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

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Old January 24th, 2010, 09:15 PM   #1
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[Efficient Workflow] Questions/Tips

Okay, even after shooting ~20 weddings so far, i still feel that my workflow (for the event and post production) isn't as efficient as i would like. I have a partner, we dont plan on hiring an assistant (two people for a wedding is enough).

[1] How do you prep your gear for the actual shoot (the prep/ceremony/reception/etc.)?

[2] Ways to make your editing workflow faster?


For me:
First off, i shoot using 4 dslr (5D + 7D)
[1] For battery, i have a system where i leave a clear piece of tape on new/charged batteries (ready to be taken off once they are used/dead).
For cards, i shoot with several 32gb cf. Same tape system (new w/ tape, once used i remove tape).
Every time i shoot, i keep an extra battery and 32gb in my pocket.
My tripod and rig all use the same quick release (501hdv w/ 577 quick release plate).

When i arrive at the site, i have to 'put my rig together'. Basically, put my mic/recorder system, handles, shoulder mount. Also, i have to set up my tripod and slider.
Then i get my shots, then have to break it down again. One case for the camera+accessories and a bag for the tripod.
Not gonna lie, it takes some time to get stuff out and put together.

For the ceremony, i have to set up camera+audio, tripod, slider, etc.
3 camera on a tripod, 1 used for roaming. I have to mic the groom using sennheiser g2.
For two of four cameras, im using two receivers picking up the same audio (so that when im editing, i can visually see the SAME EXACT waveforms so syncing is easier).
Depending on the wedding, i leave Olympus recorders around different places (ie podium).
After the ceremony, i have to hurry up and break everything down so i can rush to the reception so i can get prep shots of that.

For the reception, i have to set up camera+audio, tripod, slider, etc.
2 camera on a tripod/slider. 1 used for roaming.

[2] They only thing that i have done for editing is the two audio. Editing is a pain in the arse! I would like a faster way to edit these weddings!
Ideally, I would like a way to finish a wedding (from editing, to authoring, to creating/print covers) in a week or so. So far, it takes a month or so.

My dilemma, it takes too long to set up for each location.
I hate having to sync up all the different cameras.

What do i need to do in order to improve my workflow?

Can others post their workflow [1] the event [2] post-production?
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Old January 24th, 2010, 09:55 PM   #2
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You say little about your editing so I can only tell you our approach. We shoot with three z1s (and up to eight channels of sound, six in sync) and use Avid Liquid's multicam which handles up to 15 streams. The maximum we've used is 12 - not for a wedding but a commercially released stage concert.

Multicam sync is simple and allows you to plough through the three key stages, ceremony, reception, first dance almost like "proper" television (happy days!), then drop the remaining four in-sync sound channels into the timeline and import the H4 stereo and sync that.

Editing is done in stages with separate sequences for each stage. Next I edit the single camera stuff (shot on two camera but not sync) the intro, our speciality - one-to-one interviews, pre-recep, pre/post First dance etc. Next I lay in any music, eg client-selected and sync the disc with the natural sound taken from the loudspeakers during the first dance etc. That way we segue in sync from the intro+DJ to pure disc for most of the dance then back to natural sound at the end for applause etc.

Colour grading and a sound mix is done within each sequence indeed each sequence is treated as a separate programme and kept that way until authoring. When I'm happy with each sequence they're stitched into a master programme (composite) and authored and coded. By retaining this structure any changes required after the first client showing are done within the relevant sequence and not the entire programme. The amended sequence is just replaced in the composite and the whole re-authored and re-coded for DVD (DVD-Lab) or Blu-Ray (TMPG). This means there's no risk of knocking out any sync on the timelines of the entire programme.

