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


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Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:05 PM   #1
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A little overwhelmed...

Hello everyone,

I got my first dip into the wedding videography business this weekend when I shot my first wedding. Some things went easier than I thought, most went much harder. First of all, just having spent all my savings on a PD170 and a copy of Vegas, along with an iRiver and an giant squid mic I was hoping I would LOVE doing this in practice and not just in my dreams of grandeur. Truth is, I absolutely love it but I feel extremely overwhelmed at the same time. Has anyone else felt this?

I think my main issue was the one camera set up: there were just too may things going on too fast to capture them all, even though I got most. I felt I looked sloppy running all over the place, trying to get good placement for the shots, and some of my footage looked pretty good and solid, some looked amateurish and shaky. So my first question is,

1. How do you make it with one camera, and do it professionally? I didn't even have time to sit the thing on a tripod things went so fast. BTW, I will get another 170/2100 to match when I can afford it, but that's a way down the road since money is the big issue.

My next question is - editing. I have used windows movie maker 2 (don't laugh) for my home movies for a good while, and though it does a decent job with that, I bought Vegas cause I knew I needed a professional NLE to get the job done. Problem is, I have this footage sitting on my computer at home and I'm concerned with the length of time it's gonna take to learn Vegas and get the job done. So,

2. In your experience, about how long has it taken some of you to learn a professional NLE like Vegas?

Please feel free to guide me on what you think I should do at this point or point me to some of the resources that some of you used when starting out.
Just to let you know, I'll be purchasing the Lanken's "Breaking Out of the Box" DVD as soon as I can afford it.

I know everyone has to start somewhere, but I want to be the most professional videographer that I can be at whatever stage I'm in. This is not just a hobby either. I have given it a year's worth of thought, and made a huge investment (for me) as the first step in a hopefully long career.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for ANY constructive input you can give! Most of the things I've learned so far I have learned here, so again, thank you!
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:36 PM   #2
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To learn the basics of the editor I think that you'll have it in a short time. Vegas is pretty straight forward and after you edit this first wedding you should be comortable with the interface and the workflow.

Now, to learn it in and out to where your fluent and efficient on it, that takes a lot more time. If you really want to get in depth with it plan on about 7-10 projects before your really flying and you know all the in's and out's of the software.

Shooting a one camera wedding you can count on missing certain small items. I wouldn't try to capture every word, every hug, every smile. I would try and capture, in a professional manner, all of the MAIN events. You just need to know that you'll miss some of the small nuances of the day and focus on the more important one's that you can capture with just one camera coverage and make them look sharp. That's just a limitation of only having one camera. Don't get caught missing a major event because you were shooting a kid or some artsy cut away. Stick to the basics and be comfortable with that.

Ben Lynn
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:38 PM   #3
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Congrats on your first wedding Brandon!

When I did my first wedding (photography) - I too felt like I floundered a bit, but once you have the first one under your wing, you start to develop your own niche into what works, what doesn't. You optimize those areas that you felt you could improve on (actually you're already doing this by realizing you're needing a second tripod.) The only thing that really helped me was to attend the rehersal and figure out what the plan was going to be. Based on that, I could determine the angles and figure out what would work best in terms of setup and implementation.

While I'm probably the last one to give you advice as to your first question, I can address the Vegas issue a bit. I started learning Windows Movie Maker - only to find that it was not very intuitive for what I wanted to do. I had to put together a 20 minute presentation to be shown in front of 600+ people and I had *never* done anything like this before!! (It truly was terrifying!)

But what I found was that as I went along with adding media, footage, still pictures, audio, music - the more I learned how to make Vegas sing and dance. The balance of your question:

"In your experience, about how long has it taken some of you to learn a professional NLE like Vegas?"

Oy-vey... I've been learning for well over a year and I know I haven't but scratched the surface into all of its capabilities. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that it's a perpetual process. Master those things that you do learn and never stop thirsting to learn more. Keep sight of your vision and where your product is going and you'll be amazed at how it all comes together. In the end, it makes you a far better editor - and the product that you produce is something someone will treasure for a very long time.

