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


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Old May 28th, 2005, 02:07 AM   #1
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Newbie to Weddings

I am doing a wedding for a friend that could not afford a videographer. I have never done a wedding(Iam mostly a sport, corp, etc.) I only have one camera, so I can only get so much. Any tips, Any problems to avoid? Thanks for the help in advance.
~Matt
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Old May 28th, 2005, 12:35 PM   #2
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Hi Matt,

Are you going to do any editing? That will greatly determine the best approach to take. What camera do you shoot with? Is there any chance of getting a second camera? Even an unmanned 2nd camera can make a big difference.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 01:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Von Lanken
Hi Matt,

Are you going to do any editing? That will greatly determine the best approach to take. What camera do you shoot with? Is there any chance of getting a second camera? Even an unmanned 2nd camera can make a big difference.
Yes I will be using Sony Vegas Video to do editing. I will be using a Canon GL2, the bride said she is having her nephew video it on 8mm cassette, which I said I could edit it in , but there would be a clear differential in quality. I may be able to get a hold of a JVC 1-chip. I also have on-lighting equiptment, but I don't think I'll need that for the ceremony. Right? Gosh I feel really stupid doing this now...:/ Thanks for your help.

Last edited by Matt Sawyers; May 28th, 2005 at 01:44 PM. Reason: grammer correction
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Old May 28th, 2005, 10:27 PM   #4
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Be Confident...

Don't feel stupid...be confident! Everyone in here felt a bit nervous during their first few weddings, whether it was for their friends, or their brother, or their youngest cousin...I just finished my 80-something and now it is just like any other job...except for the crying, emotion, laughter, good food, dancing and cake! mmmm...
As Mark said...a second camera with a wider shot will help tremendously from a tri-pod...use this during the ceremony and the first dance if possible and use it as a back-up/second shot...

Good Luck! E-mail me if you have any other questions....

Seth
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Old May 30th, 2005, 07:09 PM   #5
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Single camera weddings, if carefully thought out, can make your editing process much quicker. However, this is at the expense of other camera angles. I typically shoot much more footage than I actually use. Here is what I do:
1. Insure that the B&G will face one another during the ceremony. If you can shoot and deliver in 16:9 aspect ratio, do it, because in 4:3, compostition is a challenge, as no one ever stays in the action safe zone.
2. Insure you have a reserved camera location no more than 40' from the actual cremony site on the side of the aisle that best fits you style of working with your camera. I personally like the left side of the aisle, but can work either.
3. Allow yourself time for set up well before guests start arriving (that is 1 1/2 hrs for me). This is so you can be sure of all audio/video issues. Then, you can detach your camera from its tripod and gather more guest arrival footage than you think you would ever use. Allow enough time to get back to your camera location a couple minutes before the processional starts.
4. At the start of the processional you should be locked upon your tripod with all audio cables connected. Some videographers would disagree with me at this point. They support the idea of moving around during the ceremony to get those "perfect shots". I'll allow free form camera movement in a multiple camera shoot, but never in a single camera shoot. To move on, you may or may not have the opportunity to capture random guest shots. Pay particular attention to this moment in time because it is very easy for the family to start the processional without any visual cues for you.
5. At the beginning of the processional you must commit to never turning your camera off, pausing, or attempting to seek another positon. You will have to be proficient in panning and careful zooming throughout the entire ceremony because this is the only method you have to make the resulting video visually interesting. Timing of the processional, while it may well have been carefully planned, does not appear quite so carefully observed in reality. I often find dissolves in post the only way to both elimnate wasted images and bring the tempo back into line.
6.Because you cannot pause and change positions you MUST know the chronological sequence of events in the ceremony and the symbolic/mythical importance of each event with respect to the religious/cultural traditions involved. "Mythology" is used here in its correct interpetation, which is simply described as the collective wisdom of a culture, people, or faith. Put another way, one man's religion is another's mythology.
7. To keep the video visually interesting your only option is creative pan and zoom. Knowing the chronology of events and the ritual importance of each will allow you to know in advance where the camera's focus should be at the appropriate time. You must know where the movement ends. "If I must start here", I say to myself, "I must end here". I typically use an " S " shaped zoom out/pan/zoom in, and try very hard to key the beginning and end of my camera moves to movements or changes in posture of members ofthe wedding party. It is not easy, because there is such a great opportunity for spontaneous movement. It remains your only opportunity. Only in the mind of the officiant is there any real choreography to a wedding ceremony.
8. Following the end of the processional I have a greate sense of freedom. from this point forward I manage the remainder of the celebration with my camera, an on-camera mic, an on camera light, and a monopod. I have great fun, never forget the focus of my attention, and have a much easier (though not faster) time in post.

Readers, please post your personal approaches.
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Old May 31st, 2005, 06:17 AM   #6
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I would strongly recommend using wireless lavalier microphones to capture the audio. If you use only the on-camera microphone, you will be very unhappy with the audio. I usually run 2 wireless UHF lavaliers - one on the minister and one on the groom (groom's mic picks up both bride and groom's audio)

If you don't have access to wireless lavaliers, what some videographers do is use an iRiver MP3 recorder with a lavalier microphone on the groom. When you're editing, you sync up the mp3 audio with the video in your timeline.

