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


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Old August 3rd, 2005, 09:33 AM   #1
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Want to start doing weddings - how to start?

Hi guys,

I reciently finished up my Master's degree program at Emerson College for Media Arts (TV/Film + Web Design) and have just started my own small production company. I am looking into the posibility of getting into taping weddings, but I'm not sure what is the best way for me to get my foot in the chapel door.

First off, I have shot/edited/directed mostly narrative videos, but have also done a dog-training video as well as a doccumentarys and a few "one chance to get this shot" projects such as concerts and other live events - so I'm confident that I can shoot a wedding and get some good shots.

Now, I did get a "job offer" to join a wedding videography company based out of Boston that will start me off as a guest shooter (to get my feet wet) - BUT the deal doesn't sound all that great to me. As the company charges $1200 to the customer for the wedding, and the actual videographer povides his/her equiment, edits the tape, and exports the finished product to DVD (basically doing all of the work) - and gets $600 from the company once the DVD is delivered (i.e. no money up front to the videographer).

This sounds a little shady to me, as I personally always charge 25% of the budget up front for equipment fees. 50% once filming is complete, and the final 25% once the final product is delevered (I was told that this is standard billing practice).

Now, I'm wondeering if I should just take this job and see how it works out, or just see if I can go-it-alone and try and find someone to hire me (even if I do a few weddings for the cost of the tape and DVDs). Anyone have any suggestions?


For equipment I own the following:

- Canon XL2 with standard 20X lens
- Panasonic TC-7WMS1 7" LCD Monitor (on camera)
- Bogen 503 head Tripod
- Tiffen Filter set (UV Filter, Enhancing, Circular Polarizing & 812 Color Warming Filters)
- Anton-Bauer Gold Plate/Battery setup
- Audio Technia AT4071A Shotgun microphone with boompole.
- 2 Shure SM-81 condencer microphones
- Mutiple Shure SM-57 dynamic microphones.

Planning on getting a Sennheiser EW100ENG-G2 Wireless Lav microphone setup as well.

Also - based upon the equipment listed above, in your opinion - do I have enough stuff to do a wedding? What are "must haves" (and nice-to-haves) for doing a wedding?

Any other advice?

Thanks
Ryan
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 10:00 AM   #2
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Read previous threads about this (do a search or just read this forum), all subjects covered ad-nauseum.
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 11:02 AM   #3
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basically it looks liek theyre finding you the work, but your the one doing it...

If i were you, id shop around and offer filming services only.. i pay my guys anything from $400 using my gear, or $600 if they use their gear AUD of course.. . I dont expect them to edit..btu i do expect good results, so in yoru case, id offer less than that..
Hell if u were gonna do waht this guy is offering, u may as well just open ur own business.. and take a wild leap... and paying you AFTER the job.. dude, forget it.. your machinary will devalue everytime u hit record..

what id suggest would be to stalk some wedding forums. Once u feel comfy, offer a cheap package. not too cheap, coz ur rig set up is alot more advanced than some actual "established" producers.. hell i attended a wedding and saw a guy shoot with a dodgy single chipper rigged to a shoulder brace with battery packs and all that other crap and the guy thought he looked impressive.. then i pulled out my juiced up DVX (was my wifes friend so i couldnt not take a shot or two).. yeah an ego boost does wonders every now and then.. ok shut up pete..

anyways.. this guy turned out to have charged them somethine like 3 grand AUD.. and to me, thats just a rort..hell i dont even charge that much... but seeing as we were freinds, they didnt want me to stop having fun (well they were worried id get too pissed to shoot properly.. lol (Pissed as in drunk for those not under the influence of australian culture.. )

moving on..
your geear can get you work. Dude, thats a kick ass rig..
With filming jobs, offer the service on the cheap, then ask if you can have a copy of the tapes so you can learn about your own technique.. edit that footage and create your own wedding demos. With permission of course.. Just mention to the client that you have been shooting for other people and you want to branch out on your own. Many couples know that this is a pretty common practice..

