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


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Old January 27th, 2011, 12:45 PM   #1
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I need help!!!

I'm losing my mind with information overload. And I'm sure people like me really make people like you really angry. I'm not a videographer. I am only a crazy woman who is obsessed with weddings. I loved being a bride and just can't give up the excitement of it all. On top of being crazy obsessed, I also have a real eye for photo and video. THe problem is my technical ability....not so much there. I want in the biz. I know I can produce a wedding vid that will melt brides....because I was one!!! So, I've been crazy with trying to learn everything I can. I have a little audio and basic video knowlege. I'm actually looking for some inputs on what I need. I get the basics of what....it's the specific what that I am struggling with. I know that I want cams, mics, editing software and so on. Just wish I could have someone make my mind up who has some experience. I am looking at the new Panasonic AG HMC80. Any thoughts? I'm crazy about the idea of the merlin steady set up. I want smoooooth work. Need some advice on audio. Should I use a seperate recorder or just go directly into the cam via xlr? I'm thinking I can handle final cut express learning curve but final cut pro scares me. I have a brand new 27" IMAC for editing. Just any thoughts on the tech stuff? I have all kinds of creative ideas and am really excited to use them. I just have to learn the tech stuff. Thanx for any help...Amanda
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Old January 27th, 2011, 01:20 PM   #2
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Hi Amanda, as the saying goes a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. I wish there was a shortcut for success but shooting a wedding as opposed to being a bride who has an eye for video & photography is a world of difference. I am not discouraging you,as we all started as a rookie at one time or another.

I don't even know where to begin but I think your first learning curve will be how to operate the camera, as you mentioned you have very basic knowledge of video and audio. Learn exposure, white balance, manual focusing, framing, movement, etc, etc. It takes practice, lots of it!

Before even considering a stabilizer, get a decent fluid head tripod first.

Work as a 2nd shooter for an established videographer in your area, observe, learn.

Good luck!
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Old January 27th, 2011, 01:49 PM   #3
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Noel makes a great suggestion, if that opportunity exists in your area, grab it !

Otherwise I suggest "baby steps" and start with selecting a cam you can handle and learn it. After that comes editing, then audio etc, etc, etc.

Information overload, yep, know that feeling well !!! There is so much to learn and decisions to be made, doing it all at once, you are bound to regret some of them. Regretting a decision isn't so bad, it's when it's applied to gear, you are either out that money as you replace it or kinda stuck with what you have.

Welcome and good luck !!!!
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Old January 27th, 2011, 01:54 PM   #4
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I would open an account at Software training online-tutorials for Adobe, Microsoft, Apple & more and start learning everything you can about photography and post production. Lynda can teach you just about everything you need to know.

Good luck
Evan
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Old January 27th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #5
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I would second Noel's suggestion to 2nd shoot for someone else whose work you admire. The fact that you were a bride is great and gives you a special perspective, but at the end of the day it won't be among the primary factors that help you create an amazing wedding film. There is sooo much more to the process and it all starts with knowing how to shoot.

So I would start there, and get some experience shooting with someone else who already does know what they are doing. You will learn a lot and when you decide to take on your own first wedding shoot it will be a bit less intimidating. Also, by 2nd shooting you can start to gauge if you really want to pursue this career. From the outside, being a photographer or cinematographer can look like a dream job that is nothing but excitement and satisfaction. But in reality these are difficult fields to be in, and this is especially true for the video side. I think you really need to test your 'passion' and make sure you know what you're getting into before you start investing a lot of money into equipment and software and so forth.

Also, it may seem totally unrelated but I would suggest taking some entry level business courses. More than half of your success is going to come from how well you can run a business. Know matter how awesome you can shoot or edit, if your business skills are horrible you're going to have a short and/or limited-success career. There are lots of people in the industry who are still struggling to get by, despite having started their businesses 5 or 6 or 10 years ago. This isn't usually due so much to poor shooting and editing (although that can totally be a factor) as it is to simply have poor business skills.

Anyways, I commend you for your enthusiasm and don't mean to discourage you at all. I just want to make sure you prepare yourself properly for success. Good luck, and keep asking questions.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 02:59 PM   #6
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Hi Amanda,

The advice to second shoot at a wedding is very good advice. Maybe you could rent or borrow a camera to see if you like it before spending lots and lots of $$$$.

Also, Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro are virtually the same program. The learning curve is exactly the same for both of them.

Good luck!
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Old January 27th, 2011, 03:23 PM   #7
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Has anyone used the Panasonic ag hmc80? I just want to stop reading and make my mind up so I can start learning.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 03:38 PM   #8
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Also, I'm not as ignorant as I came off to be. I'm ok with shooting manual. I do some photography on the fly. I'm also very familiar with the wedding process. I've performed in way to many to count. I knowmy way around editing. I know my mics and audio gear. I'm also good with running a biz. My biggest concern is not white balance but rather vid equip so I can just get started learning. I can talk guitas and pianos all day. I can even tell you why I prefer nikon to canon but I only know what I have read when it comes to vid cams. I just wanna make the right choice before I spend some cash.what is the best way to capture audio? These are thhe things I need to know before I spend the dough. I just wanna make the decision so I can start learning. Xlr to cam or seperate audo recorder? What are your favorite cams in the 2500-3000 range? New/used? Once I make up my mind I can just start filling my brain with other things.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 04:16 PM   #9
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Amanda, I haven't used that camera, but that looks like a great camera to start with. It has everything you need.

How much money do you have? If you tell us $3000 is all you have to spend we can get a better feel for what is in your ball park.

