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

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Old June 22nd, 2005, 09:30 AM   #1
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Another Newby Startup Question

I have been studying this site for a couple weeks now and could really use your professional advice. I have been producing DVDs of family events as a hobby for a couple of years now. I use Vegas 4.0, DVD Architect 1.0, and a Sony DCR-TRV730. I covered my cousin's wedding a few weeks ago as a family favor and now word has spread that I do wedding videography. My first professional event is in a month. The groom's mother is also a wedding director, who can potentially bring in lots of clients. Unfortunately, I feel that there is a limit as to what I can charge without the use of more professional equipment. For now I am comfortable with my computer, as it was originally purchased as a custom HTPC. It is a 3 GB, 1 GB Corsair High Perfomance Ram, 2x120 GB hard drives (although I will probably go with dual 300 GB SATA very soon), and 16X DVD/RW.

I feel that the first things that I need to purchase are a better camera, wireless lav, shotgun mic, light, and a good tripod. I feel pretty good about the advice given in other threads for audio and support. However, I really need help with a camera.

I can't see spending $2K or more for a quality standard definition camcorder, when I can spend a little more and get a high definition camcorder that will put me well positioned in the future. What say you? I think it will also be a good selling point. From what I have read on here, video shot in HD and downconverted to SD looks the same or better than native SD. I also feel that if I do go the HDV route for wedding videograpy, that Sony is best for low light situations frequently experienced at rehearsal dinners and receptions. I don't think that I need all the features offered with the Z1, so I'm leaning towards the FX1. I am shooting for $5K or less for the items listed above. Any thoughts?
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 10:00 AM   #2
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Hi Tim,

Some things you may want to get.......

1.) Miller DS Aluminum 2-Stage Tripod.......Light weight, non obtrusive black color, rigid, 61 inch height, fast leveling.

2.) Used Sony VX2000 with XLR adaptor or field mixer....... I don't belive(in my opinion) HDV looks like SD when downconverted to SD than SD native. There is more than enough life in SD. Think about how long it took for dvd players to catch on when they first came out.....let alone blue ray or hd dvd players. In my opinion the people jumping into hdv now are making a poor choice. Don't jump on the hdv bandwagon just yet.

3.) 2 Senn G2 wireless kits with wireless bracket.....very clean units

4.) ME-66 shotgun...not that important at first, but nice to have in general

5.) Affordable dimmable light (35-50 watts) with SOFT BOX.......forget about the soft glass filers, you need to spread the light source itself out with the box. The new white LED panels are perfect.

6.) Lanc controller

7.) Various cables you may need

Good Luck,

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Old June 22nd, 2005, 10:13 AM   #3
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Thanks John, that's exactly what I needed. I understand that it'll be awhile before it would be profitable to distribute in HD. I just think that if the event was shot in HD and distributed in SD, there would be additional profit potential to produce it in HD at some point in the future. Besides, I have an HD television that has never had an HD signal displayed on it and I'd love to experiment with it myself.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 10:24 AM   #4
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Think of it this way........If you make money with SD, you can buy better HD later when HD has been out for awhile(maybe dvcprohd w interchangable lenses for example). The way I look at it....if im gonna go HD, im gonna do it right the first time. The FX1 does not meet my requirements at this point.....poor lens quality/compression artifacts (im a photographer too). Think long term.

Also I forgot to add a fluid head to the list......the bogen 503 is decent for the money.

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Old June 22nd, 2005, 10:37 AM   #5
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That's a very good point. You guys are the greatest! By the way, I was looking on B&H at the Miller full tripods. Should I buy the full unit or should I piece one together? They're a little more expensive than I anticipated. Thanks again for your insight.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 10:57 AM   #6
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Tripod=$700 plus shipping.......this item isnt returnable at b&h....may want to look at other is the very best for the money right now for run and gun work.

Head=$ 259 plus shipping

Lanc=$ 269 plus shipping

Extra pan handle for duel handle set up $ 37 plus shipping.....not needed but nice to have

I gets out of price range real fast, but I would consider the above set up "affordable" in this line of work.

