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


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Old March 25th, 2004, 07:59 PM   #1
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Wedding Videography - Beginner's Questions

I have tons of questions, so this will be a long post... try to bear with me :)

My second wedding video job is about 5 weeks away, and I want to do it right this time. My first one was a last-minute rush job, done with my crappy $400 1-chip cameras and built-in mics. It wasnt very good. In fact, it really sucked. However, the couple had no expectations and were still thrilled.

Fast forward to today: I have just purchased a GL2 and an accessory kit containing a wide angle lens, telephoto lens, tripod, filter kit, camera bag, cleaning kit, etc. In addition to this, I have access to the GL2 that my high school owns, and I will be using both GL2s for the wedding shoot.

What I need to know is what else I will need to produce a good video. NOTE: I am on a VERY low budget, and equipment will be bought as I can afford it. At the same time, I will also be willing to spend a little more on a quality product, but I want to make sure I am spending the little money I have wisely.

First (and most important): Sound. I have done some research on the web, including forums here, but I am still somewhat confused. I would like to know exactly what I need to buy (product numbers/models, where to buy, etc) to create the best wireless mic system. It would be nice if I could buy a basic one-mic system now that has the capability of adding a second mic later... is this possible? Is there a way to run two mics into the GL2's mic input via a splitter of some sort or would I need the XLR adapter for that? I have heard that the Sennheiser EW100 series and the Azden 100LT are both good UHF mics, but are still very expensive for me. Do these models connect to the GL2's mic input or via XLR? I assume I wont find any cheaper UHF mics, and that VHF mics should not be used... so I'm also open to other audio solutions.

Second: Light. I know that there are better prosumer cams (vx2100) for low-light, but the GL2 was much cheaper with the rebate and I was already familiar with this cam anyway. I need to be able to shoot good video in dark receptions. Is the GL2 good enough to shoot these without a light? If so, what manual settings should I use? If I need a light, will the Canon VL-3 or VL-10 work best, or should I get something of a different brand? On a side note... is the built-in mic on the GL2 good enough for picking up sound at a reception? I can't really afford a better shotgun mic. How do you pros pick up sound at receptions?

Lastly, are there any other accessories I may need in the future that I havent thought about? I'd like to look at camera stabilizers, but one would not be purchased any time soon.

Please keep in mind that I am just getting started in the business. This next wedding is from a family that is very good friends of ours–they know I'm not a pro yet and are very easy going. They are also only paying me $600. In other words, I do not need THE BEST of everything... because that is not what they are paying for.

Sorry again for such a long post. I appreciate all your help!
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Old March 25th, 2004, 08:30 PM   #2
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Quote:
Fast forward to today: I have just purchased a GL2 and an accessory kit containing a wide angle lens, telephoto lens, tripod, filter kit, camera bag, cleaning kit, etc. In addition to this, I have access to the GL2 that my high school owns, and I will be using both GL2s for the wedding shoot.
All you would need besides the GL2 is:
  • a tripod
  • a couple of extra batteries
  • Canon's external mic for the GL2
  • lens hood
  • tapes
  • and the bag, of course.
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Old March 25th, 2004, 08:55 PM   #3
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By Canon's external mic, I assume you mean the DM-50 that connects to the hot shoe? It's shown on canon's website here: http://www.canondv.com/gl2/a_audio_access.html

Do you not think I will need a lapel mic to pick up the wedding vows and the officiant? How well will that canon mic pick up voices from the back of a church?

Are there any other options for on-camera mics that connect easily with the GL2's hot shoe, or is the DM-50 my only option?
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Old March 25th, 2004, 09:05 PM   #4
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Re: Wedding Videography - Beginner's Questions

Chris understand that we're both in exactly the same boat and I've taken a few of the steps that you're taking so let me tell you what I did.

1st I purchased 2 GL's for front of house and back of house shooting. I needed the wide shot from the back of the church and use my primary or main cam for the closeup shot of the couple. I put the wide angle adapter on my cam and never take it off, like my provideo friends say, you can never be too wide! With this in mind, use the 2nd camera if you can get it. Set it up on a tripod in the back of the church, pay a friend a dinner at McDonalds to make sure it's working, show him or her how to zoom in, change the zoom to very slow and instruct them on when they should zoom. This will all make for a great B-Roll when intercut with your main camera.

This I cannot stress enough, once you're at about T-Minus 10 minutes and you start filming the 2nd camera - DO NOT SHUT IT OFF UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Also do not shut down your camera either, you will need seamless video on both cams to make an easier A-B edit. Also if you can, when you setup the 2 cameras and they are both rolling, focus in your hands clapping in front of both cameras simultaneously or have the phtog fire off a flash that both cameras can see, you will use this to sync later in post.

