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


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Old December 21st, 2009, 06:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy Conway View Post
I think there are by far more pros than cons to using a SLR camera for wedding work. Of course it boils down to personal preference. Sure there is a ton of more work to be done when using the camera but I think the pay off is more rewarding. I think the low light capabilities was the big selling point for me and also the fact that it can be used for stills.

I remember when I first switched to shooting with the 5D I found it to be a new kind of experience when shooting a wedding. A good experience. We had a non SLR camera as a third stationary backup, which I soon realized the footage of it started to be used less and less but it's always good to have it as a backup. Something you can think about if you're falling towards the SLR route.
A few comments:
1. For me, the pay off would be by making more money. I don't think that is going to happen in my case. It's a business, if the tool is not worth it, don't use it.

2. The DSLR low light capability is good at the expense of DOF. If you need wide DOF shots in low light, use a real video camera. Also, most DSLR lens are soft (or at least softer) wide open. Still need to shoot a little closed.

3, If you are shooing a wedding, shoot video or stills. Not both, unless you are the paid photographer too, or the paid photog is going to have an issue.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 06:17 PM   #17
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Travis: Andy is not quite right. No AVCHD camcorder stops recording at the 4 GB limit, they just start a new clip that is perfectly spanned if using FAT32 media. If using FAT 64 media (like SDXC or FAT64 formated cards) there is no 4GB clip spanning.

So in essence, the 12 minute limit is a EU limitation or Canons limitation to protect camcorder sales, as it would otherwise span clips like every other SSD camcorder on the market.

I mentioned overheating in my first post, but I doubt the short clips are tied to that issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
Andy is correct regarding the 12-minute record limitation.

Something I haven't seen mentioned yet is the overheating issue that so many have been having with the 7D. This is a prime example of why I don't generally adopt new technology the moment it hits store shelves. I know of several top shooters who jumped on the 7D and are now selling them off and going back to the 5D.

Anyways, there's a lot of great information here already, so I won't create a list that just goes back over it all. Essentially, for me, I'm waiting to see what Canon comes out with next in terms of a dedicated video camera .. the A1 replacement if you will. I'd rather make money with my A1's now and switch down the road to something that is even more 'video friendly'.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 06:49 PM   #18
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Thanks Jeff - That was my understanding also. If the 5D and 7D was given the ability to stitch files like consumer hdd Canon camcorders (which also use FAT32) it would be classified as a video camera and butt up against the taxation laws. I'm in the US so I don't claim to be an expert - just repeating the information I've read from multiple sources.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 08:02 PM   #19
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As always Joel, you have very keen insight and are excellent at relaying your analytic thoughts effectively.

I mirror your thoughts about this. Don't get me wrong I own both a 7D and a 5DmkII and absolutely love them. However I can't even convince myself to use them at live events. I want to use them so bad I try to find my own "reasons" to do so however when I go back to the pros and cons the cons simply swallow the pros.

I've even shot with/for a videographer colleague of mine whom is looking to switch to full-time DSLR shooting for weddings. We both used 7Ds. By the end of the day, while I was impressed with the aesthetics of a lot of the footage the entire shoot was hampered by technical complications and sub par focusing at the reception.

Let me try to outline my experiences:
1. Handling While it is true, the VDSLR is a much smaller unit and considerably less weight, the other side of the coin is it's intrinsically more difficult to shoot handheld. Sure you can shoot from a tri/monopod all day but that doesn't match my style. While the aforementioned camera supports will a rock solid base it will drain the kinetic, life-like feel good handheld work can provide. OIS is apparently something I long took for granted on my A1s.

I even invested in expensive support options- the RedRock Micro DSLR Field Bundle which you may or may not have noticed is now up for sale in the trading post. I simply couldn't get comfortable shooting with it. Maybe that's because I've effectively turned it into a shoulder mount style camera- a style I'm not used to utilizing.

2. Clip Length The 12 minute limit makes shooting ceremonies much more difficult in production and CONSIDERABLY more so in post. Certainly Pre-Ceremony and Receptions aren't as crippled by this but ceremonies (similar to when I was a novice) have now become difficult....again.

3. Narrow DOF/Focus Focusing for the most part wasn't too difficult- so I thought, until I saw my footage 100% full screen after the shoot. Often times I was a hair out of focus (you know- the kind that looks slightly soft but not 'blurry'). Granted I found most of these focus mistakes in the reception footage where I generously opened up the iris to let as much light in, however simultaneously lowering the effective DOF.

Therein lies the issue- you want to take advantage of the low-light performance fast lenses offer but then you end up working with a knife's edge of DOF. Sure you can stop it down tight to deepen the DOF but then you start running dangerously close to the low-light performance of your existing HDV video cameras.

