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


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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:48 PM   #1
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What to buy....

I'm currently a television news reporter but I'm starting up a wedding videography business (while keeping my present job that is). I've worked in the media for 6 years. I'm not your typical stand in front of the camera and read the news "chick". I shoot my own video, conduct my own interviews, write and edit the final product.


My sister is a wedding photographer and she is the one who suggested I look into this. She said she has a hard time finding videographers to refer brides to. I never thought of this career, but I think it would be a wonderful fit.... especially since shooting news means I'm experienced in covering "non-repeatable" events. Also, I eventually want to get out of the news business.


I currently shoot on a Panasonic AG-HVX200A P2HD (we shoot 16:9) and edit through a program called Dalet which I'm pretty certain is news media specific. I've also edited on Final Cut Pro, Grass Valley and Vortex.

So the advice I'm searching for is really in what to buy. I'm thinking about starting with 2 cameras, a wireless mic and editing software (along with tripods, batteries, top light etc. etc). While I know how to use the equipment, I'm not a big techy person.

I like the P2 but would like a camera a little less pricey that can shoot in HD and that shoots on SDHC. I'm thinking the new Sony AX2000 or Panasonic AG-HMC150. Do a lot of people shoot on Mini DV or is that something people are transitioning away from?

As far as editing software, I'm really looking for a PC based system. While I think Final Cut is good... I'm just not an Apple minded person and I don't want to spend thousands on a computer. I'm considering Adobe Premier Elements, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate or Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9. Never used any of these... thoughts?


I know everyone has their own personal preferences on these kind of things but I would like some advice guidance and if you'd like to tell me I should reconsider this venture... feel free :)
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:27 PM   #2
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One thing before you buy any camera - make sure it's good enough in low-light situations. Weddings are those kind of events that you will never have enough light, you wished you have. My brother also works with Pana HVX200 and he did a wedding once for his friend and he said that footage came out very bad whenever the reception room went dark.

So either make sure you have pretty good lighting setup and/or nice low-light camera (i.e. AX2000, FX1000, NX5, Z5, Z7, EX1, EX3, etc... BTW - not sure about other brands, that's why I've listed only Sony's). Downturn of CMOS-based cameras - yello and rolling shutter effects, which are widely discussed here.

Once you make a choice of the camera then you'd have to start thinking about workflow. Just do a lot of research on these forums and most likely you'll find answer.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:42 PM   #3
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Hi Melisa

It all comes down to personal choice but as you already shoot on the HVX, a pair of HMC150's would make the transistion easy and not over-capitalise on gear too much. It also, depends on your market!! I shoot budget weddings so a pair of HMC72's work great for me and fit into my budget. If you are going to make only $40K a season on weddings then it doesn't make sense to spend $60K on gear unless you are making $200K a year!!

Editing is a personal choice (I use Vegas Pro 9) but if you are going the Vegas route rather get the pro version instead of Movie Studio .. you will appreciate the extra features!!!

With editing software it's always a good idea to run the trial version and see if you like the interface and workflow...all the NLE's mentioned give great results so it's really just finding one that suits your style.

You will also have to look carefully at whether your market will need DVD or Bluray ..where we are, our BD market is dead!! So we use Panny's Mainconcept P2 transcoding software and supply SD DVD only.

Good luck in your venture!!

Chris
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Old February 16th, 2010, 08:10 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input! One thing I have noticed on the HVX is that is really bad in low light situations. At an event a few weeks ago, it wouldn't even white balance! But from what I've read, the Sony AX2000 is good in low light. However, since it is so new it's not easy to find reviews.

As far as BluRay goes, I don't think it's a huge demand here in North Carolina. But I would like to have the capability to offer it in the near future.

Thanks again for the input... and if anyone else wants to give their two cents, go for it!
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Old February 16th, 2010, 08:39 AM   #5
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Re: editing software

Pretty much every company makes free trial versions--with various limitations (time or features). Download 'em and try 'em out!

