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Old June 4th, 2011, 07:55 AM   #1
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2nd Camera placement

I've been wondering lately how everyone is placing their 2nd (or 3rd/4th/5th) unmanned camera at wedding ceremonies. In a church or chapel I normally place it up on the balcony, but at outdoor locations it's often not so clear-cut. I might put it off to the side up the front, but occasionally the bridal party has crept forward during the ceremony (forming a "V" shape around the couple) and completely blocked that view. Sometimes the only clear view is from behind the couple (looking out at the audience) but I'm paranoid about "crossing the line" so normally avoid that option. Other times you'll set up early in what appears to be a good spot and by the time the bride arrives the guests have moved around so much that they have completely blocked the view (or your access to the camera).

Lately I've been wondering if I'd be better off getting a really tall tripod and placing it directly behind all the guests. This would allow me to standardise my setup, almost always being able to get my camera into the same useful position whether it's indoors or outdoors. It would also mean it's easier to access the b-cam should I need to adjust something.

So, what is everybody else doing with their unmanned cameras? Do you try to stick to a certain setup or wing it depending on the location? What problems can you imagine arising if I try to always setup my b-cam on a very tall tripod behind the audience?
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Old June 4th, 2011, 09:47 AM   #2
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

There is no "standard" placement of cameras. For church weddings I try to place one to face the B&G and one goes into the balconey if there is one or I set one set of legs up to the top which is 8 feet and give it a psuedo-balconey look. OR I might not be able to set one up front so...each indoor setup is different. Maybe they're not in a church but a hotel for a non-religious ceremony. While it might seem like there are more options there there might not be. Outdoors, well again each situation is different and while I have set cameras up directly over the shoulder of the officiant I have also been in the situation where there was just no place to set one up front to get any kind of useable shot and I'm not one who likes to walk around the ceremony to adjust cameras in most cases. I don't want to draw attention away from the service.
So when I walk into a church or gazebo or garden or hotel where I haven't shot before (at least if I have worked there before I have a picture in my mind of where to place cams unless something has changed) I get there a bit earlier than normal and spend a few minutes looking around at the various possiblities before I start setting gear up. I also talk to the officiant or co-ordinator to find out what I can and can't do so I don't screw it up for the next person coming in. Luckily most of the jobs I do are in chruches or other venues I have worked in before so I'm pretty familiar with the various shooting angles and where the best places to put unmanned cameras are.
If I were you, get to the venues a few minutes early and do a scouting mission and then you just have to use your best judgement and if it gets blocked well theres nothing you can do about it. It is what it is.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 10:58 AM   #3
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

I don't normally use balcony shots (not many churches around me have them). I will place one off to the side (grooms side) closer to the front facing the bride so I get a nice medium to close up of her throughout the ceremony. The other one I will keep in the back getting a medium shot of the bride, groom & officiant. If and when I have a third camera (not always available) I'll place it on the bride's side to get a medium to close-up shot of the groom. I hope this helps you out a bit.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 11:58 AM   #4
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

I second what Nicholas said... i'm not a fan of the balcony shot anyways, to me it reminds me a lot of 80's wedding videos. Not sure why...

I do grab a few wide shots with a 14mm.. It usually makes the celebrant so small ( cant sync the lips to the soundtrack) that I can edit them into any part of the ceremony.

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Old June 4th, 2011, 12:35 PM   #5
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

This is why I go to the rehearsal -- I get it all figured out there, and even shoot some test footage. Then on the day of the wedding I know exactly where everything will be set up.

It's usually one camera in the back of the church as close to the aisle as possible (to get the processional) and then another on the groom's side, maybe just short of halfway back, to get a medium shot of the B/G/Officiant. I'm very careful to position the camera and frame it so it won't be blocked . . . again, I get an idea for this at the rehearsal. If I have a fourth camera, I'll put it on the bride's side for the same kind of shot as the other camera, just at the opposite angle.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 01:39 PM   #6
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

I will put the second camera on the groom's side aisle about 1/2 way down. I much prefer to have my main camera in the balcony ... especially with Catholic ceremonies where there is so much standing. With a balcony shot and 20x or even a 10x lens ... it's more than enough to provide an excellent view of everything going on.

When I've used the third camera then it mirrors the other side aisle camera, so I've got a shot favoring both the bride and groom.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 07:15 PM   #7
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

Scott, I really like the grooms side aisle angle you mention. I have used it occasionally though it is not uncommon for there to not be one in many of the churches/chapels I shoot in around here. The only problem with that angle though, is when everyone stands up - particularly troublesome during Catholic ceremonies. Apart from that, I think it is a much better anlge than the balcony view. Do you use a very tall tripod for that angle?

Stephen, I am also not fond of the balcony view and that's another reason why I want to ditch it and look for something more practical.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 08:17 PM   #8
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

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Originally Posted by John Wiley View Post
Stephen, I am also not fond of the balcony view and that's another reason why I want to ditch it and look for something more practical.
I'm considering trying out the Magic Arm, and clamping it onto something just above head-level -- a door frame, etc. That way, it's just above everyone when they stand up, and it eliminates the possibility that someone might bump into it. I saw this suggested on another thread somewhere, I don't remember who talked about it.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 10:56 PM   #9
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

Good idea Corey - I'd thought about trying something similar with a gorillapod, but I'll look into the Magic Arm instead.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 11:21 PM   #10
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

John, I wouldn't trust any camera on a gorillapod. Even the metal one relies for its grip on the stiffness of the joints. I'd only clamp anything with a substantial clamp like Manfrotto and even then I wouldn't risk an EX1R dropping off the wall etc.
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Old June 5th, 2011, 12:13 AM   #11
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

Thanks Phillip, that's kinda why I haven't triend it yet! Of course, a t2i is much lighter than an EX1, but still...
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Old June 5th, 2011, 03:03 AM   #12
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

John, I think your typo is actually prescient - you'll "try" it and that will be the "end" of your camera! IMHO the gorillapod in any variant is bettered by many alternatives, many less expensive.

Seriously, there are many occasions when an old fashioned bean bag (which I still have in my car kit on every job) will excellently, simply and cheaply solve the problem of placement.

Of course a clamp like the Manfrotto will deter the opportunist thief people are suffering from in another contemporary thread. My bean bag might present an even more irresistible theft.
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Old June 5th, 2011, 10:05 PM   #13
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

I shoot with 6 cams. 2 manned. First manned camera is on stage aimed at bride. second manned cam is rear of auditorium doing artistic shots (slider, steadicam follow on bride). static cams in back for wide shot, side medium shot of groom's vows, aisle cam and musicians.
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Old June 27th, 2011, 05:13 PM   #14
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Re: 2nd Camera placement

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Originally Posted by John Wiley View Post
Good idea Corey - I'd thought about trying something similar with a gorillapod, but I'll look into the Magic Arm instead.
I just used the Magic Arm at a wedding, and it was a Godsend. The wedding took place at a very small, cramped outdoors venue. There was nowhere to set up a tripod for a nice wide shot. But there was a light pole that was perfect for the Arm's clamp. I mounted a GH13, and it worked great. The only thing I will do differently next time is that I will mount a tripod head onto it, because it's very difficult to get the camera level with only the included mounting screw.
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