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


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Old February 27th, 2011, 12:14 PM   #1
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New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

Hi all,

Bear with me, this might be a long post.

First off, I've spent the last few days lurking about the forums and reading lots of threads. Great place you have here and very informative.

After flirting with the idea of low-end documentary film-making (I shot a few things on Canon point and shoots that I was happy with but they, of course, didn't look professional) and with the people I made the low-end stuff for happy with the product I thought I could step up my game a bit. I purchased the Canon T2i mainly because of the high quality videos I'd seen online, ease of use (as I am still new to DSLR) and the fact that it could attach an external mic. My sister will be getting married at the end of the summer and asked me to shoot her wedding. I thought this would be the perfect chance to make something that looks better then my previous work...

...however, the catch...is that I don't have the $$$ to step-up my game as of yet to the level of professionalism I have seen on some videographers sites...

So, that said, I have been researching and putting together a basic kit that I wanted to get some comments on.

1) SOUND: I knew the mic on the Canon wasn't going to cut it so my original intent was to pick up a RODE Shotgun mic (Rode Microphones Video Mic Condenser Microphone Directional Microphones VM - Vistek Canada Product Detail). After posting on another forum, people suggested me away from that mic and towards a ZOOM H4n Handy Recorder (Zoom H4Next Handy Recorder Microphones - Vistek Canada Product Detail). Though it got me rethinking that I should get something that didn't have to stay attached to the camera restricting sound mobility, that recorder was out of my budget range. I then discovered the Zoom H1n (http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-H1-Portable-Digital-Recorder/dp/B003QKBVYK) which WAS in my budget. In fact, I could get TWO of them for less then the H4n. Thus be able to record from two different places or pop the records into pockets and LAV mic Bride and Groom. Seemed like more options. The sound quality seemed alright to me from Youtube vids. Their reception is going to be outside so I thought I'd pick up a $14 Furryhead windsock (http://furryheadwindscreens.com/product.php?id_product=12) to cut out wind noise...again, Youtube tests looked great.
NOTE: I could use a cheap suggestion on what can be used to attach the ZOOM to the hotshoe on the camera.
NOTE 2: I am also thinking now that it is still cheaper to get one Zoom H1 and the Rode Shotgun mic then one Zoom H4n but unsure if I need the Rode mic and the quality of it for what I would be using it for. Thoughts?

2) SLIDER: Up until last week, I had no idea these existed. I saw videos online with wonderful reveal shots and knew I wanted to create some of those. This lead me to the Glidetrack Shooter (http://www.glidetrack.com/glidetrack-shooter-sd.html) which, sadly, became out of my budget when factoring in shipping costs from overseas. After pecking around some more I found the IndiSliderMini (indiSYSTEM - indiSLIDERmini) which, for $200 less, would do the trick AND it includes a pistol ball grip. I would have had to purchase some kind of mount for the Glidetrack so with the IndiSlider coming with one it saves me $$$.
NOTE: Also entertaining the Micro Motion Slider (Micro Motion Slider Camera Slider) with legs.
Of course, there is no shoulder mount like the Shooter...which brings me to:

3) SHOULDER SUPPORT: The Cowboy Studio Shoulder pad... seemed like a good buy for the price: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0036NMQ7S?ie=UTF8&tag=victgreg-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0036NMQ7S
4) TRIPOD: The current tripod I have is very low end. Though compact, the legs are not sturdy and would probably wobble with the IndiSlider on it. Any suggestions on a good tripod (which can shoot both horizontal and vertical photos) in the $100 range? Bonus points if it has a detachable head. :p

5) EDITING: I have Sony Vegas with Magic Bullet Looks.

6) LENSES: Adding this last because purchasing new lenses is really out of my budget range but I have the kit lens for the Canon and the 55mm-250 IS lens.

