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


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Old October 26th, 2010, 07:52 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Glen Elliott View Post
Cocktail hour is 60 minutes. Unless that was rhetorical.

I'm just trying to help out whether or not you agree with me. If you aren't utilizing wall outlet power I like the Frezzi Mini dimmer w/ Bescor Battery pack. I dont' like LED's because- for one they are very expensive, don't have the same throw a good quality tungsten light (certainly not for the same cost), and they often have color temps that don't match the existing tungsten used in reception halls.

You could get one of these and put it on a light stand a few feet from your camera to give you off axis lighting and a very quick setup, even shooting solo.

Best of luck with your decision.
Glen, I was half joking about the 20 minutes. But many times I really don't have 20 minutes because I'm with the bride and groom for their photo session during the cocktail hour. As for the Frezzi, I actually do have this setup! So I'm glad that you mentioned it. I agree with you about the LEDs.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:26 PM   #17
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I setup a 2-3 point lighting system on the podium that can be swung around to light the dance floor during reception setup. I just cut the photo session coverage short if I need to setup and they are running late.

Having pulled off a SDE with a 2 man crew during a mainland destination gig, it is totally possible to setup lighting during a reception being short or even "no staffed". If you make it a point to educate your couples on how important off camera lighting is, they will understand if you don't cover the whole entire photo session or cocktail hour (depending on when they schedule photo session). They have a photographer for the photosession anyway, get your shots that you need for the edit and be out ;).

The underlying issue is educating your couples as to what you need to produce a quality film. I've had the father of the bride at a wedding I shot in the mainland veto any decision made that went against the film looking and sounding good. He pretty much gave us full executive authority to how the event should be run. Why? Because he knows how important the final film (and photos) are to his daughter and that everything else that day will not matter 10 years from then. Of course we didn't abuse this and stuck on schedule but it was good to have someone be in your corner when previously "videographers" were the after thought. I have in my contracts that I need at least 30 minutes each to setup ceremony and reception areas for audio and lighting, an hour preferred. These expectations should be made clear at the pre-consultation stage.

A cool light LED256 light with a sony battery on a light stand takes less than 5 minutes to setup, even if you were to take your time doing so. If you're on an extremely tight budget for lighting, get 2-3 lowel prolights with some extension cords and a few diffusion papers and call it a day. That'll run you no more than $500 but the image quality jump will be significant.

Being a one man band shouldn't be the excuse of not having the time to setup your reception for lighting IF IT IS IMPORTANT to the bride and groom, it should be the reason that you're given extra time for setup. If they like the flat lighting look, by all means, please ignore what I've written. In the end, it matters if they're happy with the final product or not. Some couples aren't as discerning and as long as it's "lit" and not a grainy mess, they are happy.

Cheers.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 08:37 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Randy Panado View Post
I setup a 2-3 point lighting system on the podium that can be swung around to light the dance floor during reception setup. I just cut the photo session coverage short if I need to setup and they are running late.

Having pulled off a SDE with a 2 man crew during a mainland destination gig, it is totally possible to setup lighting during a reception being short or even "no staffed". If you make it a point to educate your couples on how important off camera lighting is, they will understand if you don't cover the whole entire photo session or cocktail hour (depending on when they schedule photo session). They have a photographer for the photosession anyway, get your shots that you need for the edit and be out ;).

The underlying issue is educating your couples as to what you need to produce a quality film. I've had the father of the bride at a wedding I shot in the mainland veto any decision made that went against the film looking and sounding good. He pretty much gave us full executive authority to how the event should be run. Why? Because he knows how important the final film (and photos) are to his daughter and that everything else that day will not matter 10 years from then. Of course we didn't abuse this and stuck on schedule but it was good to have someone be in your corner when previously "videographers" were the after thought. I have in my contracts that I need at least 30 minutes each to setup ceremony and reception areas for audio and lighting, an hour preferred. These expectations should be made clear at the pre-consultation stage.

