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


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Old February 11th, 2005, 01:13 PM   #1
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New Wedding Videographer/ One Man

I sure hate to add another "Hey, just getting started" thread to the board, please forgive me...I feel I must.

Okies, here's my situation:
Small rural southern town, people probably not expecting mega productions, I just want to do the best with what I have:

- DVX100A
- Sony Hi8
- ME66
- AT VHF Lav (1)
- 503 head/tripod

Of course I want to get another second camera ASAP, and maybe another lav or 2. Planning on getting an I-River. Right now I'm living off my tax refund...stay at home Dad, so I need to start with pretty much what I have.

I'll be flying solo, at least until getting pretty well established. Never done weddings before, but I'm trying to pre-visualize everything I can. I meditate a lot, picturing myself actually shooting weddings start to finish, and I'm fixing to go to the church I grew up in and shoot some imaginary weddings there all by myself, just helping to get a feel, and more firmly cement my visualizations.

Firstly, any and all general advice on how to pull this off given the outlined circumstance would be greatly appreciated, I dont know what questions I should be asking, so I will call upon your wisdom in knowing what I need to know. But I do have a couple of specifics:

- Where should I try to set up as a one man show to get the shots that I need during the ceremony? I'd like to get a full front shot of the B/G/Officient w/ one camera, and use the other to get closeups of the family watching, the rings, and anything else that may catch my eye as beign worthy of a shot. I think I'm going to show the full shot, with the closeups as picture in picture using the hi8, since obviously it will be much lower res than the DVX, but should be fine for a small picture window, no?

I'll just leave it at that for the moment and see where we go from there. I've read through pretty much all of the DVinfo Wedding Section, and my head is turning to mush! A lot of the info applies to people with far more elaborate setups, and multi camera persons, I just will not have that luxury to begin with.

Well, let me also make a humble request...I have viewed several VERY helpful clips from your posts, but it takes me a LONG time over not only 56k, but crappy 56k! I would really appreciate it if any of you kind souls might be willing to mail me some of your work to help me further visualize what I want...and will be able to achieve.

Much appreciated!
Daniel Runyon
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Old February 11th, 2005, 02:19 PM   #2
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I have shot weddings solo with 3 cameras. They turned out really close to what we do with 3 cameras and 2 videographers. Just put one camera in the back and have your camera on the side. I would pick the side where you get the brides face in your shot. Of course, if you have a third camera have it on where the groom will say his vows.

As soon as they get ready to walk back down the isle, get to the back of the chuch as fast as possible to get them walking down the isle.

Takes practice but works out pretty well. I have a remote camera now that I can control. It makes it nice for a one videographer shoot. I can control 2 cameras myself. The only limit to the remote camera is that you need lots of equipment and the camera has to be less than 4lbs. I mount a GL-2 to it and it works great. It's not the best at panning but it will move to the shot you want and stay there. I can also control the zoom and focus as well. My method requires too much hardware to make it worth your while but I think it's cool. 2 laptops, rf video transmitters and the trackercam.

Good luck.

Jon
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Old February 11th, 2005, 06:57 PM   #3
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Hi Daniel

Welcome to the wonderful world of wedding videos. I don't have much experience with one operator weddings, sorry.

I don't know how close you are to Atlanta but there will be a two day video conference coming to Atlanta March 7&8. Here's a link for more details.

http://www.wevainstitute.com/ProgrammingDetail.asp?CityID=7

There's also a really good video association in Atlanta. When we were first starting out, our local video association was very helpful to us, a great place to ask questions and learn. Local associations can also be a good place to find used equipment. Here's a link where you can find the video association in Atlanta or for that matter, anywhere esle.

http://www.weva.com/resources.php?action=localassociations&action2=s&state=GA

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions
www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com
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Old February 15th, 2005, 04:52 AM   #4
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I do 20 to 25 weddings a year solo shooting with one camera and another for backup. My humble thoughts:

If you are realy solo, meaning, there will be no one to help you, forget shooting with two cameras. You should focus on getting the shots that make the day and not be distracted thinking if your Hi8 is recording or someone bumped the tripod. Leave the Hi8 in the car. It will be your inssurance if your main camera plays a trick on you.

You didn't mention extra batteries and a light for your camera with respective batteries. You will be shooting for a lot of hours. You'll need enough batteries to power your camera and your light through the day.

Allways carry with you (not in the car, but in a small bag attached to you) a cleaning tape, a lens cleaning tissue, extra lamp for your light and extra battery for the camera).

Number your tapes. If you taped the B/G preparations, put a new tape for the ceremony. Those have a tendency to be on the long side and you don't want to get caught changing tapes when they say "I Do".

Look at the RECORD indicator on the viewfinder/LCD, and look again. Sometimes you thing you are recording, but you didn't press the button. Believe me, it WILL happen to you.

