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


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Old May 7th, 2009, 11:02 AM   #1
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single cam wedding coming up...what to do?

So I just booked a single cam wedding in two weeks and the few weddings I've done before have all been 2 cameras. Im looking for tips on how to shoot the ceremony, camera position? Dare I move positions? I should probably have a second cam just shooting a dummy angle so I can cut away to it if any problems arise.

thanks guys & gals!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 12:54 PM   #2
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David,

I shoot single cam weddings all the time... My best advice is to go to the rehearsal. So many things can be different then what your used to. Also, that gives you time to talk to the celebrant and convey your wishes.
I usually hang out to the side... but when it comes time for the vows and ring exchange I move to the aisle. I let the photographer and the priest know where i'm going to be at what part of the ceremony.

obviously if you have the luxury of two cams then I would set it up... You dont have to use the footage, but it's nice to have a backup plane if you miss something.

Steve
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Old May 7th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #3
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ALWAYS...........

make sure it says 'REC' in the viewfinder....

:)
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Old May 7th, 2009, 01:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Harjo View Post
ALWAYS...........

make sure it says 'REC' in the viewfinder....

:)
This is so true. Great advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Schuurman View Post
So I just booked a single cam wedding in two weeks and the few weddings I've done before have all been 2 cameras. Im looking for tips on how to shoot the ceremony, camera position? Dare I move positions? I should probably have a second cam just shooting a dummy angle so I can cut away to it if any problems arise.

thanks guys & gals!
Another bit that helps me shooting alone. As your filming be very aware of how each shot or camera movement will help enhance the story or screw you up later in post. Know your limits and work with it. You'll do well.

Monday
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Old May 7th, 2009, 04:21 PM   #5
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My thought would be to have a second cam at the rear on a high tripod, let 'er roll. The added cost of one tape and a bit of wear and tear should be offset by the peace of mind knowing you've got a safety cutaway "just in case".

I'm sure the "one camera" budget shoot has it's attractiveness in this economy, but if you're used to shooting with more than one, and the equipment is available, why not do it? Other than taking a little more time to edit (more "good shots" to choose from, hopefully), the additional actual cost to you is minimal vs. the added comfort of knowing there's a backup... at least that would be my take on it.

If they ask why you have two cameras, just say #2 is a "backup", because you're a commensurate professional!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 06:11 PM   #6
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My advice would not to try and make a single camera shoot look like a multi-camera shoot. Rather re-design your programme as a single camera programme. Shoot the key moments as best you can, making sure the sound is superb - ideally two radio mics but certainly a radio on the key person and a good short gun for the other.

Hopefully what you'll have from this is a series of separate, edited cameos. What you then do is to produce afterwards is a container from which those cameos shine. Maybe a talking head by you or by a notable figure from the wedding - how about the groom's father? He can speak as one of the honoured guests who otherwise had nothing important to do. Allow him to reflect in either a tallking head or perhaps if he's not confident, as an interviewee.

I've even rescued a programme that unintentionally became a single camera shoot by recording the bride and groom's own reaction as they watched to what could be salvaged.

The important thing is that we're all engaged in making memories; constructing a programme of recorded incidents which will prompt other recollections.

My view is that situations like this are ones which sort out the followers in our business from the leaders, the creative programme makers. Of course we all hope we're in the in the second group and the other guys are not. Oh were it true!

Good luck.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 06:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Harjo View Post
ALWAYS...........

make sure it says 'REC' in the viewfinder....

:)
I'm surprised a cam manufacture hasn't yet developed a more obvious indicator of whether the camera is in REC or STBY mode.. something like electrodes attached to the inner thighs of the operator that will unleash painful shock if the camera isn't in REC mode when action is occurring. I would buy this camera for this feature alone!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 06:56 PM   #8
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I said this before but here it is again. Some of us that have been around since the stone age shot nothing but 1 camera weddings because of the price of gear so here's my take.
First to me it doesn't matter how many cameras you use if all but one is unmanned. In that case you need to shoot as if there are no other cameras running. Why? Well, cameras get blocked, framing can be off, batteries die, cameras jam...all sorts of reasons. So my suggestion is this. If you shot with 1 camera make ANY moves you might make, tilts, pans, zooms SLOW and steady. No sudden moves. If possible get the processional from the front of the aisle looking back to theback. When the bride is handed off to the groom and they make their way up to the altar, make a slow pan to keep them in frame, and make your move to whereever you are going to shot the remainder. In this case honestly, I would shot center aisle rear of church. From there you can get the B&G (yes it their backs but you get what you can) the lectern for the readers (if there are any) and if it's like 99.9% of the weddings I've done, the B&G stand facing each other when they say the vows and do the rings. You are now also in postion to get the recessional when the ceremony is over. Just move slightly out of everyones way so they can get past you.
IF you do have and use a 2nd camera and have a good shot from it (preferrablly a face shot but again you do what you can) then great but remember to keep everything slow. Pans,tilts, zooms, moves-as if there is no other camera running. Remember unless you screw up royally the B&G know they are getting a 1 camera job and you can only do what you can do.
OH yeah, don't yell CUT-AGAIN in the middle of the ceremony. The officiant may get a bit peeved. ;-)
Good luck have fun
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Old May 7th, 2009, 07:09 PM   #9
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I would never do a single cam wedding. It's too much pressure and a heck of pain during editing.