Okay, so those of you still with me after that long post any thoughts, comments and suggestions are much appreciated.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old February 27th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #2
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

If it was me, I would ask my sister to chip in some money for equipment YOU NEED to tape her wedding. Even if she chips in 300 bucks, she'd still be saving tons of money and you're going to be spending tens of hours on this...which is a whole lot more than any other person will be spending n their wedding gift.

Take that 300 and take your money and buy some decent stuff. Anything cheap will just leave you frustrated and you'll just go out and buy the right stuff later on.

For now, I'd forget about the slider and invest more into the audio.

Your sister(or anyone else) won't care about the cool reveal shot if all your audio sounds horrible, people are more likely to turn off something that sounds terrible than looks terrible.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 01:36 PM   #3
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

I would say your on the right track, 2 x h1 zooms is fine, dont bother with the covers they are only cheap fur just get some fur from a cast of somewhere get your mam to sew up around the mic and fit, put one on a little mini tripod next to the vicar and bride and groom in church, one in and around nearby and use your rode on the cam sync in post, get the canon 50mm 1.8 prime cheap or a used 30mm 1.4 and use the kit lens. zoom with your feet in church.
tripod needed get a velbon dv-7000 65 new of amazon!! reduced great price. get monopod with fluid head instead of shoulder support or also if you have not much money try a neck brace of e-bay 9.99 not many people use them but they are great, it rests on your chest right hand on camera left hand to adjust and use your chest for rest, breath in when filming and hold, (you may see movement breathing fast and hard). forget the slider no time, forget the glidecam or if you want similar to glidecam, hold the tripod near the top and walk slow its the same, get cheap lcd viewmagnifier of e-bay 35 pound, theres loads around, forget colour correcting just get your white balance right, your shutter speed at 1/60, iso keep at 400 till night dont go more than 1600 at night. Think ahead all the time, no cheesy shots, no talking to guests, dress right, no swearing, Get there frame set fire, enjoy its fun if its all right,, its a b.......d if all goes wrong. steve
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Old February 27th, 2011, 02:06 PM   #4
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

I like almost everything Steve suggested except the Canon 50mm f1.8 which is a fine lens for the money but the short focus ring travel is very chalenging for pulling focus.
Instead I suggest a used MF 50mm 1.4 or 1.7 off ebay ($50-100). Almost anything except CanonFD and Minolta MD mount will work.

You can also get a cheap Russian 16mm 2.8 Zenitar lens for your wide angle low light shots.

If the ceremony is outside and in daytime, you will have no problem with the lenses you already have.
At the reception though you will probably need faster lenses like the ones mentioned.

If you can strech your budget a bit you can also get one or two Panasonic TA1 pocket cameras ($100/ea) as b-role cameras for an alternative view and back-up. These will only be fine as long as the light levels are high enough. You can try them at the reception too but chances are they are not going to be any good in low light.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 02:40 PM   #5
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

extra batteries and cards.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 02:49 PM   #6
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

I would suggest you ask her for a few hundred bucks, rent some nice gear for the day, and purchase it later.

Things like cards are definitely needed, but batteries, lenses, etc. can be rented for such a low price that it makes no sense to blow all the money she gives you on one lens when you can have a bunch to play with that will be much higher than the cheaper lens in terms of IQ, bokeh, sharpness, etc.

Renting is a great option for a new wedding shooter who wants to get great IQ out of the box.

Have fun and good luck!
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Old February 27th, 2011, 02:52 PM   #7
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

On Sister chipping in: Won't happen. This is my wedding present to her and, besides, I will need to equipment for future shoots anyway.

On the Slider: You know, I've sort of fallen for those cool reveal shots and have planned a few short film shoots in the future with slider in mind (ie: local cemetery slide across gravesites). Of course, this is indeed one of the things that can be omitted but at under $200 CDN WITH the pistol Grip (which I was interested in anyway) I've sort of been taken by some of the wedding shots I've seen with it used by others. But, yes, I understand of all items listed this one that could be removed. I do, however, see a lot of use out of in the future and thought it would give my sister's vid and, also, my first "showcase" vid a more professional look.

