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


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Old May 23rd, 2010, 09:37 PM   #1
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Lesson Learnt

I thought this would be a good idea for a thread.. Lesso learnt!

I've learnt some hard lessons yesterday during a wedding and hopefully with this thread I can help others (probably most useful for starters like me) to learn from other's experience than to learn it the hard way.

My lesson learnt from yesterday:

1. DO NOT FORMAT YOUR CF when you haven't back it up yet! I was foolishly checking how much GB left in my CF so I looked at 'format' in the menu. But instead of clicking cancel, I clicked OK and there's no stopping the camera! I panicked, body temperature raised, lost my apetite for food, blood loss (ok not that extreme). Do not, I repeat, do not format your CF or even come close to that menu unless you've backed it up!

2. IF YOU DID FORMAT LEAVE THE CF ALONE! Luckily I did not use the CF again after I format it. A photographer helped me with his File Rescuer and successfully scanned the file in the CF that can be retrieved. I have never felt relieved like this..God bless whoever invented that program! But still, don't take the risk!

3. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR STUFF BEHIND! Always check before leaving any venue. In the morning I'd left my Macbook Pro at the Bride's house.. then I left my monopod at the church.. later that night I almost left my battery charger in the reception venue.. This is ok compared to my friend who lost his 100mm f2.8 lens in a wedding room.. that one never came back..

4. Lastly, on the business side.. DO NOT CHARGE SMALL MONEY! I regretted ever agreeing to such a small comission for my wedding day video service. After such a tiring day yesterday I came to my senses that this thing is not easy and is not worth the small money. Although it's enjoyable but atleast you deserve to be paid what your service is worth for.

Hope this helps.. Would appreciate any others lesson learnt to help me (and others) grow professionally in this business! :)

Cheers,


John
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 10:35 PM   #2
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You've read my mind!!

I was just thinking about doing a thread like this because of what happened this Saturday.

Weird.

I trusted the priest to turn on his mic before the ceremony started. He did not.

We had a H4N hooked up to the outdoor ceremony sound system. My videographer and i were both on 7D's and so we didn't know that his mic was never on during the ceremony.

Luckily, even on a windy day and the groom and bride talking really low our Rhode mic's got the sound.

Remind the priest just before it starts to "LEAVE HIS MIC ON"

Put a lock on your gear bags so nobody can get in.

Double check your have all your footage before you delete the cards.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 11:29 PM   #3
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Hi John

Good advice !! I bet we all have our stories too!!!

With cards the real answer is to make sure you have enough cards for the entire job and have full cards in one case and empty cards in another.

When I get home I transfer ALL data to my drive from each SDHC card before I even start to do anything!! I actually have enough cards to do the odd weekend shoot without using my wedding cards. When the bride's DVD is ready for delivery then I KNOW I have used all the raw footage and can safely format the cards. The worst that has happened so far is I forgot to copy my stills from the card folder for the DVD covers at a wedding last year so I had to use screen captures !!

I take only what I need into the brides home and make sure I come out with it all. At the reception there is usually plenty of time to take stock and pack up what you don't need anymore.

However, yes I finished an outdoor ceremony and took the transmitter off the groom to keep the photog happy for the group shots and left it on the register signing table. The resort manager tapped me on the shoulder an hour later and presented me with my transmitter with big sighs of relief.

So far this season all I have lost is a 3 way power plug at the reception..wasn't worth driving back to the yacht club to try and find something that cost $2.50!!!

The blood chilling cold shivers that overcome your body when you realise that you have just erased the entire ceremony must be scary...My mate rang me last month to tell me that he had accidentally pushed the camcorder record button twice (thru nerves) and the camera sat in pause mode for the entire ceremony!! I am always thankful that my HMC's have a tally light at the back and front of the camera so I can tell it's recording or not!!

Chris
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Old May 24th, 2010, 12:14 AM   #4
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i have another one

for those shooting with 7d and 5d together, always check if you're recording or not.

I have done one ceremony where I switched from 5d to 7d and did awesome steadicam shots here and there when the bride did her walk and just when she arrived at the altar, my lcd went black (standby mode)... my heart just sank... it could only do that if you left it doing nothing for a while... yes.. I pushed the wrong button on the wrong camera. Good thing we're always shooting with two cameras, so we just have to use the other camera's footage which was taking safe footages.

I felt very bad, but it could happen to anyone so I just made sure that I gave more than all I have for the rest of the day to make up that mistake. I thought, "well, its better than losing the whole footage" lol

lesson learned :)

Santo
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Old May 24th, 2010, 12:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johannes Soetandi View Post
1. DO NOT FORMAT YOUR CF when you haven't back it up yet! I was foolishly checking how much GB left in my CF so I looked at 'format' in the menu. But instead of clicking cancel, I clicked OK and there's no stopping the camera! I panicked, body temperature raised, lost my apetite for food, blood loss (ok not that extreme). Do not, I repeat, do not format your CF or even come close to that menu unless you've backed it up!
I can imagine the sensation this must have caused. When I need to check the GB status on my 550D, I just press the MENU button to get into the menu system, then press DISPLAY which will bring up the status menu.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 06:03 AM   #6
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I bet those are four things not on the syllabus of the meejah studies degree course - keen followers of the section will know what I mean.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 06:24 AM   #7
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If I had formatted a CF card with crucial data on it I would have probably thrown up - literally. Luckily this hasn't happened to me yet. Here's a couple of things I do to help keep things straight:

1. I bought enough cards to cover the entire day - four 32GB cards for the DSLR, which is more than enough. I also used a P-Touch to put the numbers 1 through 4 on the cards. In a typical wedding day situation I will use Card #1 for pre-wedding, Card #2 for ceremony, and Cards 3 & 4 for reception. Having them numbered helps me to keep everything straight when shooting and later when dumping. It's also much easier to remember which cards you have used during the day.

