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


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Old August 12th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #1
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unhappy customer

Hello everyone first post here.

After this wedding I removed 1-camera package from my site, and am never doing that again, because I think it may have led to the problem on a video.

It was a small indoor space, with a stairwell on groom's side, so I stayed on the stair platform the whole time.. well the client in "not pleased" because I did not capture much of the groomsmen, and also because I was to the side (which I read is a pretty std. place), I got a frontal of bride but not of groom very much.

The groomsmen did not enter as a processional. I had my camera pointed up the stairs as the brideswoman entered. Now at the bottom of staircase the groomsmen MIGHT have escorted them down, and yes, I missed that, but with a one camera setup my options were limited.

I've read that 90% of unhappy clients don't report it, but for someone to be unhappy because the groomsmen aren't emphasized as much seems like a bad client, and I'm not sure if I should even respond back or not.

thx for input.
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Old August 12th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #2
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The minimum coverage for a wedding should be one manned and one well positioned fixed camera. There are just too many variables and surprises to risk only one camera. Why would anyone want to risk having only one camera rolling!? If they need to prove they are a he-man or something they should join a gym, not fleece couples at their weddings.
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Old August 12th, 2009, 11:20 AM   #3
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After reviewing the footage, the wedding was unorganized, and the groomsmen did not enter as a processional, they were already down by the alter before the wedding or music began.

It looks like all that I'm missing would be the overview shot. I probably would have shown this shot during the first words and then switched to the closeup side shot during most of the ceremony.

I'm not here to fleece anybody, and I've seen many other videographers in town advertise a 1-camera package, and I'd also like to preserve the integrity of the industry, so what is the standard reaction to this, and what would you normally do with a client who is "not pleased": full refund, partial refund, explain situation, defend situation, etc.?

thx again.
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Old August 12th, 2009, 11:30 AM   #4
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Jeff,

I'm surprised that these sorts of things weren't discovered during the practice run.

The other thing is that brides etc most probably don't "get it" regarding needing more than one camera for adequate coverage.

Andrew
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Old August 12th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #5
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I'm not sure I get what you were referring to about the stairs, pointing up the stairs, missing the bridesmaids etc.. I could understand if you missed the first few seconds, or the first girl, but the entire thing? Also you seem to say the groomsmen did not enter as a processional, then say the did or might have. Myb I'm misinterpreting.

It's tough I know, as we've learned weddings don't always start 'On the hour' (ie 1pm, 2pm etc) so sometimes they seem to immediately start after a long lull of nothing going on & waiting.


Anyway, it sounds like it was a venue that wasn't condusive for a very good video capture. How did everything else turn out (lighting, audio, reception?). If they're just upset over the cameras POV then it sounds like they're being a little picky. Did it seem a bit of a low-budget location? If so, (without telling them this) it seems they cut corners or couldn't afford very much, but are expecting you to overcompensate & overcome the obstacles that such a location offers.

Jim makes a good point, what are your options? Can you just put another camera on a tripod in the back for b-rolll footage. I'm sure some clients may not want to pay for a second shooter, but you might not want to lose their business.

As for responding back, well, what did they do, call you or email you? Demand money back?? If they did I would either email or write a letter stating that the venue made it challenging to shoot. Explain why you couldn't or chose not to shoot from other areas (back), and anything else. I certainly think it's best to respond in some form, even if it's not what they want to hear. Maybe they just had this vision in their head that the place would look beautiful on TV, then they watched it & it just looked small & cramped. Better than you caught the bridesmaids than the guys. I would work that into your response to, that you "opted" to get more footage of the girls. Just curious, would you have been able to shoot from the back??
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Old August 12th, 2009, 12:52 PM   #6
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Remember "the customer is always right"... even when they're not. Maybe they are unreasonable, but that isn't going to help your business, and that's your responsibility to prevent or "fix".

I'm confused as to where exactly you were - if I read your post right, you DIDN'T MOVE throughout the ceremony?? I'm gathering you were at the base of a stairwell on the groom side the entire time... (on a tripod?... bridesmaids came down the stairs, groomsmen didn't, so they were behind you?)...

NO way that will work with a 1 camera shoot (you HAVE to move as needed to find the best shot, just like a photog), and if you realized your motion would be limited, your backup camera should have come out, gone on a tripod for cutaways, and a little more mixdown time been thrown in.

I consider that if it's a "1 camera" shoot, they STILL get a fixed position backup angle cam since it's a live shoot, and if your main camera goes out for any reason (or you have a crappy angle), you're hosed and have a "zero camera shoot" - unacceptable.

The cost for rolling an extra camera (or two or three) is minimal compared to having no cutaways and an unhappy customer... Part of being a professional is being ready to shift gears on the fly and adapt to difficult locations, people, weather, etc.

I am sympathetic, but really this doesn't sound like an "unavoidable" situtation, and heck, nobody died... or lost puppies or anything even... WV requires thinking on your feet and making the impossible "work".
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Old August 12th, 2009, 01:53 PM   #7
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I was on the mid-way platform of the stairwell on the right side (groom side) elevated.

After reviewing the footage it looks like I didn't miss the bridal party, It's just that the groomsmen and groom were already at the alter before the wedding began or music started (which I think is due to un-organization).

Even if I had used another camera the only difference that would have made would have been a overview shot, which I would have used in the beginning, and then switched to the side shot for most of the event.
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Old August 12th, 2009, 02:12 PM   #8
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The first year when I start doing this business, I only use one camera. Then I realize having a second camera unmanned on tripod, it saves a lot of time during editing. When times I need to change tape, I don't have to worry about missing any important moment.