If you are going to shoot with two cameras, a program with a mulit-cam mode is probably worth getting. I believe all the consumer versions do not have it. Go for full Vegas and definately check out Edius (dunno if that is what you meant by Grass Valley (or that lame NewsEdit)).
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Old February 16th, 2010, 09:05 AM   #6
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Hi Melisa,

I shoot with the HMC150 and absolutely love it. It is much better in low light than the HVX200 and as others have said, it would be a natural transition for you. The Sony AX2000 and it pro line brother have not hit the streets yet, but if you go the Sony route, I would spend the extra money on the pro line version of the AX2000. For the extra money you will get XLR inputs and several other features that can really make a difference.

Either way, it sounds like you will be going AVCHD. Checkout Grass Valleys Edius Neo 2.5, also called Edius Booster. It's incredible and only about $225! On my quad core laptop, it will edit AVCHD in real time without transcoding. I can do two picture in pictures, audio and video filters with no rendering. Edius Neo is a "lite" version of Edius Pro, but Edius Pro 5 does not edit AVCHD natively. When Edius Pro 6 comes out later this year, it should edit AVCHD natively. A great thing about Grass Valley products is that you do not have to have a super expensive computer. To edit AVCHD natively, do get a quad core or i7, but you can spend as little as $1200-2000 on a system. On top of that you would still need a monitor and storage, but with Grass Valley, you don't have to drop $4000-8000 on a computer.

For audio, you will need more than one wireless mic. You could get a zoom H2 or other audio recorders, but it is important to mic the minister and the groom. You also need other audio recorder for the podium to get good audio of the readers and don't forget the strings or other musicians. You can find used H2s on eBay for around $100-125. Ideally, one wireless and three H2s, or other audio recorders, will allow you to get good audio at the ceremony. The built in mic on the HMC150 is not good for really loud receptions. I use the Rode NTG-1 with my HMC150. The new price is about $250, but I also found a used one on eBay for $125.

For on camera lighting, I really like the Comer 1800. It's the best LED light I have found.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:42 AM   #7
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Hey Melissa,

I was in your shoes not too many years ago - a former TV news reporter who somehow ended up in a career that involves producing wedding videos (and other kinds of projects as well). And I definitely agree with you that covering news assignments is a great background for this kind of work.

Since you've got experience with the HVX200, I think the HMC150 is a great choice. That's what I shoot with and love it - great in lowlight, lightweight, inexpensive, etc. I edit weddings on a Final Cut workstation and the workflow is smooth. I also have a PC workstation with Premiere, and have really grown to like that as well, so I don't think you could go wrong either way.

Good luck!
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Old February 16th, 2010, 07:03 PM   #8
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Zoom H2

Mark,

I googled the Zoom H2 since I've never heard of it... So it's just an audio recorder? How does that work when it comes to syncing the audio and video? Do you usually just use it for readings?

Thanks for the advice on the cameras, everyone. I'm really beginning to lean toward the Panasonic HMC150 over the Sony AX2000. I think you all have a point that the Panasonic would be good since I'm already familiar with the P2. Looking at pictures online, the two look almost identical. And I'm pleased with it's ease of use-- although I have had a corrupt file or two.

The mic thing seems like a tough choice. I'm so used to just shooting with one mic, one camera. Do most of you put a mic on both the groom and the officiant "just in case" one fails? I noticed Azden and Audio-Technica have some inexpensive wireless set ups..
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Old February 16th, 2010, 07:40 PM   #9
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Hi Melisa,

The Zoom H2 is an audio recorder. It records to SHDC cards. It has a built in mic or you can add a lav mic. I use the built in mic for the podium or on musicians. In some locations I have problems with my wireless systems, so that's when I add the lav mic to the zoom for the minister and groom. In post you just sync it to the camera audio. You can usually sync it once, and it is good for the entire ceremony.

There are other choices out there for auxilary audio recorders. I just have experience with the Zoom H2 and H4n.

I place a mic on the minister and groom because it sounds much better. I use omni lavs and when the minister is within 2-5 feet of the groom, he usually sounds decent coming from the grooms mic. In some ceremonies, usually catholic, the minister does not always stand so close to the couple. This is when you really benefit from the minister and groom having their own mics.