4. Audio Arguably one of the most challenging aspects of event video is audio. Lets face it the onboard audio of the DSLRs is horrendous. It sounds way to thin and tinny. Of course you can "simply" capture your audio off camera and sync in post.

This is what we did with the wedding shoot. I was able to employ my beautiful new R44 at the reception and felt comfortable knowing it'll match up perfectly (unlike the 5D's 30.0fps) with the 23.97 frame-rate our 7Ds were capturing. Needless to say- that didn't even work as planned. I got word from the lead shooter that the audio we captured drifts out of sync even with our 23.97 footage. Something that shouldn't happen....but unfortunately (now I know) does.

5. Solid State Solid-state is great, I love so many aspects about it. However after experiencing solid-state workflow first-hand for a while I no longer think it's any sort of time saving over traditional tape capture. Combining the time it takes to dump all of your cards and then transcode all of the footage- I feel that tape capture (in some instances) may even be faster.

Then there is the issue of archiving. While the size of CF cards continue to grow and prices fall they still aren't cheap enough to shoot a wedding and store the cards themselves. So you must employ some sort of redundant way to store your footage. A Drobo is a good choice however I STILL feel more comfortable having the intrinsic backup of the tape itself.

Finally tape error vs card error. Like everyone working from Mini-DV tape I've had my fair share of drop-outs however that's nothing compared to an error on a CF card- which, unfortunately, I've experienced as well. When you get a drop-out you lose a few frames of video. When you get a CF card error you lose ENTIRE clips. I had a brand new 16gig Sandisk Extreme IV card take a dump on me. I lost an entire talking-head interview shoot. Thank God it was a corporate shoot. While it was embarrassing, and time consuming to contact the client and reschedule a second shoot it's nowhere near as bad as it would have been if it was the vows at a ceremony that were lost. Something that cannot be "reshot".

Conclusion- When you really boil it down the primary benefit DSLR shooting will award you is aesthetics. It can produce imagery that looks more filmic and pleasing than a standard HDV camera. In the slough of elements that comprise my event work aesthetics is only a (comparably) small piece of the pie.

Just thinking out lout here: there's no argument that shooting a live event like a wedding with DSLRs is more difficult. For that reason one would have to charge more for a DSLR-only package- enough to warrant the extra time, stress, and skill required to facilitate. Does the gain in aesthetic attributes pass the threshold into the client's eyes?

I did a very unscientific test and showed both my wife and my parents (two perfect examples who don't view work as pixels and f-stop/dof). Neither of them could pick out any appreciable difference yet alone one large enough to feel it was a superior/more-expensive product. This, of course, was compared to well shot XH-A1 content but this was a shocking revelation to me. Enough to solidify my feelings on NOT using my DSLRs for wedding/events. However I will continue to use them (joyfully I may add) for my commercial/corporate shoots.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 10:09 PM   #20
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There's no reasonable reason for the 12 minute limit, unless it's the whole EU tax thing or wanting to avoid competing with their other product lines... HMC150 and many consumer cameras don't have that limit...

I haven't made the jump yet, but as with Joel, have thunk much upon it...

The only thing I can add to the already well reasoned posts is that IF you are after the specific "look" (meaning primarily shallow DoF), adding one to your arsenal makes sense. A DSLR-V is an inherently "manned" camera IMO, as opposed to a video camera which can be preset/aimed and pretty much give you usable footage.

I feel that the aesthetic is viable and would be handy to have available, but using it full time just doesn't make sense IMO - too many opportunities for fuzzy focus or missed shots between clips.

Still, I would be willing to shoot the DSLR-V as a "primary" camera, if I knew I had 2-4 cameras running that I could cut away to in case I missed a cue. As an "only" camera, I don't think I'd be brave enough to try it... for the way I shoot multicam, it could work, with a couple other angles covering my tail just in case!
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Old December 21st, 2009, 10:43 PM   #21
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Keep in mind if you are referring to the 5D which shoots 30p (not 29.97) will need to be converted to 23.98 or 29.97 prior to editing/syncing with your other cams. 5D 30p to 24p yields some bizarre motion blur/artifacts. Finally, during a multi cam edit the switch to the "main" cam (DSLR) may be jarring because of the difference in aesthetics when run back to back with other cameras.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 11:10 PM   #22
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Another thing that is a little disconcerting when shooting weddings with DSLR is that with tapes, you can capture and put the masters on a shelf for as long as you want. With the CF cards, you capture, convert, back-up, and then eeeek... reformat the card. This always gives me a bit of a weird feeling.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 11:32 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Kellam View Post
Travis: Andy is not quite right. No AVCHD camcorder stops recording at the 4 GB limit, they just start a new clip that is perfectly spanned if using FAT32 media. If using FAT 64 media (like SDXC or FAT64 formated cards) there is no 4GB clip spanning.

