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


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Old July 31st, 2010, 01:04 PM   #1
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Newbie Q: Which is better investment

I just started a small videography business this past January, I mainly make web videos for an auction company and record horse shows....I have been approached to do a Wedding and some gradually bigger projects:

I currently use a Canon HF20 that I bought at BestBuy its a pretty good HD Camera, I need to add another camera.

I have the opportunity to buy a used Canon HF10 Or a Canon XH-A1s. I feel both at Excellent prices.

I am trying to get all the research I can and you guys all seem to be experts at what you do. Are both of these camera's already dated? Should I buy brand new, this will be a major investment but I didnt know what you guys could advise a newbie like me.
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Old July 31st, 2010, 02:13 PM   #2
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I wouldn't even hesitate to go with the A1s if you have the money. The lowlight capabilities alone make it superior for most situations not to mention the manual controls, xlr inputs, etc. Sure, using tape will change your workflow, but I think the benefits make it a much better choice than the HF10 (or the HF20).

The A1s has 3 CCD chips instead of a single CMOS chip giving better color. It has great image stabilization which is useful if you're shooting hand-held at a reception. The ability to easily set up custom presets that others provided was a huge benefit to me when I first began using my A1. As I learned more, I have been able to make adjustments to those to fit my specific needs in different situations. (Reading the HUGE amount of material shared by others here is the best resource for that.) Battery life is excellent -- many hours -- with the reasonably priced big batteries. A couple of batteries might last you all day.

I'd like an HDMI output, but to be honest it hasn't been a big deal for me. The component output works fine with my on-location monitor and TV.

Keep in mind that the A1s with no preset gives colors that are a bit flat compared to Canon's consumer cameras which have higher saturation. That's what it's supposed to do. This can be adjusted in-camera easily if you want, but keeping it flat allows you a lot of flexibility in post to get exactly what you want later.

I'm sure others can give you a lot more benefits than the ones I've noted. I wouldn't even consider doing wedding work (or a lot of other types of work) with an HF10 because it has too many serious audio and low-light limitations.

I'm off to a wedding show in Dallas right now to see what others are doing...
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Old July 31st, 2010, 05:32 PM   #3
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Jay, I can relate well to where you are at.

I just went to a pair of DVX100Bs from a combination of Panasonic GS320s and 500s. The same money would have gotten me top of the consumer line HD from Panny, but lacked everything this level of cam is. My feelings were I would have had to replace all SDs at once, and then this level of cam was going to be out of reach for some time for me to upgrade again. The HD version of this cam is $3500 I think.

Anyways, you will NOT kick yourself for jumping up a notch in cam level, trust me. Everything Phil was talking about is going to boggle your mind as you try to learn it all, but soon you will wonder why you didn't go this route sooner.

Also, there's the whole "guy thing" to consider....and we as guys sooner or later ALL go for the one with "more horsepower"...it's in our genes, we just can't help it !!! :-)

Lastly, I hadn't considered this before but hopefully Chris Harding will see this and add his experiences of using a cam that "appears" to the customer of being more "pro" looking.
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Old July 31st, 2010, 08:11 PM   #4
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Chip added some great ideas. I strongly agree with the "appearance of a pro" camera. Even if we all know that it's really the skill of the operator that really makes the difference, most folks are going to be more impressed at first by what appears to be a more professional camera.

I hate to admit it, but the "guy thing" that he mentioned is probably true. It's cool when people comment on the complexity of your gear. (You should hear what they say when I'm out with my little HV40 that is tricked out with a Letus 35mm adapter and an 80-200mm lens plus a big Sennheiser ME66 on top!)

I'm still learning and, even though I was a video beginner a couple of years ago, the learning curve isn't all that bad. You'd be surprised at how much I shoot with most things on auto -- especially auto focus! I am just beginning to learn about all that can be done in post. If you've been working professionally since January then you're probably way ahead of me. With the A1, you don't have to use all the manual options -- it has auto settings just like any consumer camera. You can experiment and learn at your own pace -- that's what I've been doing.

And no more how overwhelming at all may seem with the A1s (or anything at a more complex level), the help that you'll get from everyone here is amazing. This is the finest community of professionals and amateurs (and everyone in between) willing to help and share. Even the simplest questions will often get lots of useful responses from people who just want to help.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 12:36 AM   #5
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I replied today during the break between the wedding ceremony and reception. A buddy who has a DVX and also has upgraded to the HD version had sent me a scene file he used at weddings with his DVX, it punches up the colors nicely, especially skin tones. I also used one of the GS500s with a Rode Stereo Videomic at the ceremony, focussed only on the musicians to grab their audio, and maybe some footage to mix if needed. The 500 doesn't have the option for setting a scene file, but figured if used sparingly, it might be ok. It was the audio I wanted most.

After posting I went to the reception which was held at the convention center here. The room was quite large, but wasn't the ballroom portion, just regular convention space. The room lighting looked like warehouse grade high pressure sodium fixtures, 20 feet off the floor. They gave the entire room a very noticeable yellow cast. I set up the DVXs and the 500 again, the 500 to grab audio from the dj's board this time. I also hoped that by shooting a wide shot of the dance floor with the 500, it might be an "escape hatch", in case we had some crappy footage from the DVXs while cutting the dances in post. My cables to hook the 500 to the djs board is evidently junk, so that option got tossed. I left the cam though, to grab what it could and then concentrated on the DVXs to see how they looked. We got those as best we could, given the crappy lighting. We still had some good colors, but the whites weren't white and weren't going to be either.