If it's unavoidable, I would suggest shooting a lot of Roll-B fill-in shots. For example, shots at the audience that are still, looking forard before the ceremony starts. And in the reception, shots at people clapping, or looking in one direction when nothing's going on. In post, you can use these fill-in shots to replace scenes that you are moving around and unsteady shots.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 08:19 PM   #10
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Don and Taky nailed it. A single camera is doomed by your inability to move, or cut-away without missing something. I doubt you'll have much luck faking the audience reaction shots, as there are always people milling about/yawning/talking/picking their nose before the ceremony. I do this anyway, but I'm lucky if I get 4 useable seconds of people looking like they are paying attention to the ceremony.

If you have any friends with good cameras, you might consider inviting them (ask the bride/groom just in case) to help you cover the ceremony in exchange for some beer (NOT at the wedding!). Give them instructions to stay the heck off the zoom and keep their meaty paws off the tripod. They are your backup camera, but you should still assume that they are not getting anything good and its ultimately your job to capture the important stuff.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:11 PM   #11
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hey guys thanks for the comments, really helpful stuff so far!

I'm wondering what makes it difficult to edit later Taky? If it's one camera of the ceremony then unless something bad happens it should be all one shot. And if it's not all one shot then it's just a matter of pairing end to end because (hopefully) you'll make a move when nothing's going on. Seems pretty easy to me. If there's a balcony then I'd be happy shooting the entire thing from the balcony other than the processional, which I can probably get with a dummy cam hidden at the front.

As for audio is it acceptable to only mic the groom and officiant? Or perhaps just the officiant and then the wireless mic, or lectern? I only have two wireless mics.

Thanks again for the comments guys, I appreciate it.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 10:24 PM   #12
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editing a 1 camera ceremony is not hard IF you make slow thoughtful moves. While it might be boring to some, face it, the majority of CEREMONIES are religious and frankly (IMO)aren't there to be made something they aren't. Save that for the highlight/recap.
It DOES become hard when one makes wild crazy fast and/or unnecessary moves, pans, tilts and zooms. Honestly, and this is NOT directed to ANYONE here on DVi, I think everyone should learn how to do weddings with one camera so one can learn how to use what ya got instead of thinking 'no problem, I've got 5 other cameras running, I can use the footage from one of them'. Once one learns how to do that, then adding the other cameras just gives you more options in post (hopefully)
Again, nothing directed to anyone here, the above comment is really aimed at people just getting into the business.
For those that live in the Chicagoland area if you ever shoot at 4th Pres downtown, talk to me about # of cameras and position after you've done a job there. ;-)
Anyway, just one old timers thoughts
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Old May 8th, 2009, 06:13 AM   #13
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Don and Taky nailed it. A single camera is doomed by your inability to move, or cut-away without missing something. I doubt you'll have much luck faking the audience reaction shots, as there are always people milling about/yawning/talking/picking their nose before the ceremony.

Contrary to what was recommended in previous posts, I whip pan, cut away, and move quickly during the ceremony. I try to make my one camera shoot look like three. But don't try this yet unless you know what you're doing. I'm still practicing and trying to perfect the technique.

3 cameras at this wedding? Nope. Only 1 handheld video camcorder. on Vimeo
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Old May 8th, 2009, 08:00 AM   #14
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David, I have to step back and ponder: if you probably are charging LESS for a single camera shoot, and you've got the second camera anyway, and you usually shoot with two, and you're planning on using two anway, and it's more hassle, more stress, more difficult in the edit, and you have to ask for advice here about dealing with this, and the results won't be as good.... and... and... and...

WHY offer that package for less money at all????
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Old May 8th, 2009, 09:07 AM   #15
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Warren,
I do agree with you it can be done as you describe if one knows what they are doing (not for newbies IMO) and I also believe a lot depends on the style of edit you're doing. If you're doing a long form doco type style then I think slow and steady is the way to go, but if you're doing short form cine style and know when you can make that whip pan crash a zoom or make a move, absolutely, go for it, but that comes from practice practice practice.
Just goes to show, there's no right or wrong just different.
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