Best of luck!
-Michael
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 05:04 PM   #4
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Thanks, Ben and Michael, I'm feeling more confident already.

I guess I'm just looking for similar stories like yours so I can see where you've been, and try to take some shortcuts to the next level of where I need to be.

That being said, I know its always a learning process and there will always be mistakes; I just want to make as few as possible!
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 06:48 PM   #5
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Brandon,

Have you got any friends with a cheap miniDV cam? Borrow it, give it to a woman with two tapes, and tell her to catch the 'sentimental moments'. That way you'll have some b-roll to use with the footage from your primary camera (even if you only use a few shots, they'll prove indispensible when trying to edit out the few 'weak' spots in your primary footage. Even if it doesn't match up well with the PD 170 footage, put a color filter on it and make it look different on purpose! Make them think you meant for it to look like that!

As for Vegas, I've got to say that the best thing you can do is purchase a instructional DVD. I didn't for Vegas 3 and thought I'd learned Vegas. Pbhhht! I wasn't even close to knowing the program until I bought Gary Kleiner's DVD series for Vegas 4. Douglas Spotted Eagle frequents this forum and also has an instructional series that's supposed to be quite good. I pull mine out about every other week to review a feature I "thought" I remembered how to operate. ;) This software package is so powerful that even studying the manual will leave you unprepared to edit. You'll look at the write-uo in the manual about a feature, think you understand what it does, but still not know why and when you need to use it until someone like Gary or DSE explains it. Make this your VERY NEXT purchase.

Last, I guess, is 'Monitor your sound'. Get a headset, plug it into your PD 170, and listen attentatively during the entire shoot. Adjust as necessary. Trying to salvage audio in post-production is a nightmare, nightmare, nightmare...say is there an echo in this forum?

And enjoy! I'm glad there are folks like you out there that like to shoot weddings, because I DON'T. I like live events, just not finacky mother, angry clergy, most-important-day-of-my-life events full of rug-rats who are drawn to your equipment like moths to a flame. Yep, enjoy! ;)
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 10:16 PM   #6
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Yes Patrick,

I've had a ZR45 Canon for a few years, but I never thought about using it as a secondary cam for fear the footage would look so crappy cut in with the PD170. You've got a good point though. Do a lot of wedding videographers do this?

...and thanks for all the other tips too!
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:21 AM   #7
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Congratulations also!

I find it easiest to learn some app (when a complete newb) when someone who knows it shows you, or you can just watch and ask the odd question. Then a good training video is worth its weight. For the hour upon hour it will save you! And you can always sell it for half price when you become a guru!
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:28 AM   #8
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1. How do you make it with one camera, and do it professionally? I didn't even have time to sit the thing on a tripod things went so fast. BTW, I will get another 170/2100 to match when I can afford it, but that's a way down the road since money is the big issue.

A couple of options here:

hire another videographer to be your second cameraperson (factor in this cost when you quote your package price to the bride)

beg/borrow a small dv camera and set it up for a wide shot during the ceremony to give you something to cut to when you move around

stick to smaller weddings (weddings on the beach, vow renewals) - get to know other reliable wedding videographers in your area that can do multi-camera weddings. When you get brides that have bigger weddings you feel would be better serviced by multi-cameras, refer them to the other company. You may not get that wedding, but people remember you when you go out of your way to help them, and you get referrals that way.

2. In your experience, about how long has it taken some of you to learn a professional NLE like Vegas?

If you pick up a couple of training books at Borders and throw yourself into it, you can pickup the basics in about a weekend. The more you use the software, the better you'll get at it. I used to use Media 100 a lot, but had to switch over to Final Cut Pro 'cause the Media 100 disk arrays kept frying out on us. Now that I've been using Final Cut for so long, I can't imagine how I got a long without it.