Another example is when the groom has become emotional, or just has alergies and is contantly sniffing his nose. There is nothing worse than hearing the grooms nose over the minister's voice. Having a backup is another benefit having seperate mics on the minister and groom. You can't have too many backups.

Be careful not to go too cheap with wireless systems. A good wireless will not only provide you with reliable service but will outlast 2-3 cameras. It's worth it to spend a little extra on a good wireless system. I'm not saying you have to spend $2500 on a lectronsonics system, but I would avoid spending less than $500 on a wireless system.

I use Sennheiser wireless systems. They are reasonably priced and work great. You can even buy a three piece kit with an XLR plug. Just add an XLR mic and you can do interviews, mic the band, DJ, or take a feed from the board. Whatever wireless you get, stay away from the 700 frequency. You may already know from your broadcast experience, but the FCC has banned that range and there are still a lot of wireless systems out there in that range.

Shawn Lam recently reviewed the new Sennheiser G3 wireless system for EventDV magazine. Here's the link.
EventDV.net: The Event Videographer's Resource
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:18 PM   #10
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I own a H2 and I like using it, I would also look up the Sony PCM-D50. There is a lot of info out there on it, and you can even find places that reviews that and the H2 side by side. I would have at least 3 recorders to go with your wireless mic. There are a lot of good choices out there.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 09:09 AM   #11
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Hi Melisa,

You asked about synching the H2's audio with the video. I use the H4N, and all I do to synch is display the waveform from the video's audio track and then display the waveform from the audio recorder. Most every NLE displays waveforms, even the cheap ones. If your NLE will expand the timeline to individual frames, you can synch up the tracks perfectly.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your business. I just started up in August myself. Wish I'd started even sooner. Your sister will likely be a good source of referrals.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; February 18th, 2010 at 09:11 AM. Reason: additional comment
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Old February 18th, 2010, 09:28 AM   #12
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Another trick is to gather up all your cameras, and recorders and clap a few times while they are all recording. Don't stop recording until the ceremony is done. The claps will be very obvious when you get them all on the timeline.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 10:36 AM   #13
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Hi Melisa,

Congrats on your decision to do this! I was in the same position you are about 8 months ago. Here's what I ended up with:

Canon XH-A1s (can do decently well in low-light if used properly)
Canon 7D (can be good in low-light depending on the lens)
Canon HF20 (absolutely sucks in low light, but is amazing in daylight)

They all match pretty well in post with the right tweaking. I'm using a Macbook Pro and FCP Studio for editing. When it comes to batteries and memory, always get twice what you think you'll need. ;)

Best of luck to you!!
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Old February 20th, 2010, 10:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Von Lanken View Post
Hi Melisa,

I shoot with the HMC150 and absolutely love it. It is much better in low light than the HVX200 and as others have said, it would be a natural transition for you. The Sony AX2000 and it pro line brother have not hit the streets yet, but if you go the Sony route, I would spend the extra money on the pro line version of the AX2000. For the extra money you will get XLR inputs and several other features that can really make a difference.
Mark, just a heads up, the new Sony AX2000 does have built in XLRs.
The big difference between the AX2000 and NX5 is that the NX5 gives you the option to add a 128GB solid state drive to it, as well as PCM audio recording ability. The AX2000 can't take the SS recorder, and can only record to MEG 2 audio.

There are of course some additional picture profile advantages to the NX5. And considering that the NX5 is only $500 more at the moment, I would recommend the NX5 if money isn't extremely tight fro an individual. Also, Sony is offering a $500 rebate on the solid state recorder right now, which only puts the recorder at about $200 after rebate.
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 01:09 AM   #15
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Hi Michael,

It is great that Sony has decided to include XLR inputs on their consumer line. Our local rep is going to have the NX5 at our local PVA meeting next week. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

On paper the NX5 looks great. Without seeing it in person, the biggest negative I see is the partials associated with rolling shutter and CMOS, but not everyone has a "problem" with seeing partials everytime a camera flash goes off...a personal preference thing.
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