On Tripod: Doesn't seem like that Velbon tripod is available in Canada.

On Audio: So, would you suggest TWO H1 Handy records (with one attached to the camera and the other elsewhere) would be a better bet then 1 H1 and 1 RODE Shotgun mic? My thought was to place one H1 on my cheapy tripod between bride/groom/priest. To me, though, in looking at some Youtube vids, the RODE MIC though does make a difference over the Canon mic on the camera doesn't seem to make much of a difference OVER the ZOOM H1 which was why it seemed to make more financial sense to purchase two of them instead of the RODE or even 1 H1 ZOOM and one RODE.
NOTE: I just read that the H1 can also feed audio audio onto the memory card thus not having to sync the audio later in post. That's a plus but unsure what the recording quality would be there though, again, online clips look good. Thoughts?

On Lens: Okay, bear with me again. I am knew to DSLR and the ability to use different lenses. As stated, it was not my intent to purchase any at this time as I already have two and practically no additional equipment otherwise. What would the Canon 50mm mentioned do for me that the 18mm-55 I current have not?

On the windsock: Sadly, no fur in the family to cut up for a sock. :p But I am certainly open to suggestions on a make your own deal for the H1 mics. I should have also noted that they reception will be by the beach outside and could be windy. The tests with that Furryhead on Youtube made the wind virtually silent.

On Should mounts: I'm not quite understanding the monopod suggestion. At $35 the Cowboy support (though seemingly flimsy) seemed like a nice bargain according to some of the reviews. But, even more so then the slider for me, this is a possibility of omitting in purchasing at this time but I am certainly open to low cost alternatives.

Thanks all for the answers so far. Much appreciated.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 03:26 PM   #8
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

1. Ok the slider you must have, i did and have,, two angle iron half inch or one inch welded together either end with plates with holes in for tripod fitment, you could have one in the middle as well, go to wallmart (our asda) and buy a small skate board with the wheels with the wheel unit. take the wooden board of the wheel units and make a metal plate drill holes and fit to wheels using same nuts. get a decent tripod head of e-bay and theres your slider. or there are some guys on you tube make sliders with water guttering from a builders/plumbers yard... check out you tube...
2.Tripod are you sure these not in your area, if not get the 6000 one...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Velbon-2336-DV-7000-Video-Tripod/dp/B000KHTB8A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1298841431&sr=8-1
3.Just use one h1 zoom and buy the cover the one you said been tested, near the bride and groom all the time.
4. The lens Spiros mentioned will give you better lighting inside for the reception and church as it is a fast prime lens better glass more light, the kit lens has a softer image and not the best on low light or in general, but ok outside in good light. Also it will give good portrait shots with a nice blurred background, as i presume you got the dslr for that look anyway? ye?
5.The cowboy support is ok i suppose but just tryin to save you money with the neck brace, if you get the cowboy you will defo need the magnifier for the viewfinder.... oh and micheals right extra and two of everything and extra cards as they dont last long pal.. or like randy says rent everything but if you want to do another one then thats a waste ... steve
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Old February 27th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #9
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

James the kit lens and the 55-250 IS are fine as long as there is enough light.
I guess the ceremony is going to be outside in daylight so there is not going to be any problem there.
However if the reception is indoors or (most likely) at night you will need lenses with a maximum aperture of 2.8 or lower.
Your cheapest options are used manual focus lenses with adapters.

A 50mm f1.4-1.7 will cost you around $50-100 but it may not be wide enough.
For a cheap wide angle I suggested the 16mm f2.8 Russian fisheye that you can find on ebay at around $180.
Other options cost a lot more than that.

I also suggest that you save some money doing some DIY job on the slider. You can buy a descent slider later on when you have the funds,

The monopod is the most valuable tool for shooting a wedding. Much better than a shoulder mount most of the times.

