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


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Old February 2nd, 2010, 12:16 AM   #1
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One Camera Wedding shoots

After doing some research, (My Mother is a 16 year Wedding Commissioner in British Columbia), I have discovered that the area we are in mostly hires for one camera wedding video's. Which is odd since Kelowna is a fairly high money area.

Anyhow, since this will be my first year of doing weddings (I have shot just about everything else since 2002/03) I am curious how you you guys and gals shoot one cam wedding video in todays age?
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 12:52 AM   #2
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One approach is to not get so fancy that you might blow a really important shot, and to capture as much additional footage as possible in between the special events of the day. The best approach really depends on the style you're going for in the edit though. Whatever it is, just keep the edit in mind and capture footage accordingly.

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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:52 AM   #3
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Although they pay you for a one camera shoot, nothing stands in your way to use a second (cheap) camera (just on a tripod, no operator) to catch some overall shots. It does not cost you much extra time and buys you a lot of safety during the ceremony.

Your clients will be happy to get some extra and you can make your montage much more interesting.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 08:28 AM   #4
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Denny...

I pretty much shoot one camera all the time. My last wedding was a two camera shoot but only because I had a friend who wanted some learning experience.

When it comes to the ceremony I dial my creative dial down a bit. Most of the shots are static. I usually do a simple push from out of the isle when the bride is coming down (thats about as fancy as I get).
For B roll footage I grab a lot of close ups of the Bride and Grooms face's and CU of them holding hands. The key is knowing when a good time is to grab a few frames during the ceremony so you don't miss anything. Before the ceremony I focus in on peoples faces who are basically just staring ahead very intently.
This usually splices in well as if they were paying attention to what's going on.

All that being said... I just picked up an HV40 as a B cam to give me another angle. I'm excited to leave my one camera wedding days in the past.

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Old February 2nd, 2010, 10:51 AM   #5
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one camera shoots used to be the norm. I'm talking about back in the 80s when most people couldn't afford more than that much less drag all that stuff around.
Anyway during a ceremony, it's my opinion, that it is not the time to try to get to Hollywood. A ceremony is generally a religious event although not always but there is nothing wrong with shooting it straightforward and cutting in B footage in post. I try to keep my ceremonys pretty simple and document the event. While I do run a 2nd and sometimes a 3rd camera for the most part I keep in my mind that the only camera that has a shot is the one I have my hands on. Cameras get blocked, tapes jam, batteries die, all kinds of things can and do happen and we aren't aware of it. Having said that, most often the ceremony happens right in front of you so a position looking at the altar from the center aisle is generally a good place to be. If you have a 2nd, 3rd, 4th camera running and have a good shot from it (them) great but you might not know that until you go to edit. Preceremony, post ceremony, by all means i try to get some creative stuff and additional B footage to cut into the ceremony footage but again, it's my opinion and only my opinion that a wedding ceremony is an event that should be done pretty straightforward and hence 1 camera can work out quite well.
When I started in the business and only had 1 camera it made me learn how to shoot in a way that I made sure the event was covered without depending on more than the 1 camera I had. To be sure my coverage is documentary but none of my clients have ever been unhappy with the type of coverage they've received over the last 26 years.
Short answer, yes, you can do weddings with 1 camera but if you can set up a 2nd to get another shot to cut to, then by all means do it but keep in mind that being unmanned, things can happen so don't bet your event on the footage from it.
Just my opinion, YMMV!
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 11:07 AM   #6
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Denny,

I have to agree with Steve and Mario. I thought I was the last one to shoot one-camera weddings. I kind of looked at it as a challenge. It's kind of like driving without a seatbelt though. I was lucky in that I never had a disaster, but the ceremony coverage gets very weak from only one angle. After the ceremony one camera is plenty, though a back-up helps in case of disaster.

Last year I picked up an HV30, then the 5d2 so now I actually use three cams. Now I have the opposite problem of having too much to look after. The last wedding a did last year, I brought in an assistant just to babysit the hv30 during the ceremony and paid him $100.00.

The only advantage to one-cam is that it does make you a better camera op - because alot of the time there is no cutaway (though I would always shoot b-roll just before the ceremony started).

Even a second HV on a tripod set at wide angle will give you something else, and you can run another mic to it just for the safety net. That way you can pick-up your a-cam and move it without fear of ruining a shot, knowing that you have a cutaway.

With the low cost of decent cams nowadays it doesn't really make sense not to have a second unit, even if you only use a few minutes of the footage.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 11:33 AM   #7
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Chiming in with Ken, there's no reason not to have a couple angles in addition to the one you are operating. The great thing about ceremonies is that they are fairly static. You can frame up two cameras - one from each side - in a MCU of the bride and the groom. They won't move much, and if they do just check the cameras quickly.

As to your angle, hang out in the aisle for the symmetrical shot. Focus on getting cutaways, getting a solid shot during the rings and vows, and above all on the audio. Great audio will save any video.

