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

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Old November 24th, 2010, 03:39 PM   #1
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Just a rant.. and question sort of.

Sitting here, trying to re-render audio only, after I do a last minutte check on master DVD while it is halfway trough uploading to Kunaki.... and I notice there are 2 mins audio missing from last blessing in a 1.5 hour catolic mass.

So anyway, after spending the last 8 hrs trying to render and figure out what faulty frame crashed premiere, and now then hoping for a 'quick audio fix', I came to wonder, are most of you perfectionists ?

I look at the highlights posted here, and if the complete wedding DVD is anywhere near, I wonder why I bother at all :)

My corporate work videos pays 2-3 times as much, takes a lot less time, much easier to do with controlled lightning, audio, talents etc... just to bad I think weddings are much more challenging and fun.

But, back to the question. Sortof.. When I review footage there are loads of loads of things that could be done better. Not rebalance white, chuch floor was not lvl so the video is tilted, dark churches with somwhat grainy footages, trying to mix in the best of 3-4 sound sources, shots being OOF, bumpings in camera, people staning in front of the B cam etc etc. Guess you have been there.

And customers with an eye for details who notices even sublte changes in audio lvls (ok, and some not so subtile :), or wanting to fix a 0.1 seccond camere bump in the middle of a 5 min straight handheld shot.

So, do you get 'picture perfect' ? perfect color balance, focus, f-stops, colour, audio and framing for sermonies lastin 30-90 mins, and without ability to cut out a single seccond per customer request ?

I just can't seem to make all 120.000 pictures, with audio, perfect.

Granted, what I give is milages away from Bob on first row with a handycam in hand, it seems also milages away from the highligts I see around here.

And ps: WHOAH.. audio render only did the trick. So its only another 30 mins unpayed work, and not 4 for the complete render :)
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Old November 24th, 2010, 05:56 PM   #2
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Anders, I hate the term perfectionist but in my view the things you describe are what set a pro apart from a non-pro. FWIW I share your frustration with the chore of sound balancing - not because of the job, which I enjoy, but because I find the computer environment unsuited to the task and I can't afford an alternate working control surface.

My sense is that you actually agree that getting those things right is what you'd want to do but that because weddings are so much less profitable (and the income lower) you feel reluctant to spend the time.

I don't think you'll find many pros who disagree. What you have to do is to decide whether the enjoyment of doing weddings sufficiently offsets the frustration and time of doing the work "properly". If it does, you've answered your dilemma; if it doesn't then the easiest solution is to drop weddings and stick with corporates.
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Old November 24th, 2010, 11:00 PM   #3
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Heya Philip.

well, if it was possible I would do weddings only full time for some years, buts its not possible.

The reason I asked, was that I have actualy very little to compare against. I have seen some examples in my country on the web, but again, it is 'highligts', often with no sound, just music (and some sound just at the 'I do'.

So I have not seen a complete wedding for anyone I can relate to. I do admit, many of you who post highlights are exeptional good, I was a bit curious if that is representative for an ucut, whole day edit.

The only ones I have seen is the royal weddings in tv, with 20 people crews and cost of 100.000$

Dark churces and receptions are what they are, and image is simply restricted to what my camera are able to produce. There is no way to light in them. One I did earlier this summer was an altar area in an 'alcove' of sorts, with no windows whatsoever, and a few spotlights high up in the ceiling that barely produced a few photons down on the couple,

And even a dedicated mixer guy cannot get crisp sound out of a wireless the groom holds a bible in front of, and rubs against. Or edit out a balcony singer who somhow manages to lean out of the balcony and in front of the very out of the way and seemingly secure B cam :)

And for post, well, there is a limit to how much time I can spend fixing every bit :)
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Old November 25th, 2010, 02:15 PM   #4
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Hi Anders

I hear you loud and clear. One of the things that I'm planning to do in the future is provide couples with more examples of my full-day work, so they can see what it's like. It's not perfect, but we do work hard to make it as good as we can. That being said, couples will see that occasionally we have to cut to a detail shot while we're moving cameras, or that sometimes we'll keep a slightly shaky camera in the video because it's the only one that gets a particular shot from close enough, etc. I'm hoping that by showing couples this before they book, they'll know what to expect when they get their own videos.

I know how it can feel like the editing could go on for ever. The same is true of writing. Everything could always be refined. My goal is to get the videos to a point where there's a consistent degree of quality, without any glaring errors or distractions from the video cameras. That being said, rooms are what they are. We're just finishing up a wedding filmed in the echoiest chuch I've ever been in, and we couldn't plug into the board. I spent hours gating the sound and blending mics in order to achieve a decent sound, and I know I've done the best that was possible given the limitations of the building and my equipment. Any echo that remains is out of my control. So, I've developing the philosophy that you should improve whatever you can to the highest level you can, but also remember that time is money, and at some point you have to say that you've done the best you can within reason.

