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Old March 23rd, 2011, 08:09 PM   #1
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Camera placement during ceremony

Sorry, I tried to search for this but I kept getting a "fatal error". Hope everyone is ok :-)

Anyways, this will be my first wedding with 3 cameras. Surprisingly I'm finding my self stressing with all of the options. I obviously want to utilize all of my cams the best way possible.

What I've done in the past: A cam straight on center isle, b cam somewhere above or the side. I somewhat over this method as it really doesn't paint a picture to the viewer of the actual setup of the ceremony.

Just curious what you guys do... This will be a two camera man shoot.

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Old March 23rd, 2011, 09:14 PM   #2
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

When I do 3 cams (sometimes by myself sometimes a 2nd operator) my A cam is center aisle, I try to set the B cam up to get a facial shoot from one side or the other usually slightly off the altar (all depends on the church and officiant-some are more open but very few I have encountered allow an op on the altar) and the C camera centered in the balconey or choir loft if ther is one.That one is usually a wider shot.
It really depends all on the layout of the venue but in most chuirches I have shot in thats pretty much it.
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Old March 23rd, 2011, 09:18 PM   #3
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

Depends on what you are after for your edit... and the layout of the venue... but for 3 cams I'd suggest one static wide cam at the rear (safety "cuataway" shot - if you can set wide and reframe tighter after the wedding party is up front, you should be set). A second forward, on the groom side if possible, to catch the bride close ups and the third roving perhaps on the Bride's side to get the processional, hand-off, closeups on the Groom, etc., and depending on the layout, you'll have to plan to get to the center aisle to catch the exit...

If not familiar with the venue, try to get to the rehearsal and plan out a roadmap and best angles.
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Old March 23rd, 2011, 11:50 PM   #4
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

Stephen these are the wedding pros, my experience isn't great for weddings, but have done other live events where the action is the same, everything up front and center.

We often shot 4 cams with two operators. Two would be static in the back, one center close up and one wide insurance shot. The last two cams we shot as B Roll and split the venue in half. One person had the responsibility for one side, the other had it for the other. We never carved it in stone that each had to stay shooting just their side. But it took the stress load off knowing one person only had to hit half the action. If I knew there was to be no action on my side for a bit and something real vivid was happening on the other, I would shoot across giving us another view of that action and then go back to my half after.

I see this same method working for weddings, except each shooting across to the other side. This would give one dialed in on the bride as the other is on the groom. Especially during the vows when each is facing the other, I figure you are going to get a 3/4 profile or better.

Like the live events we did, this also would keep you off to the side and unobtrusive to those in attendance.
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Old March 24th, 2011, 12:31 PM   #5
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

What's up Steve...we always use 3 cameras when filming the ceremony, most of the time all are manned.
Our setup is typical with one cam in the centre aisle, while the other cams are on both the frontsides of the couple..most of the time though we keep the 2 cams on their static placements while i roam around and get the slider and emo shots during the ceremony.... Now depending if the church or venue has a 2nd floor balcony, we sometimes move the aisle cam to shoot from the balcony to get superwide shots.


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Old March 24th, 2011, 12:33 PM   #6
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

Depending on your camera placement, you can move between your cameras as well. This allows you to insure good framing etc. This also will enable you to use DSLR cameras with 12 minute limits if you wish because you can stop and restart them as needed. It isn't your 'duty' to have a camera in-hand at all times. If you have multiple cameras recording, you're covered when you move. You can also learn to listen and anticipate moments when you need to be at a cameras to pan or zoom for key elements of the ceremony such as rings, kiss etc. If your camera and tripod are light, you can even reposition them as well. Just keep your movements as unobtrusive as possible.
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Old March 24th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #7
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

Steve - I do 3 cams with 2 shooters. I man the center aisle cam . I try stay about 20 ft down the aisle and get the main shot of the bride walk down the aisle. Second shooter up close to the alter and to the side for a close up of the bride during vows and periodic pans of the guests, bridesmaids, groomsman, etc. 3rd camera is opposite my second shooter getting a wider shot of the action on the alter. Also, here's a good tutorial from Still Motion folks.

Canon Digital Learning Center - Tutorials for EOS Storytellers

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Old March 24th, 2011, 08:43 PM   #8
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

Hey guys... these were exactly the responses that I was hoping for. I plan on going with the options that Art and Kren laid out. Art thanks again for the link, extremely helpful.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 11:19 AM   #9
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

I agree that the link tutorial is a great way to learn setup. Thanks!
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Old March 30th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #10
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

The triad layout shown the tutorial and suggested by Kren and Art is probably the best generic set-up. Even though I typically use more cameras, a significant part of my edited videos will consist of those three views.

