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


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Old July 14th, 2011, 12:29 PM   #1
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Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

As a favor, I recently shot some video of a very informal wedding for some friends. I am very new to videography (as some of you may already know) and my only prior experience was a lengthy dance recital. I learned quickly that shooting a wedding event is a whole lot different than a stage event. The video was shot with two Sony consumer cameras (an XR500 and a CX160). I got a nice picture quality with the XR500 and decent quality with the CX160.

I'm looking for advice on how to put together a highlights video of this specific event. I have watched many beautiful examples of highlights on this forum, but this wedding did not have all the "bells and whistles" as most traditional weddings and I am not sure how to put mine together.

I have no video of prep. I arrived at the location approximately half hour before the ceremony started. The ceremony was under two willow trees next to a pond. The wedding party consisted of bride and groom, maid of honor and best man, the bride's parents, two children, and the officient. Audio from the ceremony is not so great as I only used the on-cam mic. I have decent footage of the ceremony.

The reception was half in a tiny banquet room and half on an outdoor patio with the bridal party indoors and the DJ set up outside. After the dinner and cake cutting indoors, the entire party moved outside for speeches, first dances, garter/bouquet toss, etc. The sound from the DJ was terrible, especially the microphone. The speeches were barely understandable audibly and those giving them did not perform so well either. According to the bride and groom, the wedding went as well as expected, but as an observer, I thought it could have been a lot better, and I would like to make it appear a lot better with my video.

I am almost finished editing all the footage for the ceremony and reception and the results are decent. I have pretty much the entire ceremony with a few pieces cut out. For the reception, I have full versions of all the main events and some clips of people dancing. I believe that the couple will be pleased with what I provide them since it is all being done for free, but personally I want them to be really impressed. I am hoping to provide a really nice highlights video that can be shared with friends and family online.

My problem is that I'm not sure how to organize my shots in the highlights because I really don't have a whole lot of footage to work with. Most of the highlights I have seen use a lot of the wedding prep and I just don't have that. I also notice that most don't just flow right through, they cut back and forth between the day's events and don't necessarily show everything chronologically.

I know I kind of rambled here a little and there's probably not a whole lot of advice that can be given based on what I've said. I probably just need to start cutting some clips to really see what I have to work with.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 12:59 PM   #2
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

I think you said it all in your last sentence. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
I'd start by laying down a music track and let that guide the flow and pace. Start with the very best clips in a chronological sequence until you get a feel for the way it's coming together. Be ruthless with your choice, if a clip looks poor, shaky or out of focus, leave it out. Don't bother with any technical correction at the first stage just assemble the very best shots you have close ups and shots with gestures or expressions work well. Next decide if you want to use audio clips, search for some clean sound in either the exchange of vows or the speeches, if it's not clean and audible leave it out. Once you have the cream of your recordings just play around until you feel it flows together leave all the correction until the end.
The absolute key will be in the music track you've chosen, just try watching some highlight videos without the sound. Unless you have some truly amazing shots you'll find it's the audio that binds it all together.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 01:13 PM   #3
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

Brad...

The best advice is to use what you have... Meaning if you don't have decent audio, don't use it!

keep your highlight short. It doesn't have to be long to get the story across. I normally put a trailer together thats about 2 minutes. This will also make it easier to grab all the best shots of the day.

since they're your friends maybe you can try setting up a one on one interview where you can get good audio of them talking about each other. This will give a more creative control over the project.

Best of luck,
Steve
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Old July 14th, 2011, 01:30 PM   #4
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

I use very little prep footage in the highlights. The key is that you want to tell a story within 10 minutes (or however long you want it to be). For example, the beginning of the story can be some simple establishing shots, a loving kiss by the couple, a creative closeup of the rings/flowers/etc., or something that really sets the atmosphere/emotion. The middle of the story could be the important moments of the ceremony/reception (processional, vows, rings, first dance, garter/bouquet, etc.). The ending could be the last dance (or any dance between the couple), the couple walking away hand-in-hand, or maybe some nice night scenery to fade out with. Some or all of this could be with a music overlay -- your call. If the audio wasn't great, I'd try to stick with a lot of music that works with the visuals.