but yer.. its hard starting out.. i was lucky coz i come from the OTHER side of the tracks.. i was editing before i got to shooting.. what made me get into it was teh crap i was constantly being given to edit.. i felt i could do better.. so i tried..
Seems to be working for now. It wasnt easy and it took me like 18months to establish a set routine and procedures and contracts and all that other shit
One thing though is that when u get so much friggin work, sometimes u wonder whether video is worth the time vs money. IM now looking at moving back to Stills.. no shit i can do less work on the day, i can do MUCH less work in post, and i can charge twice as much.. which is where i dont understand the logic... even though i can see it, video is so devalued, that its quite sickening..
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 11:54 AM   #4
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First of all the Cannon XL-2 just does not cut the mustard for weddings. I know people that own the Cannon XL-2 and they say that footage from HDV cameras just blows it away. Most people think that high definition is just a gimmick. The FCC Federal Communications Commision has declared High Definition Television an even greater advancement in television technology than even color television. However when color television was introduced the naysayers were dead set against it declaring color television a gimmick and a fake technology no different than color comic book characters. The naysayers are alive and well today and even though they failed to stop color television they do every thing they can to slow the acceptance of HDTV.
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 01:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy James
First of all the Cannon XL-2 just does not cut the mustard for weddings. I know people that own the Cannon XL-2 and they say that footage from HDV cameras just blows it away. Most people think that high definition is just a gimmick. The FCC Federal Communications Commision has declared High Definition Television an even greater advancement in television technology than even color television. However when color television was introduced the naysayers were dead set against it declaring color television a gimmick and a fake technology no different than color comic book characters. The naysayers are alive and well today and even though they failed to stop color television they do every thing they can to slow the acceptance of HDTV.
He doesn't need to buy an HD cam yet. I just started out, and have a GL2 and a single chip Optura. I was going to upgrade my single chip covershot cam right away, but the general consensus here was it's not the quality of the equipment, its the quality of the final product that matters. Don't get me wrong, getting a better cam is still a high priority, but I need a better audio setup first.
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 01:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy James
First of all the Cannon XL-2 just does not cut the mustard for weddings. I know people that own the Cannon XL-2 and they say that footage from HDV cameras just blows it away. Most people think that high definition is just a gimmick. The FCC Federal Communications Commision has declared High Definition Television an even greater advancement in television technology than even color television. However when color television was introduced the naysayers were dead set against it declaring color television a gimmick and a fake technology no different than color comic book characters. The naysayers are alive and well today and even though they failed to stop color television they do every thing they can to slow the acceptance of HDTV.

It really depends what people want in their wedding video. If they want crystal clear shots, then yes HDV would beat the SD of the XL2. But I've found that some people like the look and feel of a "film-like" look to their wedding. No matter how much someone tries to convince me otherwise, HD is just currently not able to mimic a film look like SD can. It's too crisp and detailed. That soft fuzzy look is something a lot of people desire. It's all a matter of preference from the b & g.
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Old August 4th, 2005, 03:49 AM   #7
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even if you shoot in hd you are still downsampling to sd for dvd until hd media and hd players become available. that puts us well into 2007. why should he upgrade now when he can get a lot of good use out of his current equipment? plus, the hd cameras in 2007 will beat the tar out of the ones available now, both in price and performance!

starting out on your own is not easy, but very rewarding and challenging, if you are up to it. good luck!
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Old August 4th, 2005, 08:13 AM   #8
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"even if you shoot in hd you are still downsampling to sd for dvd until hd media and hd players become available. that puts us well into 2007. why should he upgrade now when he can get a lot of good use out of his current equipment? plus, the hd cameras in 2007 will beat the tar out of the ones available now, both in price and performance!"


What he said.........
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Old August 4th, 2005, 09:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan DesRoches
Hi guys,

I am looking into the posibility of getting into taping weddings, but I'm not sure what is the best way for me to get my foot in the chapel door.


Now, I did get a "job offer" to join a wedding videography company based out of Boston that will start me off as a guest shooter (to get my feet wet) - BUT the deal doesn't sound all that great to me. As the company charges $1200 to the customer for the wedding, and the actual videographer povides his/her equiment, edits the tape, and exports the finished product to DVD (basically doing all of the work) - and gets $600 from the company once the DVD is delivered (i.e. no money up front to the videographer).



Now, I'm wondeering if I should just take this job and see how it works out, or just see if I can go-it-alone and try and find someone to hire me (even if I do a few weddings for the cost of the tape and DVDs). Anyone have any suggestions?


