - lots of things to block your shot, and it's sort of a waste unless you get really lucky with your placement. I've got it down to using two cams in a crossfire positioning, and set right they nail the bride and groom vows and rings wonderfully. But they would miss the processional entirely!

I'd go with the wide safety shot on a high tripod (6'+) or from the balcony (I don't like the balcony since you've got no way to access during the shoot except by a remote... tripod doesn't need to be great, just TALL - Sunpak 7500's or the variants thereof are cheap and 75" + off the floor).

60-70%+ of your ceremony is best shot from the back, but the processional/here comes da bride is not a wise shot to be left to an unattended camera...

My typical shoot, I'm up front until the handoff, then rotate to the back by the unmanned on the tripod, with maybe a quick visit to zoom the crossfire cams in tighter to catch the bride and groom for vows/rings. Even if I had a second manned cam covering the front it would still be hard to get from one side to the other, thus my crossfire cam approach - it's been working well.

But I still would want that wide shot from the back for cutaways... you should have a backup cam around anyway in case of equipment failure, what better than to set it on a tripod right where you'll be most of the ceremony, and let 'er run? Costs next to nothing - cheap insurance!
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Old May 11th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #26
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I shoot alone all the time. I have an unmanned camera at the back of the room as high as possible set wide and I shoot all the ceremony from the front from the groom's side. When the B&G go to sign the register I get a few shots of this and then very quickly move the camera from the back to the front, set it running and then position myself at the back, fairly central to get the B&G coming down the isle. I find this gives me enough cover.

what I also have is a little Panasonic GS230 3 chipper that I have on a monopod and use this to get some reaction shots of the congregation during the boring bits (if it's a church wedding) such as the sermon. They don't like you to move around too much if you're at the front so that's a little cheeky but I get a few useful shots

Hope this helps

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Old May 12th, 2009, 09:00 PM   #27
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Ok, I'll chime in and ask something here since I have a single man/two camera shoot next month for the first time.

So I was planning on setting up the 2nd cam in the back as high as possible on a fairly wide shot. Only as wide as needed to get the wedding party in the frame. Here's my question: is it typical to have yourself in the shot if you are up front and in the aisle moving around all the time? Wouldn't that be a shot killer? Maybe I'm just not understanding fully.

I definitely want to get a grasp on this before the end of next month.

Thanks.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 09:06 PM   #28
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You will be in the shot, but that is fine. So will the photographer. There is no way to avoid it. You just want to keep your movement to as little as possible.

You can theoretically crouch down with your tripod adjusted low so as not to be in front of the groom, but other than that there is not tons you can do about it. I have shot from down on my knees before, which is a good way to stay out of the way.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 09:24 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
You will be in the shot, but that is fine. So will the photographer. There is no way to avoid it. You just want to keep your movement to as little as possible.

You can theoretically crouch down with your tripod adjusted low so as not to be in front of the groom, but other than that there is not tons you can do about it. I have shot from down on my knees before, which is a good way to stay out of the way.
Thanks Jeff.

Is it rare to be able to get up behind the officiant, shooting out towards the crowd? The last wedding I attended was a small wedding shot by Mark Von Lanken when they came back to Illinois a couple months ago. He had two cameras up in the balcony.....one centered and zoomed in a little and the other off to the side and zoomed out more. Mark had the 3rd camera up front behind and a little to the side of the officiant/B&G. He just stayed there on a tripod with little movement. He got the procession and B&G's faces the whole time.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 09:35 PM   #30
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In my experience it is very rare. In Cincinnati half or more of our weddings are in Catholic churches and you can almost never go behind the priest, or anywhere on the altar. Some churches, particularly African-American ones, are extremely liberal, but I get to very few of those, unfortunately.

I've seen more than one wedding video that Mark has done with a shot from behind the officiant and I alway marvel at that. But I also think in his area of the country churches are more liberal with things, mostly protestant. But I have seen some protestant demoninations that are even touchier than the Catholics about these things.

I recently got a shot from behind on the side where there was an aisle that went down one side of the altar to the rear of the church. The priest was not happy with me being there, but I was so still and kept a solemn look on my face, and I think the "damage" was minimal. I got a great shot and he was friendly enough afterwards.
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