Then few years later, I now have an assistant to help me operate the second camera. Basically just to make sure it has battery and still in good angle.
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Old August 12th, 2009, 02:13 PM   #9
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I agree that running a 2nd unmanned camera from somewhere to get a safety shot is the thing to do even on a 1 camera shoot. However I don't quite understand the layout of the venue and exactly where you were positioned.
In my time I have shot in lots of venues that really weren't "wedding" oriented but I found the safest place to shoot from is upfront for the processional and then move slowly and confidently to the center aisle exact position to depend on the setup. (meaning how far back i go) This way you can get a shot of the girls coming down the aisle and when the guys go to meet them part way down you're in position to get that. When the bride comes down the aisle and is handed off to the groom you can get that and then move back down the center aisle to get the ceremony. While you might only get the back of their heads for most of it you will get their profiles during the vows and rings and then you're in position to get them during the recessional.
Anyway, as far as this particular wedding goes, you can't edit what you don't have, so IMO there is nothing you can do to make it better of fix it. If it were me, I would certainly NOT ignore the brides inquiry and explain to her that using 1 camera limited what you could do. I would try to help her make the decision to leave it as it is BUT it soulnds like she might be looking for a partial refund of her money. If she insists on persuing the matter then you need to ask her what she would like you to do and go from there.
Many many years ago 1 camera jobs were very common but since the early/mid 90s with the advent of DV/miniDV cameras running 1 camera at a wedding can be considered a prelude to suicide.
As for unhappy brides not reporting it, well they may not say anything to you but trust me, they ALWAYS tell their friends and guess who else is getting married. Their friends. You need to respond quickly, the long it takes, the more they fester and the worse the video looks. Human nature.
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Old August 12th, 2009, 07:54 PM   #10
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Skip 1 cams altogether. I only shoot 3 cams now. It is too nervewracking or confining to shoot only 1 cam. That would be among the most boring of videos. Constantly stuck on medium wide angle, no closeups, etc.

I wish you the best in dealing with the client though. Even though you spend time educating, many clients are just not well versed enough to understand. Heck, I don't think a client NEEDS to know all that video techno-babble. What they need to know is the final look they want, do they like my previous works, and where to write the check. What I NEED to know is what can I give them for the amount they are willing to pay, can I achieve the look they want, and do I know all the video-techno-babble to pull it off. :-)
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Old August 12th, 2009, 08:09 PM   #11
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Hi Jeff

Plenty of videographers and photographers are too lazy/busy to go to wedding rehearsals and it may seem like a waste of time but I go to every one. That way there are no surprises even if you shoot with one cam!!! Don't get caught out with the phrase "If only I had known........."
I only had one bride ("we don't need a rehearsal") who complained about me missing footage of her father handing her over to the groom. It was done totally unconventionally way out of the camera view and over in seconds. If the bride says they are not having a rehearsal I always ask her to take me thru the ceremony so if something unusual is likely to happen I can spot it and take action!! If they do something totally strange that happens fast even with 2 cams you might not even get to it in time !!!

Chris
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Old August 12th, 2009, 09:23 PM   #12
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Hi, Jeff,

I did not understand the layout and your positioning there but now it does not matter...

In this situation you need to reply to the bride, as was mentioned here before, as soon as you can. I would recommend to do it in writing, in the most polite form - letter or E-Mail (will be documented this way...) You can remind the bride that you had offered her (I hope...) 2 or more camera options with explanation of all the benefits, but it was her decision to choose 1 camera coverage, i.e., limited coverage option... I would also mention that you did the best you could do at this particular location, worked hard for the rest of the day etc...

As for myself, I mostly freelance for different studios, and it is not my decision, how many cameras to use on the job - they always send me solo, often in-camera edit package (no studio edit later...) I had to learn hard way, how to use 1 camera, how to position myself, when to change tapes etc... I only use monopod and move when needed. Also, very important is good audio: I use wireless lav on groom and have separate audio recorder on a stand into a loudspeaker for the whole ceremony.

I hope, you will learn from your mistakes... Good Luck!
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Old August 12th, 2009, 10:36 PM   #13
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Totally Agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Hi Jeff

Plenty of videographers and photographers are too lazy/busy to go to wedding rehearsals and it may seem like a waste of time but I go to every one. That way there are no surprises even if you shoot with one cam!!! Don't get caught out with the phrase "If only I had known........."
I only had one bride ("we don't need a rehearsal") who complained about me missing footage of her father handing her over to the groom. It was done totally unconventionally way out of the camera view and over in seconds. If the bride says they are not having a rehearsal I always ask her to take me thru the ceremony so if something unusual is likely to happen I can spot it and take action!! If they do something totally strange that happens fast even with 2 cams you might not even get to it in time !!!

Chris
We also never miss a rehearsal and make SURE we ask the the person conduct the ceremony " IN FRONT OF THE BRIDE" Where we can be positioned. We also have our little handy cam running to capture the audio, just in case.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 05:46 AM   #14
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You can't please them all.

It doesn't matter how good you are and how much work you put into it, you will never please everyone.

Stop and think about it.

They have a show on television called "BrideZilla". It's named that for a reason.

Have you ever heard of a show called VideographerZilla?
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Old August 14th, 2009, 07:01 AM   #15
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You are right Jeff

Jeff you are 100 % right, but we always give it our best shot.
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