A cool light LED256 light with a sony battery on a light stand takes less than 5 minutes to setup, even if you were to take your time doing so. If you're on an extremely tight budget for lighting, get 2-3 lowel prolights with some extension cords and a few diffusion papers and call it a day. That'll run you no more than $500 but the image quality jump will be significant.

Being a one man band shouldn't be the excuse of not having the time to setup your reception for lighting IF IT IS IMPORTANT to the bride and groom, it should be the reason that you're given extra time for setup. If they like the flat lighting look, by all means, please ignore what I've written. In the end, it matters if they're happy with the final product or not. Some couples aren't as discerning and as long as it's "lit" and not a grainy mess, they are happy.

Cheers.
What do you do in a really tight reception hall where there isn't any space? I work at one hall where, if the bride hires a band, there is absolutely no room for light stands. Aren't you worried about the guests (kids running around) tripping over the light stands?
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Old October 27th, 2010, 08:39 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Randy Panado View Post
I setup a 2-3 point lighting system on the podium that can be swung around to light the dance floor during reception setup. I just cut the photo session coverage short if I need to setup and they are running late.

Having pulled off a SDE with a 2 man crew during a mainland destination gig, it is totally possible to setup lighting during a reception being short or even "no staffed". If you make it a point to educate your couples on how important off camera lighting is, they will understand if you don't cover the whole entire photo session or cocktail hour (depending on when they schedule photo session). They have a photographer for the photosession anyway, get your shots that you need for the edit and be out ;).

The underlying issue is educating your couples as to what you need to produce a quality film. I've had the father of the bride at a wedding I shot in the mainland veto any decision made that went against the film looking and sounding good. He pretty much gave us full executive authority to how the event should be run. Why? Because he knows how important the final film (and photos) are to his daughter and that everything else that day will not matter 10 years from then. Of course we didn't abuse this and stuck on schedule but it was good to have someone be in your corner when previously "videographers" were the after thought. I have in my contracts that I need at least 30 minutes each to setup ceremony and reception areas for audio and lighting, an hour preferred. These expectations should be made clear at the pre-consultation stage.

A cool light LED256 light with a sony battery on a light stand takes less than 5 minutes to setup, even if you were to take your time doing so. If you're on an extremely tight budget for lighting, get 2-3 lowel prolights with some extension cords and a few diffusion papers and call it a day. That'll run you no more than $500 but the image quality jump will be significant.

Being a one man band shouldn't be the excuse of not having the time to setup your reception for lighting IF IT IS IMPORTANT to the bride and groom, it should be the reason that you're given extra time for setup. If they like the flat lighting look, by all means, please ignore what I've written. In the end, it matters if they're happy with the final product or not. Some couples aren't as discerning and as long as it's "lit" and not a grainy mess, they are happy.

Cheers.
Do you have a link for the light you use? Thank you.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Michael Simons View Post
What do you do in a really tight reception hall where there isn't any space? I work at one hall where, if the bride hires a band, there is absolutely no room for light stands. Aren't you worried about the guests (kids running around) tripping over the light stands?
Be smart about placement and stick them next to speaker stands :). Or bring some sand bags to place on the legs of the stands. The prolight and LED256 are very light, so you wouldn't need to have a whole lot of weight to hold the stand down compared to an Arri 650.

Again, regarding the bride hiring a band, it's all during pre-consultation that you let your couples know what you need to create an ideal image. If they make it to where you can't achieve that due to limitations with either venue or scheduling, then it's on them as they were advised already.

Coollights LED256 : Cool Lights LED Fixtures - Cool Lights USA

Pro light 250w :
Lowel Pro-Light Focus Flood Light (120-230VAC/12-30VDC) P2-101 -

Hope this helps.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 02:18 PM   #21
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I don't even think we're talking the same language here. For one thing, I've never shot in a hall where lights like the CoolLights (with 6-foot effective range) would even make a dent. I work in places with capacities of 200 people or more. For another, I never stand still long enough to use a tripod when I work (just a monopod), so setting up lights is futile. Think trying to film five-year olds, but in taffeta. The only time they stay in one place long enough is when they eat. And thirdly, having worked in film long enough, I cringe at the thought of people (and kids!) running around stands supporting hot lights. Can you say "liability" and "fire hazard"?

