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


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Old December 31st, 2009, 11:09 AM   #1
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Wedding Fashion Show Techniques..Whats wrong?

I have been asked for a third year in a row to videotape a wedding show. Please see the video link and tell me what i am doing wrong, or is it the goofy lighting they are using? I am very confused as to what to do when the highlights get blown out.. They want highlights...not just WHITE dresses... I have tried rolling the iris, but that looks really bad..


I have been reading some of the past forums and am now really confused.. Auto Focus, Manual Focus??? Shutter priorty, Aperture priorty... Spotlight mode....ARRGH!!! Basic Setting Suggestions?

I am thinking of having a fixed camera and a roving camera. I will also be recording the audio this year from thier mixer to my Zoom H4n

I will be shooting 16:9 aspect with my Canon GL2 and my Canon HV30. PLEASE- All advice and comments greatly appreciated!

Thank you...and Happy New Year!

Suggestions Please?
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Old December 31st, 2009, 12:04 PM   #2
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Based on what I see their lighting is causing the majority of your problems.
Obviosuly they're using spots and they look pretty hot. Look at the skin tones of the first lady in the blue dress and when she got under the light her skin tone was gone.

I would talk to them and suggest some better lighting techniques, soft boxes for a general overall lighting and a few feathered spots to highlight but the models can not stop under them or the skin tones and whites will be gone.

As for shooting it, use the zebras, I think 70-75 would probably be a good starting point, have a model in a white dress move around the catwalk and go from there adjusting exposure until you arrive at a happy medium. This would mean getting there early enough before the show to do this.

You may or maynot be able to control their lighting but if they want better video then they need to have better lighting. Exactly what though is hard to say without seeing the setup.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 12:10 PM   #3
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I am working on different lighting...but as u know... its the make it work with what u got story...

whats your thought on manual focus vs auto focus? wont part of the model be blurry as i follow them if i use manual focus?
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Old December 31st, 2009, 12:18 PM   #4
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Depends. F stop gives the Dof and depending how far back you are and what stop you're working with the DoF can very well cover a long distance. Something I learned about 37 years ago doing fashion shows as a still photog is to set my focus point somewhere in the middle and let my depth cover the rest, front and back.
Again, this is something that you need to see at the show before it starts.

As for the lighting, if you're stuck with nothing but spots, see how much you can feather them, maybe bounce them off the ceiling. Maybe if they're adjustable lights you can broaden out the pattern bit but remember that you're still working with a general overall lighting that can be a very hot lighting situation in a very concentrated area, then it goes away.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 12:23 PM   #5
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thanks again...Im working with the venue right now to get some different lighting...They tell me they have some "theatrical lighting trees" im gonna check that out... Right now the prob is all the lights are high overhead and the venue will not do anything with them except turn them on and off ao make brighter and lighter.

I believe they know nothing bout lighting!

thanks for the DOF tip... i am from the STILL photography world too...

They have a rehersal the day before the show so i will be able to practice
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Old December 31st, 2009, 12:35 PM   #6
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Ouch! That's a tough one. I shoot a lot of stage plays and events. Unfortunately, uneven lighting is very common with these as well. I use a few tricks to cope with this. Unfortunately they substantially increase the editing time.

I try to set a compromise exposure so that the brightest areas aren't blown out and the darker areas aren't so underexposed that they can't be brought out in the editor. I have found the spot exposure tool in Magic Bullet Looks is invaluable when dealing with this. It is quite common to have both over exposed and under exposed areas in the same frame due to uneven lighting. The spot exposure tool in MBL allows you to adjust the exposure in selected areas of a frame. If necessary, you can use multiple instances of the spot exposure tool in the same frame. The downside is that this will add time in the editing process.

It's always best to shoot with optimum lighting but that is often not possible.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 02:21 PM   #7
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Hi Davd................

Whoa, that's scary stuff to be watching first thing New Years day!

Yep, that lighting sucks.

"I have been asked" - does this imply there is a cheque attached somewhere?

By which I mean, is someone paying to get a professional result from this?

If so, I'd tell "them" to either get the lighting sorted or pay for you to sort it yourself.

If this was a totally amateur event I'd suggest going down to your local super cheap hardware emporium and buy a dozen of those el - cheapo 500 watt work lights and use them to wash those walls and ceiling with.

It'd take some of the pain out of the process and probably blow every power circuit in the building to boot.

Tha alternative is a good number of banks of flouro's, but now you're talking serious money, even if hired.

Lighting aside, you really need a second shooter and a third camera:-

1st live camera - 1/3 down the catwalk on the RHS

2nd live camera - 2/3 down the catwalk on the LHS

3rd fixed camera - off centre 15 feet off the end of the catwalk towards the right.

Set your focal length on all cameras so that the talent at their closest to each camera just fits 90 - 95% of the frame.

Disable camera 1 & 2 zoom rockers or have the camera operators index fingers surgically removed.

