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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old July 26th, 2011, 05:01 PM   #1
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Starting in the Wedding Business...

Hey everyone. I was just wondering if I could get some advice about how to really DO a wedding video. For example, what footage is a MUST to get, and how much you charge, what equipment (mics, accessories, etc...). I have a wedding shoot coming up in August and I was just looking for advice.

I'll be shooting with a Panasonic GH2 with a 14-140mm lens for most of the stuff. Any advice on lenses, etc?

Thanks in advance,

Steven
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Old July 26th, 2011, 05:18 PM   #2
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

Bill, I wish there was one simple answer. The truth is there are so many elements to running a wedding video business that you could easily write half a dozen textbooks on it without ever repeating youself.

Just looking at the varied thread's in this forum gives you an idea of how much information there is: different styles, techniques, equipment, software, workflows, audio, pricing scales, marketing techniques, business structures, etc, etc. My advice would be to have a good read through the threads here, going right back through the archives to check out some of the various topics thrown around.

As for your upcoming job, I would try and watch as many wedding samples as you can. This will give you an idea of what shots should be included as well as getting the creative juices flowing. Once you have a couple of wedding sunder your belt then you can really start to consider your pricing stucture and things like that.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 06:07 PM   #3
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

Welcome Steven !!!

John is dead on, there's a ton of things to learn and decide.

What I would suggest to do first would be make sure you have a lower light lens like the 20mm and something to capture the audio, say a Digital Voice Recorder and a lav mic for the groom's pocket. As always, you should have a tripod to stabilize your cam, maybe you already own one. With those four things along with your GH2 and 14-140 I would say you have the bare minimum of a kit to go and shoot and wouldn't have wasted money at that point.

From there, honestly, the sky is the limit. Without having a ton of time to investigate all the options, making large bulk purchases of gear at this point, for you, I think would be foolish. Gear wise there are just too many options available to you, to determine in such a short time, what you are going to find fits you and your style best.

I'd collect these few necessary pieces and then concentrate your efforts between now and the wedding on the shooting aspects you are likely to encounter.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 06:14 PM   #4
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

Thanks for the thoughts guys. I know I need a faster lens for the indoor stuff, I'm just not sure which one to flip for, ya know?

What about a slider? Those add huge production value, it seems. What are some of your experiences with them at weddings? Are they bulky, unwieldy, etc... for a wedding shoot?

Stevo
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Old July 26th, 2011, 07:27 PM   #5
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

get out, get out now before its too late.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 07:59 PM   #6
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

I own three low light lenses that I use on my GH1. The Panny 20mm, the Nikon 50mm f1.8 D and the Rokinon 85mm f1.4. Of those the most versatile is the Panny 20mm and many consider it a "must have" for the GH cameras. Because of the crop factor of the cameras, the other two require much larger spaces, or much tighter close ups in order to utilize them.

The slider, yes it will add some value and "wow" to a finished production. But the entire process from initial investigation of the various options, models and techniques through to the skilled set up and use of one, IMO, is going to exceed the time frame you have available right now.

Coming right out of the gun as you are, again IMO, you need to make sure you have:
#1 good steady and bright footage.
And
#1 good audio

There is no "either/or" in those two, it's an "all or nothing" as to what is necessary to produce a good video.

My suggestion of one DVR and lav mic is the barest of minimums along with the camera mic. You very easily could spend many hundreds, to many thousands, of dollars collecting your perfect audio kit for your needs and preferences. To make wise and sensible choices for yourself, you literally can spend months investigating all the options available.

And that is just the audio.... we haven't even mentioned tripods, heads and lenses and all the options available to you there.

As you are out doing your education/investigation of how to shoot weddings, begin a "wish list" for yourself of gear you read about and feel might benefit you. After the wedding and that experience, take your wish list and begin to prioritize it for your NEEDS. I am sure you will find that you run out of your "gear fund" before you run out of NEEDS from your wish list.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 09:36 PM   #7
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

I agree with all that has been said, though I'll add my own two cents:

What to shoot? In addition to the people of course, anything the couple is paying for. Everything you see has been carefully picked out for the special occasion. That means venue, dresses, shoes, place settings just about everything. Catch the details and shoot more than you think you need, especially earlier in the day. Oh, and lots of smiles, just not during dinner! :)

What gear? While it's nice to have options, I think I could shoot an entire wedding with a fast 30mm and 85mm lens(crop sensor cam), a set of sticks, and a wireless lav/Zoom recorder combo. Slider is also a must for me, but if you're not comfortable with it, it will only slow you down. I also like an ultra wide on hand for dramatic establishing and location shots.

After doing these things for a few years, I can say the most important thing to do is be creative and have fun! Get lots of details and lots of interesting angles on the day. Granted this approach lends itself a bit better to more liberal edits versus live event style videos, but I've realized that if I'm excited about making the project as cool as possible, it turns out so much better.

The night before, watch a bunch of wedding videos on Vimeo and look for interesting ways to capture the day. Having some inspiration fresh in my mind helps me to break outside my comfort zone and always strive for a fresh perspective.