And lastly, people need to realize that $2,500 wedding video contracts are becoming more and more rare. My rock-bottom package is $750, and that's what everyone takes. I did get one call once for a $1,500 package, but I'm pretty sure that was a crank call. Maybe it's my location, maybe it's because I need to do this for 20 years before booking the really big gigs, but none of the advice proffered so far seems to take this into account.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 05:28 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Jacques E. Bouchard View Post
I don't even think we're talking the same language here. For one thing, I've never shot in a hall where lights like the CoolLights (with 6-foot effective range) would even make a dent. I work in places with capacities of 200 people or more. For another, I never stand still long enough to use a tripod when I work (just a monopod), so setting up lights is futile. Think trying to film five-year olds, but in taffeta. The only time they stay in one place long enough is when they eat. And thirdly, having worked in film long enough, I cringe at the thought of people (and kids!) running around stands supporting hot lights. Can you say "liability" and "fire hazard"?

And lastly, people need to realize that $2,500 wedding video contracts are becoming more and more rare. My rock-bottom package is $750, and that's what everyone takes. I did get one call once for a $1,500 package, but I'm pretty sure that was a crank call. Maybe it's my location, maybe it's because I need to do this for 20 years before booking the really big gigs, but none of the advice proffered so far seems to take this into account.
We aren't speaking the same language (aka market) here. You made it clear in your earlier post that you cater to lower end couples who don't really care to pay top dollar for a wedding video/film. If you want to stay in that market, please continue doing what you are doing and having the same approach to your marketing and films. If nothing changes, nothing changes. That is by no means a dig at you or your company, as i say that with complete respect, as I can appreciate the differences in every market. With that said, what you said doesn't apply in my market. As much as there is $500 beach weddings going on here, there is just as many $2500-$4500+ wedding collections to go around. The studios who get them are the ones with a unique looking product, branding, and customer service.

When I started my own studio, I've been shooting wedding "videography" for the past 3.5 years. I wanted to have a wedding cinematography approach for my films and have them be personalized rather than a wedding video factory feel. It's been about a year on my own and I've booked packages several times the cost of what you say is a rare package to book. That's not to brag but to state that you don't have to be in business for 20+ years to get paid what you are worth (or even what you THINK you are worth). I don't like to air out my books but I say this so that you can realize you don't have to be stuck getting paid nothing. You will have to invest a bit into a quality piece or two to attract the type of couples who will pay more but to me it's worth it. I'd rather have 1 $4,000 couple than 5 $750 couples. There's NOTHING wrong if somebody else wants the 5 couples, it's all preference and what market they want to operate in.

With that said, if you have so much room to spare in such large halls, get an Arri 650, put it far away from what you are trying to light with it far off in a corner with a SANDBAG, therefore there is no "liability" and "fire hazard", and be done with it. I'm lighting podiums and dance floors, I don't usually need to bust out my arri's on gigs, so YES LED256's & prolights do great in spot configuration. My weddings usually have 250-350 on the guest list so I know what you mean by having a large room. You don't need to light the whole room, just paint the right places with enough light so that the image doesn't come out a muddy mess. I also shoot with DSLRs so maybe whatever you're shooting with isn't as light sensitive.

Invest in the look of your product and your branding/marketing and it will pay off :). Cheers
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Old October 27th, 2010, 05:43 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Randy Panado View Post
You made it clear in your earlier post that you cater to lower end couples who don't really care to pay top dollar for a wedding video/film. If you want to stay in that market, please continue doing what you are doing and having the same approach to your marketing and films.
I *cater* to high-end clients. I have the glamour shots, the great portfolio, the equipment. But no one is *buying*. I get maybe 5-6 e-mails and calls a week. Everyone wants me to do it for less than $500. I say no a lot, so I don't work a lot. The market is saturated with camcorder jockeys, there's even a guy flooding the local ads with a $399 wedding special and from what I've seen the videos are competent.

That's what people just don't seem to understand when I tell them that the realtiy - not just *their reality* - has changed out there. For every $2,500 wedding you do, I'll show twenty guys who do $500 weddings - most because they have to put bread on the table and have no choice.