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Old June 22nd, 2005, 12:20 PM   #7
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Hi Tim. I just thought I would throw my 2 cents in. I agree with what has been said here concerning jumping on the HDV bandwagon. Give it some time, as I am. I do weddings and events, and I just bought an XL2 about 6 months ago. I figured there is plenty of life left in high quality SD, and some companies out there are making leaps and bounds in affordable HD technology. There is a Co. developing a system for capturing uncompressed SD and HD from a Panny DVX100A, and soon for the XL2. Why would I jump to HDV, which is highly compressed HD? There is alot more to a high quality event DVD than resolution, though some on this forum may argue that point.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 05:06 PM   #8
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I can say nothing more accept that I agree with Brian and John. HD is maybe 'fun' now, but it's still not as close as many like to believe. Not many people have a HD television set, and SD is still alive.
Better a great SD cam than a crappy HD cam.
And, as Brian said, there is more to video/film then resolution. Especially in the wedding videography.
Best regards,
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 01:08 AM   #9
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SOme other htings to think about.

1. You really want/need two cameras to give good reliable coverage. STuff does happen, and a second cam on a tripod at the back can ave your butt and your reputation. It also gives you more options to get excellent coverage with camera one, because you have cam 2 running to cover the moves. Two of same model (or similar like vx2100 + pd170) will make matching them in post much easier. Also, low light issues should be addressed, and is why many people choose vx2100 or pd170. You will also need second tripod, maybe get by with cheaper head at first.

2. Backup backups backups. 2 senn wireless units is a good idea. Feed one into each camera. You may also want to consider in iRiver witha lav (about $200 total) for even more redundancy in case you have wireless issues. You need backups of everything important to do weddings professionally.

3. Lots of extra batteries.

4. What will you do if it rains? A raincoat is useful, or at least a plan (umbrella attached to tripod?).

5. Get one Senn unit with the buttplug, so you can convert your shotgun to a wireless interview mic if you need it and want to offer that as part of your service.

6. Good isolating headphones. Most people seem to like Sony (7506??), I use etymotic on location.

7. A monopod can come in handy. Get the Manfrotto one with retractable legs, and you can get a lot of mileage out of it as pseudo-crane and pseudo-glidecam. Get QR tiltable head for it too that matches your tripod head.

There are lots of gimmicks to differentiate yourself in a crowded market, but I seldom hear of anyone losing a job because of formats. 16x9, 24p, HDV are all gimmicky. I would not choose any of them just for weddings, but if you like 16x9 format (its especially good for some things) that could be a factor, as could 24p if you like that look and want to do shorts or documentaries. I think HDV is not ready for prime time, and would not spend money there as a newbie. You have plenty of things to buy, including marketing stuff like ads and brochures and going to bridal shows.
You are either growing or dying.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 05:19 AM   #10
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The Sony PD150 and PD170 are very popular cameras in this forum for weddings and event videography. I recently switched from a GL2 to a PD170 and couldn't be happier. I love the ergonomics and performance of the PD170. You won't find a camera that performs better in low light. Not only can it capture with lower light, but the digital signal processing is truly outstanding. You can apply up to 12db gain with virtually no visible noise.

The PD series is the professional Sony series and these cameras are well-built and are well-supported by Sony. Some may suggest the VX2100, which is very similar, but the iris control is not as good, and you would have to add a XLR adapter and wide angle adapter to approach what you get in the box with a PD170. By the time you do this the cost is almost the same, but the capabilities aren't.

I don't believe any of the HDV cameras come close on low-light performance to that of the PD170. The HD world is expanding very rapidly right now and I wouldn't jump in yet unless I had a compelling, money-making, reason to do so. And just so you know, I'm a huge fan of HD.

This question has been asked many times. Do some searches in this forum and in the VX2100/PD170 forum for lots of comparisons and opinions.

Good luck in your new business, and let us know your decision.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 07:50 AM   #11
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This HD thing is a bit of a conversational piece. I see TONS of opinions on what HDV is and isn't, but I also think it is coming from a lot of people that have not really used the equipment first hand. My main three cameras are a DVX-100a, and XL-2 and a Sony FX-1.

Let's start with this. The main points AGAINST HD right now are, delivery and the lack of clients that actually have HD. There are numerous ways to deliver HD right now, and if you get clients on the bleeding edge, you can give them a beautiful piece in HD, today. The problem is, most clients don't have, and probably don't want it. I have now shot 2 weddings in HD since buying the camera in March.

Now the myths, and misconceptions:
1. HDV is highly compressed HD: So what, DV is highly compressed SD. With this reasoning, throw away all your SD DV cameras, and shoot Betacam. HDV might be highly compressed, but it still looks beautiful, and most wedding videographers arn't Speilberg. Sure if you can afford a Cinealta, or the new DVX with $20,000 worth of P2 cards, then by all means, shoot weddings with that.

