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


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Old December 31st, 2010, 01:14 AM   #1
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Multi-camera shoots

As the price and size of the newest gear decreases and the quality seems to improve (a conjunction which used to to be the fantasy of the ad copywriters) I wonder if anyone else has considered doing a real multi-camera shoot?

What I mean is placing perhaps 10 or a dozen of these tiny cameras around the church or venue and simply letting them run. We're not yet at the point when the technical objections have been overcome, but we will. And regardless of that quality, I think I'd still want one "proper" camera with wireless mics etc fully manned for the close ups and crucial framing but I wonder if the multiplicity of angles the others would give me would compensate for the lack of different focal lengths.

Apart from mere numbers, the main benefit would be that it would avoid most of the officiant objections which are becoming so prevalent in certain cases. I visualise the cameras being attached/fastened by suitable clamps/grips and it would certainly simplify the get-in!
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Old December 31st, 2010, 03:31 AM   #2
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Hi Philip

Now if you could attach them all to a vision mixer and sit of the back of the Church with your desk switching angles and cams I could see the value in that. However wouldn't 10 lot's of source footage be a nightmare in post?????

A neat desk with 10 monitors with all your cams wirelessly connected would be really neat ....a realtime multi-cam mix on site would give very nice results much the same as a full TV production would do an OB broadcast!!! You as the editor would decide which camera to use and when whilst recording the final shoot mix to a solid state drive.

I did a Christmas Pageant on my own last week with just two cams!! I would have loved to have had at least 5 angles as well as specific cameras for the MC and judges table (each act was judged on stage)
Sitting at a desk would have been so much easier!!!!

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Old December 31st, 2010, 05:31 AM   #3
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2 things to add to this imaginary (for the time being kit) ;-)

One being it must fit into 1 standard sized briefcase. No big Pelicans or suitcase size cases.

The second is someone else to set it up and strike it all within no more than 10 minutes.

No I haven't been drinking the bubbly yet, hell, it's only 5:30AM here

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Old December 31st, 2010, 02:11 PM   #4
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Here's my take on this idea, of course YMMV.

I see this as a real possibility, a dozen of the same low end cams from a bazillion different angles. You would be cutting from, and to, similar quality footage, as you bounced from one to the next etc. It is when you interject that "proper cam" into the mix that the whole scenario, as my mother used to say, "goes to pot". I see that "proper cam" as being manned by a professional and in so doing, being used to its best capabilities. So unless the shooter can shoot as lousy as the mini cams, his footage is going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I had another thread here, along these same lines. What I do think has a strong potential, is using several of these mini cams, to get some great cut aways. Imagine one aimed strictly at the parents, that catches Dad wiping away a tear. For those brief couple of seconds, who cares what the quality is ??? It's the shot that counted, and you got it, even if it was from a $100 cam.

But back to the topic at hand, and editing this collection. I see the fee earned in the editing, and the shooting not as significant a contribution. In theory this should be a one person shoot, and you just need someone adept enough to place and set zoom for each. In theory, this could take a four person team and turn them into 4 separate units available for weddings.

Adobe Premiere CS3 has an option to play all the clips together in real time and allowed you to cut between them with just a mouse click. I am not sure this is still in CS5, because I never had the nerve to try it. But as I saw in tutorials, it appeared to work as a switcher. You had X number of "monitors" all playing in sync. I personally can't imagine doing this, as I would be a nervous wreck trying to watch them all. :-)

Last edited by Chip Thome; December 31st, 2010 at 03:17 PM.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 02:31 PM   #5
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Sure, CS5 still does this and it's a breeze. But it only does four cams at once; other editors do up to 16.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 03:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
Sure, CS5 still does this and it's a breeze. But it only does four cams at once; other editors do up to 16.
OK, 4 is scary enough.... If I tried 16, I'd need to be sedated !!!! :-)
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Old December 31st, 2010, 06:31 PM   #7
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While I don't do real time switching, I shoot 4 small "handy"cams (various mixes of whatever the top end consumer Sony is at the time, with the occaisional "big" cam thrown in) for the ceremony, mix in Vegas is easy enough, and the whole kit fits in a small hard case, about the only "big" thing is the tripods... actually a fairly easy rig to set up, once you've done it a couple times, and the most "critical" shots are covered, although a second manned cam sometimes would be nice.

The cost of reasonably high quality image acquisition devices is not a barrier - knowing how to get the most out of them, where and when to point them, plus how to mix down the resulting footage is where the "talent" comes in.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 12:45 AM   #8
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Great..now 10 camera angles of the back of the photographers head.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 06:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post

What I mean is placing perhaps 10 or a dozen of these tiny cameras around the church or venue and simply letting them run. We're not yet at the point when the technical objections have been overcome, but we will. And regardless of that quality, I think I'd still want one "proper" camera with wireless mics etc fully manned for the close ups and crucial framing but I wonder if the multiplicity of angles the others would give me would compensate for the lack of different focal lengths.
Seasonal Greetings...