Do a few weddings, then check out the famed Still Motion 1 videographer all-7D wedding (js plus esther). It's possible to be uber creative despite being the only op, it just requires planning and not being obsessed with capturing every single second.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:11 PM   #8
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Like many, I also started with one camera, a tripod, a cheap 2-channel wireless mic (VHF) system, a big tool box on wheels for equip. storage, an iMac and the very first version of iMovie. Indeed, compared to linear editing systems iMovie was a dream come true.

The single camera approach could have been a challenge, but I had a large body of experience working as a candid photographer producing "happy face" computer driven slide shows for the meetings and conventions industry. The transition to a single video camera was not, at the time, a big concern for me. I was able to "tell the story of the day" quite well ... or so I thought. It was only when I saw samples of what multiple camera angles could do that I realized I had to acquire more cameras.

Nonetheless, some of my best work is still represented in those first weddings. I would strongly suggest anyone limit themselves to one camera to document a complicated event, if for no other reason than that limitation is an amazing teacher.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 04:42 PM   #9
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Thanks for the tips.

For me a 2 cam shoot will mean another operator as I can not afford to buy another cam at the moment.

Clients around here seem to not want to pay very much, even though It's the sunny and hot Okanagan with a lot of money floating around.

Actually, clients for any kind of video work here seem to want it low priced. I'm starting to dislike doing business here. :(
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 05:38 PM   #10
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If you can't afford another camera then you might not be able to hire another operator so here's a couple things I learned doing 1 camera shoots. Keep movement to a minimum, make slow pans, tilts and easy on the zooms. Anticipate the next move and stay on your toes (not literally) don't get distracted.
I, like many others that started with one camera, have found that I learned how to be a better camera operator because I knew if I screwed up I had nothing to cut to so my prayer before a wedding had always been, "Lord, please don't let me screw up"
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 09:49 PM   #11
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Denny,

Almost every motion picture up until the last few years was filmed with one-cam, so it can be done. I've shot probably 20 weddings over the years with only one camera. Weddings weren't something I targeted until recently. Now I've come to embrace them and have a site specifically to trying to get wedding biz.

I just attended a one-day bridal show (in Victoria, BC) where there were over 400 brides, it cost $600 for the table but have 2 weddings already booked (at a minimum 1500.00 per), with several more potential bookings. I also have an ad on facebook where I target male and females in the two largest cities near me over 18 who list their status as engaged. I pay x amount per click thru to my website.

I have have ads on craigslist and kijiji as these are pretty heavily indexed by google, and are free.

I really only started taking wedding seriously at the beginning of last year (I shot a wedding New Years day).

My rates are higher this year than they were last year, and I expect to raise them next year. I re-invest money directly back into the business and constantly work to make the product better. A lot of people think that weddings are a place to start, but anyone who has shot a few knows that to do them well is one of the most challenging things you will ever produce.

What I'm getting at is: There are clients out there looking for quality work, but you do have to grind it out.

Kelowna has probably a bigger population than Victoria, and probably a younger trending demographic, so don't give up.

And as for the one camera or 6, it doesn't matter. I'd rather have my wedding shot by a very talented 'cinematographer' with one camera, than a hack with 6.

Good Luck and don't give up.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 10:01 PM   #12
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Shooting a ceremony with 1-camera can be done, but as noted with the declining costs of cameras and their increasing quality, using 2 is probably a better option. Strictly from a "safety net" perspective. After all you are getting paid to capture the event, and if heaven forbid a tape jams up when the rings are exchanged or your battery decides to malfunction, having a backup cam goes a long way.

I do film ceremonies with 1 camera, but rarely.

I prefer to do two and have one "always wide" from the rear shooting the stage.

That gives freedom to move about a little and get some different angles.

Shooting with two cams and putting that together isn't too much more intensive in post.

As mentioned get some good shots of the decorations and people etc and you can use those as cutaways too.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 10:56 PM   #13
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The thing with one cam shoots that I don't get is how are you supposed to get the frontal of bride walking down isle seamlessly and blending in the ambient music? How in the world do you do a "documentary" style wedding with one camera when you have to cut out footage and hence cut out the natural sound? slow mo? Answer... yes.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 07:17 PM   #14
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It shouldn't be any different no matter how many cameras you're running.
For me, I'm at the front and as the bride and groom are making their way to the altar I make sure to follow them and then make my way back to my main shooting position. I don't swish pan and run, I follow the bride down the aisle, she gets handed off to the groom and I follow as I make my way. Audio is still going to my A cam thru the 2 lavs I have placed on the groom and lectern.
It's not as hard as some make it out to be.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 12:49 PM   #15
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Thanks for your replies.

Seems a bit stressful booking that first wedding. Over the last 8 years I have shot just about every type of video footage, from commercials to documentaries to dramatic to MTV. On hand helds to Shoulder mounted Cams. But no weddings. :)

Hope I get this right. Nothing like the pressure of a brides "special moments". Can't exactly schedule a reshoot. haha.

BTW, weather in BC is way way way above normal temps (anyone watching the Olympics should have noticed that). Curious to how that will affect bookings. I have my first wedding scheduled for June.

Downside to the good weather is my snowmobile project has been suspended till next season.
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