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

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Old January 29th, 2011, 10:20 PM   #46
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Glad I was of at least some help Amanda - we all started somewhere, and while we do chide each other a bit, there's no particular pecking order or anything like that. There's a lot to learn here, all different sorts of weddings (I still would like to just once do an Indian one, although I'll probably regret it, i just love the color and traditions), various styles and techniques, and we all make some mistakes and get confused and come here for help when needed.

Chris runs a tight ship, no hating allowed, and if we get too "spirited" on certain topics of contention, the "conversation" is put on notice and then locked down if it gets out of hand. It's not like most of the rest of the Internet where flaming is a sport. Sometimes we get a little sarcastic or silly, but it's pretty much family safe and once you catch the vibe, hopefully you'll be just one of "the crew", and you'll find what answers you need.

Many topics have already been "covered" ad nauseam, so you might want to play with the search function a bit, but don't be afraid to ask questions. While some of us might nibble at times, no one here bites, except when discussing copyright (that's a slugfest, so don't ask about THAT topic <wink>!), and then we all have a virtual drink of choice and toast our differences after Chris comes along and slaps us if needed.

I think what you mistook for negativity was a simple realism - Wedding Video shooting isn't for everybody, it's sometimes a tough gig, and it's usually not because of camera inadequacies or failures. "One shot" events are exactly that - if you've been behind the mixing board, you know what that means - you've got exactly ONE shot at the event as it unfolds, you've got to be thinking three steps ahead of everything (guitar solo!!). And however carefully everything was planned out, it usually goes completely off track at least somewhere during the day...

Whatever equipment you decide is right for your shooting style, you learn it inside and out and it's not even on the radar when you're "on the job", you just show up, set your gear, take your cues and camera moves, capture everything as best as possible, pack it up and take it home and check the "dailies". Keep the good footage, chuck the bad and hope there's more good than bad, but not so much it won't fit on the DVD...

There's a reason my kit has shrunk and doesn't have too much fancy stuff - and also a reason I went HD and tapeless early on... I don't want too much to drag along or keep track of, and I want to dump the footage and be in edit ASAP, so I go by the "travel as light as practically possible" philosophy. I also want to fiddle with as little as possible, I'll gladly let my camera run auto when I know it's got the shot right, intervening only as needed. But then again I shoot multicam with 4 small cams rolling... and I'm 100% certain that I'm adding a couple HDSLR's into the mix ASAP (I WILL get my wife to shoot video, dang it!). I've been planning that addition for a couple years, and think I'm finally ready to take the jump... it can be difficult making equipment choices!
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Old January 29th, 2011, 11:52 PM   #47
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Amanda, you wrote recently "I knew I was stepping into your world and said in my post that people likke (sic) you hate people like me."

I'm not going to describe that as paranoia because you'll probably react negatively but honestly, it categorically is not true.

If by "big boys" (a term you don't define) you mean people with a lot of experience, I think it would not be too sweeping a statement to say that in this well-ordered and polite forum you'll find that the more experience people have, the more ready they are to share it with people aspiring to come into the business. There may be exceptions but I think it's generally true throughout the forum, not just in Weddings and Events.

But that's not all. It's equally important to consider the advice and tales of people with less experience because often their problems will be ones you'll share.

Finally, I think you're probably asking questions that are impossible to answer. I've just changed from Z1s to EX1Rs. I can tell you why I made the change but it certainly doesn't mean that you should or shouldn't buy either model. Equally, I have no cogent reasons why you shouldn't buy a specific Panasonic model that suits Chris very well. I'll endorse what Dave patiently said, buy what suits you, your purse, your physique, your eye for design, even what suits the length (ie the reach) of your fingers, the best.

Good luck.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 12:12 AM   #48
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Hi, Amanda..........

Gonna take a different tack, as it seems this thread took a serious swerve into the scenery for reasons I still can't work out.

So, how about some serious, no BS, advice from someone who started from scratch, no help, no nothing, but an in depth experience of stills?

Oh, and BTW, yep I'm a male, chauvanist (don't think the missus would throw that one in), big mouthed (oh, yeah!), pig (oh, she would most definately throw that one in!). So be warned, this could be toxic.

Get a camera, make your own mind up, but get one.

Every opinion here is just that, an opinion, so make your own mind up and go for it.

THEN, go shoot.

You need to make at least five (yep, 5) 3 minute features on video, with audio, correct lighting, story, the whole works.

They MUST have a story, beginning, middle and end.

Sit down with your husband and analyse every single second of each video.

Where did you screw up? Where did you get it right?

They must make sense, be watchable on a reasonable wide screen telly and be audible.

You got 15 minutes of screen time under your belt?

Now, make a 15 minute one.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to make a 15 minute video?