Quote:
With that said, if you have so much room to spare in such large halls, get an Arri 650, put it far away from what you are trying to light with it far off in a corner with a SANDBAG, therefore there is no "liability" and "fire hazard", and be done with it.
"Sandbags" doesn't constitute a defence in a civil lawsuit. You only need two kids knocking a tripod over (yes, even with a sandbag) and starting a fire to ruin you - and I'm not even getting into physical injury.

I'm not setting any hot lights without someone to man them. That's just irresponsible. That's my *approach* to films.

J.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 06:24 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Jacques E. Bouchard View Post
I *cater* to high-end clients. I have the glamour shots, the great portfolio, the equipment. But no one is *buying*. I get maybe 5-6 e-mails and calls a week. Everyone wants me to do it for less than $500. I say no a lot, so I don't work a lot. The market is saturated with camcorder jockeys, there's even a guy flooding the local ads with a $399 wedding special and from what I've seen the videos are competent.

That's what people just don't seem to understand when I tell them that the realtiy - not just *their reality* - has changed out there. For every $2,500 wedding you do, I'll show twenty guys who do $500 weddings - most because they have to put bread on the table and have no choice.



"Sandbags" doesn't constitute a defence in a civil lawsuit. You only need two kids knocking a tripod over (yes, even with a sandbag) and starting a fire to ruin you - and I'm not even getting into physical injury.

I'm not setting any hot lights without someone to man them. That's just irresponsible. That's my *approach* to films.

J.
If you're COMPETING with the guys who charge $399, then that's your market. Charge the same as them and provide the same type of quality and be done with it. Let me put it a bit more plainly, are studios like StillMotion and Cloud Nine Creative worried about the studios who charge $300? Why not? Because that is not their competition. If you're putting out great work but it's comparable to the $300 products, why should clients choose you over them? If your product is not unique enough or does not carry good value, you shouldn't be blaming the competition. Saturation isn't a bad thing either, it breeds stronger competition and advancement in the market place. You talk about the 20 guys vs 1 guy doing the higher paying job. What's stopping you from being that 1 guy? If you want to go more deeply into market research, please post your 3 competitors as well as your website, I'd be curious to take a look.

Now paying the bills is nothing to take lightly. If those quick jobs at $500 pay the bills, by all means no one should say anything to you about that as you need to do what you need to do to eat. However, if you're providing the same service at $500 that others charge $2,500 for, then that's a bad business decision if you plan to keep doing $500 jobs yet investing the same time as those higher end jobs do. You're putting too much man hours into the product OR giving the client high expectations. Matt Davis made a good point in one of his web seminars for wedding videographers, not many can say they have a unique selling point to justify to a client why they should choose them.

And don't take offense to what I said. Your post tone seems like you're somehow upset. I said put the lights FAR away from the area you are trying to light. Are you telling me that you're not proactive enough to put the lights in a safe place, away from traffic, and weighted down? I'm not going to argue with you on this point, it's always the same paranoia about lighting that people bring up without looking at the solutions. It's not too hard to ask the kids parents to have them corral their kids. After all, they don't want them to get hurt and run amok either. BTW, in no way did I say sandbags would constitute a legal defense. If you would actually put yourself in a compromising position and not watch your lights, that's your bad. If you want to get a better look with lighting and have it manned, spend the $10/hr and hire a college kid or intern to watch them during your shoots. That $50 you spend during a 5 hour reception is worth it, right?

If you mistake what I'm saying as arguing with you, then I'm sorry but you are just way too defensive. I'm offering up my own personal experience on these matters and giving suggestions. Not trying to convince you I'm right and your wrong.

Cheers.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 06:42 PM   #25
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If you mistake what I'm saying as arguing with you, then I'm sorry but you are just way too defensive. I'm offering up my own personal experience on these matters and giving suggestions. Not trying to convince you I'm right and your wrong.
No, it's not you. I just run out of breath trying to convince people of the worth of the work I do every day. Yesterday someone tried to hire me to shoot their performance an hour's drive away, using two cameramen and capturing live sound, but didn't see why it should cost them more than $300. The prevailing attitude from them is that I'm somehow trying to gouge them for work which is a breeze - I mean, YouTube is full of great music videos and those only cost beer and pizza to make, right?