So in essence, the 12 minute limit is a EU limitation or Canons limitation to protect camcorder sales, as it would otherwise span clips like every other SSD camcorder on the market.

I mentioned overheating in my first post, but I doubt the short clips are tied to that issue.
Jeff, it appears all the info I've heard may be incorrect. Ahh, the wonderful power of the internet, lol.

I don't think the overheating issue is tied to the clip size at all either.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 09:25 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Ken Diewert View Post
Another thing that is a little disconcerting when shooting weddings with DSLR is that with tapes, you can capture and put the masters on a shelf for as long as you want. With the CF cards, you capture, convert, back-up, and then eeeek... reformat the card. This always gives me a bit of a weird feeling.
Ken, when I put the SDHC cards back in the HMC-150s and re-format before the next event, I also get a little "hope everything is okay" feeling. And that's after a triple check of the backup and the project on the cards is usually complete. I think after years of tape capture, you just are not comfortable with erasing original material.

However, I have lots of tapes from cameras I no longer have/use, especially the XH-A1, and no way to re-capture them, so it's easy to see tapes were a road to nowhere.


Glen, great DSLR post! Very informative for a one man show event videographer like me. About your solid state paragraph, I think with time you figure out a data backup system that works for you and you are comfortable with. Im ultra careful and redundant, but it's still a worry. Although most of my worry is using a camera system that records to SDHC like the HMC-150. After I get the data off the SDHC card to the hard drive, I breathe a sigh of relief. Also, it is nice to have all the footage I have shot (mainly family related) since going tapeless readily available. With tape, I usually deleted the capture and even the project after it was complete, since I had the tape.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 09:38 AM   #25
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Travis:

On the topic of the A1, I bet the XH-A1 replacement is going to be awesome. I went from the A1 to the HMC-150. I may go back to the Canon depending on what they do.

With all their involvement in VDSLR, it's a little hard to figure how they will go with it, other than a CMOS sensor or three. It's pretty sure to be tapeless, but other than that, it's all speculation.

I think the video market is currently stuck at a sensor resolution/sensitivity/camera size/camera cost technology barrier.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 11:34 AM   #26
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Yeah, we're perfectly fine waiting another year or two to see what Canon comes out with. We like to make sure we get a good ROI on the gear we buy. It is really interesting to speculate what Canon will eventually deliver. There are a lot of directions they could go .. but I'm guessing tape-less HAS to be one of them.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 12:54 PM   #27
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One more point about the short clip length: with the Panasonic DMC-GH1 you can record for hours without a break, depending on the video mode you are using.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 01:21 PM   #28
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The biggest con is that the "look" of the 5D and 7D will be so common that brides might not want it anymore. Sorry to say this, but the "look" is already starting to wear thin, mostly because of the sheer volume of footage being posted online that strangely looks similar, no matter where in the world it's shot.

It's sort of like you love steak and lobster, then eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 365 days in a row....
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 02:45 PM   #29
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That's a valid point Warren. It makes words like fad or slick glitz come to mind. No one wants to see a video that looks like a features and capabilities piece for a video aimed at videographers at a camera trade show.

Thank doesn't imply anything negative about DSLR cameras per se. A skilled person can produce stunning work using a DSLR - - as long as they remember they aren't putting on a "DSLR show". If a DSLR is used as a tool to tell a visually compelling story, the result can be very impressive. That is a far cry from a "DSLR show".
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 08:32 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Glen Elliott View Post
Keep in mind if you are referring to the 5D which shoots 30p (not 29.97) will need to be converted to 23.98 or 29.97 prior to editing/syncing with your other cams. 5D 30p to 24p yields some bizarre motion blur/artifacts.
I'm sure that promised firmware update for the 5D can't come fast enough for their owners.

I've had to decide whether to change 29.97 to 23.98 or the other way around. I did some tests and saw the problems you get when you're taking frames away in the conversion rather than adding them. I found this article later which explains the results better than I can:

Converting Frame Rates in Compressor

"The Truth about Converting Frame Rates
In a situation where you have two different frame rates and need to convert one to match the other, there are two directions that you can go. One will produce good results, the other not so good. Let's say that we have footage shot at 24P and 30P. If we convert the 24P footage up to 30P, the full 24 frames will be used and an additional 6 frames will be created, for a total of 30. In both FCP and Compressor, the additional 6 frames will be based on the information contained in the original 24 frames. This is the correct way to convert frame rates so they match.

The other way to go would be to take the video shot at 30 frames and reduce it down to 24 frames. This would not be the way to do frame rate conversions because, if you reduce 30 frames down to 24, you have to throw away 6 frames and those 6 frames contain an important amount of information (particularly regarding motion). Doing frame rate conversions in this manner will produce stuttery video. So, when doing frame rate conversions in either FCP or Compressor, always convert the lower frame rate up to match the higher frame rate."
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