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


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Old July 20th, 2011, 08:43 AM   #1
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Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

Hi All,

Would it be possible to get a top 3, from anybody who reads this, in terms of lessons learnt from the first wedding you captured. Realise the long term memories might be faulty at this stage, but do your best ;-)

Anything at all, from accessorise you wish you had, positions you wish you hadn't taken up, angles you wish you had covered, shots you accidentally missed & why, what you would have done differently with your audio, equipment you wish you'd left behind on the first shoot ... dot, dot, dot .

I think it would make for interesting reading for new comers, & it would be interesting to see what lessons learnts could be avoided, for people like myself who will have to experience the big stage shortly..

Thanks in advance you kind DV INFO people.

P.s Unfortunetly, I will not be offering any prizes for the best and worst lesson learnt.

Rgs,

Joe
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Old July 20th, 2011, 09:04 AM   #2
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

I'm trying to think back to the day I shot that first wedding on SVHS . . . I was the guy up in the balcony, the cutaway camera. I learned some very important things that day.

1. Press record. I forgot this one, and missed the first half of the ceremony.

2. Less = more. Less camera movement, less zooming, etc.

3. Just because people are drunk at the reception and funny to you, doesn't mean they are funny to the B&G and/or their parents.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 09:14 AM   #3
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

Check your record button. I had mine in reverse. The record was ON when the camera was not in use and OFF when I thought I was recording the ceremony. Now its almost second nature to me, check record before anything else.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 09:16 AM   #4
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

Most definately!!

Under no circumstances trust the MC or the running sheet!!! After promising faithfully that the bouquet toss would be at 11:50pm ..I heard the "single girls song" playing at 10pm while I was in the toilet..pants around ankles and no hope of getting to the dance floor in time.

Lesson??? Be prepared for anything to happen at any time..it's a wedding!!!

BTW: That was the one and only time I got caught out but when you gotta go, you gotta go!!!

I got away with that but very serious lesson learnt very early on was have two (or more) of everything ...if you can have a backup for the backup too!!!

Chris
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Old July 20th, 2011, 09:37 AM   #5
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

My first was about 3 years ago but here it goes...

I shot with two unmanned consumer cams locked down on tripods and one prosumer cam that I manned for the closeups and cutaways. The consumer cam at the rear - for the wide shot and recessional - didn't record because I didn't push the button hard enough and verify it was recording.

Then guests began arriving late and standing at the rear blocking my movements from the left side of the venue to the right and back again causing me to miss some important closeups. I now make it a rule to keep the rear isle clear. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

After that wedding I only shot with one or two cameras but have since gone back to using three. One locked down just off center isle for the B&G and minister, one locked down at the rear for the wide shot and recessional (place it as high as you can), and then one manned for the close-ups and cutaways. As of the last wedding I shot I used two H.D. cams (and one S.D.) but now have a third H.D. cam and will not use anymore S.D. cams.

For microphones I now use 2 lavs into digital voice recorders (be sure to verify they are on), one Azden shotgun atop center isle cam, and one Rode Stereo mic atop the wide angle cam.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 10:12 AM   #6
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

The record button seems to be featuring alot :-) .... I shouldn't be laughing ....
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Old July 20th, 2011, 10:56 AM   #7
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

Just this year I had a complete brain freeze when it came time for the brides name. Don't ask me why, I could pass it off as getting old but honestly my mind had a meltdown and for the life of me I couldn't remember her name and I was standing in front of her talking to her. The best part is her name was Kelly and she was the 3rd bride in a row (in 2 weeks) with that name. Talk about a dunce (me).
Yeah the good old red button can be a killer. The first time that happened to me was about 20 years ago and luckily it has only happened once or twice since then and fortunately not at a really important time but those one time shots would have been nice to have.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 12:02 PM   #8
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

- Watch out where you place your camera for the ceremony. I didn't think beforehand and ended up placing my camera facing the side of the church that the sun was shining through. Clear blue sky so I was fighting backlight during the entire ceremony:(

- Have a back-up camera rolling. Invaluable. On top of that, have some kind of audio back-up. No such thing as too much back-up!

- Make sure to time when you change cards/tape. Don't want to miss anything important, like I did during my first wedding:(

- Make sure the batteries are charged and that you test them out beforehand. I had fully charged the batteries, but one was faulty. Luckily I got through the ceremony and was able to change before the signing of the register.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 12:05 PM   #9
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

Hmm, lets see. My top 3 lessons from my first shoot or two would definitely be the following:

1) Every stands for the bride processional. (Silly mistake I know, but will kill that awesome shot you spent time setting up.

2) Sorting through hours of dancing footage gets old really fast. No point in shooting the same thing over and over. Since then I have reserved time during the dancing to get some water, detail shots, and mingle with guests. Sometimes I even dance some. Haha.

