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


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Old February 27th, 2010, 10:40 PM   #1
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Shot Lists???

Please pardon me and just point me in the right direction of any ongoing threads about this but I have scoured the site for the last half hour and though I found many interesting threads none have answered my question...
So here it is.
I have heard of and read about video guys using shot lists for all the weddings they shoot. I know photographers who do it but do any of you use them?
if so what does one look like? ie how detailed do you outline a "shot list"
besides "shoot bride walking down aisle" "get the rings" "get the kiss" etc...
most of my weddings are similar but still each is unique. no two days turn out identical even when shooting in the same venue 3 weekends in a row, each wedding had its own little surprises etc. I always just try to "shoot what happens" but I think my footage could be more creative with some pre-planning etc...
So how does one "pre-plan" for the unknown?
does that make any sense?
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Old February 27th, 2010, 11:11 PM   #2
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Hi Darrick

For me they are in my head!! I know the ceremony and what will happen which gives me an idea if there are any special shots that need to be handled. I used to do photography 20 years back and the only shot list I ever used was group photography..instructed by the bride!!!

The important thing here is for video:
(1) Meet with the bride and discuss her wedding timeline and ask if she is doing anything special or unusual or if any special people need to be focussed on apart the the bridal party (like her 97 year old Grandmother )

(2) Attend the rehearsal !!!! That way you will discover exactly what the ceremony flow will be, how many bible readings and any special ceremonies too.

(3) Keep in contact with the MC all night!! they usually have the timeline on paper and will tell you if anything special is going on. When I get to the reception I always find the MC and discuss the events planning

Chris
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Old February 28th, 2010, 04:22 AM   #3
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We don't have written shot list and we do have a rough list that we need to cover in our head.

For example, you've got 20mins before the reception start and you will know there is a list of shot you need cover: the entrance, the overview of the place, the declaration on the main tables and other tables, the wedding cakes, etc: that's the 'list'. When it comes to every single shot, you would have to compose it according to the time, light and environment. That is the unique part.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 08:38 PM   #4
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I've never used a shot list. For the ceremony, you need to be familiar with how the ceremony will work so you will be ready for the standard shots you need (vows, putting on rings, kiss, etc). For the rest of the day, it's a matter of being aware of what's happening around you, and capturing what you need to tell the story of the day.

If you are not telling a story in your video, you're doomed.

Think of movies. You need establishing shots, cutaways, etc.

As well, I try to pay attention to the fact that it's a small audience, and they want to see themselves and all the important members of the family. So make sure you get the 96 year-old grandma if you see her dancing, and make sure she makes the edit, even if the 26 year-old third cousin twice removed looks better and dances better.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 09:54 PM   #5
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We find shot lists to be very useful, although the trick is to make sure you're not trying to 'script' the day. No matter how much you plan in advance you're dealing with a live event with 'non-professional actors'. Things just aren't going to happen as you planned.

For us, the value in shot lists is to ensure we're getting some specific shots we know we're going to want; examples would be location reveals, specific detail shots, etc. We will also sometime include a few creative shots that are specific to the particular wedding. The shot list we prepare is very concise and fits on a 3x5 index card. We generally refer to it a few times during the wedding day just to refresh our memories and make sure we're not missing any of those important shots.

Just don't try and get really detailed by 'scripting' out the day. It'll make you crazy. You have to leave a lot of room for improv when shooting weddings.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 02:07 AM   #6
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For heaven's sake guys! This is wedding and event techniques. By implication that means there will be:

some structure - so, to the OP, go to other weddings, watch and learn,

some "unplanned" happenings - to the OP, make sure people know that unless you're let in on the secret it probably won't be recorded,

some genuinely unplanned happenings - to the OP, learn and practise your craft so your reaction becomes automatic,

and some things you'll learn will work well and you will want to include in your programme - to the OP, see as many other people's work and form your own idea of how you'll be different.

With respect, whilst Travis might find lists useful - and I'd never denigrate another pro's work or method - I'm with Chris, it's in your head. Giving the OP at his stage a list will simply produce another "me too" programme without any character or individuality at all - and having something different (not bizarre) is one key to success in this business.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 02:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darrick Vanderwier View Post
So how does one "pre-plan" for the unknown?
does that make any sense?
never be more than 1 foot from your camera, dont sit down, dont eat, have an assistant whenever you take a break, dont plan , be prepared for everything.
Myself i am not going to that "Check list, ok i am outta here thing". everything is happening all the time around you, written or not.

Photographer "click" has to get specific things , and make sure he gets everyone, if Video "Roll" didnt get everything they werent paying attention.

when talking to the clients, they will tell you what to get, when asked. and I dont write it down because what they told you , I already fully planned on getting, plus its lighting, plus its audio capture, plus the camera position, etc etc. What they don't tell you, is what you couldnt write down anyways?? but you can always Be-there ready to do your job, not like you got anything better to do unless you were invited to be bridesmaid or something :-)

party planner, DJ, location people, each of them can change what occurs, if your boored, watch what trick they will pull out ther sleeves next. Sure there is a general list of the timing of events, but its human adjustable at the time, besides the bridal party , those people will be the ones making or taking the adjustments.