Just an example. The storytelling model (beginning, middle, end) is key, IMO. How you pull it off with the visuals/audio you have at your disposal is the artistic side.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 01:53 PM   #5
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Kilroy View Post
The absolute key will be in the music track you've chosen, just try watching some highlight videos without the sound. Unless you have some truly amazing shots you'll find it's the audio that binds it all together.
Should I personnally pick the music track or take suggestions from the B&G? They have already suggested a song called "Better Together" by Jack Johnson, but I'm not so sure that is good song to use for a highlight video. I'll have to apply some video to it to see how well it fits.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 02:01 PM   #6
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

If you don't have a strong choice of song you're longing to work with I'd stick with the B&Gs choice. If you feel that you'll really struggle to make it work discuss a different choice with them.
I've worked with that track a couple of times and found it works well with the right mix of clips. Music is such a personal thing yet will be a very powerful part of the production, I have used tracks that the couple initially though they didn't like, then came to love it when it was 'their' song, but I have had others where they've not liked a song because of other associations they have with it not necessarily because of the music. Ex partners favourite or the same track was used on friends wedding and they want it to be different.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 02:42 PM   #7
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

Thanks thus far. I have another question.

I don't think I have as many "close-up" shots as I would like. How much will my picture quality suffer if I use cropping in edit (Vegas 10) to get closer? How much cropping is too much? Is this something you guys do a lot? Not at all? Footage is 1920x1080 at 17 Mbps.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 03:05 PM   #8
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

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Originally Posted by Brad Ridgeway View Post
Thanks thus far. I have another question.

I don't think I have as many "close-up" shots as I would like. How much will my picture quality suffer if I use cropping in edit (Vegas 10) to get closer? How much cropping is too much? Is this something you guys do a lot? Not at all? Footage is 1920x1080 at 17 Mbps.
It'll suffer when rendered to 1080 resolution -- for the web or Blu-ray. But if you're just going to DVD, then cropping won't degrade the picture as much.

Or you may consider doing your whole edit in 720p. You can scale 1080 footage quite a bit in that case.

I assume you shot 1080p, not 1080i? Scaling can get very funky when dealing with interlaced.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 05:45 PM   #9
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

A couple simple things to keep in mind: cut to the beat, slo mo can be your friend IF not overused, tell a story, remember for a highlight what is left "unsaid" can be as much as what is "said", keep it moving...

If you are trying to cut to a specific piece, cut out the not used footage view the remaining footage a couple times so it's "in your head", then put on the track, and just close your eyes, see what develops. Most of the time it will magically come together if you don't stress too much!

As far as the resolution, if you're delivering to SD DVD, you're delivering a 720x480 frame - there's a lot of room to pan/crop from your HD source, if you must. You'll learn over time to frame tighter than you "think" you need to, but since you shot HD, you've got a bit of cushion.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 09:12 PM   #10
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

Brad, my solution would be one Stephen alluded to. Make up your edit, without the music and do a showing to your "clients" - start thinking of them as such, it won't hurt in the long run.

Record the entire review as a separate programme.

Now you'll have a reaction to the programme; a memory jogging of the day which in itself will help to fill in any gaps you have in your original material.

Finally I 'd add the music as George suggests and do a composite programme of the two elements.

Just my opinion, and very much dependent on the couple's willingness to talk and respond.

Incidentally if there's sound running from the original programme you can remove most of that with a neat trick I learned many years ago from a sound wizard. First make sure it's all mono.Then reverse the phase in the speaker you're using to playback the sound on the video as the couple watch. When you combine the original sound with the sound you recorded with the couple watching, the phase difference will all but cancel out the sound. Be careful if there's a major difference in volume of one of the two sources which might allow some bleed.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 11:22 PM   #11
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

If you have access to some, you can also fill gaps with stills, panning and scanning like documentary film makers...friends and relative snapshooters will often get a couple decent shots.
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Old July 18th, 2011, 12:18 PM   #12
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Re: Amateur Wedding Video - Advice Needed

Highlights video was moved to the sample clips gallery...

Wedding Highlights (amateur)
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