2. SD downconverted from an FX-1 doesnt look any different or better than a video that started from an SD camera: Also not true. Doing a side by side comparison with the XL-2 and the FX-1, shooting a models face, there are details apparant in the FX-1 video that arnt in the XL-2 video, picked up from the extra rez from the original HDV signal. Whether this is better or not might be subjective, but the fact is, they are there.

3. You cant efficiently edit it: False. Buy Final Cut 5 with a fast Mac, and you'll be editing HDV like its DV, and can't tell the difference. The only difference is the render time at the END of your project on output to tape, once editing is done.

4. Low light capabilities: The Fx-1 shoots in low light almost as well as a PD-150, no matter what the specs say. Besides, ANY camera should not be taping in a dark room, as it all looks bad, and un-professional. Why are wedding videographers trying to get away with no light?

As far as the post about someone creating a way to capture HD from an DVX, the DVX has a standard def chip, so matter what they do, that will never work. You can scale the video in your NLE to do the same effect they are creating. And if HDV is quasi-HD, then what do you call that?

If I were starting my business today, I would definetely consider the sony HDV cams. If you want the 24p capabilities of the DVX or XL-2, then go with them, but what is the benefit of going with a PD-150 or the like now, if your just getting into it. Buy the new Sony, get a true 16:9 chip, and be future proofed. I maybe wouldnt throw away all your old equipment if you are already in the business, but why are so many people afriad of HDV?
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 10:17 AM   #12
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I have said it before and I will say it again high definition cameras simply blow standard definition cameras out of the water. If someone were buying a television today who in their right mind would buy a standard definition TV when you can buy a TV with HD built in starting at 550 bucks ? The problem is not with the HDTV the problem lies with the people who refuse to accept what they perceive as new technology. People just do not want to change and until the concept of change becomes mainstream it will always be an uphill battle regardless of what technology we are talking about.

The concept of high definition is nothing new. Back in the 1930s radio television broadcasters wanted to adopt a 300 line resolution system as being the standard definition. But it was realized that such a low definition system would soon be obsolete so it was agreed that the broadcasters would wait until the high definition system capable of resolving 500 lines of resolution be developed before it became standardized. World War 2 delayed the adoption of the high definition standard but soon after World War 2 the high definition 525 line system was adopted as the standard for television broadcasting. Now for the last 50 years we have been stuck with this 500 line standard with no major advancement except the introduction of color television which was developed in spite of the naysayers. But it could have been worse, if there were not a depression in the 1930s their would have been tremendous pressure to adopt the 300 line resolution system so that millions of television sets could have been sold in the 1930s to supply a boom economy. and for how long would we have to put up with a 300 line standard definition system before people demanded a change ?

In 1964 the Japanese decided that enough was enough and television needed to be upgraded if the Japanese were to maintain their technological superiority so research in advanced high definition television began with the goal of developing a 1000 line system. 15 years later in 1980 the technology was perfected but it was realized that HDTV was a bandwidth hog and the adoption of HDTV would result in reducing the number of channels available for broadcasting something unacceptable to the consumer who wants more choices in programming. So it was decided that HDTV would have to wait until digital technology was perfected because digital compression technologies could be introduced reducing bandwidth.

By 1996 the FCC mandated the transition to digital television and declared that all anolog broadcasting would cease by 2006. Although the FCC did not mandate HDTV the television stations were given ample digital bandwidth to accomadate HDTV. IN 1996 it was proposed that the fast track to HDTV would be the adoption of one HDTV broadcasting standard however the FCC approved 18 HDTV standards which drove the cost of an HDTV tuner box to thousands of dollars. However 10 years later it is no sweat to decode all of these signals so HDTV tuner boxes go for 200 bucks and you can get them free if they are built into the tv. By 2007 all televisions will have digital tuners.