We've recently switched to recording on MRC1s which has reduced the importation of the material, typically 12 cassettes/16Gb 233x CF cards from a day and a half to 2.5 hours. San Disk High Speed reader and Firewire 800 card helps. Each CF card is clearly pre-identified to camera and sequence (A1, A2, A3 .... B1, B2... C1, C2....X1, X2 - extras), carried in two wallets and used in sequence. In the wallets the Cf cards are stored ident up for unused, ident down for used - but you cant over-record anyway. Tapes were handled in the same way. Sony software stitches 4Gb+ files together seamlessly.

Since I regard editing as a pleasure not a chore and try to introduce subtle changes to each programme I allow three weeks for the whole process even though that's sometimes spread over twice that time.

Finally, if we record programmes close together we record all imports twice to two dedicated SATA drives before formatting the cards ready for the next wedding. I'm not sure how we'll handle archiving of CF card material in the long term. My guess is that we'll create a couple of archive drives or maybe use Blu-Ray disks. Any advice from people already well into CF or HDD recording would be good.

Hope that helps Jack.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 07:14 AM   #3
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My workflow is nearly identical to Philip's, using the multicam feature in Liquid, synching up separate audio from H4N later, working on individual segments etc. The main difference is that I'm still using tape.

Oh yeah, I've created templates in Liquid for various types of productions so that I'm not constanty reinventing the wheel. I have a template for music recitals, one for weddings, one for each corporate or not profit client using their logos, etc.

The two biggest time savers for me are the multicam edit feature, and creating templates. So far as packing up the gear, I have a big pelican case on wheels that holds nearly everything, and a written checklist for all the gear.

Tapes are prelabeled for each cam before the shoot, and I flip the write protect tab once I switch tapes.

hope this helps.

Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; January 25th, 2010 at 07:14 AM. Reason: another comment on tapes
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Old January 25th, 2010, 08:14 PM   #4
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Thanks Philip and Roger for chiming in.

Sorry, forgot to include my workflow.
By the end of a wedding, i might end up w/ ~8 32gb CF cards.
I have several UDMA USB CF reader (the faster transfer speed doesnt matter to me).
I plug all my cards into the reader, and transcode to Cineform over night/day (file goes to an external harddrive hooked up via sata). Afterwards, i make sure none of the files are corrupt. On a new day, i cut all the files from the CF cards onto a different external for backup of the RAWs.

I edit using Sony Vegas Pro 8.

For me, i import different parts of the day into different veg files. (ie, all my prep footage goes into my 'PREP' .veg file ; etc.)
Since this doesnt require me to sync, i go thru and find all my good footage and remove the shaky/useless shots.

Similarly, for the Church/Ceremony part, i import all my footage. I manually sync up my cams looking at the waveforms. This part is a pain in the arse. [Seriously need to look into plural eyes...] And i add my zoom h4.
Im not sure how much easier Liquid is, when it comes to multicam edit, but if its faster/easier than Vegas, i might have to look into it. (Or maybe im not utilizing Vegas to it max potential).

I generally get full creative control over the editing/final product, so there hasnt been any clients complaints about missing/adding any other footage. *knock on wood*

Dunno how some people can find editing to be fun, for me its a massive chore. Maybe because i have too much bad footage? Not too sure.

I enjoy the shooting part and meeting new people, but when it comes to the 'real work' (editing) its something im never looking forward to.

What about people setting up their camera rig for each new location?
Do most people have a larger bag and just keep their rig 'set-up' already? (for those shooting on traditional camcorders (ie Z1) i guess there isnt too much extra accessories to set up).
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Old January 26th, 2010, 08:12 AM   #5
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Hey Jack,

The multicam window in Liquid looks a lot like the monitor screen for security camera systems with all the cameras' feeds showing at the same time. Or if you've ever used or seen a video switcher system, it looks like that.

It's a nice system, very intuitive once you get used to it. It took me a while to figure out how to use it. When I'm on location, I start all the cameras and point them at me. Then I pretend to be a giant clapper board, giving a "3,2,1" countdown and clap my hands together real loud. I leave the cameras running and set them up. Cameras roll continuously until time to change tape (I know, you don't have to do that!), and then I repeat the process.

