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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old July 25th, 2010, 03:08 PM   #1
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This is why you don't charge for your 1st wedding

Hey guys,

I was recently asked to film a small wedding for a friend. I do videography for summer camps and also for kayaking and surfing. I agreed to do the wedding, but I told them not to expect much. I have a bunch of fun gear like glide tracks, a merlin, a motorized pan head, and a hand full of HD cameras. After spending a ton of time reading as much as I could on this forum, I felt really confident and ready to go. I made a check list of equipment, a list of shots I wanted, I got to the site super early and did a bunch of B-roll shots. At the end of the day I felt like I came away with some quality stuff. Everyone was happy, there were no issues with photographers. I didn't miss any key shots. Everything went more or less as planned. And then I came home to upload the footage... Dun Dun Dun.

I uploaded the footy from the B cam first. It looked good. Lot's of usable stuff. (Canon HV30) Then I uploaded the footy from the A cam... and it wouldn't play (A1s). After more internet research, it appears that the head was dirty on my camera, and the camera didn't record correctly. Out of 2 hours of footage, I came away with 15 minutes of usable footage. What is super frustrating is that I can see the shots when I fast forward and rewind, but when I hit play, the tape hangs up and shows me a blue screen. Of course after reading online, I now now that the Sony Premium mini DV tapes are known to do this. Ooops.

The good news is, I shot everything with 2 cameras. The footage from the B cam looks great. I did all of my tripod/glide shots on the B cam and all of the handheld stuff on the bad camera. I managed to record the entire ceremony on the B cam and the audio was recorded on Olympus DS30s, so it's all good. I'll be able to make a good highlight video, and an okay ceremony video, but it's just not as good as it should have been. I'm pretty bummed.

That said, I charged nothing, learned a lot, and I'm sure they are still going to be happy. This was a very small, no budget wedding for a friend. Not a high stress situation. The grooms dad shot most of the photos. You get the idea. Low key.

Anyway, I learned a few things that I hope I can share with you. Most of you know this, but some of the new guys like me might want a reminder.

1. Check your camera and make sure it is in working order.
2. Clean the heads regularly
3. Use new high quality tapes. If you are recording onto tape.


I'll post a clip when I get done editing. I'm not a wedding pro like most of you, but I hope it looks good. I am so grateful for this website. I have learned a ton and I am inspired by your videos. I doubt I'll ever be a full time wedding guy, but the experience was fun and rewarding and I would do it again is a second.

Thanks
Evan

PS One thing I did last minute was pass around 2 Flip HD cameras during dinner. I told each table to record each other. They proceeded to record themselves wishing the bride and groom good luck and stuff like that. The footage is real genuine and turned out awesome. I think the bride and groom will appreciate it. Those flip cameras are perfect for stuff like this.

Last edited by Evan Lloyd; July 25th, 2010 at 03:11 PM. Reason: I forgot something.
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Old July 25th, 2010, 06:12 PM   #2
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With all that prep you done you could have charged, fact that your xh-a1 messed up is something you cannot know in advance, even when you test it first. Your exact the same problem happened to me 1,5 year ago, 6 months old xh-a1, brandnew jvc hd tapes right out of the pack, never a problem before, i did run a cleaning tape occasionally. And then that disastrous church recording, 1 hour of tape with more then 100 dropouts, unrecoverable...
That day it was cold a humid outside and very warm (big electric heater) in a small church, I had been filming when the couple came in and then switched tapes, the first tape was ok but the switched tape came out wrong. The camera never warned about dirty heads and Canon repair service could not find anything wrong with the cam, they thought something went wrong because of dust or the high temperature/humidity difference when I came from outside to inside.
Right after that I bought a hvr dr60 for dual recording. Fact that you tell this story is proof for me that this is a canon problem that can occur, though very seldom. I never in all these years that I film have experienced something like this with my other camera's. It's something that should never happen, at least not in that extend, period..
I also blew my firewireport on my xh-a1 in teh beginning, never, ever happened to me before either and I always connect/disconnect the camera like Canon suggest, I love my xh-a1 but it has it's weird issues sometimes.

I do like your Flip HD cameras idea to pass that around, how is it with the sound quality then when there is loud music playing and are you not afraid they might drop it or that it gets "lost"?
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Old July 25th, 2010, 07:10 PM   #3
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Obviously marked up as experience guys. Prep is the key, like airline pilots who've been flying for 20yrs they still read pre and take off/landing instructions from checklists.

Write a couple up .. 1. Check all gear 2 days prior. 2. Before leaving the house. 3. Setting up at the gig. 4. Checking all gear. 5. Mid session check. 6. Packing up. 7. Send invoice :) I left out post in there so you can write a couple.

Pilots do it.

Another tip, soon as anything 'bad' happens, take a deep breath in .. out .. then look at your watch and mentally note the time, it really focuses your mind to cope with it.
Cheers.
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Old July 26th, 2010, 01:07 AM   #4
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Allan, if the navigation tools would have been made by Canon, it would check out OK when doing your checklist and then malfunction in the middle of the flight. There is no way to check on something that just fails without any warning.
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Old July 26th, 2010, 02:55 AM   #5
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Of course Noa. The idea of written video checklists is to guarantee that you cover everything eg: not leave anything at home.

Seems my checklists go through a few generations before I manage to get the list in the right order. Eventually I have to get 'em onto cards I can stick in a pocket.

But like all pilots, after using checklists for yrs, the first time you think you know it all is usually the time you crash and burn.

Don't let the wedding party see you using them at the venue, can really disturb the brides mother.
Cheers.
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Old July 26th, 2010, 04:50 AM   #6
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We also have a 19 point checklist before every wedding. It's worth doing, but in the end nothing can prevent equipment failure on the day.

Shooting your first wedding for free is still a good idea anyway. There are lots of 'pro' videographers than have never shot a wedding and don't have a good feel for how a wedding goes. You need to learn the normal sequences of events, learn where things often deviate and be ready for anything. You also need to learn to shoot 'for the edit' in real time knowing that you can never shout 'CUT' - 'TAKE 2'.

Sounds like you went in fairly well prepared (given the level of expectations) and if your A1s had not screwed up you'd be a very happy guy right now :)
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Old July 26th, 2010, 05:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Lloyd View Post
I uploaded the footy from the B cam first. It looked good. Lot's of usable stuff. (Canon HV30) Then I uploaded the footy from the A cam... and it wouldn't play (A1s). After more internet research, it appears that the head was dirty on my camera, and the camera didn't record correctly.
Evan, have you tried playing back the A1 tapes using the HV30? Might be worth a shot. Or
-- if you used the HV30 for those A1 tapes, try capturing them directly from the A1 instead.
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Old July 26th, 2010, 07:18 AM   #8
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18 years of wedding experience and just yesterday I missed a shot. Jewish wedding and just before the breaking of the glass, the Rabbi usually says a few words about the glass. This gives me time to get in position for a good BRoll shot. Well, the Rabbi said nothing and "Bam". There goes the foot on the glass. So no matter how much experience you have, this job can still be frustrating.
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Old July 26th, 2010, 01:22 PM   #9
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Sorry about your lost footage. I think this is another reason why I have completely switched to CF and SDHC cards. I love the ability to look at your footage quickly. BUT, your XH-A1 has a quick rewind/preview feature as well. I would suggest using it every now and then just to double check you tape and how your shot came out.
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