IMHO better to identify the principal positions and angles and rig accordingly rather than to buckshot the venue with miniature multicams hoping to catch the odd usable shot. Too many unmanagable variables. Must be a real nightmare trawling through the footage as well.

How about a miniature in the bride's bouquet - would really give another perspective to walking the aisle? Perhaps also a miniature in the Groom's button hole... (production note: and on the turn to each other, mix to Button Cam...)

Not sure if it's coming to the point just yet when we rollout the production truck with the Grass Valley switcher. Please don't misunderstand me, but you guys really want to turn something simple into something overly complicated. Having escaped multicam shoots in the 80s in favour of SCP (Single Camera Production) I find this ironical. Yes, I accept this is a generalisation... but how about simply dropping your prices instead, rather than looking to justify what to some is an overly inflated price :)

On the wrap or the relocate, opo 1 says to opo 2:
"You did get MiniCam 10?
"10?" I thought we only rigged 9?"
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Old January 1st, 2011, 09:22 AM   #10
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I'm with you Claire I just don't understand the need to complicate what is quite a straight forward shoot so unnecessarily. The time taken to rig and strike on the day is wasted (unless you are employing an additional pair of hands to do that) and in my area it takes some persuasion to get a second camera into most churches, I wouldn't fancy my chances of getting permission for ten.
The additional time to sync and trawl through multiple takes for a few shots and the extra cost for equipment (cameras, batteries, tripods/clamps, mics) in my mind only serves to up the charge to the customer and the profit of the equipment manufacturers.

I have been shooting weddings for 20 years, always worked alone and for the first few years with only one camera (Umatic - what a beast). Nowadays I do have additional cameras, one placed and locked in the principal shooting position as soon as people start to arrive, the second I use to capture arrivals and then place it in a secondary position once the bride has arrived. I now carry a small HD cam in my pocket, just in case.
I've rarely had a problem on the day that I couldn't sort out (including camera malfunctions). I always have at least two audio recordings one to each camera via wireless and onboard shotgun on the principal. I can almost always collect and pack the mics, tripods and second camera when the photographer takes control during the signing of the register. I usually recruit one of the ushers to take the kit to my car. I then continue outside with just one camera and lightweight tripod.
For the speeches and first dance I set one camera with an overview and use the principal to capture the main shots.

I've never missed a vital part of the day (at least not any I'd admit to), never had any complaints that something is not there or that I didn't have a better view. (except once which I've described in another currently running thread). I'd be lying if I said that I couldn't have occasionally got additional useful shots with another shooter but I price my work to make it affordable I don't have to factor in additional outgoings for extra hands or unnecessary equipment.

I know that some on here are working in areas where money seems to be no object and clients do have very high expectations but in the real world (at least the one I inhabit) people are looking for good quality value for money not a pseudo Spielberg epic.

I try to avoid satisfying my desire to impress others in the business rather than fulfilling my customers' needs - a well shot record of their event presented to a high technical standard and charge them a fair price that makes me a good profit and not hand too much of that away to the likes of Sony or Panasonic.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 11:08 AM   #11
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I completely understand where you are coming from, George, but I have come to a realization. There are two different models for a wedding video business, competing on price or competing on product. Sure, they overlap to some extent, but the product market exists if you target it.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 12:27 PM   #12
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Here's the clamp with ball head needed, now to find a source for just the clamp portion.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 01:15 PM   #13
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Hi John. I don't think there are just two models; the possibilities are infinite. My comments are not intended as a blueprint to the correct way, or a jibe at any other way, just an expression of my experience. We all arrive at our offer based on our personal aims, skills, and charm, this is a business where our own personality is a major selling point and our goals are the great driver.

My comments were in the context of using 10 cameras around the church as opined in Philip's opening post.

As has been commented here in other threads, there are as many different ways to approach weddings as there are videographers.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 01:37 PM   #14
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Agreed, George. I didn't mean to imply anything negative. You bring up an interesting point. Being excited about the project (not always easy to do) is where I get business.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 02:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chip Thome View Post
Here's the clamp with ball head needed, now to find a source for just the clamp portion.
There are actually quite a few small dedicated clamp/mini-tripod type camera mounts suitable for small-ish cameras... all quite a lot less clunky than that old school light clamp <wink>. AND much more reliable - I wouldn't trust a camera to a "spring" clamp, ever... screw clamps or velcro straps are on the two types I usually use. If you want some ideas, let me know, and I'll shoot some quick pix so you can see what I'm talking about.

I've got a few different "clamp pods" I've collected and stuck in the bottom of my "whatever bag", just in case I need to position a camera and can't use a tripod - did a wedding on a paddlewheeler, just lashed the front angle and rear wide cameras to the nearest railing/post, worked like a charm - no room for tripods really (barely enough room for the PEOPLE!), so a steady stick and the small clamp mounts were the ONLY game in town! I often use a clamp mount for the "balcony" position where applicable as well. Cheap and effective!
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