Shooting modes, I like to use semi-auto, it works great and I only need to keep my finger on the exposure lock in the event of low or too much light. Set the camera to the "P" mode let it do the rest. Once you get really good you can start to use the full manual modes however let me tell you, I know some provideo guys that shoot news and other events, this is the mode they shoot in all the time. If it works for them, I'm good with it too! I will also suggest that you use FRAME mode, I rarely turn it off and for a wedding it's a great look!

Next, white balance! Take a second and get this done or you're shooting in the blind and your video may be reddish, it's quick and you only need a sheet of paper, the auto balances in the cam are ok but a true white balance is preferred.

Audio, I know that you're on a budget but sometimes you need to get items that you will only need to get 1 time cause they will last forever, get yourself the XLR-Pro from signvideo (www.signvideo.com) bolt it to the bottom of your camera and never take it off. You can run with it unplugged from the side of your camera so that you can use the internal mic from time to time but it's just best to keep the thing on there if you need it.

You're going to need solid audio for the couple, I purchased a pair of Sennheiser ENG100 kits. These are the dream kit for you and run about 470 if you shop around, I got mine from EVSONLINE and they come with 1 receiver that you can velcro to the top handle of your GL. You will want to use a pair of tie wraps to keep the playback control door shut cause it may open by the weight of the wireless kit. Point the antennas towards the front of the camera.

The advantage of this kit is that it comes with 1 receiver and 2 transmitters, one is a mic plug on and the 2nd is a lavalier. Pin the lav on the groom and remind him that he's live so that he doesn't say something embarassing. The 2nd mic can only be used with the first one off, however you can use this during the reception for a handout mic for guest commentary.

The XLR-pro will route the audio from mic 1 to left channel and mic 2 to right so that you can play with the audio tracks in post. I suggest that if you're shooting in a very windy place, take a 2nd mic (handheld) and run in into mic 2 on the XLR-Pro, record the entire ceremony with that mic clipped to your tripod, let it pick up the wind noise and the wireless lav will pick up the groom.

You ask why would you want wind noise on the recording, simple if you take that 2nd mic track and reverse the phase of it, you will now have the wind noise on track 2 180 degress in reverse of the wind noise on track 1. If you recall high school algebra, a negative and a positive equals a negative so your wind noise will be null. We used to use this on TV shoots in large stadiums where we placed 10 to 20 mics on the crowd, we'd reverse the phase of all odd mics so that the noise of all those mics would be cut in half.

Video lighting, here you're going to have to use judgement, I have 2 lighting kits, 1 an NRG Varalux Pro about 200 bucks which is dimmable from 20 to 100 watts. My second is a Frezzi MiniDV kit with the barndoor adapter for about 250. Each of these is terminated with a cirarette lighter plug. I went with this option and not a more pro 4 pin XLR or NP1 system for 1 simple reason, PEP BOYS!

I can pick up a 12v 4.5amp hour battery pack at Pep Boys for 19.95 that will power my lights at 30 watts for over an hour. The kit is by Vector Power, pick up a couple, charge them fully and let them pay off on the 1st shoot.

Batteries, if you haven't done so already get the largest battery back that you can for the cams, order an extra and make sure they're both fully charged. I order from Batteries.com and paid about 110 bucks for 2 of the largest canon batteries you can get.

Enjoy, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
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Old March 25th, 2004, 09:23 PM   #5
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Wow, that is a lot of money to be spending. There is no way I will be able to afford a $450 wireless mic in 5 weeks, let alone an XLR adapter and a good light too.

What do you think about the Azden 100LT? I have talked to another videographer briefly who uses one of these. I have seen them for around $300 or so, which is not quite as bad. Is there a major reason I should opt for the more expensive Sennheiser?

Also, the lights you mentioned seem very powerful. Isnt 20 watts going to blind everyone at the reception? Will a smaller (and less expensive) light such as the VL-3 or VL-10 not work as well?

Sorry for trying to be so cheap. I'm a high school student and have VERY little money :(

Let me know what you think about the 100LT and the Canon video lights though. Thanks again!
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Old March 25th, 2004, 09:36 PM   #6
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Chris I can understand your situation, money is tight and the fact that you're a student it's not as easy, also consider that the majority of america is in money problems right now so we all feel the same pain.

Let me tackle this from a differnt perspective, get the XLRpro you can use this for a lifetime. For a mic, get what you can afford for now and when you start to make some money, get something better. Your church may be able to get you a nice wireless that you can borrow for the event, consider this. Also consider EBay, pawn shops, local bands that you know, local music stores and a scratch and dent sale etc. You may even just resort to a wired mic on a stand in front of the couple, whatever works best without breaking the bank. One thing, be at the rehearsal and test!!! Also put on a pair of walkman headphones and monitor the audio to make sure that you're getting what you think your getting! I forgot to mention that in my last post.