In some situations I've had to run a shotgun on a long XLR cable from my tripod setup to somewhere near couple. It's not the greatest, but it's still better than the on-camera microphone.

Good Luck and let us know how it goes!
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Old June 1st, 2005, 02:44 AM   #7
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Thanks

Thanks to everyone that has replied you all have greatly helped me.

I don't own a wireless mike, but I know I can borrow one. It is a single wireless mike though. Would ya'll recommend me putting the mike on the groom and plugging the reciever straight into my camera?
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Old June 1st, 2005, 05:47 PM   #8
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I'd say that would be better than going without the groom's lav mic at all, as it picks up the groom, bride, and minister wonderfully, but if at all possible, manage to get an ambient recording as well. In my case with the vx2000, plugging in an external mic source into the camera disables the onboard mic and thereby eliminates that one camera's ambient gathering capability. If you can get groom and ambient somehow it'll give you more sounds to work with. A second camera, a second mic, or a seperate dedicated sound recorder ( to record the lav mic or ambient). But the ambient sounds are dressing, the main action will be best caught with the groom's lav mic... don't miss that.
There are far better than me available here to guide you (as they guide me), but I humbly drop my two cents.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 04:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Sawyers
I don't own a wireless mike, but I know I can borrow one. It is a single wireless mike though. Would ya'll recommend me putting the mike on the groom and plugging the reciever straight into my camera?
Yes, that would probably be ideal. Make sure you get the microphone a few days before and TEST it to make sure the audio works and so you know where to set your audio levels. Use a fresh set of batteries for the ceremony. Get a good set of headphones to monitor your audio.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 12:41 AM   #10
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well I went to the rehersal today. I found out that the pastor had a wireless mike on him. I also found out that the pastor told the bride, groom, and the fathers to speak up so that the mike would pick it up so that the audience could hear them. Since that mike runs into a mixer, as does the piano and the musician's instruments, I'm just going to hook up my camera to the master audio out from the mixer. This way I don't make to worry about a mike.
I listened to the everything and it sounded great. I will also monitor the sound on my camera, to make sure the input gets to loud.

Last edited by Matt Sawyers; June 4th, 2005 at 12:59 AM. Reason: added info
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Old June 4th, 2005, 06:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Sawyers
Since that mike runs into a mixer, as does the piano and the musician's instruments, I'm just going to hook up my camera to the master audio out from the mixer. This way I don't make to worry about a mike.
I listened to the everything and it sounded great. I will also monitor the sound on my camera, to make sure the input gets to loud.


Good call on going to the rehearsal - I forgot to mention to do that. You might still want to use your wireless as a backup, if you can feed both the wireless into one channel of your audio and the house mixer feed into another channel. But it sounds like you're pretty much good to go on the audio side. Let us know how it goes
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Old June 6th, 2005, 01:47 PM   #12
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Well...

Well I did the wedding on Saturday. You know that saying "Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong", well...it did. But now Iam doing post and everything look pretty good.

First the idea with the mixer thing, well when I tested it the day of, the audio basically blew my camera away, so I turned down the audio out on the mixer and it seemed to do real well. Just to make sure I did one last audio check..(Glad I did)...I was picking up an AM radio station through the audio. It got to a point where the only thing I could hear was the baseball game, the cable was acting as a big antenna, so I pulled the plug and just used the microphone on the camera. Surprisingly, I can hear the b/g on it.

Ceremony:
In the church I could not stand along the sides of the church because of fire code, I couldn't stand in the front off pews, to the side nest to the wedding party, the only place I could stand was either in the cove behind the wedding party or at the back of the church. The bride told me that a friend would also be recording it & I could edit it in. She wanted me in the cove, so I acepted, while the friend stood in the back balcony.

My favorite part of the wedding was were the window light behind the b/g played havoc with my camera... Anyway, first time right....?

Reception:
Everything went pretty good. Wish I got interviews. Bride invited me to eat, so I did and didn't miss anything.

Things I realized:

-I could have taken care of the audio problem through the cable. I think the problem was that the audio output was so low that the AM station was coming out. What I could have done was turn it up and control the input on my camera. I thought I was controling it on my camera, but I forgot to flip the Audio switch to manuel, so thet screwed up my thought process in figuring out what to do.

-I was glad to have an assistant run around for me. Especially when I forgot my extra battery at home, which I ended up not using anyway.

-Use a lesser wattage light. I usd a 100 watt light with a soft lens and barn doors.

-Allow more time tfor cutaways/ins. Because I thought I was getiing a 4sec. clip but instead but a 2 sec. clip (camera loadup time)

-The photographer was a blessing, she was extremely helpful. She thought I covered very well. (I hope so.) She helped me in setting up people to capture moments.