The first time it's like pulling teeth, believe me, but you MUST do it.

A wedding video will run for what, 60 minutes?

See my point?

Find out what you don't know, don't have, woulld like to have because you can see it will make you money, what you don't need 'cos it won't, but just plain shoot and watch.

It's amazing what you will teach yourself.

Ask the right questions here and you will get Gold, ask the wrong ones and you will get total BS.

(I hasten to add that I do not for one minute think anyone here has gone into BS mode, and if you believe that......)




Bugger, I forgot this in the CV intro - arrogant bastard, yeah that rings a bell.

Pretty well makes me your average male anywhere on the planet then?

Nope, I'm nothing like the "average" male, as there isn't any such creature, just like there isn't any such thing as the "average" female.

Lady, you ain't average! Go for it!

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 30th, 2011 at 12:49 AM.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 01:34 AM   #49
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OK I TRUCE!!!! I really did come here with excitement about talking with the big boys, yes the pros, and trying to get some perspective outside of my months of reading, youtubing, web-surfing and all the rest of the ings that I did. I was serious when I said I took notes with paper and pencil. Maybe my questions need to be a little more specific and appropriately placed in the right areas of this forum. I appreciate all of the good advice. I could cry when I watch clips likes Travis'. Thinking how long it will take to get to that level, if ever, is mind boggling. But I'm gonna try like hell. I'm ok with being the freshman. And I'm ok that I have a lot to learn. And I'm ok with being a girl and getting my feathers ruffled. I'm good. So, just give me my little pms moment. I have bigger fish to fry. I've been asked to video a piano recital in April. There are no real expectations other than just getting it. So, maybe we can start over and let me see if you might have some recital advice. This is just a little project for a little recital at a little church. Might be a nice little first project. Thanx again for all your help.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 02:24 AM   #50
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OK, well, truce accepted........

though I wasn't actually part of the war, think Switzerland, and you'll be cool.

It's not like this isn't hard enough without that running rampant round a shoot.


Off camera mikes, two.

Cabled or wireless, first preferable, second if you must, but better than "on cam" by a country mile.

Lights, possibly just three, if you can scrape them up.

Check out the venue well before WITH camera. Check light levels, espacially at the same time/ light level expected at the time of the event.

Check acoustics, sound systems, feeds, availability of shooting spaces.

In short, leave nostone unturned before you front up for the gig.

Oh, Amanda, one very small thing:

No one here is, would or will belittle you because you're female, black, green, male, Martian, gay, unemployed, Rupert Murdoch (choke), un gay, a Ninja turtle or anything else.

If you feel so belittled by any post, click on the triangular button to the left of every post box and complain.

Tho' if your Rupert...........

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Old January 30th, 2011, 09:46 AM   #51
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Hi Amanda,

Regarding the piano recital advice. It's probably worth starting a new topic so people won't wade through 49 posts, and it is a distinctly separate topic.

And while Chris gives you some great advice, you may not have lights, and mics. Even if you had a well placed digital recorder of some type, you can capture better audio than with an on-cam mic. It's the sound source distance to the recording device that makes it yucky.

I would also shoot some b-roll before the recital. Like an exterior shot of the church, flowers, stained glass, crowd reaction, etc. that you can cut to in the edit to make the production a little more interesting.

Most importantly (IMHO), keep the camera steady, which usually means a tripod with a good fluid head. And get good, clean audio.

BTW, over 40 responses to your original post in 3 days, I think speaks more to chivalry - however sometimes things get lost in translation. The 'big boys' really are trying to help.

You have already made the best move of your future career - that is, that you found this site early on in the process.

All the best.
C100, 5DMk2, FCPX
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Old January 30th, 2011, 03:33 PM   #52
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OK, little recital should be great practice!

Watch out for backlighting if it's a daytime shoot with windows... or low light if it's a night-time shot - hopefully house lighting will be adequate, usually if there's enough light for an audience, you'll be fine, although you have to watch exposure (or use spotlight mode if the cam has it). Most casual shoots you won't have the luxury of controlling the lighting, but if you do, try to bone up on the basic Key/fill/back/hair light configuration so you can optimize. You didn't mention lighting experience, but if you've got any, it's a big help for some "event" shoots, and if you want to do any interview type footage (maybe a littel extra of the performer or their family?).