2. I use a Nexto drive to back up cards on the fly during the day when I have a chance, usually right after the ceremony. I DO NOT erase the cards after dumping to the Nexto drive. The Nexto drive is very clear about copying vs. moving files off the cards, and has several "Are you sure?" messages to help protect you. This insures I have two copies of the data as the day goes on.

3. As SOON as I get home from the wedding I start backing up to my RAID drive array. I ALWAYS assume the cards are "volatile". I treat that data like it could spoil as quickly as sour milk if I don't copy it over.

4. Just to be safe, I don't delete data or format cards until just before my next gig. This way I'm triple-backed up until the very last possible moment. I realize this isn't possible for many, especially if you don't have enough cards. My suggestion is to buy more cards. ;)
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Old May 24th, 2010, 07:02 AM   #8
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Conscious of the wisdom of Chris's advice to have enough cards I saw a Nexto as an ideal back up - we're looking at ten 16Gb 233X cards for our three Z1s so cards are a not insubstantial investment.

It did everything that Bill reports, except that its native storage path puts the data down too many levels for the Sony software to bring the data into the computer.

Of course one could have corrected the path depth in the computer but that would have meant more handling which partly negated the whole objective.

So, if your situation is like ours, think carefully before taking the Nexto plunge. We bought a few more cards.

Incidentally the best price we got was from an Amazon dealer and they tried ripping us off 25.00 for handling when we sent the box back within the 7 days allowed under the UK's DSR laws. An appeal to Amazon and the threat of recourse to Visa solved the problem but it's something else to worry about.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 07:49 AM   #9
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Yes Philip, you are right about the Sony file structure that is an issue - I have an MRC1 and the data that is created on those cards doesn't seem to like being ported to other devices via a copy method. I haven't researched it enough, so there probably is a way/workaround for it - but for now I end up hooking up the MRC1 via firewire and using the Sony plug-in to transfer footage to FCP. That also rejoins the files at the correct places, since the files are broken up into 4GB chunks when recorded to the card.

I think in a pinch you could copy the card data to the Nexto and use some software to be able to rescue the data if you ever needed to (if nothing else just by copying the folder structure back to a CF card and putting it back into the MRC1 or Z1 for reading/transcoding).

Hopefully what I'm saying here makes sense... ;)
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:28 AM   #10
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Thanks Bill

I must get myself a P-Touch!!! I have always thought about having 8 cards in my neat little Pelican case and they spill out onto the floor..NOW..which one did we record on ????? A neat little label will help a lot without having to put the card back into the camera to find out what's on it!!

For now they have exclusive marked positions and I have to open the case VERY carefully..darned if I know but my SDHC cards fit nearly in the rubber case insert but you still have to keep the case horizontal otherwise the cards from one side spill out onto the other.

Yes, I get home at 1am from a wedding and before bed I still copy the card data to my computer drive!!

Chris
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:35 AM   #11
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My lesson learnt - inspite of telling an MC not to start proceedings for before you are ready, you must also inform them that this applies for Reception entrance etc.

Yes, we hadn't even finished setting up b4 the gastly sound of, "I'd like to introduce..."
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:59 AM   #12
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Ohh yeah, Rochelle, I hear ya. Although I've long ago accepted the fact that I have no control over any of that. I just go in prepared for anything, including just hitting record on any one of my cams at a moment's notice without being set up. And, I'm always keeping a VERY close eye on two people - the bride, and the wedding coordinator if there is one. Things never go the way you think they should or will go, but knowing what they are doing at any given moment will keep the surprises to a minimum in most cases.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 09:48 PM   #13
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Thanks for sharing guys. I think I must invest on more cards. I definitely don't have enough at the moment to run with all-day recording without backing up. We do however backup the files on two hard disks a day after shooting just in case one of them failed.

Btw, adding another one.. after reviewing our footages last night.. I realized some of our clips for receptions speeches were slightly out of focus. We thought it was focused on the LCD screen but apparently it wasn't. Worst part is we didn't have a backup of the speeches as we pointed the backup camera (HV40) and the other 7D elsewhere to capture the expressions.. so I have to stick with that only footage we have. I think it'll still be acceptable for general eyes but we could've done better :'( .. will do better next time!

LESSON 5: for DSLR users.. check, double-check, triple check and make sure you're in focus. Don't immediately trust your eyes. Better still.. make sure you have backup camera.. just in case!
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Old May 24th, 2010, 11:36 PM   #14
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Hi Rochelle

Scary stuff!!! I always setup the main camera/lighting for speeches as well before we get fed now I was enjoying my meal with the solemn promise that speeches would start AFTER dinner when the FOB stepped up to the lectern and started his speech. Luckily at that time he was happy to restart after a hurried setup and the rest went to plan.

The FIRST person I find at the reception is the DJ/MC and ask them to give me a 5 minute call on any important events. I also find that asking the MC to do the bridal entrance from the speeches lectern allows me to leave a camera on the MC and then hop skip and jump to the entrance to get the couples coming in and it allows inter-cutting between the MC and the action.

John??? How do you manage speeches in one take on a 7D ?? What happens if the speaker goes on and on (my record is 37 minutes so far this season!!) I thought that DSLR's had a limit on recording time???

Chris
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Old May 25th, 2010, 02:47 AM   #15
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Chris, I have another 7D and HV40 rolling on the expressions of B&G or families or the audiences. So I have enough b-roll to cut in between the 12 mins limit. I record the audio to a digital recorder from mixer + MiniDisc from lectern + mic on 7D + mic on HV40.. so I had the audio all under control (phew) atleast one less thing to worry.
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