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

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Old December 24th, 2009, 11:52 AM   #1
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i need your help. with 8-10K budget, what specific video gear/camera/sound/lights/tripods/computer/software/handheld kits/rails/accessories do you recommend? what would be your choice of equipment for weddings if you are entering videography? lenses not included in budget, but you can mention which one you would have.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 12:00 PM   #2
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Well I'm guessing that since you have mentioned lenses you are leaning towards dslr-v, and in that case, I would get 2 7D's and a 5D Mark II, A pegasus slider, and at least one follow focus. Then get some should rigs of your choice (depending on how much money you have left over from the follow focus and which pegasus you choose) either a redrock or a cinevate. You will need to do dual system sound so get an H4N (later after you have shot a wedding or 2 and have more money to spend pick up 2-3 more of these) and a good quality wireless lav system to mic the groom with. Don't forget 2 good tripods, 2 cheap light stands (for the pegasus if you want to elevate it off the ground) and a good mono pod for support of the camera.

I didn't calculate how much that would cost, but i believe its a good starter kit and with in your budget.

After you have moved into shooting weddings on a regular basis and are ready to buy new equipment again, thats when I'd ad a Steadicam to the mix.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #3
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What is your level of experience? And what gear are you familiar with?
C100, 5DMk2, FCPX
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Old December 24th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #4
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louis: thanks for the info. most likely dslr-v but open to having a videocam in addition. steadicam has to wait for now. i've seen awesome weddings done without it. considering redrock, zacuto, or cinevate. followfocus probably indisystems since the price is lower. still deciding on H2 or H4. need to read/understand more on audio recording. the glidetrack shooter looks interesting.

ken: i'm a photographer (nikon/fuji) but got interested and inspired after stumbling to vimeo of works from stillmotion and others 3mos ago. i borrowed a 5Dmk2 and like it (except the slow editing issues of premiere on pc).
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Old December 25th, 2009, 02:15 AM   #5
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If I had to start now, I wouldn't rely on DSLRs for various reasons (not the easiest gear to control, and also too many problems like the overheating of 7D. This one is not to be taken lightly) but I would definitely buy a Sony EX-1, a "tiny" Canon HV40 and a 7D with a couple of lens for controllable situations. Regarding steadicams, glidecams etc, it's better to go for them, once you have mastered the most primary aspects of your video gear. I'd recommend a glidetrack though, this one can help you do some serious shots, and also a tripod (I like Manfrotto's offerings). If you want to do some smooth shooting with less money and more pain :) try the Flowpod from Varizoom.

I think we already passed the limit of 10K right? Ok, if I had to start really minimal, I'd go for the EX-1 and tripod-glidetrackHD. Sorry to be a minority here, I am planning to buy a couple of 7Ds soon, but I think I will insist on camcorders for the majority of my work. 7Ds are simply not trusty for live events, especially in warm countries like Greece (unless you buy 5-6 of them).

Regarding computers, I am not a Mac user because I always setup my own hardware and I want to have control on what goes on, so I'd go for an i7 Intel with Windows 7 64bit, 4 large capacity hard drives (preferably on Raid 5 mode), a good Nvidia card and 16GB of RAM. As for the software, I am a fan of Premiere and the next CS5 version will be too demanding on specs. A couple of quality monitors would help too (one for working, the other for real-time previewing).

Since you wrote about slow editing in Premiere of the MKII material, you should know that H264 codec is not that editable, even on high-end computers. Not only is slow, but the 4:2:0 color of the codec, makes the output seem worst than the one captured. You should invest on a program like Cineform Neoscene, to convert your videos to editable AVIs with greater color depth.
"A successful wedding videographer is the one that offers for viewing some excellent videos and some boring videos, and gets positive reviews for both".
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Old December 25th, 2009, 01:56 PM   #6
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I'm going to go over your 10K limit, but here's my personal list of absolutely necessary items for a high-quality production, with some very approximate prices...