Lighting, 20 is nothing trust me! 3 and 10, don't spend the money, you're not going to light up anything over 3 feet away and you're going to wish that you spent a few buck on that 20 anyway. I just shot some stuff last week for my local sheriff and in their communications center I used my Frezzi. It turns on at 20 and I had to jack it up to about 30 to get the room at a good level for my video to be solid during my wide shots. For close work I was back at 20 and still found that I was cranking it up a little from time to time. I have a whole closet full of cheap video lights and that's exactly what they are, cheap, 3 foot throw low quailty lights. Again get what you can afford but why spend the bucks 2 or 3 times when you can do it right the first time, you just shelled out a ton for that camera and it's a BMW dude, you want to put a lighting kit from Saturn on it? Don't spend extra money.

Just trying to share what I've learned in the past with you...

<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Wright : Wow, that is a lot of money to be spending. There is no way I will be able to afford a $450 wireless mic in 5 weeks, let alone an XLR adapter and a good light too.

What do you think about the Azden 100LT? I have talked to another videographer briefly who uses one of these. I have seen them for around $300 or so, which is not quite as bad. Is there a major reason I should opt for the more expensive Sennheiser?

Also, the lights you mentioned seem very powerful. Isnt 20 watts going to blind everyone at the reception? Will a smaller (and less expensive) light such as the VL-3 or VL-10 not work as well?

Sorry for trying to be so cheap. I'm a high school student and have VERY little money :(

Let me know what you think about the 100LT and the Canon video lights though. Thanks again! -->>>
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Old March 25th, 2004, 09:47 PM   #7
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Now that you mention it, my church might have a wireless mic I could borrow... I'll look into it. As far as a light goes, I'm assuming now that I absolutely must have a light? The last wedding I shot was with my crappy $400 JVC handy-cam, and the reception footage recorded from it (in very very dim light) was rarely focused but still visible. I assumed that the GL2 would be much better and record a good image without a light, but maybe I was expecting too much. My main concern with a powerful light is that I dont want to become the center of attention. Do the light kits that you mentioned come with diffusers to soften the light and make it less annoying for guests?

If this is the case, I may just attempt to borrow a wireless mic for now and spend my money on a light. Which of the two lights you mentioned do you think would be best for me to start with?

Thanks again, you've been a big help!
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Old March 25th, 2004, 09:58 PM   #8
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Chris wrote:
Quote:
Wow, that is a lot of money to be spending.
That's why I made that bare-bone list for the essentials. That Canon mic is very good for the money, by the way.
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Old March 25th, 2004, 10:09 PM   #9
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I have everything on your list except that mic. My only concern though is whether or not the Canon external mic will do a good job at picking up voices (wedding vows) at the front of the church, while the camera is all the way at the back. At that distance it makes it difficult for me to believe that even this external mic can shoot that far and get good sound. Please correct me if I'm wrong, though.

Also, if I have an external mic on the accessory shoe, would the camera record audio from the external mic AND anything plugged into the mic port, or would it ONLY record from the external mic?
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Old March 25th, 2004, 10:10 PM   #10
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Something interesting about weddings, they don't seem to mind the video guy shooting video with a light on as long as it's not a killer light that blinds! I've been shocked to see how many times the bride is anal about lighting, yet during the reception since everyone is drinking and the nerves are settled after the I DO's, it's really ok to crank it up a little, especially when they turn down the ambient light about 10 seconds into the 1st song!

NRG is nice, it's less than Frezzi, you don't have to go for the big 100 watt Varalux Pro that I got, they have some lower power and dollar amount units that will work nicely, just make sure that it's dimmable, you'll thank yourself for this! Also make sure that you get something that ends in cigarette lighter plug, the battery pack that I told you about in my last messages are checp and really do the trick.

There is one more solution, however I've not priced nor used this one, I was only made aware of it about 2 days ago. LED Technology! Lower power consumption, bright output and they seem to be pretty hip right now. Here is a link, it's a white paper on the new products however it's good reading:

http://www.microlamps-tg.com/html/Paper_drivers.htm

A vendor for this stuff is: http://www.litepanels.com/html/homea.html

Now can the GL2 do better in low light than the 1chip that you used that time, yes it will, however you're still looking at grainy video vs. quality video, you'd be amazed at how much a few watts of light in the right direction can do for your image.