Once the photographer gets his shots, he will even go Home finished with his "Honey Do" list. I dont have my shots till THE END comes scrolling onto the screen and the star spangled banner starts playing :-o
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Old March 1st, 2010, 09:50 AM   #8
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To the OP:

Never let your guard down. Be constantly scanning and looking for shots. That's all I have to add.

If you get tired after several hours of this? Knock your head against the wall and wake yourself up so you are aware of everything happening around you.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 12:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
With respect, whilst Travis might find lists useful - and I'd never denigrate another pro's work or method - I'm with Chris, it's in your head. Giving the OP at his stage a list will simply produce another "me too" programme without any character or individuality at all - and having something different (not bizarre) is one key to success in this business.
No offense taken, but I think you may have missed my point. We don't 'script out the day' as I specifically pointed out in my other post multiple times. And I'm pretty sure if you watched any of our work you'd agree we have plenty of character and individuality in it.

I'm not sure how experienced the OP is, but if anything I think it's even more valuable to have a more detailed shot list when you're less experienced. Why? Well, in the craziness of a reception, for example, you can make sure you're getting detail shots of .. the cake .. the centerpieces .. people signing the guestbook .. the guest favors .. the gift table .. the specialty groom's cake .. etc. Creating a list in advance ensures that you stay on task and get everything you wanted.

Obviously once you're more experienced then most of this will become second nature and you can scale down your list quite a bit. We aren't running around on the wedding day with a three page shot list shooting like robots, and hopefully our work confirms that. We just use a 3x5 card with specific shot 'wants' on one side organized by the stage of the day, and random creative shot ideas on the other side also organized by the stage of the day.

We simply refer to the shot list a few times during the day at various stages (like right before preps, right before the photoshoot, right before the ceremony and right before the reception). This way we can make sure we don't forget to get that specific shot we had in mind for the bride walking in at this venue. Or maybe we can pull out one of those random creative ideas during the photosession that we've been wanting to do for several months, but just hadn't had the right setup for it until that day.

Anyways, I'm not telling anyone to do it this way, but don't knock it until you've tried it. d;-)
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Old March 1st, 2010, 11:20 PM   #10
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I have over 15 yrs of experience in video related work. However I have only a few years of Weddings on a "Semi - Pro" level. I am always looking to improve and realize (usually after the fact) that I didn't get enough closeups or wide establishing shots... I wondered how others do it.
Thanks for all your suggestions and I realize that most of you don't use a shot list per se.
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Old October 13th, 2011, 02:41 PM   #11
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Re: Shot Lists???

I just found this shotlist app for the iphone:

App Store - Shotlist Assist
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Old October 13th, 2011, 07:13 PM   #12
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Re: Shot Lists???

For preceremony stuff you shoot what looks interesting and has some meaning to the day. For me I like a lot of B footage or detail stuff in the church if thats where the ceremony is being held. Details of the dress even if I'm not doing bridal prep, people stuff, it makes for good fill when needed.
As for the ceremony, I've always likened it to shooting a breaking news event, it happens fast, it happens once and you don't get second chances. Start the camera about a minute or 2 before the processional (after enough weddings you'll have the feel for when to start) and let it roll until the parents walk past you during the recessional. There is no reason to shut the camera down during the ceremony. AT ALL, EVER!
I for one hate pans and zooms during the finished product but of course it does have to happen so thats where one or two safety cameras come in handy. While they may not be great shots if they can cover a pan or zoom then they have done their job. Of course all of the air in the ceremony gets cut.
Learn to anticipate. After a while you'll know whats coming up next so you can be ready for it. I've video'd weddings for 28 years and work in the same places over and over again. So much so I know the officiants quirks and exactly what they're going to say and when they're going to say it but even if you've only done 2 weddings you can anticipate. Get a printed program at the wedding. Most every wedding I've ever done has them at the church. It includes the general things that are going to happen so by keeping one with you you can look at it and have a really good idea of what's coming up so you can anticipate. I keep using that word but it's the best one I know to describe how to shoot. Now keep in mind, I'm a solo operator and run 2 to 3 cameras at every ceremony, always have. Also shooting a wedding ceremony isn't that hard. I could teach my 13 year old grandson how to do it. Would he be great? Far from it. Good? Maybe not BUT if he keeps his hands OFF the camera, sets a nice medium shot on the bride and groom, follows the action with slow steady pans and hit the red button about 2 minutes before the people walk down the aisle well, frankly I could probably use the footage.
Listen, I'm a documentarian but I did and occassionaly still do short form cinematic stuff and it ALL starts out with a properly shot, properly composed, properly exposed ceremony. Without that, you can't edit the award winning 6 minute trailer that wows the socks off of everyone.
Keep calm, take a breath, and remember there are no 2nd takes.
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Last edited by Don Bloom; October 13th, 2011 at 10:22 PM. Reason: correct lousey spelling.
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