Once I capture the entire tape from each camera, (and I review the footage and take notes while capture is going on), in Liquid I place a marker on each reel's synch-clap, and synch by the markers. Once I've got it all going in the multicam window, it's simple to switch from camera to camera with a mouse click, and send it all to the timeline. Once the footage is on the timeline, if you find you goofed, you can right click and switch to another cam, it's all there, nothing lost. It's GREAT!!! and it's very fast. Much faster than having all in seperate tracks on a timeline and then lining them up.

The process is tricky to figure out, at least it was for me. It would be much easier to show someone how to do it than to tell them. It saves me hours and hours over having to do it by lining up multiple tracks on a timeline. One reason I won't switch from Liquid until I can afford an application with a multicam tool at least as good as Liquids. I've seen Media Composer. It's good. I saw multicam demonstrated at the Edius booth at a show, and it's starting to get closer to Liquid. Those are the only two programs besides Liquid where I've actually seen a multicam tool demonstrated. Other's may have such a tool, but I haven't actually seen it. Multicam capability is absolutely essential for the way I now edit.

After the synched track is on the timeline, I can then place individual tracks for each camera on the timeline too above the master synched track, and easily do picture in picture effects from the other cameras using the 2d and 3d effects editors. The multicam feature opens up a lot of freedom in the editing process once you learn it. Any time it takes to capture or import and synch up footage from the individual cameras is saved MANY times over in the subsequent editing.

Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; January 26th, 2010 at 08:21 AM. Reason: picture in picture comment
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Old January 26th, 2010, 08:30 AM   #6
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there a a few ways to do multicam editing in Vegas. One you can use use a 3rd party plugin like Excalibur, pretty much a 1 button edit. You can do 2, 3, 4 or more cameras with it as well as many other things that are scripted and make editing way easier. There's a trial version.
Also Vegas 8 has the ability to do multicam edit although from everything I know about it it is not as easy as using Excalibur.
I can't give you the workflow as I don't use the built in multicam, I use Excalibur but I do know that many people use the internal multicam in Vegas.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 11:54 AM   #7
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There was a lot of info here and I haven't had a chance to read the whole thread, but here is some info I have gathered over the last months:

For audio syncing, try out pluraleyes. It works with sony vegas and FCP and will save you a ton of time.

Try creating a template project file with organized folders and timelines to cut time down. Unplug your internet while editing; it will keep your from checking your email and twitter constantly. How often do you really need to check those, twice a day maybe?

Shoot for the edit; don't shoot continuously for 8 hours... that's a lot of stuff to go through.
EDIT: I just read that you *might* end up with 8-32gb cards!!! If nothing is going on at an event that is really important for 3 minutes start converting your 7d video (if you have a laptop) or start editing... put a fresh card in your camera so when something important starts happening, you can get it! (thank you still motion for this tip!). FYI, Still Motion is doing an SDE workshop pretty soon that had a lot of great tips to speed up and make your work flow efficient.

Maybe try a wagon or utility cart to haul your gear in and out of chapels/reception venues (I need one...).

Have your stuff pre-configured or built (rigs and what not).

Get a detailed itinerary for the day so you know exactly where to be and what to expect (or at least have a good idea).

I was at IN[FOCUS] last week and learned a ton about work flows... Chris P. Jones has a great editing work flow you can check out at infocusvideoevent.COM under the blog categories on the right side of the page. They are also offering a membership to infocusvideoevent.NET (different site) that shows the presentation videos... totally worth the money IMO. There are so many useful tips and tricks about shooting and working with weddings, it's priceless... a matter of fact, it's free (except the presentation videos on infocusvideoevent.net)! If IN[FOCUS] happens again in 2011 and you don't go, you are doing yourself a disservice.

I'm not saying my workflow is up to par either, but I'm working on improving that just as you are.

Good luck!

Last edited by Cody Dulock; January 26th, 2010 at 12:03 PM. Reason: asdf
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