For equipment I own the following:

- Canon XL2 with standard 20X lens
- Panasonic TC-7WMS1 7" LCD Monitor (on camera)
- Bogen 503 head Tripod
- Tiffen Filter set (UV Filter, Enhancing, Circular Polarizing & 812 Color Warming Filters)
- Anton-Bauer Gold Plate/Battery setup
- Audio Technia AT4071A Shotgun microphone with boompole.
- 2 Shure SM-81 condencer microphones
- Mutiple Shure SM-57 dynamic microphones.

Planning on getting a Sennheiser EW100ENG-G2 Wireless Lav microphone setup as well.

Also - based upon the equipment listed above, in your opinion - do I have enough stuff to do a wedding? What are "must haves" (and nice-to-haves) for doing a wedding?

Any other advice?

Thanks
Ryan
Hi Ryan,

Do you have any friends getting married? Do your first one for free, or next to free. That's what I did 9 years ago.

In this business, nothing replaces experience, but the only thing better than learning from your own experience, is learning from other, more weathered videographers. Find a company that you can shoot 2nd or 3rd camera for. Watch everything the lead guy does. If he is good, you will learn what to do and if not, you will learn what not to do.

I realize you have your degree, but how many classes were on wedding videography? Go to conventions and workshops from www.weva.com and www.4ever.org . It will bring you up to speed much faster than by doing it yourself by trial and error.

About your gear. While the XL-2 isn't the best low light camera, it will work. I shot with an XL-1 for 5 years. I won a lot of awards and made some good money, so don't think the XL-2 isn't good enough for weddings. REMEMBER, it's the person behind the camera that is more important than the camera. That is why I am a firm believer in spending money on educating yourself through video conventions and instructional materials. I think the XL-2 has a great picture if the lighting is good. The problem comes in those really dark churches or reception venues.

You will need an on-camera light for the reception. I use the Frezzi Micro Fill and the NRG Varalite. You can spend $300-600 for lighting and battery power, so if that is out of the question, check out the little Sony 10/20 light. It's about $100 and another $75-100 for the battery.

In addition to the Sennheiser wireless, you need a second wireless or a mini disc or IRiver recorders. Do a search, it has been discussed A LOT. You will want a mic on the minister and groom, but don't forget about all of the other sound sources like the readers, strings, soloist, 2nd minister, etc.
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Old August 4th, 2005, 02:52 PM   #10
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Thanks for info

Thanks for the info guys. . .

As for the company in Boston - I wrote to find out more info about the job, but I probibly won't take it - sounds like too much risk and not a lot of reward.

Instead - I plan on doing a few weddings for free for some "friends of friends" and see how that goes. I plan on getting the two wireless G2 Microphones and a on-camera light as well. Anyone have any good suggestions for oncamera lights for the XL2 (besides the Frezzi Micro Fill and the NRG Varalite) and I'll get anouther Anton Bauer battery as well.

As for the camera - I love the XL2. I researched and was thinking about an HDV camera (the new panasonic) - but I felt that the price outweighed the rewards. Not too many people I know have an HDTV setup - and it was not worth the price for me. I know many people who have used the XL2 for weddings and never had a problem, so I don't expect one either.

So - anyone have any other suggestions? I've been reading through the forum to see what other ideas I can pick up . . .


Thanks
Ryan
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Old August 4th, 2005, 02:59 PM   #11
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re: lights, i have a frezzi mini fill (http://www.frezzi.com/mini-fil1.htm) with the dimmer and np1s battery pack, and while it's a good light for interviews and closeups of dancing, you don't get much depth from any on-camera light, which is tough in certain reception situations when the area is huge and the lighting is very dim.

