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

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Old November 5th, 2010, 01:31 AM   #1
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Location: Calgary, AB
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House ceremony frustrations

We've filmed a number of weddings at people's houses. Chinese weddings in particular often have tea ceremonies in one of the parent's houses. So far everything's been fine...

But recently we filmed a wedding in which the couple tried to cram both of their extended families into their living room, for a ceremony that was comprised primarily of the family dancing infront of the B&G. The room was so crowded that we didn't have space to move. The family members trapped the B&G in a corner, standing about 5 feet from them. I stood right in the front with the dancing family, filming the whole thing, while the other videographer was a few feet further back.

Anyway, all this leads up to the big problem / frustration:
The room was so crowded - and the ceremony was so exuberant - that the guests continually bumped into us and stepped in front of us. We have no choice but to edit the video into clips, because our cameras are taking such a beating from flailing limbs. I'm hoping the B&G understand, though we really had no options. Oh the joys of event videography...

From this, I've decided that I am going to be very wary of filming house weddings unless the B&G can assure me that they've allotted space for videographers.

Has anyone else ever had this happen?
How do you think I should explain this to them?
Kevin Hill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2010, 03:54 AM   #2
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The b&g will understand. Are you guys handheld?
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Old November 5th, 2010, 05:44 AM   #3
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Hi Kevin

The weekend before last I had the same situation. The tea ceremony at the bride's house was great until all the people crowded into a tiny living room that was meant for 10 people max!! There must have been 50!!! The bride's parent had a combination Buddist/Vietnamese tea ceremony and I was bumped and pushed ... no-one seemed to have any manners!!! The ceremony was in Vietnamese done by a Buddist Monk (beat that one!!!) so I had no idea what he was saying (he was about 100 years old so he just mumbled away very softly. The bride and groom gave me no warning that the ceremony was different so it was hard to know what to film (when I could get space to do so!!)

The Groom's ceremony was a delight...big room and tons of space and although the language was foreign it was easy to follow as it was sequential and the normal Chinese ceremony.

I think that in these cases the bride should allocate a big guy who can tell you what to film and also have the duties of a bouncer. With a little bit of forethought from the couple, filming would be easy if you had someone to protect your filming area and also tell you what's going to happen next!!

Next time I will absolutely insist on it!!!

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Old November 5th, 2010, 06:53 AM   #4
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Here's a tip I learned a lot of years ago and it has helped me to keep my sanity.

It is what it is and the bride and groom know it.

They are not as out of the loop as we all think and they are at least aware of things that are going on around them so if you were 5 feet in front of them and you were getting cut off and bumped the B&G at least had a general idea that that was happening.

Edit it the way you need to to cut around the bumps and such don't obsess about it. The B&G will understand.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old November 5th, 2010, 02:08 PM   #5
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Thanks guys your encouragement / empathy. I guess everyone experiences something like this at some point.

Ian: For weddings in churches / large rooms, we shoot with 3 cams on tripods. For house ceremonies, we shoot with 1 hand-held and the others on tripods. It turned out my hand-held footage was the best, despite being less steady than a tripod, since the other shooter couldn't get the tripods past the crowd!

Chris: That sounds like quite the ceremony! An ancient Buddhist monk is certain more interesting than a standard Officiant / Justice of the Peace! I'm sorry to hear that he was, well, almost impossible to hear! Audio is also tricky in house ceremonies. In our case, the audio consisted entirely of chanting, so it came through loud and clear (there's a positive!).

I LOVE your idea about a bouncer. It made me LOL. I'm not sure how I'd approach the subject with the B&G, but I *will* definitely be asking them upfront about space restrictions next time. In fact, maybe joking about a bouncer with them would help them see the kind of space / protection we need to film properly.

Finally, Don: That sounds like an excellent philosophy. I've been letting this situation steal my sanity, fearing that the B&G won't understand. But, as you said, they should aware of what was happening. I'll definitely remember this tip in the future.
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Old November 5th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #6
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Kevin --

Bear up. Stress is inevitable in this business and virtually none our customers are wackos from the tv unreality shows.

Regarding having a "bouncer" --- in my contracts, I tell the couple that, if they have a relative they need to give a job to, give him or her to me to help me know who and what to shoot. Only a few people have taken me up on this, but it has always been most helpful when it happens. A couple of years ago, I was shooting a reception where they had 450 people in a 250-person ball room. They gave me the groom's big cousin -- he was a 6'7" tall wheat farmer who, just by being there, parted the waters for me like you-know who did for Moses on the Red Sea.

I've had several small crowded room receptions and what I've wound up doing is mostly using a tripod as a boom. I like a tripod better than a monopod because it gives me more to hold on to. I've also tried taping a small mono-pod mounted CX550 to a wall (with a bit of furniture there for protection).

Shooting multi-cam is a good idea for this kind of situation if you can swing it. Usually, you can cut from one cam to another.

But, if you are getting jostled and bumped, so is everybody else and that's part of the show, too.

So, you do not need to bad about having to work with what you got.

Here is another suggestion: make a separate impression/montage out of the steadier clips and put that as an additional feature on the DVD and then have a longer version with all the whacks and wobbles that can't be avoided.
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