However, in my region, there is hardly a venue or officiant who would allow a photographer or videographer to stand in the aisles during the ceremony or to man a camera on the front sides as shown in the tutorial. In 20 years of shooting weddings here, I've done maybe four weddings where camera operators were allowed anywhere up front or in the aisles during the ceremony.

In my area, most officiants, wedding planners, and the like will tell the professional camera operators to stay out of the way during cermonies, if not in the back behind everybody at least far enough off to the sides out of the lines of sight and walkways for guests. We have a lot of outdoor weddings in the summer, and the set-ups can be very different than an indoor settling.

Since I work alone, my generic preference for a three camera shoot in a traditional rectangular church would be a modified version of the triad suggested by Kren, Art and the tutorial. I would put locked down b-cams on either side of the room --- basically adding one more camera to Stephen's previous layout. This assumes that I can stash them on a tripod or clamp so that they do not block aisleways. With one, I would zoom in kind of tight on the bride from the opposite side of the room and have a mid-to wide shot from the other side which would show the wedding party as well as the groom. (My experience here is that the brides generally want close-ups of themsleves and the grooms prefer wider shots of themselves.) I would be in the back to one side of the aisle to get entrances, exists and close-ups and the speakers, readers and musicians.

That said, where I actually put my cameras is driven entirely by the layout of the venue and who will be standing where, what they will be doing, and how big or small the crowd is. Also, because of these variations, I generally prefer working with more than three cameras. I have a stock of small consumer cams that can be placed unobtrusively in a variety of positions to capture different angles, readers, musicians, unity candles or sand, and the like.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 06:10 PM   #11
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

Church layout dictates a lot of what we do. Some churches are huge, others tiny, but most are somewhere in between.

1) Manned centre back of the isle (right at the back - we're never allowed to venture down the isle). This gets the bridal party walking down the isle and the couple as they leave. It also gets the exchange of rings from head to waist and also the vicar. It also gets the vicar during the sermon if he/she is moving around.

2) A generally unmanned camera placed in front and to one side of the couple at a suitable angle to capture the faces of the B+G and maybe the side of the vicar. I prefer to place this on the Groom's side so I can see the Bride's face. The Bride's face and side of Groom is generally better than the other way around. Occasionally we can man this camera, but not very often due to restrictions in local churches.

3) If the church is large enough to have side isles then a third (manned) camera on the grooms side that can move a 'little' to catch the bride as she arrives (front/side) and then move back a little to capture them from the side together with the vicar.

4) If the side view is not available or the church has a balcony then we may place a manned camera in the balcony.

5) If it's a small church, meaning no room for anyone to stand at the front we'll have two cameras at the back. Neither is really designated as wide or close as such, but what it does is allow you to have one wider shot of the church as (say) some one is walking up to do a reading while the second camera is pre-focusing on the reading position ready for a quick cut/transition in the edit.

We're very rarely allowed to move around in churches, so it's important to pick good positions before the photographer grabs them ;)
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Old March 30th, 2011, 07:21 PM   #12
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

Hi Stephen,

we used to just use 2 cameras; but try to incorporate a 3rd on weddings now. Generally, much like most of the folks here, we do a cam (my wife) center back, either balcony on just off center aisle in back, depending on church restrictions. I generally try to find a spot on the right side facing the bride, to where I can get the cutaways/aile walkin shots.... I try to make sure I remain in one spot, making the focus on the wedding party, not me. The 3rd camera, I try to position in a place that I get get a solid shot of the couple as they are turned towards the pastor. This weekend, I'll give a Drift POV camera a try for this. A little more versatility in hiding it, and an incredible wide angle full 1080i HD shot! This could be the new way to get that shot. Sometimes, we have to remain completely in the back, that is challenging.

If it's convenient, try attending the rehearsal. That can really be helpful to figure out roughly where everyone will be, and camera placements. You have a better chance getting to know the people you'll be working with the next day, which makes things go so much smoother!

You should be fine with 2 camera, as long as you know where everything is taking place!
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Old April 1st, 2011, 10:21 PM   #13
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Re: Camera placement during ceremony

We don't do a lot of wedding video that includes more than one camera but when we do many times its two from the back of the church.

We have so many churches now that will not allow anything in front of the last row of guests, we all know this is due to the unprofessional people who want to be professionals.

I no longer push the issue, and use the cameras for wide, close and med shots. We have found that more times than not, the bride and groom are facing the guests more than they are not. Even many times the unity candle is lit from the back facing the guests.

We make it clear, how we shoot and why, and if they want something more, we refer them to someone else. I know its the brides day, but we are in these churches every weekend and its not getting any easier. Luckily we know many of the officiant's and the appreciate us respecting their rules.
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