Be cool, try to relax, take a deep breath, that way you will not be sweating like a pig :) (I did in my first wedding) and making things worst by having to clean you face constantly.

I assume you can edit video. Can you author a DVD? Do you have a printer that can print on DVDs? No labels. I say again: NO Labels. I'v used them on DVDs for some time, but it's not worth the risk of having problems with some clients not beeing able to play them.

There are a 1000 more tips me and others can give you. Just tried to help you getting started. Please keep us posted on your progress. Go slow - Go Steady :)

The best of luck to you on your new adventure (yes, shooting weddings can be a real adventure).

Best regards.
Arnaldo
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Old February 15th, 2005, 08:50 PM   #5
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Much appreciated!

I'm pretty exited about getting into this. To me, there is an archetypal wedding videographer image in my head, and it is quite cool to be stepping into that universe.

I've been looking at as many samples as I can to get ideas about how I want to/will be able to approach this. Mr Troxels website has been the biggest help, thank you Mr Troxel for making your samples right click downloadable! On 56K, its pretty much the only way I'm able to see em! Theyve helped me to learn a great deal about what type of location coverage I need, and about lots of people shots.

RE: Arnaldo Paixao
Thank you sir! I'l be using Vegas 5 for editing, and while I'm not what youd call a pro at it yet, but I've practiced a great deal over the last year, and I've got Spots big book if I get stuck. I do have DVD Architect, but no DVD printer. Also, I'm covered with the DVXuser batteries. Dont have a light yet. My starting budget is pretty small, but I plan to get one with some of the bounty from a couple of weddings.

RE: Mark Von Lanken
Thank you fir the welcome, as I said, I'm pretty exited about it! I wont be able to go to the events you mentioned though...just dont have the money for the classes. Thanks for the links though!

RE: Jon East
Your camera setup suggestions make a lot of sense to me. Much appreciated! Would love to have remote cams!!!

So do you guys pretty much agree with having the main, manned cam to the side, sort of behind the groom with a view of the bride? And would you use the main cam durring the ceremony to pan around for family reaction shots, or would you want to keep it steady on the bride? So far, I havent seen any samples from an actually ceremony, so I have only foggy ideas of how to handle this..most crucial of the days shooting. Again, if anyone would be willing to help me out with a sample wedding, I'd sure appreciate it a lot. I've got a friend bringing me her wedding video soon, hopefully it will be something more than an Uncle Joe tape!

Seriously, thanks so much for your help so far!
Daniel Runyon
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Old February 15th, 2005, 09:46 PM   #6
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Daniel

I can certainly understand being tight on cash, especially just starting out in the business. If you have the gas money to Atlanta it will be well worth the trip, especially since you are new to the business. On Monday there is 8 hours of FREE programming.

As far as ceremony coverage with the front camera, if the minister is doing a lot of talking I will pan the audiance, especially parents, grandparents or anyone that looks interested in whats going on. I will also get shots of the bridesmaides and groomsmen.

As soon as the ceremony is over I get shots of the candles, unity candle, anything I can use for cutaways or the highlight.

You really should contact Bob Pearl with the Atlanta video association. It's a great chance to meet videographers and see what others are doing, how they are doing it, etc... and it's free.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions
www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com
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Old February 15th, 2005, 10:12 PM   #7
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Thank you sir! Awesome practical advice, and I will indeed contact Mr. Pearl. Also, my wife says she will try to take the day off and keep our son to allow me to go to ATL on the 7th.
I'd like to attend the Town Meeting (Free), looks worth while, and with free dinner to boot!

BTW, a fellow in ATL has contacted me and is willing to allow me to join him on one of his weddings to get a little bit of pre launch hands on, and an established still photographer just told my wife I could come with her on a few for the sake of learning! Evidently....The Force is with me.

Muchas Gracias,
Daniel Runyon
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Old February 15th, 2005, 11:49 PM   #8
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Daniel

Your welcome. Look us up if you make it to the Town Meeting.

That's great that a videographer has invited you to join him. There is so much you can learn just by watching someone else in action.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions
www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com
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Old February 20th, 2005, 09:53 PM   #9
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Awesome news....

My wife, saying that she wanted me to have the best start that I could get, has given $1000 of her tax refund to me to get a couple more things. I picked up an Epson DVD printer for $98, got some regular DVD's for my usual data backup, and some printables for upcoming wedding projects. Now, I think I'm gonna get a Panasonic GS120 3 chip for just under $600 to replace my little hi8 as second/back up camera to the DVX. Wise move? And does anyone know if the GS cams use the same battery as a DVX?

Gracias!

