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

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Old May 5th, 2010, 11:30 PM   #1
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Filming nephews wedding, panic!


I film instructional videos, basic documentaries, web based commercials, etc. Somehow I got sucked into filming my nephews wedding. I think I have most of it thought through, but I'm worried about:

1. audio during the ceremony
2. audio during toasts, etc during the reception
3. getting a good angle on the bride while she walks down the aisle and still being able to get the ceremony

For audio during the ceremony I was thinking about running a lav on the groom and setting up a Sony D50 near the priest. For the reception I was going to run a shotgun mic with the D50 near the wedding party again.

I won't have any help on this one. I have an EX1R, HDR-AX2000 and several 7d. I was thinking about leaving the AX2000 running on a tripod to catch the bride coming down the aisle and I'll run the EX on a monopod to catch the ceremony. I'm thinking that running 7ds will be a handful by myself and I'm stressed about this type of filming anyway.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:13 AM   #2
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Got 3 good high tripods? You'll need to check the location, but you can shoot this multicam solo if you plan ahead and know where you need to be. As long as you've got cameras, it's all about planning and placement. Can you get access to the venue to get an approximate layout?

Do you know the ceremony length - the 12 minute limit will be the tricky part, but you should be able to work around it with planning or an assistant who is smart enough to push a button... got a pet monkey <wink>?

If you plan it right, you won't even break a sweat. How soon is the gig? If you've got a little time you can have it so you're on automatic on the day.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:25 PM   #3
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Put a mic on the priest. They do most all of the talking.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 11:40 PM   #4
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For the cameras, you should man the EX1, and setup a wide shot somewhere from the back (preferably high up so as not to be blocked). If its a long ceremony, you might even have time to go to the rear camera and re-frame or adjust your zoom. Otherwise, err on the side of being too wide and with plenty of headroom. If you can get a young helper to 'watch over' the 2nd cam, that might make your life easier. Give specific instructions on operating the camera (or leaving it alone, as the case may be).
For audio, mic the priest...but I suggest having some cheap digital audio recorders (or expensive ones, if you already have them). You can attach a lav to some and slip one in the grooms pockets for the vows. Shotguns are pretty useless for ceremonies and can be just as bad for receptions (depending on room size, noise levels, camera placement...etc.). Here, again, an MP3 audio recorder will save your bacon. Get a feed from the DJ board (if possible) and use your wireless near the speakers (watch for distortion though!). ALWAYS have a backup. The digital audio recorders are pretty inexpensive now and having a few on hand is always a good idea. Don't expend all of your time and energy on the image, audio is JUST AS important (but you probably already know that).

Can you hire a local 2nd cameraman for a few hours and ask your nephew to pick up just that cost? (explain how much better the final video will be)
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Old May 7th, 2010, 11:59 AM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback!

I'll mic up the priest for sure, that makes the most sense.

There are two possible venues, both are quite long and narrow. At one venue there is an aisle down the middle only, at another there is a center aisle and an aisle along one side of the pews. What would be the best way to get a shot of the bride walking down the aisle?

I'm thinking a static camera in the chancellery, to catch the bride approaching with me manning a camera a the back along the aisle the bride just walked down.

Also I typically use a Miller tripods. Pretty beefy, should I pickup something smaller? Do most people used monopods for the manned cameras? Those Sonys have great stabilization, so that would be an option. Thanks again, totally lost here.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #6
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During the vows/ring exhange...make sure the photographer doesn't stand in front of your camera. Don't be afraid to tap him on the shoulder.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 03:18 PM   #7
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If you have cameras to spare (4 is good!), here's the setup I use:

Camera #4 - at the rear or part way back, on high (6-7 ft, so it can't be blocked) tripod just off the center aisle. Start it early, let it run, plan for tape/memory change if needed for long ceremony. Set wide, visit this once the bridal party is up front (you'll be there with cam #1 somewhere around this time), tighten the zoom down to just the bridal party, open it back up just a bit right before they start to exit. This is your safety cutaway.

Camera #3 - bride's side, facing towards the groom. You can start this one when the processional starts, and if a short ceremony, might make it through the vows... if not, have an assistant stop restart at 11:59 on a 7D. Again, start wide, zoom it in to get the grooms response to the bride, and his vows - this and cam #2 are often tricky, as they are easily obstructed - go to the rehearsal, and try to find a clean shot, let the bridal party know not to block when they come in.