Video: Two cams, one set wide for safety/cutaway, locked down on tripod, second either handheld or on monopod for some close ups/tight shots/audience. Strive for slow, steady camera moves, and limit zooms/pans to a minimum - nothing says amateur like crash zooms and whip pans (unless it's cheezy transitions added in post, where your wide cam is your friend if you do need to make quick moves on your "main" camera). Set WB to the best looking image on both cams to ease CC in post. Start the cams simultaneously a bit before the recital starts, do a clap or set off a flash to give you a "sync spike" (clap is better if you also sync your audio recording at the same time). If you are shooting tape, watch out for run time, but hopefully you'll be shooting a flash memory camera and let 'em run. DON'T start and stop recording, you can cut out "dead time" or mistakes in the edit process faster and easier, but you can't replace if you "missed something" and lining up a bunch of short clips increases editing time exponentially (sync'ing is a pain!).

Audio: Elsewhere you'll find the quote that good audio is 70% of good video, and it's true, audio is very important! #1, have a good/decent digital recorder, if you can test placement before the actual performance, try to find the "sweet spot" - you already know from your audio experience what I mean, mic/recorder placement is of course a tricky art not unlike alchemy, but you're a bit ahead of most in that department! If there will be a "house" sound system, try to get a recording of the performance on CD (most systems have that I find). DO NOT count on it for anything, but it's audio source #2, the ambient on cam mics will provide a third/fouth source, but not ideal.

If there's a practice and you're available, don't be afraid to be there for a "dry run" so you've got more confidence for the live shoot.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 05:34 PM   #53
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Amanda, glad to help but, like everything else here it's just my opinion.

My guess is that although you're approaching this as a video job, the pianist will be at least as concerned about the sound as the pictures, perhaps more so.

My personal recommendation would be to hire or borrow two decent large condenser microphones which will do better with the high SPL and complex harmonics of the piano than most other mics. If you can record these on separate channels the player would probably appreciate being able to balance the two in post..

Recording musical instruments is a subject in its own right so read everything you can about mic placement and test, test, test.

Finally do plenty of close up cutaways (B roll) but I'm sure you've thought of that.

Good luck
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Old January 30th, 2011, 11:08 PM   #54
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Hi Amanda, a piano recital would be a very good project to start with. I should mention that I do not do weddings so my perspective is perhaps a little different than others in this section of the forum. My main focus for paying jobs is indie feature films/docs, commercials & corporate gigs, live event productions (plays, recitals, concerts, etc.). I do quite a few recitals right now.

A few things to consider for the audio is that churches are generally not the greatest acoustically. You'll have to place your mics fairly close to the piano to avoid also picking up the echo. To gain experience I would purchase or better yet rent a small digital recorder such as those made by Zoom or a number of other companies, and a decent outboard mic. I've got a Sony PCM-D50 that I use without an external mic since it's usually used to record front of house sounds to fill in and mix with my mics that are closely placed to the talent (singer or instrument). The thing to consider for this is you will have to sync the audio with the video in post production. Not a hard thing to do and may be good practice.

Though sound is a VERY large part of any video you create, for this project I wouldn't suggest obsessing over it. It may even be a good idea to find a local sound guy or girl who would be willing to help record it for you. That will let you concentrate on the video side and may even give you a chance to check out their practices. For video, you've gotten some good suggestions already. One locked down which will be your master or establishing shot. That's the shot that will give the audience a quick perspective of the staging and can cut to that when you need to get from one shot to the other and can't find any other good cut to go to.

For piano performances I like to get close up shots of the performers hands, feet, facial expressions, inside of the piano seeing the hammer action. When shooting think about how you will be cutting between shots. One rule to consider is that you don't want to cut between similarly framed shots. Something has to be different. Either the size or angle or both or you'll have a really unsettling cut. Another shot that almost always looks good for a piano performance (if it's a grand piano) is shooting from the end through the lid so that the performer is framed by the lid, piano body and lid prop. Of course your shot selection will depend on where you are allowed to go. Another tip for most live performances, crew almost always wears either black or very dark clothing. This way they are not noticed by other cameras or the audience.

As for cameras, I'd suggest you look into renting two of the same cameras. That way you won't get too frustrated in post production trying to match them. Renting is a great way to try out different equipment and if you do make anything from this project you will most likely be able to cover the rental cost. Create a check list to go through on both cameras during your setup so that you are sure each one is set up the same. You'd be surprised how many starting camera ops blow something as simple as making sure the shutter speed is set correctly or that they've got the gain set correctly.

I'm going to through out two concepts that you may already be aware of but if not, do some quick searching on Google as they are two of the basic shooting "rules", the rule of thirds and the 180 degree rule. If you don't already know what they are look them up and follow them for your first few projects. Like all rules, there are exceptions but in general these two rules are pretty much followed.

Lighting wise, for this first project I wouldn't worry too much. Lighting is important but you also need to learn how to work with what you've got and since this will be a first venture for you shooting a project, follow the KISS rule. Lighting is an art and professional gaffers take years to develop their craft just like great production sound and camera ops. The only way to really learn about lighting is to work with it. And during a project is not the time to do it. The best way to learn about lighting techniques is to do test shots.