$3,000 - iMac computer (with 2-4GB of RAM)
$500 - Two external hard drives (totaling at least 2TB)
$200 - Inkjet printer and ink (for printing direct to discs)
$1,000 - Final Cut (editing)
$500 - Adobe Encore (authoring)
$500 - External Blu-ray burner (with Toast for burning discs)
$2,000 to $6,000 - Camera
$200 - Enough media to handle about 20 hours of continuous shooting (if going tapeless)
$500 - Enough batteries to handle about 10 hours of continuous shooting
$100 - Multi-battery charger
$300 - Fisheye/wide-angle lens
$400 - Manfrotto/Bogen tripod (or better) with at least a 501 head
$525 - Sennheiser ME66 shotgun (or better, with two XLR for backup)
$50 - Microphone shock mount
$1,500 - Sennheiser lav kits (three of them with at least one backup mic)
$100 - Over-the-ear headphones
$400 - Zoom H4n audio recorder (with a light stand)
$500 - Comer 1800 camera light (with batteries)
$550 - Varizom Flowpod with quick release plate (only if you're willing to learn how to use it though)
$400 - Slider (with a matching tripod head)
$100 to $600 - Strong bags or cases for all your gear
$100 on the low end - Every adapter imaginable for hooking into audio boards
$100 - GPS
$500 - All the other little miscellaneous stuff like lens cloths, AA batteries, tools, bean bag, bike locks, fanny pack, dry cleaning, spare keys, rubber bands, pens, website, business cards, sunscreen, breath mints, etc.

After this list, I would also include backups of as many items as possible. If you're starting out, you may want to investigate the advantages of having a second camera for static wide shots. I don't rely on unmanned cameras these days, but I did when I was new to the business.

Alec Moreno
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Old December 26th, 2009, 03:18 AM   #7
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I'll start off by saying I do not shoot weddings professionally. I seriously considered it, studied the subject at length, and decided against it for a number of reasons, but primarily because (while I think I'd enjoy the work) it's clearly not what I consider a lucrative field of endeavor and also due to health issues. At this point I am a serious amateur, have some experience with some modestly nice gear (most recently an HMC40, which I simply could not be more pleased with - makes the XH-A1 essentially obsolete, aside for shooting in dim lighting!), for my own pleasure.

That said, I will say that $8K-$10K is really a pretty tight budget to work with, for both production and post production gear, to shoot weddings professionally.

I definitely would not suggest dropping the bulk of your budget on a single camera, like a nice, shiny new EX-1. That simply won't leave you enough to cover everything else, even if you cut corners in a big way. Also, something like an EX-1 is massive overkill, unless you are focusing on the very high end of the market, and can justify the costs of producing premium quality footage, with considerably higher fees than are typical.

Think along the lines of a couple used FX1s (or perhaps XH-A1s, which would give you 24p capability) for cameras. Chances are, you'll be delivering in SD, on DVD. (Perhaps demand for Blu-Ray will start catching on with wedding clients, but currently delivering wedding videos on Blu-Ray is clearly the exception.) You can produce excellent quality DVDs with those cameras, and you can get a couple of used FX1s, in good condition, for under $4000 (a little more for A1s, but your budget is pretty tight, so carefully consider even spending an extra few hundred there). You really should have two cameras, of at least that caliber. If one fails, on a given day, which can and does happen (think will someday), you don't want to be left standing there like Uncle Fred, shooting somebody's wedding with some dinky little HV30 (or equivalent), when you have contracted with them to pay you with their hard earned money for shooting their wedding as a professional (fantastic way to smear your reputation). Do get a little consumer HDV camcorder though (HV20 or HV30 would be a good choice), as a capture deck and for a B-roll third camera (in situations where lighting is adequate, set it up for a nice wide shot on some cheap sticks).

You can put together the gear you really need for $8K-$10K, but you'll need to be shrewd about it, and avoid the temptations to buy up to higher levels of gear than you really do need for getting started. For example, rather than looking at an ME-66, get a Rode VideoMic instead. Keep your eyes open, and perhaps you can find a used iRiver in good shape, for micing grooms on the cheap. Scour the classifieds here for bargains, from pros and serious amateurs that take good care of their gear.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 12:12 PM   #8
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I was in your shoes, just starting up August 1st of this year. Most of my gear I found used in the classified section here on DVInfo. There's always someone selling off their old gear and upgrading. For instance, I bought a used Canon XH-A1 with wide angle lens for the A1, Pelican Case to carry it all, including a condenser mic, instrument mic, Used wireless microcrophone system, an open box I7 processor based PC at the local Best Buy, an open box shotgun mic at the WEVA expo in Orlando, and other things like mixer, mic stands, etc at local pawn shops. I shopped around online for good deals on H4N audio recorder, picked up a Nikon SLR at the local Circuit City going out of business sale. Traded an old JVC HD1 camcorder for a quad core laptop at local pawn shop, etc.

You get the point--budget your money. Used gear is often great. Make sure what you buy works with your other gear. Make sure you have more than one of any piece of essential gear. Make sure you buy what you really need to do the job. This may be different than what you want. Business purchases aren't hobby purchases. The gear must generate a return on your investment. I've gotten quite a bit of gear by shopping around and haven't exceeded your stated budget yet, but am getting close.

Right now I'm shopping for lights, stands, backdrops, another tripod, shoulder mount
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