Camera #2 - Groom side, this is the "Money shots" of the beautiful bride. If you can get a GOOD assistant, it may be worth it, if not, figure out your camera position and zoom ranges in advance (same with cam #3), so you can visit this cam on your way back to the rear of the venue (that single aisle is worrying me a bit... you may need to practice your ninja skills). If you know where your framing is supposed to be, you can just pop by the camera to adjust it from a wide to a tight shot once the bridal party is in place - if you can't get to the cameras (problematic if you use the 7D with the 12 minute limit...), set for the tight shot where the bride will stand - you should be able to get pretty close on framing and need litle or no pan/crop in post.

Camera #1 - (this is you, the manned camera on a shoulder mount, monopod or stabilizing device of your choice, with a QR so you can drop onto a tripod during the middle of the ceremony). Start up front, off to one side or the other, shooting the processional, tracking the pairs as they come up the aisle - watch out for the flower girls and ring bearers - they are SHORT, you'll miss them if you aren't careful. Move into the center (I like to come in low so I don't get noticed - everyone will stand when the bride is coming in anyway... so be sure you've got a straight clear shot down the aisle) everyone will be turned watching the bride, so you can get in there for the shot. Retreat as the bride gets close to the front, preferably with a side aisle you can use for a trip to the rear shooting position. Catch the handoff, then rely on cam #2&3 being set right, you head to the read station - zoom cam #4 in, go to tripod with #1, and try to be in tight on the rings, kiss, candle/sand, etc. The safety cam is always there, but you want a tight shot if you can. You'll be limited shooting from the back, but it's usually unobtrusive enough that you won't have any problems getting good shots without annoying anyone or even being noticed. As you get towards the end of the ceremony, get the camera dismounted, zoom in as needed on the kiss and presentation, get ready to back out down the aisle in front of the couple, out the doors, catch them as they exit, and you're set for the ceremony! Go collect cameras and pack up fast, ready to go to the reception venue.

You want to try to keep all the cameras rolling - you will be glad you have at least ONE rolling the whole time to use as a reference track, sync audio from all the cams and your life in post will be easier.

Other things - B roll, setting the venue, get certificate signing, get the grand entrance at the reception, the toasts, the important dances, interviews if you want, bouquet and garter toss, cake cutting, and if there are any other unique "events". Be sure to hook up with the DJ or co-ordinator (DJ usually sets the pace and "wrangles" the events), let them know you're shooting video and would like a "heads up" before anything important. Get the couple leaving if they have a special "ride". Go home and rest your aching feet/back/head...

You can also get bridal prep if they want, but it's often another location and more hassle, especially if things run behind. Groom prep is another option, but it's usually not all that exciting.

That's a pretty decent "short form" layout for a plain vanilla ceremony - Masses are longer, but similar, so hopefully this will give you something for a mental runthrough - attending the rehearsal will help you work this through in the actual venue - always bring a cam and test your camera positions - you should have time and some flexibility at rehearsal, plus it lets the participants get used to the camera being there and not blocking it.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 05:12 PM   #8
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Wow Dave. That sounds perfect. I have a bunch of XR/CR Handycams kicking around. I'll probably run those on the sides like you suggest and forgo the 7d cameras.

I'll be running all backlit Exmor cameras, EX1R, AX2000 and some CR550v/CR520v little guys. Think I'll be able to skate by with natural lighting? I'm already looking at lugging two good size Pelicans on the plane without lights...
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Old May 7th, 2010, 07:06 PM   #9
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Unless it's a night wedding by candlelight... you should be fine - even then, turn on the low lux setting, and you'd be good! The EX1R and AX2000 should hold up fine as well.

I shoot ALL XR500/CX500 myself... 2 @ at the moment, until I get a CX550V cheap, and eventually an Alpha body that does video... whenever they actually let one out for public consumption! I have yet to find lighting so bad as to give these cameras any grief, though candlelight is a bit tough and short throw... you have to stay in close, but even there you get great results. I shot SR11's previously, and they were right on the edge, adding the cheap Sima LED's (20LX IIRC) was all I ever needed to fill, the XR/CX's are significantly better.

Shooting those, just start them all up simultaneously, you may want WA adapters for the front two cams in case the venue is narrow. When you edit, just drop the files on the timeline and sync, easy as pie, choose your best angles, and you're done. Tapeless is nice!

The 7D might be handy if you've got some fast glass - receptions can be really dark. I'm looking forward to having a DSLR-V for the "glamour" shots myself, if I had a DSLR-V I'd have it on a strap around my neck...

I can strip my kit down to two old TRV900 cases plus the tripods/monopod/shoulder rig... the benefits of shooting smaller cameras!
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