About half way through the reception I looked at the 500 to see what I was getting, and it was garbage. The 500 is no wizard in low light to start with, and in yellow low light, it sucks even worse.

I went back to my DVX, looked hard at it again, back to the 500 and could see that everything the DVX is and what it can do that the 500 can't, is why I at least had usable, compared to something I might as well edit to black and white.

It was a good learning experience and am happy I learned it when using the 500 wasn't imperative.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 09:01 AM   #6
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Hi Chip

I guess I compelled to respond now!!! There was a thread on the now defunct Panasonic forum about a guy who felt he was getting no respect cos his camera was tiny and it got a staggering amount of views!!

In the client's eyes, yes, you will probably get recognised as a "professional" if your gear looks impressive but that's no reason to buy "big" just to get there. I was weaned on full VHS cameras and to be honest only even owned (briefly) a pair of GS500's ...For me it's not really "respect" but simply that I have shot on shoulder-mounts for the last 20 years and I'm used to a big camera. Sometimes I do yearn for something that only weighs a few onces (try a full wedding with an 8lb cam on your shoulder and you will know why) but I still like the stability of a big camera for handhelds!!

Not many people actually ask about the cameras at all now .. I guess they just assume that the official videographer will have good looking gear??? I did a commercial shoot in May and the local TV media turned up with their giant DigiBeta cams which made my HMC's look a bit insignificant but as long as you do a good job there isn't an issue. As long as you have a fairly decent camera, there is no need to go over the top just to impress the client... however turning up to a wedding with your Kodak Flip is probably unadvisable!!

Chris
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Old August 1st, 2010, 10:38 AM   #7
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DSLR CANON T2 OVER Canon XH-A1s

So obviously the HF10 is out of the question, I want to look good and I also want the equipment that will last the longest.

Canon XH-A1s is what I need to get, Can i achieve the superior film look with this camera like the Canon t2 will do?

I found a great deal on a Canon XH-A1s, How soon should I look at getting the T2 dslr for wedding events, I love the film look everyone is creating with it!

(advice please)
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Old August 1st, 2010, 01:07 PM   #8
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The DVXs achieve the "film look" by shooting in Progressive and with Scene File adjustments. I assume the A1 has those options as well. I don't know if DSLRs have that ability or not.

What I have heard about DSLRs is the cheap part of going that route, is the camera. I have heard the investment is going to be in the various lens you are going to need or want.

IMO, if you are going to buy a DSLR, then bag the A1 idea completely. You are going to be learning a completely new cam with either one, a learning curve that is going to take some serious investment of time and effort. Because the DSLR depends so much on lensing, it's learning curve is going to be far different than the A1, and visa versa.

Again, IMO, you want to be working toward continuity in your collection of cams, especially if you want to go to multi cam shoots. If you had a "fleet" of one specific cam for you and your shooters to use at a wedding or other event, with identical settings, you should have a "fleet" of exactly the same "look" to work with in post. There are those on this board that might disagree with me, but I will bet their expertise level far exceeds mine, or yours. When you or I would get up to their level of expertise, we might be able to make any ol' cam look great. But... you and I have to worry about the here and now, first.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 04:30 PM   #9
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Early on I had a "mix" of cameras, and it was a PITA getting anything close to a match. It wasn't "bad", but it sure wasn't seamless... I now shoot with cameras that are "matched" because they are the same model or a close sibling from the same mfr. Saves lots of time in post, plus the footage will look more consistent. Still have to make sure to match the settings before I start 'em rolling, as "auto" can be "interesting".

Generally, you'll find that there's a certain "look" that goes with cameras manufactured by each manufacturer, and it's different from the "other" manufacturers... so by staying within a "brand" you may find things match a bit closer. I notice certain things about stuff shot with a Canon... and Sony has a certain look... as does Panasonic... minor details, but it's those things that give the footage a "different" look, as the OP indicated - using a Canon with a Sony isn't impossible, but it's trickier to "match" acceptably, especially if you don't test ahead of time, match the presets on the cameras and know how to CC in post... but I think I'm repeating myself.

The camera is a tool, learn to use it (which means learning how to tweak whatever adjustments are available), pointing and shooting don't count... well, they DO, but when you point and shoot and something is "off", you MUST know how to quickly make adjustments as needed. Then be able to tweak it in post when needed.
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 10:02 PM   #10
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Jay - you can't go wrong with the XH-A1 for the work you plan to do. I started my wedding business with this camera and an HV20. 3 years ago. I've since added DSLRS to the mix but still use my A1 a lot. It's a workhorse and does so many things well. The DSLR will give breathtaking footage but does not have the same usability features for run and gun type use. My advice- grab a good deal on the A1 if you can get it, get some gigs under your belt to learn how to shoot weddings. Keep in mind both the A1 (and the HF20) will need supplemental lighting for dark receptions. Likewise, you would need fast lenses for your DSLR for the same low lighting situations. Good luck!
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