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

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Old March 10th, 2012, 04:19 PM   #1
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Use of a crane

Just wanted to know how many people here use a crane for their business and your experience with using one or if it translate to more $$$..we are thinking of getting one but with the use of glidetrack and glidecam already, we don't want to spend more time (and resources) setting and hauling equipment.


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Old March 10th, 2012, 04:58 PM   #2
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Re: Use of a crane

I looked into using one several years ago, and ultimately decided against it. I love the look that they can add to your finished product, but...just like you, I use a slider and Steadicam on top of juggling around 4 cameras. I decided it wasn't going to be worth the extra hassle. I almost certainly would have needed an extra person to set it up and operate it (we're already a two person team and can't justify the added expense of paying a third). They also look obtrusive to the guests which isn't really our style. Our decision finally came down to...was it going to add value to our current product offering...or put another way, would our clients be willing to pay for it as an option in their package to make it worth your time and expense of buying and operating one? For us, the answer was no. I really do like the shots they can create, but after running the numbers, we didn't feel we would get our ROI as far as wedding are concerned. YMMV.

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Old March 10th, 2012, 08:36 PM   #3
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Re: Use of a crane

Hi Kren

The bottom line is money!! Will it bring you a vast amount of extra business and make you a pile of money or is it simply something you would "like" because it looks cool!! IMO if it isn't going to sell you more bookings then ditch the idea. You already know the frenzy that can happen at a wedding so you would probably find that unless you actually have a "crane setter-upper and operator" you wouldn't have time to use it. I sometimes rig my GoPro a a high stand at weddings (and that runs on it's own too!!) and most times I don't even get around to setting it up as everything is happening at once.

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Old March 10th, 2012, 11:44 PM   #4
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Re: Use of a crane

I own and use a full blown 12' Kessler with oracle and remote head. However...I don't shoot weddings. I do commercial work which allows me to bill accordingly and I've also spent a great deal of time "pre-setting" the rig so it doesn't waste time setting up on a shoot. By myself it takes about 10 minutes. The first time I put the whole rig together it took almost 2 hours. That was done at my studio in a relaxed manner. One thing I learned the hard way (1" scar on my leg) was how dangerous cranes can be. I had the legs of the tripod fold and trap my leg as a coworker and I were moving it and ran over a gap that stopped one wheel. We did have sandbags to lock the tripod legs but it didn't matter.
In the chaos of a wedding, I can't imagine dealing with my crane. too much to go wrong and possibly damage or injure someone or something.

Back to what everyone else has Mine has coerced several of my regular clients to pony up for the shots it's capable of getting. It took about 6mo for the gigs to overtake the purchase cost. Ive had it for a little over a year. Money well spent in my book. BTW, I never finance gear, I saved up to pay outright.

So then there's the learning curve!
It's easy to play around and get some cool shots but at a non-repeatable event like a wedding, it will take some practice to make it look smooth. Just like Steadicam, it's not gonna happen overnight.

Not sure if this helps but Tis my 2 cents!
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Old March 11th, 2012, 12:52 AM   #5
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Re: Use of a crane

Hi Robert

For commercial shoots where you have a decent setup time and can reshoot sections where needed yes, I agree, it's a good investment. I built my own but it only has a 8' boom but can also do 360 degree rotations on the dolly. I have it mounted on my track dolly so you can really get some nice moves too...I will use it occasionally when I'm doing Realty Promo shoots ..but then again I get the keys to the house and if I want to stay there all day, I rush no does nice shots of two storey homes instead of a camera tilt.

Have I ever taken it to a wedding?? nope!! Would I ??? just don't have the time so all in all it's not a practical tool for weddings unless you have your own crane operator who can get there an hour early and set up and shoot your crane footage ... then it could pay for itself!!

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Old March 11th, 2012, 04:25 AM   #6
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Re: Use of a crane

We own a simple 15'/4.5m jib that we have used for real estate shoots but never for weddings not least because we have a colleague who has a much nicer crane with motor head which is fabulous to use at larger weddings. It is obtrusive but if there is space to use it then you can get some great shots.

The point about the dangers is well made. It's all too easy to trap a finger or graze your knuckles while assembling or dismantling. The larger the crane the larger the counterweights & you need to carefully co-ordinate the order in which it is dismantled otherwise it can overbalance. Last time I was assisting my colleague to dismantle his crane we almost dropped the head onto a wedding guest.

Finally don't think that you need a big crane to get good shots. Even a small jib like this one can give you some nice dramatic shots & is much simpler to assemble & operate than a large crane so this is the one that we do regularly take to weddings Hague Junior Jib
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Old March 11th, 2012, 10:32 AM   #7
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Re: Use of a crane

I have an 8ft skycrane that I've used only a few times for weddings for the reasons everyone else has mentioned. If however you have some help and it's an outdoor wedding, you can capture some nice shots that will raise your production value. Overall though in terms of investment, I'd put it low on the list of purchases that will bring a return as far as weddings go. I use a slider but my bread and butter tool is my Steadicam Merlin that I can use for all kinds of motion shots including a decent imitation of some crane movements.

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Old March 11th, 2012, 03:07 PM   #8
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Re: Use of a crane

I've used them at weddings for over 7 years now (outside ceremonies and at receptions that have a high enough ceiling). I do employ a dedicated crane operator who is also responsible for assembly... takes him about 15 minutes to assemble a 12' cobra crane. 90% of the weddings I shoot include this valuable tool, and surprisingly, at the request of the B&G.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 10:47 AM   #9
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Re: Use of a crane

Kren, you should hire someone to do one of your favorite venus that you know it will look good at. Make sure they have a camera, wide angle lens and maybe a monitor. Pay them out of your pocket and apply it to the Wedding Highlights. I did that for about 3 weddings and now my brides are willing to pay for it. It would be hard to sell if you don't have a couple of samples to show. I think the crane works best for the ceremony and reception room shots. I don't really use it during the reception unless the venue has enough room. I now own the One-Minute Crane and love it! I do have a man that operates it and my assistant helps moving it to different locations... see my latest film.

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Old March 26th, 2012, 09:52 PM   #10
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Re: Use of a crane

Outstanding Kelly. Thanks for posting.
1. I did a search on the "One-Minute Crane" and it came back empty. What is it? Where do I find it??
2. Your Steadicam shots are fantastic. Did you do those?? It was a Steadicam wasn't it??
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Old March 27th, 2012, 06:23 PM   #11
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Re: Use of a crane

Hey Tom, thanks for the compliments!

The One Minute Crane is not on any website but here is a video of it: One Minute Crane by Senna.mp4 - YouTube
The crane in the video is the older model. They now make a better head called the 5-second head with a wireless remote control with joystick. It's amazing!! I'll take some photos of it at the next wedding in ACTION!!

Your looking at $3700-$5200 for it + monitor. I spent $6k on mine. The crane shots in that video were actually done on a China knock off thou.

My steadicam was done with no vest and the HD4000 Glidecam. It's the best one on the market for the price and it's amazing. I find that focusing on the framing and but keeping one eye on the steadicam helps me to get a more fluid shot.

The last shot of the people dancing and the dress shot is the glidecam upside down.

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