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


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Old March 21st, 2011, 11:29 AM   #1
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First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

G'day all,

I'm just putting the finishing touches to my first wedding vid. I have to say that without the tips and hints that I've picked up reading the posts on this forum the whole thing could easily have been a disaster. I have not posted in this part of the forum before because, simply, I've had nothing constructive to add, but rest assured, I've been reading the posts avidly.

For this wedding I had to overcome things like carting all my gear 5000 kilometres to the city where the wedding was taking place, not having access to the Cathedral to shoot B roll stuff (No photography allowed at any time except during the service at this particular Cathedral), having a Priest whom had never conducted a wedding at that Cathedral and was instructing the wedding party as to where he wanted them to stand - while the service was proceeding, losing my second camera operator and having to find a replacement in a strange city a few days out from the event, dealing with having to cross the city from Cathedral to reception venue in peak hour, Friday afternoon traffic and much more.

All in all the gear performed well (except for the nanoFlash), the wireless mic on the groom did a great job and picked up everything important, the Zoom H1 recorder I placed on the lecturn for the readings worked a treat, and despite the lighting at the reception venue being abysmal I managed to get enough good footage with just one camera to stitch together a pretty good product.

Some issues were: The Priest wandering around - impossible to pick up some of what he was saying; the Bride, having first agreed to have a camera in with her and the bridesmaids as they were getting ready, had a hissy fit and decided not to; the photographer was a real pia and was clearly of the opinion that his shots were more important than anything I needed to get (he ruined many fine takes by getting in shot); nanoflash unit fritzed (it was being used to "upgrade" a HDV camera to 1920 x 1080 HD - thank goodness the HDV camera also had a tape in it, so I was recording simultaneously); as mentioned, the lighting at the venue was bad (bridal table in front of a huge picture window with the Sun setting behind the bridal party - even the guests were having trouble seeing them, so what chance did a camera have?) and lastly, not being able to preview the recorded media except on the cameras until I flew back home because I had no access to a monitor or even a TV with HDMI input at the city where the wedding was held.

In addition there were the usual worries like trying to get all of the seriously expensive equipment into our carry-on luggage on the plane because there was no way it was going down below, not to mention leaving a $4000.00 tripod in the airport shuttle bus - thank God the driver realised before he'd gone too far (and thank God that he was also honest).

All of that and I'm not being paid! This was my Neice's wedding and in return for me shooting the wedding for free she has agreed that I can use it to show prospective clients - but I'm not allowed to post it to the Web. At least I have a wedding in my portfolio now.

Again, thanks to all that contribute to this forum. Your advice was very useful and came in very handy for what was, logistically, a very difficult shoot. Finally, a question. How do you deal with a photographer whose self-importance makes your job as a videographer rather difficult? I was certainly trying to be mindfull of his requirements on the day. Maybe I was being too nice?

Cheers

Russ
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Old March 21st, 2011, 12:04 PM   #2
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Hey Russ...

Good to hear that you were able to salvage a decent product with all the obstacles. I would like to tell you that it gets easier... But a lot of things that you mentioned are the same problems at every wedding (people who wonder off while speaking, bad lighting, head table setup in front of blown out windows...) IMO, being a good wedding videog is overcoming these challenges (sometimes on the fly) to still pull out with a decent wedding reel.


despite all you mentioned, hope you had a good time :-)

Steve
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Old March 21st, 2011, 06:34 PM   #3
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Hi Russell

All part of the business ...some will go like clockwork while others will have problems but you will usually find a solution. The important thing is not to stress out at all during the wedding!!! If the photog stands in front of your camera (after being asked not to) and you cannot cover the shot..leave it in so the bride can actually see what a PIA he really was. My last wedding I had to leave in about 15 seconds of one photog who kneeled down directly in front of my camera and only moved when she was tapped on the shoulder!

If things happen, just let them happen and work around them ...don't let them stress you out and the rest of the weddings will flow perfectly.

Chris
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Old March 21st, 2011, 07:10 PM   #4
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Heaton View Post
Priest wandering around..... bride having a hissy fit..... photographer was a real pia..... lighting at the venue was bad.... sun setting behind the bridal party table....
Yep. Sounds about right. Welcome to hell. ;)
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Old March 21st, 2011, 08:17 PM   #5
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Yeah, those type of photog is such a pain to work with. Especially if they don't even bother to kneel down when standing along the camera line. And some would even take the whole location shoot time for themselves!

I agree it can be very stressful sometimes.. but other times it can be very enjoyable too. So much that you don't feel like it's a job. :)

Anyway, congrats Russ on the first success! Glad to see another WA videographer in the forum. :)
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Old March 21st, 2011, 08:44 PM   #6
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Hey Johannes

My photog actually was kneeling!! What they don't realise is that the flash unit on top of the camera is still in our view (and more often than not, their head too!!)

Then again I also get photogs that go to great pains to run around me and stay completely out of the shot. Funny, the ones that think they are the best pros in the city are usually the ones that are the most arrogant and least considerate!!!

Despite all the odd issues we have it's still a fun job...far better than sitting at a desk from 9 to 5!!!!

Don't worry Russ you will have plenty of weddings where everything runs smoother than silk and absolutely nothing goes wrong. Those make up for the crummy ones!!! My last one was a "baddie" ..you usually know it's going to be an uphill battle when the groom is already 15 minutes late!!!
Gosh you are miles from anywhere in the Pilbara???? Where would your nearest non-local venues be????

Chris
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Old March 21st, 2011, 10:19 PM   #7
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Hi Chris,

I'm half an hour from Karratha, 1.5 Hours from Port Hedland, 6.5 Hours from Carnarvon, 7.5 hours from Broome and Newman, 11 hours from Geraldton and 16.5 hours from Perth! Closest towns are Wickham - 10 mins, Roebourne - 15 mins and Pt Samson - 15 mins, but none of these has a population of more than 1000. My main markets will be Karratha and Port Hedland.

Cheers

Russ
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Old March 21st, 2011, 11:46 PM   #8
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Congratulations on your first wedding... and welcome to "The club of wedding videographers who've learned the hard way."

See, it doesn't take much to go wrong before your entire plan can go pear shaped. People wandering while speaking, people moving your equipment without you noticing, light bulbs dying mid-speech, blocked camera angles, inclement weather, un-cooperative photographers, gear failure, a baby crying next to your strategically placed audio recorder, etc, etc.

You've got to learn to run with it all, no matter what happens. And the whole time keep up the charade that everything is running perfectly so that the bride & groom don't start to freak out! I still deal with unexpected things on every shoot, but I'm always getting better at finding loopholes, jumping over hurdles and thinking quickly to solve problems.
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 01:18 AM   #9
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Re: First Wedding Vid - A qualified success

Hey John

I learnt a long time ago that you have to accept the fact that things might go pear shaped and there is often precious little you can do about it. Stressing, yelling and screaming just adds to your anxiety so it's best to just let the wedding flow and instead of yelling and screaming at the photog to move, politely ask him/her to move and cover the pristine shot of the back of her head with a cutaway of the guests!!

A few weddings back I carefully set up the lectern complete with a radio mic in readiness for the speeches. I also carefully informed the speakers that I needed them to stand at the lectern and do their thing and all agreed. The best man started the proceedings by ripping the house mic from the lectern, pushing the lectern out of shot and pacing up and down the entire dance floor showing off his TV evangelist skills. These things are sent to try us but they do make life interesting!!

Russ?? That's not bad at all..some of our Perth venues can be an hour's drive!!! If you are ever in our fair city look me up!!!


Chris
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