Things I learned..
1. Take the back balcony if nothing else
2. Get a second camera (it would be helpful)
3. Shoot more
4. Get a stinking wireless microphone!
5. This is going to take more hours than I thought
6. Make people pose or renact positions for you.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 01:36 AM   #13
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Hi Matt,

For the most part, I don't shoot weddings, but there may be two coming up this summer so I thought I should see what the pros are doing.

I've gotta tell ya, this post of your experience is a classic, in my opinion! While I'm very sorry for all the things that went wrong, your storytelling is so delightfully fresh and funny that I just had to laugh. I love your attitude. (With you being a sports videographer it seemed only fitting that you should get crossed up with a baseball game.) :)

This one is going to be printed and reviewed from time to time--because of the wonderful points you made and for comic relief!

Thank you so much for sharing; best wishes on the completed project.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 08:41 AM   #14
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I've found this forum very helpful in prepping for my first wedding shoot. Thanks to all of you who contribute here. This thread struck a chord as I had just posted a similar piece on my first shoot a few days ago.

Like Matt I was restricted to one shoot location in the church ... a balcony overlooking the bridal party which actually worked out well. I did tape the rehearsal so I had the audio issues worked out. My approach was more of a hardware review but many of Matt's comments rang true.

- My light was too dim, his too bright :-)
- I too wished I had done more impromptu interviews...I was a little shy asking folks to do this.
- I made friends with the photographer right away...and he was indeed helpful with setup location tips.

So here's the blurb:

"Now that the wedding is over, and I've shot about 4 hours of footage to edit, I thought I'd wrap this thread up.

First, let me say that the GS400 is not a wedding camera. In the very old church, and reception hall it pretty much was pegged at F1.6 and 12 to 18 db gain. The 10 watt LDC10 is bright enough for close shots only in this light. Having said that, the inside images are OK, just grainy. First dance stuff was partially unusable due to low light....when the couple was close, the LDC10 worked OK. I shot almost everything in manual to ensure that the focus was set and not hunting in low light. Programmed AE (lowlight) was really no better than manual mode.

Equipment used:

701RC2 head and 028 legs (heavy!)
Raynox 6600 WA (with my collapsible hood).
LDC10 on cam light.
2 DU14 and 2 DU21 clone batteries (with charger).
XLR-PRO mixer
Rode VM microphone
AT88W wireless mic
Ipod in-ear headphones

Comments:

1. The tripod and head combo was heavy, but flawless in operation.

2. The wide angle lens and hood were in my mind essential additions to the GS400 for many shots. My hood drew some comments from the professional photographer there...he was interested in the GS400 too. He's been doing weddings for 25 years and actually had a few good tips for me in terms of setup locations for good shots. I need a higher flash bracket to keep the hood/LDC10 light from throwing shadows on close images.

3. The LDC10 was OK at 10 watts, but a 20 to 40 watt would have been much better.

4. The four batteries provided enough power for the light and GS400 through the night. I pulled batteries off during lulls in shooting, and popped em in the charger.

5. The XLR-PRO mixer was great. I set the GS400 in manual + AGC and monitored levels using the LCD. The level knobs for both channels were used often to control audio levels. The unit worked flawlessly. The stereo/mono switch was used when on the Rode VM alone to put output on both L+R channels. I was able to drop the RODE levels enough to have usable audio right in front of the 8 piece live band. The problem with a shotgun (among other things) in this setting is that it is very directional...so the sound changes a lot as you turn away from the music source.

6. The Rode VM was a great addition, however a good stereo mic like the AT822 would have been better for ambience. At one point I tried the GS400 onboard stereo mic in the church, but it simply isn't sensitive enough. The AT88W worked great clipped on the groom. I'm quite happy with his audio in post. The bride, facing him was not picked up nearly as well by the lavalier but this audio is OK pumped 6db in post. I also placed the AT88W mic on the podium during speeches for additional audio and it worked great. Doing it again, I would consider a good external stereo mic, recording to both GS400 channels, with an external recorder handling wireless duties. Having a camera like the XL2 that records four channels (with manual level controls) would solve this problem.

7. Headphones/earbuds are essential! The GS400 does not show separate R+L levels so you really need to listen. With the wireless mic, several interference issues, resolved by placing the receiver on my belt, were addressed. At one point I had the sending unit on, the receiver not...again caught by the ear buds. Same thing with wind noise on the RODE VM doing outside shots. I can't stress the importance of monitoring enough...there's no second chance with audio on a live event like this. It is so nice to have good audio to work with in post!

So there you go. Perhaps you'll find the info usefull."

(http://www.pana3ccduser.com/showthre...3&page=1&pp=10)
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Old June 9th, 2005, 03:18 PM   #15
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more stuff

Yesterday I received the tape from the other guy, of course it wasn't as good of quality (Hi8), but it got a good sound recording. So I think I'll use my sound for the vocals and the song and the ambiance sound from his camera.

I also just realized how a couple of iRiver may really work out well. I could do one for ambiance and them one on the groom, that could be a real life saver is the microphones (or audio output :P) goes bad. I also just bought the beactek-6, so now I just got to get some microphones.

Through all the stress, I think I'm starting to enjoy this :)
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