<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Wright : Now that you mention it, my church might have a wireless mic I could borrow... I'll look into it. As far as a light goes, I'm assuming now that I absolutely must have a light? The last wedding I shot was with my crappy $400 JVC handy-cam, and the reception footage recorded from it (in very very dim light) was rarely focused but still visible. I assumed that the GL2 would be much better and record a good image without a light, but maybe I was expecting too much. My main concern with a powerful light is that I dont want to become the center of attention. Do the light kits that you mentioned come with diffusers to soften the light and make it less annoying for guests?

If this is the case, I may just attempt to borrow a wireless mic for now and spend my money on a light. Which of the two lights you mentioned do you think would be best for me to start with?

Thanks again, you've been a big help! -->>>
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Old March 25th, 2004, 10:15 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Wright : I have everything on your list except that mic. My only concern though is whether or not the Canon external mic will do a good job at picking up voices (wedding vows) at the front of the church, while the camera is all the way at the back. At that distance it makes it difficult for me to believe that even this external mic can shoot that far and get good sound. Please correct me if I'm wrong, though.

Also, if I have an external mic on the accessory shoe, would the camera record audio from the external mic AND anything plugged into the mic port, or would it ONLY record from the external mic? -->>>

You won't be using the mic from the camera at the back of the church for a primary mic, that's what the wireless that is on your primary camera is used for. You will be at the front, just to the right of the couple aimed at the bride, ALWAYS AIM AT THE BRIDE, THE GROOM IS JUST THERE FOR SHOW! Your wireless is going to be on him and your front camera is going to be synced to that audio.

The 2nd camera if you can get it, will be in the back and that one will use ambient sound to get the sound of the church organs, singers etc. If you can't get a 2nd cam, don't worry about it, just make sure that you're in the front!
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Old March 25th, 2004, 10:15 PM   #12
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Why are you going to shoot the vows from such a large distance?

The external mic will disengage the internal mic.

If you can't afford an external mic, don't worry. The GL2 audio/internal mic is very good---good enough for event videography. (DV Mag wrote a GL2 review a while back.)
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Old March 25th, 2004, 10:23 PM   #13
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No reason not to rent a wireless mic, until you can afford a good one. I rented a Shure wireless for $50/day, it runs over $1200 new. It was noticeably better than any system I've ever used.

Don't underestimate the value of a good wireless mic for weddings. Catching the whispers between the bride and the groom will really make your video look good.

Otherwise for audio, you need a decent directional mic and some sort of shockmount to get it away from the cam a bit, but this will give you some decent audio during things like the reception. If your adapter has phantom power, I sugguest the Oktava 012 w/hypercardioid capsule. If you need a battery powered mic, the new AT897 is supposed to sound get and it's not as expensive as a new motorcycle.
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Old March 25th, 2004, 10:25 PM   #14
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The Lite Panels look interesting, however it doesnt seem like it would attach to the top of the camera, which I would prefer. That website also doesnt have any prices listed.

It looks like the best way to go (for now) may be a lower-wattage dimmable NRG light. If you happen to know off hand which model this would be, let me know, but i'll do some hunting around.

Back to the mic issue... I know for a fact that I will be able to have both GL2s on the wedding day. If I set one in the back with the standard built-in mic and use the other at front with Canon's external mic, and don't use a wireless mic at all, will that setup still produce good enough sound?

Frank > I guess I assumed I'd be using both cameras at the back, one unmanned, and use the other to get closeups. I figured it would be better to stay out of the way... because wouldnt the officiant object to having a big camera/tripod setup right in front of the church?
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Old March 25th, 2004, 10:32 PM   #15
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Martin, I'll toss one to you, on my rigs I have my XLRpro under my cam with a quick release for my tripod. On the top of my GL I have my wireless receiver on velcro attached to the transport control door of the camera and the antenna and output cable just happens to rest on either side of my light which is on the hotshoe.

Question, do you have any idea of a product that I can use to attach another mic to the system such as an omni or directional boom mic? I seem to be at a loss for this right now and feel kinda snookered.

<<<-- Originally posted by Martin Garrison : No reason not to rent a wireless mic, until you can afford a good one. I rented a Shure wireless for $50/day, it runs over $1200 new. It was noticeably better than any system I've ever used.

Don't underestimate the value of a good wireless mic for weddings. Catching the whispers between the bride and the groom will really make your video look good.

Otherwise for audio, you need a decent directional mic and some sort of shockmount to get it away from the cam a bit, but this will give you some decent audio during things like the reception. If your adapter has phantom power, I sugguest the Oktava 012 w/hypercardioid capsule. If you need a battery powered mic, the new AT897 is supposed to sound get and it's not as expensive as a new motorcycle. -->>>
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