The viewfinder like Steve said is also a must have IMHO.

Don't underestimate the little pocket cameras I suggested as b-role cameras. Get at least one, it's only $100.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 04:08 PM   #10
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

+ 2 spiros!!
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Old February 27th, 2011, 07:54 PM   #11
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

I'd suggest hunting the used route first. You can always walk into somewhere and plunk down the list price if you don't find a used one by then.

Your H1 would be kinda bulky to stick in a pocket, look for a Yamaha Pocketrak CX used and add a new Giant Squid lav mic to that. Then put those on the groom and get the Rode VM for your camera. With the new Rode VM Pro out or coming out, you probably could find a mint regular VM and save some cash there too.

Lenses are your most needed items, concentrate there first. The go to the audio, then the rest and make the slider last.

I'd look at various ways to stabilize the cam and see which you like and others suggest and why they suggest that way too. You can go shoulder, or monopod, or halo rig or tripod or steadicam or a bunch of others ways too.

Just remember the most expensive gear you will ever own is the gear you buy and never use because you find out you hate it !!!
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Old February 27th, 2011, 08:33 PM   #12
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

Robert, think a bit more like an investor. You want to step up your game like you said in your first post right? You can get the BEST glass for minimal cost rather than buy so-so glass. You need it for future shoots? Well great. Rent until you've made enough from the gigs to purchase your own equipment and the best glass rather than have it sit in a bag until your future shoots come up. It makes zero sense to buy so-so lenses when you can get the best stuff. A 70-200 F/4 IS is $1,000. You would have to rent it out 10-15 times in order for you to break even. In those 10-15 jobs, you can make the money to purchase one if you make yourself $300-$500 profit, on top of the fact that you're shooting with better glass so your imagery is improved (which can lead to stronger demo footage then which leads to attracting clientele willing to pay more money). Why shoot with cheaper glass when you can get the best stuff and have great looking imagery immediately? If its your gift to her, throw a couple hundred at a rental house. Seriously, some lenses are $15 a day. If you rent 5 lenses, thats still under $100 for GREAT glass. Think about it rather than having to "own" it. I sold off lots of my glass during the off season as it was just sitting, I only used 2 of my primary lenses which I kept. Now that the season is kicking up, I'm going to purchase the most used lenses (telephotos) but the "seldom" used lenses during the day I will rent.

Regarding a slider, make yourself an igus slider for under $200 if cost is a concern. Same as the glidetrack (its the manufacturer), you just have to figure out your own DIY feet brackets. Or you can buy the konova (sp?) slider on ebay that is quite smooth for a couple hundred more.

Audio, buy two H1s and 2 giant squid mics. Unless you're going for alot of ambient sound bites during prep and what not, focus your money on the audio for the groom and minister, which is where most of the sound bites to drive the story forward usually come from. Or you can even purchase older irivers and pair those with the giant squids if you think the H1 is too big.

If you need really want a rode vm, I have one for sale since I purchased the VM pro.

Regarding lenses, prime lenses and L lenses should have better IQ than EF-S lenses and kit lenses due to the glass used (save for the 17-55 2.8 IS, which is considered an EF-S "L" lens in the photo world). Prime lenses will give you better low light capability and the L lenses have a constant aperture throughout the zoom, therefore your exposure won't be changed every time you zoom in and out like the kit lens.

-RP
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Old February 27th, 2011, 08:40 PM   #13
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

1. Sound: If you are shooting alone, you are not going to have enough time to worry about a lot of sound adjustmen t. The problem with getting sound directly into camera is there is no monitoring capability. I have the H1, but have never mounted it to camera, and it seems it would be a decent enough substitute for on camera sound. But I think it should be isolated in some kind of mount to avoid handling noise. I have considered it, but never tried it, as my needs are more to narrative film making. I am not sure if there is any such device such as a shock mount for the H1.