Good luck!
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Old July 26th, 2011, 09:53 PM   #8
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

I'd say play it safe the first couple. You'll find it's hard work, alot of run & gun, and finding out 10 seconds before it starts that the entrance, cake cutting, garter belt. etc etc is beginning, and you're shooting something else or interviewing guests. Things like that you will build up a certain comfort level. As for what footage MUST you get? Well, The entire ceremony with crisp wireless lav audio. Also, I've found they prefer close ups during this, although not always feasible depending on the venue (ALWAYS ask the pastor/celebrant where you are allowed to stand. Some religions & locations do not allow you nearby or in aisle). Then, I typically get everything as in cake cutting, first dance, father/daughter groom/mom dance, garter toss etc. I break it down as:

Pre footage (arriving, photography, meeting with family & bridesmaids/groomsmen
Ceremony (left in uncut, unless catholic wedding I take out communion or anything too lengthy if applicable
Entrance & first dances
Dance floor scenes & add't'l stuff
Then I fade to black & fade up & .put all the "CONGRATULATIONS" stuff in, back to back.


Pretty much just as it goes, getting it less than 2 hours, usually under 1hr 30. But as someone else said, there is no textbook thing. I've found as with people brides have varied. A few loved it, some I didn't hear much back from, and one a few weeks ago I wish I never dealt with. To follow up on the last one, I had to go the Craigslist route, offering services to get my work out there & take basically bottom feeders. The ones who were legimiately stuggling, broke or overbudget I had good experiences with however the other was seemingly just a cheapskate & sure enough was overly critical of the work I provided. So in hindsight I think you should find a fairly mid-range price range, and stand pretty firm with it. Cheap rate jobs don't lead to 5 or so of their friends paying full rate or double what she paid.. Someone here (not sure who it is, can't recall) has a good saying:

Cheap, fast, good. Pick Two.
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Old July 27th, 2011, 02:15 AM   #9
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

Steven, all the advice and opinion already given is good so I'll just add that if you have budget for a slider at this stage you have too much budget.

The thing which, more than any other single thing, separates great videos from OK videos is the audio. Super images are easy compared to great sound. My 2c.
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Old July 27th, 2011, 02:29 AM   #10
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

IMO thinking about "wow factor" gear like sliders is an absolute no-no for your first couple weddings. When I have a new shooter with me I dont let them use sliders or steadicams throughout the day even if they own that gear because they think it's about getting pretty shots but to me it's 90% about getting the emotions and feelings from the people you're filming rather than doing slider shots of them getting their picture taken, which is what new guys always seem to want to do.
If I were to give you advice it would be to shoot with as little gear as you can possibly get away with for your first couple weddings. Focus on the couple and the people and the story, worry about your shots only as far as to make sure they're steady and crisp. Once you master the knack for getting the right moments then you can add other elements to improve camera work, otherwise you'll be detracting from the people in favor of camera movements.

I would start with a single audio source (and maybe something to tap into the church soundboard as a secondary) and 1 camera on a tripod or monopod. As far as lenses I would try to use a zoom lens like an 18-135 or something like that, and then a fast prime for reception.
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Old July 27th, 2011, 02:50 AM   #11
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

Hi Steven

The one thing that would worry me is that you say that you are using one GH2 ??? I would at least look at a backup camera, even if you don't use it, it's there if the GH2 fails for some reason. Besides it's a lot easy to use a second cam to shoot cutaways and different angles especially if you have a photog that likes to walk in front of your carefully placed camera.

Apart from that you obviously need a decent tripod and audio, as Philip says, is critical !! Screw up the audio and the pristine video you have shot is useless!!

Stay away from fancy rigs until you have some experience!!!

Chris
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Old July 29th, 2011, 09:11 AM   #12
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

Definitely have a 2nd camera running for the ceremony and speeches - not only to give you another viewpoint to edit but as a failsafe

Also talk to the couple beforehand ang get a timed running order - things don't always go to plan but it's a good start.

also as well as miking the groom/officiant I place a zoom H2 near 'the action' for the ceremony and always but always ask if there's going to be a reading - then you can place another recording device on the lecturn etc

Good luck
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Old July 29th, 2011, 09:25 AM   #13
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

If anyone's looking for a motto for the whole wedding video business, Peter has written it -

"things don't always go to plan".
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Old July 29th, 2011, 02:23 PM   #14
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

As I've said for years and many times here.

First You can't edit what you didn't shoot.

Second A wedding is like shooting breaking news. It happens fast, it happens once and you better be on your toes, ready for the unexpected, keeping your eyes and ears open all the time. Just when you think you've got it covered, it changes.

I relate shooting weddings to my time in Vietnam as an infantryman. Hours of boredom, moments of terror.

Old saying I learned when I started shooting weddings. Tape is cheap, shoot it all!
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Old July 29th, 2011, 03:19 PM   #15
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Re: Starting in the Wedding Business...

Maybe the pond isn't so wide - the way I was taught shooting corporates etc was that once the gear is on site the only extra cost is tape and that's cheap.
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