Daniel Runyon
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Old February 21st, 2005, 07:07 PM   #10
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Like you, I live in a rural area. For the last five years, and i don't remember the number of weddings, I've shot all but two with a single camera. It is a lot easier to shoot a ceremony with more than one camera.
Ceremonies: This is where most of my audio equipment is used. I usually shoot from the back and right behind the last row of pews or chairs reserved for wedding guests. I use a tripod and get it as high as possible so I have a clear view over heads when everyone is standing. I currently use four wireless mics, which are placed as follows: Officiate, Groom, Floor Mic for family/friend commentary, and floor mic for musicians. These feed into an inexpensive audio mixer which then feeds into the camera. The mixer (a Behringer model) manages four XLR mics, each having a mute switch. A simple press of a button opens or closes microphone signals to my camera as I need them.
Because i shoot from a tripod during the ceremony, and can not move, I stress to my clients the importance of them facing each other during the ceremony. This is usually fine for most Protestant ceremonies and those which do not rely heavily upon formal blessings of an organized faith. Religious ceremonies that focus upon traditions, (Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Jewish, for example) are extremely difficult to shoot with a single camera.
The single, biggest disadvantage with a single camera shoot is the need to creatively pan and zoom. Because I never turn off the audio during a ceremony I must change camera angles and focal lengths of the lens in a way that moves with the rhythm of the ceremony. That means listening carefully to what is being said. You can't mask a camera angle change, so it has to be done in a very obvious way that says there is a purpose and reason for the change. In short, don't move the camera without a reason, and the commentary of the ceremony will give you the cues you need to have the reason.
Nothing is more helpful than getting the officiating priest to explain to you in detail the entire ceremony and purpose of every part within the ceremony.
Knowing this, you can, before the ceremony collect B-Roll footage that can be used a appropriate times for added visual interest.

For me the ceremony demands the most planning. All other aspects of the wedding day celebration are shot with a single camera on a monopod, the on-camera mic, and an on-camera light. I just shoot a lot of video. I had four to six hours of recorded tape on my first few weddings, most of which was useless. A combination of more detailed research and experience reduced pre-ceremony and post-ceremony footage to about two hours of tape. My final DVD's run anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour, 50 minutes. So much depends upon what the people actually do.

Good Luck!
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Old February 21st, 2005, 08:41 PM   #11
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Ok, so your wife is funding part of your start-up. The question I have is does she want to see you on Saturdays? If so, maybe you should get a camera that fits her hands nicely and teach her enough to do second cam. Lots of husband/wife teams in the business. Women do a better job of selling, and a better job of bridal prep, since they can get into the room long before guys can most of the time. Maybe she just works for bridal prep and ceremony (and bridal shows), you do everything else on your own. Your rates will go up a lot faster, since your end-product willbe lots better. Make sure she gets her own paycheck out of it for hours spent. And stick that third cam on a tripod in the back anyway. :)
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 12:50 PM   #12
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Daniel,

I've worked with the GS 120 and I wouldn't go with with it for weddings. Get the GS 200 or the GS 400 if you want a small camera. The GS120 makes very good pictures for such a small camera, but it doesn't have the manual functions that the 200 or 400 have. You'll want that at some point even if you plan on just using the camera for a second fill shot for now.

Or, since the price of the 200 and 400 is over/around 1k, possibly look into buying a used prosumer camera like a vx2000, DVC30, etc.

Ben
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Old March 13th, 2005, 01:21 PM   #13
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Thank you all very much....your answers played in big part in shaping my decisions. I decided to round out my audio and lighting rather than get a second camera for the time being, as I'm opening a local general videography business and needed to be prepared for the widest possible variety of job.

I do have a wedding lined up soon, and since I havent been able to see anyones actual ceremony footage, I will modify my request....would some of you (in particular the single camera folks) be willing to link a few screen grabs to demonstrate a good angle? I've taken it that placing the camera off to the side, behind the groom with a good view of the bride is the way a lot of single camera videographers are doing it, but I'm having a hard time seeing it in my head. I do know that at the wedding I have lined up, it will be very important to feature the groom, and I have no idea how I will pull that off without being more in the way of spectators.

Gracias,
Daniel Runyon
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Old March 13th, 2005, 01:38 PM   #14
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Good luck.

I think the GS120 is good enough for back-up considering your 2nd camcorder is the Sony Hi8 camcorder. BTW, the GS series doesn't share the same battery as the DVX100A. The DV953 (MX5000) does though.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:35 PM   #15
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Greets again,

Audio Question:

I bought two wireless lav kits, but I'm not satisfied with the fullness of the sound. Today, I hooked the transmitter up to my ME66 boom mic and put it on a stand, set up as if it was hovering over the officiant/bride/groom, and got a pretty good sound out of it. Would there be any reason not to use such a setup for the ceremony?

Gracias,
Daniel
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