Oh, and today I had to swallow my tongue not to lose a gig with a marketing firm that want me to do the job over because they keep asking for the "pop art" look but don't know that's what Warhol, Lichtenstein and Banksy are. It was a choice between getting the last word, or getting paid for a week's work.

So, yeah. If I come across as a little impatient it's because I need a rest from jumping so many hurdles.

J.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 06:54 PM   #26
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No, it's not you. I just run out of breath trying to convince people of the worth of the work I do every day. Yesterday someone tried to hire me to shoot their performance an hour's drive away, using two cameramen and capturing live sound, but didn't see why it should cost them more than $300. The prevailing attitude from them is that I'm somehow trying to gouge them for work which is a breeze - I mean, YouTube is full of great music videos and those only cost beer and pizza to make, right?

Oh, and today I had to swallow my tongue not to lose a gig with a marketing firm that want me to do the job over because they keep asking for the "pop art" look but don't know that's what Warhol, Lichtenstein and Banksy are. It was a choice between getting the last word, or getting paid for a week's work.

So, yeah. If I come across as a little impatient it's because I need a rest from jumping so many hurdles.

J.
I feel your pain bro. That's all of us at one point or another. Good luck with everything and if you ever want to ping me offline or via email, I'd be happy to help you with whatever I can.

Cheers
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 10:50 PM   #27
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I have to agree with what Randy is saying.

Your options open up when you are able to charge an appropriate fee for your services. Raising the production level involves many aspects from improving the quality of your work, your creativity, your branding and your marketing. This is a bit off topic but if you are not attracting the clients you want, look at your branding and marketing.

I have to agree that on camera lighting the least favorable way of using light. We use the Arri 650 with barn doors in addition, we have available the Lowel Pro light kit.. We have used these for over 2 years and have never had a problem. I know time is an issue for you because of the fact it is just you and time is a factor. This goes back to working on a plan to get you paid a reasonable fee. If you need to hire someone to just focus on lighting then charge for it and hire an assistant. We do use on camera lighting, LED's but never use them on camera. On of us will assist the other and hold the light or bounce the light off of something to soften it up a bit.

You will find that photographers will love that you did this for 2 reasons. 1. It helps them focus and 2. It can add some dramatic effect to their photos.

We ALWAYS discuss lighting with our clients before the wedding. When we explain how it helps us and the photographer, they understand. We have never had a couple tell us no.
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 12:04 AM   #28
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randy: would you know whether the cool light 256 brighter than the comer 1800?

Also, I agree 100% with randy that you need to have solid work to back up your goals (that is to cater high end customers) and that means to be open to new things and be prepared to change the way you work and all. A lot of the times I see people being too comfortable with the way they do things that they resist to change or accept new things.Time goes by, new technology comes in, gotta keep up :)
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Old November 6th, 2010, 11:00 AM   #29
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I have to agree that on camera lighting is a bad idea, when I am really pushed I use micro light on a light stand and just move it with me. Even run and gun you can grab a small light stand and go, just keep it a little higher and off center and its a much better lighting than on camera.

It also give you a little more room to work as people will usually try and stay out of the way of the light.

I found when doing things like cake cutting the on camera lighting was just not acceptable, the shadows were horrible.

I am not sure the last time I used on camera lighting unless it was just to fill in some shadows and even then usually opt for a second light stand, keeping the camera less bulky.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 11:45 AM   #30
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I use 2 50W off camera lights for my JVC200U, they are battery operated and turn on and off with a remote... I agree that going off camera is the better option. I've been a one man show until recently and with a very little amount of pre planning you can have your lights setup in an ideal location.
All this being said, Since we're talking about shooting with DSLR. I shot last nights wedding with an 85mm/1.2 and didn't even need to use the external lights. This was the first time with this setup and I was impressed.

Steve
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