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


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Old August 12th, 2011, 06:05 AM   #16
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Re: Toasts

I also am a solo operator and use 1 camera. I keep it on the toaster and if at all possible try to include the B&G with the person speaking. If I can great, if not, that's the way it is.
Been doing it that way since the beginning of time and as a solo that's how I'll keep doing it. If I had another op to run a 2nd cam then I'd do it different.
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Old August 12th, 2011, 08:18 AM   #17
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Re: Toasts

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Originally Posted by John Knight View Post
But most my clients are total munters so they wouldn't appreciate the extra effort and are probably yawning or knocking back the booze - which looks bad on cutaways. For the right couple though - it's worth it.
HIlarious! and true. And yes, there are times I'm glad I either got a lot of good reaction shots (because it was a great couple with great reactions) by setting up a second camera or by having had my ceremony assistant stay on through toasts.

And please realize, first posters, that I wasn't trying to blow the foam off the beer with my 1-camera plug. Just a reminder that it can be done well even simply.
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Old August 12th, 2011, 12:26 PM   #18
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Re: Toasts

It is always interesting to find out how differently we all work.

For me, the number and positioning of cameras for toasts depends on the space, the number of guests, how things are layed-out, and a dozen other variables including the equipment I am using. The situation and my equipment, and sometimes my mood, are what dictates my approach.

When the setting is small and too intimate for my placing a second camera on a tripod or clamp, I employ the same methods Tim, John and Don described. I've also used this method when the room is very crowded --- a large number of guests in a not-so large room or huge numbers guests packed into an otherwise very large room. When the room is so over-packed with people, there simply is no place for a fixed cam. A second shooter would help but I usually work solo. In those situations, a single cam is the best and only feasible way to shoot things.

Personally, however, I find working with a single camera to be very stressful. So, when there is more space and I know the toasts will be from a fixed location away from the couple's table (such as, maybe a podium or from the dance floor), my preference is along the lines of the three camera approach that Travis described. I tend to have two fixed cams for cut-away shots, one framing the couple, the second framed to include audience and speaker in a wide shot. My main cam is used for close-ups and what Chris called the "Aunt Jessie" shot.

Multi-cam is my personal preference. As I said, a big benefit for me is having cut-aways so that I do not stress-out when panning and zooming. Plus, with tapeless recording, there is much less hassle than there used to be when feeding all that video to the editing computer. Multi-cam helps when I have to reposition because somebody has moved in front of my main camera, as so often seems to happen. Or, when my main cam has the groom picking his nose or the bride shifting her bra, or other such inopportune moments that won't be apparent (or, at least, not as apparent) from a different angle.

A variation on my multi-cam approach is used when when the toasts are from a head table with the speakers next to the bride and groom. For that, I'll be down low in front of the table with my main cam --- down low enough that I am not in the videos or photos but where I can get good footage of the couple and the speaker. This also helps with audio on the not-infrequent occasions when there is either no way to get an audio feed off the house sound system or when the house mix is too awful to use. For this method, I may be using one fixed cam or two. Depends on the room and how lively the guests are.

I work solo. I work without lights. Many venues in my area do not permit video lights and most customers would reject them, in any event. With one exception, my customers have all wanted DVDs, not Blu-ray disks or other HD delivery. I use a mix of pro and consumer video cams. For what I do, I have found that AVCHD consumer cams, such as the Sony CX550/700 series cams, do a pretty amazing job when left on their own on full auto and locked down on tripods. So, in some receptions, where there may be so much going on simultaneously in different parts of the room, I have had four and even five fixed cams going in the room or tent while I slipped from place to place with my main cam (shooting handheld or with a monopod). Where things move at a more sedate pace and in more defined spaces, three and even two cameras work well for the multi-cam style of production that I generate.

I recognize that my personal mix of cams allows me to do things in ways I probably would not attempt with a different mix of equipment. This is not an anti-DSLR screed and nobody should take it that way. I think DSLRs can be great tools, and am just recognizing that different tools bring different tradeoffs of benefits and limitations that lead to differing workflows. It seems to me that getting the best from DSLRs requires more attention and more constant attention to the cameras, If I were working solo with DLSRs, rather than the cameras I have, I would probably work with the two camera approach that Michael Clark described earlier in this thread.
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Old August 12th, 2011, 01:23 PM   #19
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Re: Toasts

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
There is really no reason at all to have an assistant at the reception IMHO, what can you really give the bride that's better??? A dual angle shoot of the first dance?? More often than not you would end up with footage of your assistant.
First and foremost, nothing against solo shooters using a single camera. There are multiple segments of the wedding video market and that approach surely works for one of those segments.

However, I just wanted to respond to the quote above. With multiple cameras you CAN give the bride much more. For example, we generally shoot a first dance with 3 cameras. One is set up high (10-12 feet) and wide, another is tight on the B&G and the 3rd is getting creative shots and audience reactions. You can't provide the same coverage and options with a single camera. Not possible.

I'm not saying it necessary to shoot with multiple cameras, just pointing out that you DO get more from it. And if that's what your business model and product require, then do it. If not, by all means don't do it.