I spent $15K on gear last year, yet I still don't have everything I need. Thou I have 3 Canon 7D's.

For Tripod, DO NOT cheap out... get the most expensive one you can buy so that it will most likely be the last one you buy. I bought 3 tripods before I learned my lesson. Also, get one that holds twice as much weight as your camera.

$500-700 range:
Manfrotto 504HD Head w/546B 2-Stage Aluminum 504HD,546BK B&H

$1,500 range (I would highly recommend this one) :
Miller DS-20 Aluminum Tripod System 850 B&H Photo Video

Audio: You can go different ways here. My experience is that using something like the Zoom H1 is affordable, lightweight but you will get a hum noise and you can't monitor the sound. I use a Zoom H4N, two wireless receivers(one for groom and one for priest) and one Zoom H1 (for now, for the readings during a ceremony). But since you have inputs on your camera you can buy a system that has two transmitters and one receiver and stick that on your camera.

For speeches we plug into the soundboard with our H4N and have second person monitor the audio. Do not use the mic on the camera to be your main source of audio.

Lighting: Start off with a on board light like the comer 1800. This product is awesome and we use it all the time. The problem with on board lights is that it can look unprofessional lighting wise and folks don't like it in their eyes. It's great for putting on a light stand, raising it up about 10ft and moving it to wherever you need it. We also use lights that connect to a battery that's in a bag and set up 3 of those for the dance floor. The lighting is more even and not annoying.

Once you have that stuff you are pretty much good to go. You will get people who want two cams for the ceremony (a lot) so be prepared to hire someone who has a similar camera or buy a second one.

Editing: You can get away with iMovie, but you may outgrow it pretty fast. It will work for you. I used Lynda.com and learned how to use the necessary basics in final cut within a couple of weeks. You also have to learn another important program and that is Compressor and DVD Studio Pro (creates your DVD menu) if you want to have the flexibility with compression of your final movie and how the DVD menu will look. So in my opinion you should just give Final Cut Studio your money.

Try your first video on iMovie so you don't feel overwhelmed.

On a side note, it's all about how you think about "Risk"

Millionaires see risk as an opportunity. Of course it is calculated, "what's the worst and what's the best thing that can happen"

Middle Class: will take very little risk, afraid that they will fail and loss their "comfortableness"

Millionaires, love change and embrace it, no matter if they fail or not.

Middle Class love good change, but are afraid of bad change, so they'd rather not make any big moves.

Take little steps, but also make big decisions about where you see yourself and want to be in 5 and 10 years.


Video or Photography:

Video: Less competition in video than in photography. I make $3K-4K a wedding and I'm booked like crazy only after two years. More work it seems than it would be for photography. You will always be booked after the photographer and even DJ sometimes or last minute. Very rewarding in the end. Brides will brag, brag, brag about their video more than their pictures. Videos can make you cry, photos not so much.

Photography: More competition. Just look at how many photographers advertise on bridal websites compared to videographer. You are in charge of the wedding. Less work than being a videographer. Not as rewarding in the end.

Choose one and be the best you can at it.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #10
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Hi Amanda, there is a thread about the camera you have mentioned. Maybe this will help you make-up your mind.

Who's getting an HMC80?
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Old January 27th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #11
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Hi Amanda

I also second the advice of trying to work with a known videographer at weddings and learn from them. Most are more than happy to have you tag along ...I know I would be happy to do it but I'm a little to far away!! Ask the people in your area..you won't get paid but you will get a lot of experience!!

I have been shooting all my weddings on HMC72's which are the PAL versions of the HMC70 and it's an identical body and weight of the HMC80. They are really great for stable handheld shots but you don't say anything about your stature!!! If you are a 5' 1" lady and weigh 50lbs then you will struggle with a big camera....The cams clock it at around 8lbs so having one on your should gets a little heavy sometimes!!!

Mine have really been amazing!!! Never a problem and great images and audio!!! I chance cams every 18 months or so and my next set willl be HMC80's once we hit Winter here.

Once you have worked with a "pro" then get a few weddings under your belt from friends and family (yeah you will have to do them as freebies!!!) and then you will have some genuine samples to offer brides.

It's hard work but a really great industry to work in!!

Chris
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Old January 27th, 2011, 05:02 PM   #12
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Hi Amanda,

Congratulations on deciding to dive in. My biggest recommendation is what Chris said - work as an assistant for a known videographer on a couple of shoots. Get experience with someone who knows what they are doing. Alternatively, volunteer to shoot a couple of weddings for friends or relatives who otherwise aren't getting video. If they pay you, great, but even if it's free, it's good experience. Renting cameras as opposed to buying them the first few times out also is helpful if you can do it.

Good luck!!

Bill
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Old January 27th, 2011, 06:46 PM   #13
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....and forget everything you know as a bride or a bridesmaid! ;-)
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Old January 27th, 2011, 06:48 PM   #14
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I love the idea of working with someone else for a while. The problem is that there is no one in my area shooting at all. This was part of the reason that I wanted to get in. There just isn't any competition. There is one older man who is doing weddings. He just uses Walmart cameras and he is making a living at it just using Imovie and cheap equipment. I figure if I can get myself knowlegable I will do well, even if it takes a while to polish. If anyone lives within a few hours drive from Mt. Vernon, Illinois and would be willing to let me tag along, I would definitely do the drive.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 08:04 PM   #15
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St. Louis is only an hour and a half from you. I'd start there. Look up companies online and give them a call. Best of all, you won't be in their market, which should make them even more likely to let you tag along and help.
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