Hammer home to the talent that those "turn marks" on the catwalk are there for a reason and anyone stopping short or over running will be hung, drawn and quatered in the venue car park.

[This may sound a bit OTT, but if this IS a professional shoot, it's YOUR shoot, and as such it's YOUR way or the highway].

Set & power up camera 3 at least 1/2 hour before show time, set optimum focus on those turn marks and re - check just before the event to make sure the focus hasn't "popped". Set exposure on 3 a la' turn marks. You may need a Lanc or wireless remote for camera 3, depending on it's functionality.

Camera's 1 & 2 simply wait for the talent to walk into frame, track and walk out again. Set both focus and exposure on those camera's for about 80% in frame, this should ensure that the highs won't be too high and the lows are, well, what they'll be - remeber, you have 2 other cameras catching what is (slightly) out of focus/ too dark on any individual camera.

The second camera op doesn't need to be a rocket scientist BTW, all they have to do is track the talent with locked off settings.

Good luck, I will be interested to see how you pull it off.


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Old December 31st, 2009, 04:24 PM   #8
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Good tips Chris. It's always nice when the videographer has enough control to be able to define and direct the lighting. Unfortunately when shooting live events, the lighting is often set for the live audience, not the videographer. In some cases, if you try to horse in and "tell them" what to do, you may get the opportunity to see what the building looks like from the outside sooner than you expected. When that's the case, you have to do the best you can with the hand that you're dealt. That's where I learned some of the techniques that I mentioned above. Stage lighting and lighting for the camera are not one and the same; they are often very different. There are times when we have to accept that we and our cameras are not the center of the universe. At those moments, we are challenged to do whatever is necessary to work with the lighting as it is, not the way we want it to be.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 09:09 AM   #9
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Fixed Camera???

Chris..

Please give me suggestions on how to "fix" one camera so it doesnt get bumped, stolen, etc...

GREAT TIPS.... Thanks....
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Old January 1st, 2010, 11:07 AM   #10
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*The runway is never even with the lights, so adjust your exposure to the higher lighting on the runway. and you really need camera operators to keep adjusting your exposure to the models to keep the details in focus, your zebra is your best friend. Do not use auto focus, and yes just like Chris said take your fingers off the zoom.
I shoot a fashion show for a college every year , I do shoot with 3 manned cams 2A1s and one H1.here are some links:
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Old January 1st, 2010, 11:26 AM   #11
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Nice job Michael. It looks like there is a four f-stop variation along the runway and another couple back on the stage. The uneven lighting on the floor of the runway tells the story. Nothing in your footage is too dark or light to prevent it being optimized in post although on jobs like this, there is a practical limit on the amount of time you want to spend in post. Your footage is a good example of where the spot exposure tool in Magic Bullet Looks can come in handy. Stage shows, plays etc. often have similar uneven lighting challenges.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 12:29 PM   #12
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The other thing is height - in the college video, there is more floor in view which tends to counter the black drapes. A white dress against a black background is easy to wash out - with more mid tones in the shot, then getting the white level right is easier - very often the zebras actually stop you seeing the result - it's all zebra, so right and wrong is more difficult. This is made worse by poor lighting. Are there any stills photographers present? They will be having similar problems, even if they're using flash as the flash level gets fooled by the dark background too.

Look at the nearground model in the problem video. Look at the shadows from the lighting - there's light from the left of the picture at 40-60 degrees ish, but the light from the other side (she is lit - but where is the shadow?) is very steep. It's bad lighting, pure and simple. For fashion shows you need even soft edged light. Softlights are probably too soft - you need some shadow to show of pleats and other design elements - softlight washes them away.

Fresnels are the preferred choice, although PAR64s are popular too, as long as there are enough of them, and they're in the right place. Fashion shows, and wedding ones in particular are there to promote quite expensive items - blasting them with whatever is available from wherever it normally is is just not good enough - not just for the video but for the punters who are there too - and they are the ones with the money! Lighting designers have problems with this kind of event anyway - and in the hands of can't be bothereds or don't know how tos your results will suffer. White clothes on dark backgrounds are always bad news - especially so if the lighting is naff!
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Old January 1st, 2010, 07:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Snow View Post
Nothing in your footage is too dark or light to prevent it being optimized in post although on jobs like this, there is a practical limit on the amount of time you want to spend in post.
Thanks Jim, I did not spend any time in post fixing any exposure or color-grading at all, It is what it is, the lighting is bad and nothing I can do about it and I am not going to spend endless time trying to fix someone lighting problem, I do complain about it every year and finally they are changing the venue next year :)
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 05:44 AM   #14
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Thanks for the advice.... Today is the day..I will get a practice run at it... Im pretty excited now armed with all this newfound information! This forum is awesome!
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 05:14 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by David Ruhland View Post
I believe they know nothing bout lighting!
worse will be when they do :-) but still know nothing about lighting for video.
the worst VIDEO lighting can come from the most expert lighting person, who didnt take any concideration for it being videoed.
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