Oh, and 99% of the time you will never spot one of our crew in the other's shot. d;-)
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Old August 19th, 2011, 10:03 PM   #20
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Re: Toasts

I'm a single shooter DSLR. I try to capture both the bride and grooms prep. 3 cams for the ceremony and 2 for the toasts at the reception.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 07:03 AM   #21
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Re: Toasts

In my experience, more than one camera or shooter at a reception is overkill. Good single-camera shooting and skilled editing can make for great watching.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 06:28 PM   #22
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Re: Toasts

Corey, with all due respect, it depends on the product you are trying to produce. There is no way you can shoot by yourself and get the footage I get with 2 shooters. If what you get works for you, that's great. But for the product we produce we need something more.

Again, not disagreeing that you can shoot a reception solo .. just pointing out that a different end-product might require a different approach. d;-)
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Old August 20th, 2011, 09:30 PM   #23
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Re: Toasts

I have pretty much decided for the quality of product that I want to deliver it is going to require two shooters. I do admire single shooters. It is a long day that kicks your ass. Nothing against photographers either. (I also shoot) but shooting video is so much more stressful to me - not to mention not really getting any downtime.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 05:22 AM   #24
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Re: Toasts

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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
Corey, with all due respect, it depends on the product you are trying to produce. There is no way you can shoot by yourself and get the footage I get with 2 shooters. If what you get works for you, that's great. But for the product we produce we need something more.

Again, not disagreeing that you can shoot a reception solo .. just pointing out that a different end-product might require a different approach. d;-)
You're absolutely right -- that's why I said that it's in my experience. It's all part of my style and workflow. Every once in a while I consider using 2 cameras during the toasts -- still with a single shooter -- if the person speaking is on the other side of the room from the B&G. But if I know that's going to be the case, I plan out my cutaways ahead of time, and do some creative editing later.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 09:53 PM   #25
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Re: Toasts

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Originally Posted by David Schmaus View Post
I framed the speaker to close so when they started moving around I was stuck a bit. (DSLR - Prime lens) I do love the prime lens but it looks like I am going to have to give them up for zooms.
I'm trying hard not to feed this prime vs. zoom debate because it's off topic, but if you're too close, can't you move? Is this not something that should be considered when you first setup?

This isn't meant as a personal criticism of you, David. I mean these more as general questions instead. I would think that if an angle isn't working for you, the first instinct would be to reposition or change lenses.

We have two cameras. One of speaker, one on the bride and the groom. Usually 2 135mm f/2 on 5DMkIIs. Even though we have multiple people, one person is usually manning both cameras at once. I know a couple of people have said that they are solo shooters so they only use one camera - I assure all of you, it's very possible to run two cameras by yourself, and I would personally recommend it because I believe that little extra effort is worth it.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 02:18 AM   #26
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Re: Toasts

Every one love primes. They provide a better image quality, and we all know that. But as one becomes seasoned and gets beaten up enough one will find zooms exist for a reason. As has been discussed elsewhere, a preoccupation with primes is normally a symptom exhibited by newcomers to the interchangeable lens game. In other words, it's a rookie mind-set that one must use primes. Rather than invest in a fast zoom a rookie will box themselves in with prime lenses.

Many photographers, myself included, begin using all primes, only to find you cannot effectively get a properly framed shot consistently when using primes all of the time. The best you can do is to guess which lens you need and then pray the subject behaves as you wish, which in my opinion, is not sensible.

Properly framed shots are not always easy with a zoom let alone a prime. For a professional shooter to use primarily prime lenses for event videography generally defies common sense. It can be done, but half the time you end up running around and looking like an idiot.

When a toaster decides to suddenly start walking around, which can and does happen, it is not possible to debate as to which lens to switch to, then shut down camera, change out lenses, then find out your lens is too short, reposition yourself, etc etc etc. and not miss a large portion of the toast with that camera. Repositioning yourself every time a speaker or subject moves because you are using a fixed focal lengthy makes you appear like an amateur and is a recipe for disaster.

What happens when the bride and groom move immediatley after the toast to cut the cake? How does one use a 135mm lens to film a cake cutting? Do you ask the couple to wait as you change lenses? The entire scenario defies logic. Can it work? Well, somtimes yes, but how silly it all seems.

All one has to do is watch and see what the more experienced shooters do to realize they have come by their lens choices for a reason, and those lens choices most always include a zoom on one camera.

Look at it this way folks. There are a crop of video pros who produce videos that blow us all away consistently with amazing video. Mark Von Lanken, Oleg, and the list goes on and on. Can you believe for a second that any of the top shooters would restrict themelselves with primes during a toast? Of course not, it would be stupid to even try. This is what zoom lenses and videocameras are for.

David you are learning what most of us eventually figure out at some point. Primes are specialty lenses, not general purpose. I use a prime or two for audience reactions and wide shots, but not for the speaker. I want them framed properly. Using a prime in such a scenario causes us to shoot around the limitations of the lens we are using, rather than to focus on capturing the story in front of us. It become a case of the tale wagging the dog when we are stuck with a fixed focal length for moving subjects.
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