Please feel free to guide me on what you think I should do at this point or point me to some of the resources that some of you used when starting out.
Just to let you know, I'll be purchasing the Lanken's "Breaking Out of the Box" DVD as soon as I can afford it.

Join WEVA (Wedding and Event Videographers Association). It is a good place to learn more about Wedding Videography (WEVA.com) If you can attend their conventions, you learn a lot and get to network with other videographers.

Realize that with 1 camera, you won't be able to get everything at first. Focus on shooting the most important things, with good solid camerawork and sound. Don't get carried away with too many effects in editing.

Most importantly, don't give up, always be willing to learn more.
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Island Production Group
Maui, Hawaii
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:58 AM   #9
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thanks Richard and Todd,

I'm getting some good training right here
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 02:17 AM   #10
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You said you have a ZR45, "but I never thought about using it as a secondary cam for fear the footage would look so crappy cut in with the PD170. " I think I see the problem....

Why haven't you tried it? Go out to few venues and shoot with both cameras, then cut them together into a highlight clip. It may be a matter of adjusting the settings or the white balance or something else. It may be that you want a Sony consumercam to match up better. It may be easy to trade with someone who has a Sony and doesn't care. I don't know if it matters. Maybe it is a simple color correction. Vegas makes it easy to apply the same FX to an entire bin of material. But you have the equipment and you didn't even try it out ? That's not the way to get to professional.

Same thing with Vegas. Before you start on editing your wedding, take some of the practice footage that you just shot with your ZR45 and pd150, and edit those to some music into a highlights clip. That way when you start the real project, you will be lightyears ahead of where you might be otherwise, and will be a lot happier. It will probably even be quicker, since you won't feel a need to go back and redo stuff quite as often.

Practice, Practice, Practice. And Gary's Vegas DVD's are great, better than 500 hours of hacking away at Vegas without them. . You can buy them used and resell them (but you will keep them). In fact I buy a lot of things used...
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 01:48 PM   #11
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Wow John,

That stung a little, but hey, that's what I want - constructive criticism that's honest. I'll try to intercut some footage from the 170 and the ZR45 and see how creative I can get. I think with outdoor shoots there won't be a huge difference, but indoors (where I'll be shooting most of the time), the ZR45 will look like a convenience store monitor in comparison with the 170. That camera does NOT do well in low light at all unless I turn the shutter speed to 30 and crank up the white balance - but then, of course it would look nothing like the 170 footage (which I got the 170 to get good, clear, sharp, low light video).

...also, and I took everyones advice, borrowed some money and ordered the Vegas 5 DVD set. Man, I hope they are good (and my wife told me they better be).
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 06:14 PM   #12
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Sorry, I am getting cranky as I get older. I wanted to make sure you got the message. And using the ZR inside as your wide shot cam may not be as bad as you think. It's just for fill footage at the ceremony, people will be tiny anyway. At least try it (ideally before you need it). Its not ideal, but better than one cam. Is the venue you shot ceremony at having another wedding soon (same time of day)? Just sneak in the back with the ZR, shoot some test footage on zoom setting you would use, and see how closely colors and image quality match up with footage you alreay shot.

I have heard that vx2100's match up pretty well to the pd170 (2000 to 150), so that would be a much cheaper way to get a nice second cam in action. Big difference 2100 vs 2000 is light sensitivity. Some 2000's on ebay are going for $1300-1400 (the price of one wedding, right?) Then if the ZR is passable for background shots, you can put your wife to work on the 2100, She can do bridal preps, etc better than you can.

Good Luck. I admire your bravery at the way you just dove in.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 08:09 PM   #13
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LOL!

thanks again, I'm planning on getting another 2100 asap but it'll be awhile unless the weddings or other video opportunities start flying in...I'm not fooling myself that with a full time job, its probably not going to happen (even though I'm advertising like crazy by word of mouth - and hopefully by "word of DVD" soon).


I'm gonna try the ZR with the next rehearsal though. Like your saying, what have I got to lose?
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