As fars as having one in pocket, the noise in pocket would be bad. Consider a lapel mic for the second H1, if that is what you are doing. In years past, favorite separate recording devide were the IRiver 700 and 800 series with recording capability. You could buy a Giant Squid mic made for them. I have two of those units.

2. Support. I have made my own gunstock and shoulder mounts from simple square aluminum tubing, and such from Home Depot. Handles from a $ 7 packing tape dispenser work great for that.

Cowboy unit is not bad, but while resting on chest, your breathing may be noticeable. I bought one, but will problably stick with my tubing home made one for most situations.

3. You can get some great manual focus lenses-- fast for $ 60 to $100 on ebay. Adapters from Nikon and Pentax are cheap. And the glass is fantastic.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 10:04 PM   #14
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

The most important device I use is my MonoPod.

Get the Manfrotto monopod. This device is key and can get more bang for your buck better than any other gear.

If you are wanting to get into this business this is the device to not cheap on:
Manfrotto Fluid Video Monopod W/Head 561BHDV-1 B&H Photo Video

Rent a 17-55 Canon EF-S lens and the Canon 70-200mm IS lens for your sister's wedding. You will find these lens' are key.

You will need about 4 16gb cards and 3 batteries.

Another device you should get is the Comer 1800 light.

I also prefer the H4N over the H1N's Why? You can monitor it if you have a wireless audio kit and the sound is clean. Most people will tell you that the H1's have a hum and I agree. Soooo if the H4N is too much money then buy two H1's. One for the priest and one for the groom or for the readings during the ceremony.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 11:49 PM   #15
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Re: New to weddings - On a Budget - Thoughts and Suggestions needed

On $$$: So, without the finance to go all out here things like the H4 Recorder ($365 CDN) and the above mentioned monopod as well as expensive lenses have to be out. I suppose, in short, I am trying to toss together a simple kit to represent:
-better sound then the in camera mic
-some pro-shot looks (ie: slides) on the cheap
-stabilization
The key here is to try to keep it under $500 CDN.

Renting is a good idea but it is fair to note that I am not getting paid for this shoot and would prefer to put my money into items I can keep and find other uses for later should I upgrade (ie: H1 Handy Recorder). Though I am not gunning for high-end professional footage I would like something better then what I have done on point and shoots to show as a sample to friends/family to possibly get other work before, you know, starting an all out wedding videography business with better equipment.

On Sliders: For those suggesting I build my own I suppose I am interested in IndiSlidermini as it was the most cost effective AND came with a Pistol Grip which I figured I'd use somewhere down the line. However, that said, I am certainly open to suggestions on how to make my own but will pass on I have zero construction skills and no tools. Also, if those who suggested DIY can post links to diagrams/instructions that would be appreciated. Not ruling this one out.

Note: I will have two other people in my crew...probably should have mentioned that. One is a professional still person and she will be doing those shots. The other will be with a point and shoot Canon SX20.

On Pocket Cameras: I guess I am not understanding the benefit of having these?

On mics: It seems like more people are suggestion a RODE for the camera though, again, from what I have heard the H1 does just as well and is cheaper. Anybody have experience with both to comment. I do like the idea of lav'ing up people but, at this stage, we are unsure if the priest/groom/bride want to be on a wire mic...hence my idea to sit a H1 on a tripod between the three on a tripod (enough out of shot to not effect the wedding photos...for example, under and facing up)...which they seem alright with.

On Monopod: This may seem like a silly question but please forgive my newbiness but why would the monopod be good for me. I see the ease of transport but having never used one see it not being as stable as something attached to me like the Cowboy shoulder gear. Of course, there are cheaper monopods then the one listed by Kelly but I suppose I am just not seeing the benefit. Please elaborate.

On Viewfinder: These all seem really pricey.

On Camera lighting: Ditto.

Oh yeah, their reception is going to be outside as well...meaning, dancing and such and we have already discussed that when the sunsets the shoot is pretty much over.

Thanks again, folks.
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