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Old November 25th, 2010, 08:48 PM   #5
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Quality vs. Value. I'm talking about the shot not the whole package. Quality of the shot vs. Value of the shot. This is the burning question. Again I'm not talking about the "highlight" or trailer but the entire length of the video. IOW, for a highlight or trailer you are obviously going to put togther the best top notch package possible but the whole wedding isn't that. (at least it's never been in my experience)
A wedding shoot is going to have some shots that have movement or perhaps the framing is a bit off or whatever the case maybe. It's a live event and sometimes you have to make a move or a pan or a tilt or a (gasp) zoom and it can't be cut around. So now you have to consider the Quality of the shot vs the Value of the shot and that will determine, for me at least, whether the shot stays or goes. If I have something to cut to or I can eliminate it completly, great, if not it stays if it's Value is that high.
Live events are once and go, they happen fast and once, no reshoots, no yelling CUT do it again and live events sometimes don't go as well as one would hope so for me, it comes down to Quality vs Value. Obviously I want and strive for both at all times but I am not so naieve (after 39 years as both a still photog and vidguy) to think that there won't be times during the event that are far beyond my control so I do the best I can under the circumstances and live by the rule; Quality of the shot vs. Value of the shot.
In short form answer, my finished product is going to have blemishes. I don't like it but I have learned to live with it and honestly in all the years and all the live events I've done, I've never been dinged by a client for that.
Anyway don't beat yourself to death about it. It happens and believe me, we are all far more critical of our work than 99.9% of our clients. Quality vs. Value.
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Old November 25th, 2010, 09:19 PM   #6
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Quality of the shot vs Value. What a great paradigm for evaluating shots! Thanks for sharing that Don.
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Old November 25th, 2010, 10:56 PM   #7
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Sometimes you need to remind yourself that this isn't just another video for your clients, but something they'll hopefully cherish for a long long time.

But make sure your getting compensated for this!
www.styleandmotion.com - Modern Wedding Films based in Michigan
www.miweddingblog.com - Michigan's dedicated wedding blog
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Old November 26th, 2010, 04:45 PM   #8
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Kevin, funny you should mention that. I have a wedding that was a nightmare to shoot one or two years ago.

I messed up a bit, had to use an old panasonic 4:3 as one of the cams, was originaly hired for cermony only, and got a call after I had returned home if I could come back to the party and tape the rest of the dinner/party.

I did (with only some of the equipment, no tripod), and it was candle light dinner (where they even put out most of the candles in a baloon-popping tradition). In the end, I had to make two 6 minute music videos out of the footage ( I won't even call it highlights), and I never watch this particular DVD again.

What I DO though, is sometimes send this DVD as an example (for varied reasons) to people wanting to see samples.

I know that whenever I'm booked and the couple have seen THIS, I'm pretty much home free :)

DON: thanks for reply. Somwhat reasuring that even the long time wedding vets 'mess up' sometimes (even I have a suspicion that some of what you will call inferior is probably highlight-moneymaker clips for me ;)

Anyway. In my experience the 'value' for the clients is somwhat different from mine. In both last two weddings I sent out last week (including the one I had to re-render audio from on Thursday), I had to go from one to two DVD's, as I was specific instructed to not cut out a single frame or word from the cermonys and speeches. One of them is a russian-norwegian wedding with translations in speeches, and is rather long (the other one was in vietnamese and I have no idea if it was a best mans super-speech or someone telling a joke while giving directions to the toilets)

For the norwegian-russian couple, I did offer to make a shorter version, as they intended to show the video to the people who had helped with the wedding day, and I hinted (not so subtile either) that it could be pretty boring to watch all those speeches and preaching. But no.

They got an unfinished preview-dvd for consideration (2 hrs long, and even then I had not put in photo session and some other stuff).

They had watched it several times, on different players , and besides wanting to fix some camera bumps, audio glitches etc, their comment was 'and do NOT edit the speeches). They intend to show it all to their guests.

But you are right about the part we are more critical to ourselves. I guess that sometimes a couple would hope for a better product (all again down to expectations I guess), but I think they hold the VALUE higher, where I only think QUALITY :) But that is me, amongst my worse traits I am 'negative perfectionists', meaning I am sometime more obsessed with my own imperfection in something I have done/made, than observing what is actually good with it. I'm working on it :)

I actualy have a no cure policy. If the couple don't like the product, they can walk away from the contract, not owing anything. I might get burned on that some day, but for now it seems that the value from the DVD is bigger that whatever quality flaw it might have.

Anyway, here I am just rambling away. I guess another bad trait of mine :)
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Old November 30th, 2010, 04:04 AM   #9
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Hi Anders.

Yes, it can all be too much in some situations, but I turn down jobs which I know will cause problems either with the client or the location. I don't have very many declines, that is I do not accept the hire, confirmation, call it what you will.

Part of my Terms & Conditions is that I meet the prospect at the venue to talk over the details. On rare occasions you can see that a location will give you so much grief, either with its lack of light or due to its very limited space, that it is best to say no rather than to do the job.

No one likes to turn work down, but there are occasions when you need to exercise best judgement through experience.

But having said that I turned one down only last week - with the result, the prospect went absolutely nuts accusing me of being arrogant, unprofessional yada yayda... Seems like he takes this as a personal insult on him and his choice of venue. The outcome was a liablous tirade which my lawyers are now dealing with.

I'd hate to think what the outcome would have been if I missed a couple of keyshots due to the limited space at the location. A letter from HIS lawyer no doubt. So, trust your experience and instinct.
Women don't hit harder, they just hit lower!
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