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Old December 3rd, 2009, 03:17 PM   #1
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My first 'first Dance' tips please

Hi - I've got my first 'First Dance' in 2 days time - There will be a mixture of tungstens/disco lights and my on-camera (Z1) SWIT led light - I'll probably use the diffuser. I've filmed quite a few weddings now but this is my first 'first dance' what do you guys recommend I do for focus? I intend to move around the couple as they dance and am tempted to let the auto do the job (I don't normally)

Any tips for videoing dancing in these conditions?

White balance might be tricky too as the disco lights will constantly change colour

Cheers folks

Pete
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 03:50 PM   #2
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Hi Peter! What I recommend is WBing off of your on-camera light. That way, your camera will be balanced for your light's color temp, and the gelled lights will add that much more color to your video.

If you're not going to be using your mounted light, you can still WB off of the main tungsten light. At some point during the reception, before the first dance, hopefully you can catch the tungsten at a constant glow, long enough to WB off of. If not, maybe you can arrive early before the B&G and get ask the host to light it up long enough for you to WB.

I always WB off of the main "white" light source first.

Hope all goes well. We'll be looking for your work on this!
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 03:57 PM   #3
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Hey thanks for that - I'll post my results. Focus is my main concern as I want to move around the couple as they dance, they're going to be a moving target!
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Old December 4th, 2009, 05:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
I've filmed quite a few weddings now but this is my first 'first dance' what do you guys recommend I do for focus? I intend to move around the couple as they dance and am tempted to let the auto do the job (I don't normally)
Providing you have enough light, and your doing the moving, pull to wide angle, and leave it there. job done.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 06:19 AM   #5
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Peter,

If you're going to "walk round" the couple, I've found that walking in the opposite direction is better than with them.

If you walk in the same direction, you will never catch them up !!, they will probably always be infront of you.

If you walk in the opposite direction (if they are walking clockwise, you walk anti-clockwise), they will walk into the shot.

I found this out quite early when I had to almost run to keep up with them.

Obviously, if they aren't moving too much (some just stand there and rock) it's not a problem.

If you're only using one camera, cut in the edit with some other shots filmed throughout the day, just to make it interesting. Watching a couple dancing for 3-5 minutes gets a bit boring.

Try and get some shots static wide angle and close up shots with the groom standing on the left and some on the right, then when you edit you can go from left to right and it won't be too much of a jump cut.

Good luck.

Peter
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Old December 4th, 2009, 07:52 AM   #6
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Hi Guys

I normally just use my on-cam LED light ( I have 48 x 10mm LED's so it's usually just the bottom bank needed) As long as your camera will auto-focus in lowish light then use it!! It's pretty tricky to manually focus AND walk around the couple!! I have never had a focus issue at receptions but then again Panasonic's auto focus systems are pretty good!!!

Some (or most) couples have no idea how to dance so more than likely they will simply shuffle around within a small area and you can do the moving. If, in the unlikely event, they just happen to be ex-ballroom champs then moving in the opposite rotation to them is essential. (So far this season I haven't come across one couple that gave a stunning performance so keeping track of them was fairly simple)

Chris
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Old December 4th, 2009, 10:00 AM   #7
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Ask if they have practiced a dance. If so stay off the dance floor, the entire dance will likely feature on the DVD, and people will be watching the couple to applaud their moves.

If not then you will probably end up editing the piece down and none of the guests are going to be too upset. So if it suits your style...

It's also kind of individual thing. Some couples/families love the idea of their wedding as a media event. Others not so much. So hopefully your style fits their style.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 02:42 PM   #8
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Thanks for your tips guys - Filming tomorrow so will post a sample when edited

Pete
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Old December 5th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #9
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Too late now to affect your shoot Peter but for next time we use 3x3w maglites which are more than enough to cover the First Dance in almost complete darkness without destroying the event ambiance.

If it's really dark, your aour autofocus will either hunt or not work so zone focus on wide angle. If you're moving stay roughly the same distance from the couple - but better not move. Assuming you're shooting with multiple cameras, stay out of the way and let the dancers be remembered not you.

Finally, beware the choreographed dance. Our experience is that many guests find them embarrassing - in one dance last summer they fell about laughing it was so out of character for the couple. Another, also last summer, was completely screwed because the bridegroom was well oiled and the dance went to a can of worms.

If we're asked we always advise against choreography - there are plenty of other unnecessary things for couples to spend their money on.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 09:38 PM   #10
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lights?

Phillip, what are the 3x3w maglites you refer too? We haven't used lights in a long time at the reception but the last two were really low light.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 04:14 AM   #11
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Janice, I'm a firm believer that our job is to record the mood of the event as well as the actuality ie the actuality is the couple dancing; if they do it in the dark then it's up to us not to diminish that mood.

Of course, putting in enough light to properly illuminate the scene would destroy that ambiance. In the course of our corporate and TV experience we had to work at night without the benefit of Cecil B de Mille lighting rigs and brought that experience to the first dance.

Silhouettes can be created with tiny lights - we use a 3w LED Maglite, the sort you can buy in camping and outdoor stores. With the beam spread (very important because tightly focused the lights give a very noticeable hot spot) it has almost no effect on the live scene but produces silhouettes which captures the intimacy and romance of the dance on tape.

If the couple's dance is what we call the Hollywood Shuffle, in which the couple revolve pretty much on the same spot, we set up three 3W Maglites which clip into microphone stands, focused wide and pointed towards the middle of the floor. That enables the camera/s to be moved around the couple or, if they move out of the spot, to be moved into one of three positions where they can get a silhouette.

FWIW we tried using a plastic snoot on a Sony 10W on-camera light but the heat affects the snoot. A metal snoot would require fixings which destroy the inherent resale value of the light and would get as hot. We changed to Maglites before coming across cold LED on-camera lights which could probably take the plastic snoot approach but then three Maglites cost much less than one LED lamp, even a homebuilt one.

Finally, if the couple are dancers who move around the floor we clamp the Maglites on the cameras - the only thing to be careful of is the inverse square law and to avoid overexposing the couple by gettiing too close. Switching the cameras to Spotlight mode helps. Bear in mind of course that most couples don't dance in darkness, the DJ's lights invariably add background illumination.

It works for us, I hope it helps you.

Philip
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Old December 7th, 2009, 08:41 AM   #12
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Philip - you are assuming that if the B&G are dancing in the dark it's because they want to be . That's often not the case. Reception rooms are often lit like warehouses - a whole bunch of overhead lights to provide illumination - all on one switch/dimmer - and wall lights to provide accent. The Bride and Groom don't have the option of saying "a wash of light on the dance floor and the rest of the room dimmed".
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Old December 7th, 2009, 02:47 PM   #13
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Doug, only one of my weddings in the past two years has not been in an hotel suite - and that was in a marquee Although the lighting there was more basic even that had dimmers. I think that's typical for the UK.

I don't know of any warehouse-type function rooms here and none with such basic lighting as you describe but maybe I've lived a sheltered life!
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Old December 16th, 2009, 09:26 PM   #14
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Peter how was your first dance footage?
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Old December 17th, 2009, 08:42 AM   #15
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lights

Phillip thank you so much for the information. It helps a lot.
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