at least, that was a problem when i was using an xl1 to do weddings. i've since moved to the vx2100. don't get me wrong, i love my xl1 and i still have it, but it's just not my choice when it comes to weddings. that said, i've shot some really beautiful footage with the xl1. (i don't want to turn this into a canon vs. sony thread, which is almost as bad as a mac vs. pc thread). ;-P

good luck and have fun!
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Old August 4th, 2005, 04:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy James
First of all the Cannon XL-2 just does not cut the mustard for weddings. I know people that own the Cannon XL-2 and they say that footage from HDV cameras just blows it away. Most people think that high definition is just a gimmick. The FCC Federal Communications Commision has declared High Definition Television an even greater advancement in television technology than even color television. However when color television was introduced the naysayers were dead set against it declaring color television a gimmick and a fake technology no different than color comic book characters. The naysayers are alive and well today and even though they failed to stop color television they do every thing they can to slow the acceptance of HDTV.
HDV cameras are certainly affordable but getting set up for HD editing is still a pricey affair. And for the time being, virtually no one has HD playback equipment so there's really no way to distribute the final product to your client in a format they can actually watch. A couple of years down the road, when HD DVD standards have been finalized and HD DVD players are getting popular in the consumer market, it'll be another story but for now, it's just not quite there yet. Sure you can shoot HD but for the time being you're still going to be delivering SD to your clients so what's the point? And least you think I'm objecting because I'm an HD luddite, I actually own a 57" HD TV and grabbed an HD tuner box the very first day our local cable company offered them (no over-air HD broadcasts in this area yet). But for a production business, especially a wedding business, I'd invest the money it would cost to equip for HD right now on higher level, albeit upgradable when possible, SD gear instead. By the time your clients will be able to watch your output in HD it will be time to replace your current equipment anyway, even if you DID buy HD today.
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Old August 9th, 2005, 04:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan DesRoches

For equipment I own the following:

- Canon XL2 with standard 20X lens
- Panasonic TC-7WMS1 7" LCD Monitor (on camera)
- Bogen 503 head Tripod
- Tiffen Filter set (UV Filter, Enhancing, Circular Polarizing & 812 Color Warming Filters)
- Anton-Bauer Gold Plate/Battery setup
- Audio Technia AT4071A Shotgun microphone with boompole.
- 2 Shure SM-81 condencer microphones
- Mutiple Shure SM-57 dynamic microphones.

Planning on getting a Sennheiser EW100ENG-G2 Wireless Lav microphone setup as well.

Also - based upon the equipment listed above, in your opinion - do I have enough stuff to do a wedding? What are "must haves" (and nice-to-haves) for doing a wedding?

Any other advice?

Thanks
Ryan
Well, I haven't read all of the above posts, but that's whole lot more than what I started out with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy James
First of all the Cannon XL-2 just does not cut the mustard for weddings. I know people that own the Cannon XL-2 and they say that footage from HDV cameras just blows it away. Most people think that high definition is just a gimmick.
I do recall you said STARTING OUT? well for now until you get done paying off all you loans from college (if you have any of course), what you have now will make a kick ass video. If you must though do your first one for free to show off your stuff, but since you have other expirence, offer like $200 dollars and do their wedding for them.

Of course you will be doing a lot of time in the editing room, but at least it will be a little money to get you started. This is what I did for my first wedding, and I did it with a GL2, Canon WA lens, Warm filter, Davis & Sanford Tripod w/ F-12 head, Tiffen Steady Stick, Smith & Vector 100 watt light (don't recommend though use a 40 watt or so) , since then I have gotten so many requests I have thought about quitting college and heading into this fulltime (but I am not, I like my major). And plus I have been able to extend my equiptment, now with balanced wireless mikes & an iRiver. And a whole lot of fancy equiptment for football games...but that's another story.

As for HD wait till itstarts to become a standard, then I'd move to that, hey you got all the equptment you really need-a bit of lighting &..well I think that's it.

Also it's not just your camera, it what you produce to the families, meaning you can always edit color in Final Cut or whatever you use.

Hope this helps a little
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Last edited by Matt Sawyers; August 9th, 2005 at 04:28 PM. Reason: stupid mistakes
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Old August 17th, 2005, 09:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan DesRoches
Hi guys,

Also - based upon the equipment listed above, in your opinion - do I have enough stuff to do a wedding? What are "must haves" (and nice-to-haves) for doing a wedding?

Any other advice?

Thanks
Ryan
Dude your gold.. Once you add the wireless mic setup and I would add a second camera at least for a stationary shot.. It will get the job done..

I am doing weddings on the side from my fulltime gig of editing/producing.. I on 4 now, and haven't charged anything.. Wanting to get some more experience and sample work completed.. No reason they should pay for my training.. :)
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