In case you're looking for a little point of reference or encouragement I've attached a copy of a blog entry (I'm attaching the PDF because it hasn't been posted yet). You might find it somewhat relevant to the situation you're in. It's about my journey into this crazy but fun world.

Attached Files
File Type: pdf Hobby Gone Bad.pdf (15.4 KB, 141 views)
Garrett Low
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Old January 31st, 2011, 11:32 AM   #55
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Amanda, There are probably a few brides in your area that are not getting a video because they can't afford it. Do theirs for free or real cheap. You get experience and the bride gets something on video that she would never have had anyway. Win=Win situation.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 03:03 PM   #56
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Cameras: Anything that has good low light abilities (indoors can be a problem for light), manual (professional) controls and preferably shoots HD. Ergonomics can be an issue as well, so keep in mind you may need a shoulder mount for the cam etc depending on whether you are hand held mostly or on a tripod.

Tripods: Fluid head. Though no sub $2000 tripod head is a true fluid head. The friction/fluid heads are sufficient though for the weight class for most hand held format cameras. (I use a $200 Chinese made one).

Monopods can be useful if you need to move around a lot but need more stability than hand held. Keep in mind not to twist the monopod. They have little rotational stability.

Sound: Can not stress enough how important it is to have clear, intelligible sound! Use a shotgun on the cam and a lav (lavalier or "lapel" mic) on the groom. Cheapest way (for now) to do this is use a portable recorder and a small lav. While not the "pro" level, there are some decent $100 recorders out there. If you go that route, try and get one that at least has a built in limiter. Built in cmaera mics are _not_ adequate enough for professional use.

Whatever camera you get, practice! Make sure you know what is and isn't exposed or in focus. Hand held pro cameras tend to have crappy viewfinders/lcd screens.

Get to know the settings. Two operators with the exact same camera and you can have gigantic differences in looks (exposure and focus being equal) just based on how the camera is set up. Scene files(or equiv), frame rate, shutter speed etc.

For Mac based editing you are pretty much limited to FCP, Premiere or AVID. It's to bad Edius doesn't have a port for Mac as that software tends to have the most bang for the buck. There are plenty of basic online tutorials for whichever NLE you end up using.

Good luck and try not to get to daunted my the copious amount of information out there and feel free to ask questions!
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Old January 31st, 2011, 03:42 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Michael Simons View Post
There are probably a few brides in your area that are not getting a video because they can't afford it. Do theirs for free or real cheap.
Back in 1993 when I was first starting out, that's exactly what I did.
I had *zero* experience shooting weddings. Starting with a co-worker's
daughter's wedding, I shot, edited and delivered five separate jobs for free...
even the final VHS finished tapes were out of my own pocket. It was a great
way to jump in and learn without gambling anybody's money but my own.

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Old January 31st, 2011, 04:17 PM   #58
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Chris, thanks for supporting my response. I had some negativity earlier in this thread. Here you are 18 years later! haha
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Old February 1st, 2011, 12:02 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Michael Simons View Post
Amanda, There are probably a few brides in your area that are not getting a video because they can't afford it. Do theirs for free or real cheap. You get experience and the bride gets something on video that she would never have had anyway. Win=Win situation.

Doing it for free is much better than doing it real cheap.

Even if you charge $50, in their mind you got paid. And since you got paid they may have expectations. It's your problem to ask for the money your job is worth and theirs to get what they want as long as they paid you.
I was talking with a just married couple once and they were so mad that their photographer screwed up their wedding pictures and that it was a huge mistake that they hired her.
It turned out she was a cousin just starting out so I assumed they got it for free and said "well at least you got it for free right?" and their answer with one voice was "Noooo, we paid her... she charged us 100 euros and we got approximately 250 pictures..." "but that's how much the paper costs, she didn't make any money, she actually did it for free..." I said, "Yes but we paid her what she asked" was the answer.

Also if yo do it reall cheap you are actualy setting up your price range because in a small town it's really easy to find out how much the other couple paid.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 02:25 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by Denny Lajeunesse View Post
Tripods: Fluid head. Though no sub $2000 tripod head is a true fluid head. The friction/fluid heads are sufficient though for the weight class for most hand held format cameras. (I use a $200 Chinese made one).
Really? Are you sure? Have you tried any, or done any recent research?

Have you tried any of the Sachtler FSB range, or the Vinten Vision Blue? Both cost around half of $2000, including legs. And pretty fluid. And certainly a lot more fluid than the $200 Chinese effort.

Your statement implies that there are no useful options under $2k, and that Amanda (and anyone else haplessly browsing along here) will assume there's no point going for anything other that a $200 piece of crud.
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