3) Cutaway shots are absolutely vital. Details, reactions, locations, artsy shots, and more are all incredible vital to improving the overall look of your video. Take some time to get shots of moms, dads, grandparents, and bridal party during the ceremony.

I learn something new every wedding, but I think these have been some of the few that have stood out most in my experience. Great thread and this is absolutely a learning business. If at any point you feel you have stopped learning, then you need to recheck yourself.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 07:13 PM   #10
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

Haha, Chris, good story.

Lets see, stuff I've learned.

1-First wedding, realized that I needed to stabilize better.
2-Learned to insert a fresh cf card for the ceremony. Took to many shots at the getting ready and the card got full as the bride came down the aisle.
3-get to the ceremony 30 minutes before to setup. Don't get in the limo with the bride and have to setup in 5 minutes.
4-Press the 'on' button to get the h4n out of standby. Don't stick it in the corner by a baby.
5-Don't just focus on the bride. She probably cares the most about the dvd and wants to see the groom.
6-things break and fail, roll with it.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 08:37 PM   #11
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

I have tons of lessons learnt. Some I learnt the hard way. But these might help you:

1. Simplify your shooting.
I got excited with glidecam, slider, pull focus, etc at start.. forgotting to nail the basics first, which is the most important.

2. Charge a decent price.
I've been burned with some deals that I charged too low because I was being nice. Charge what its really worth and be clear of what services you provide. Make sure you make earning and not loss. Of course, this is not the case in your first one or two wedding where you only starting to build a portfolio.

3. Always have a backup.. audio/video etc
There's nothing worst than losing a video or audio. Trust us, things will go wrong in a wedding. Even the most experienced make mistakes. Having a backup means you are ready for that.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 09:20 PM   #12
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

Probably the most fatal error has to be the red button syndrome!!! It's one that you just cannot recover from ...you can't recover/correct anything if there is no footage.

A mate of mine (his first wedding) was shaking so much he "double-pressed" the record button so the camera (yes, it was a single camera shoot too!!!) simply went back into "pause"

Why he never looked at the LCD or EVF beats me but it does make sense after hitting record to look thru your EVF and make sure the red record light IS on and the counter IS counting!! At least you know that you are recording. With tape I could have a quick peek also at the cassette thru it's window and make sure it was actually turning!! With card cameras it's even easier as on my Panny's there are TWO tally lights (front and back) and the card access light flashes while recording.

To make sure you don't get caught out, hit record and then CHECK that it's actually happening before breathing a sigh of relief!!

Chris
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Old July 21st, 2011, 01:52 AM   #13
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

I've got a few more than 3, but here goes - minus the already mentioned need for special attention paid to the record button:


The best laid plans are frequently compromised by the unpredictability of stressed out and/or drunk people. Be prepared to be surprised.



If you shoot with multiple cameras, and leave one or more unmanned, you will no doubt get there early to secure the BEST angles. These are the best angles for a reason, and when the cameras become unmanned, others will demonstrate those reasons by compromising the efficacy of your unmanned cameras, standing in front of them for extended lengths of time, or even moving them aside to set up their own inferior gear for personal use.



Become extremely familiar with the standard flow of a wedding ceremony in general, and if possible, of the client's wedding ceremony in particular.

On that note: Do not assume you are being clever by secreting a small wireless microphone or recording device in the bride's bouquet as a means of getting awesome audio of the couple's vows. The only time you will need anything from that mic happens to also be the one point that the bride hands the bouquet to her maid of honor, nullifying its efficacy for audio capture of the vows.



If there are other service providers whose presence and actions will affect the way you do your job, get to know who they are and how best to work with or around them. Communicate your needs while attempting to appropriately accommodate theirs. Think of it as an orchestration of teamwork.



Have fun. It's a party (usually). And if all goes well with how you do your job, it will ultimately be through your efforts that they will best remember a very special occasion.

-Jon
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Old July 21st, 2011, 04:08 AM   #14
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

1. Always have a backup battery(s) On one of my first shoots, I tested my camera in the morning, to make sure everything was working ok. I forgot to turn it off. When I got to the site, my battery was dead. Fortunately, I had a spare so everything was ok, but it would have been catastrophic if there was no backup.

2. The above also applies to videotape or media. You could accidentally record 2 hours of footage by mistake and not know it. Then suddenly, you pick up the camera only to discover that your tape or media is full.

3. Always get to your location on time. Earlier is better. No explanation needed.
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Old July 21st, 2011, 07:55 AM   #15
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Re: Lessons Learnt - From that first wedding

A quick extra bit of info on Warren's post !!

Make sure that the spare battery is OK!! Nothing like swopping a battery and it dies 10 minutes later!!!
and yes, it has happened to me too BUT I had another 2 spares.
On two cameras I have 2 x 2600mah batteries and 4 x 4500mah batteries!!!

Chris
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