By 2003 there was limited HDTV broadcasting. The broadcasters complained that they could not afford to broadcast in HD because very few people had television sets that could recieve an HDTV signal. Yes many people had big screen HD ready televisions but these lacked digital tuners so they could not display HD images. So broadcasters refused to broadcast in HD and people refused to buy HDTVs because there was no HD programming. So to end the stalemate JVC introduced the concept of affordable high definition with their introduction of HDV cameras. Also the FCC cracked down on the television manufacturers demanding that they build the HDTV tuners into the televisions. By 2004 Samsung introduced the worlds first affordable HDTV with a free built in ATSC tuner just in time for the Olympics selling for under 700 bucks. Also PBS launced its HD channel with an unprecedented 12 hours of HDTV programming a day. When my Mother saw my HDTV she now wants to fire the cable company and use that 40 bucks a month hat she saves for payments on a new HDTV.

My first experience with high definition was over 30 years ago when I bought my first pair of glasses. Suddenly detail could be resolved at an unprecedented level. I mean Im not blind and I could get by without my glasses but why should I go through life without sharp vision ?
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 10:18 AM   #13
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I get about 75 weddings a year(photography and videography). It seems people have a set budget no matter what you try to pitch them. Dumping extra money into equipment nobody is gonna pay you extra for, at this point, is a poor business choice.

This is a great example. I invested in two nikon D2Xs this year. 12.4 effective pixel cmos. The fact is. If people dont order large prints(say 16x20 and up) the extra resolution is thrown away(and one of the main reasons for buying the cam in the first place). On smaller prints, it looks(resoluion wise) very similar to my D70. The biggest advantage I see is time. The color on the D2X is more accurate and requires less backend work(time is money).

I have to admit the JVC 24 p 3 ccd looks interesting. Its getting there......slowly. Anyone know the low light rating on the jvc?

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Old June 23rd, 2005, 10:25 AM   #14
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Sorry, I just got a chance to look at everyone's replies. Your input is greatly appreciated. I can now atleast form a list of all the things that I need. My next wedding is scheduled for July 23rd, so it's time to start shopping. The B&G are well aware that I am just starting out and they know I am priced accordingly. They still think it's a bargain for what they are going to get and are very excited.

I just spoke with the Minister of Music and he says that I can plug into the PA mixer to use the audio from their mics. He said that they have 3 wireless lavs as well as several wired mics. Maybe I can just get by with buying or borrowing one for use at the rehearsal dinner and reception, until I can afford to buy a second one. The Sen G2 looks like an excellent package.

I can't afford to buy two cameras at this point. I have a Sony DCR-TRV730, which produced high enough quality footage to earn my services for this wedding. I will probably use this camera on a tripod for all my wide angle footage. I haven't decided which model to get just yet. From what I can tell, there are several quality options (VX2000/VX2100, PD-150/PD-170, FX1). I can almost guarantee that it will be a Sony. I guess it just depends what the used market has to offer and how the prices compare to new.

The same goes for the tripod. The back camera will likely be unmanned until the very end, so I won't have a need for fluid pan and tilts. I can put it on a cheap tripod that I already have and buy a nice tripod for the nice camera that will be used for closeups. Phase 2 of my shopping spree will be the second camera, tripod, and so on.

I will definitely get a light, XLR adaptor or field mixer, extra batteries, ME-66 shotgun, various cables, and a monopod. The monopod is a must have for rehearsal dinner and receptions because even my little DCR-TRV730 was beginning to get heavy during my last wedding.

You guys are great and thanks for taking the time to point the newby in the right direction. I will continue to be a student of the industry and provide insight where I can.

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Old June 23rd, 2005, 06:05 PM   #15
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(QUOTE)As far as the post about someone creating a way to capture HD from an DVX, the DVX has a standard def chip, so matter what they do, that will never work. You can scale the video in your NLE to do the same effect they are creating.(QUOTE)

I know this is a little off topic, but actually, they HAVE done it. The following info is from their website,

Color precision: 24bit, 30bit, 36bit
Sampling modes: Full-bandwidth RGB, 4:4:4 YUV, 4:4:2 YUV, 4:2:4 YUV, 4:2:2 YUV, 4:2:0 YUV, 4:0:2 YUV, 4:1:1 YUV
Frame size: 1540x990**, 1280x720** (16:9 with anamorphic adapter), 1124x720**(NTSC pixels, full optical frame), 770x492(NTSC pixels), 720x480(NTSC pixels), others user-defined
*When installed on the Panasonic AG-DVX100(P/AP). Output specs will vary with host camera hardware specs.
**In 4:4:4(YUV) or full-bandwidth RGB recording modes only.

I would say that's pretty impressive for a DVX100A, and they will probably have one out for the XL2 and other cameras soon. The naysayers can go to the website and see for themselves.
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