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Old May 29th, 2012, 09:00 AM   #1
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Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

I always, always suggest to brides that they ask their officiant or priest to wear a microphone, but it seems like we still run into that very old-fashioned, strict Catholic priest that flat out says "no". I even had one church this year have us sign an agreement that said "No Microphones" all together, a rule I clearly broke because there was NO WAY the groom was not wearing one.

I always inform the brides / couples that the best audio comes from a mic on the groom and a mic on the priest and that if the priest is unwilling that we will do our best but it won't be great -- especially in huge, echoing churches.

So far I've had no problems or complaints whatsoever, but I'm just curious if you have any solutions or ideas to pick up the priest better. During the vows and intro, usually he is standing right in front of the couple and the groom's mic is enough. But particularly during the homily, most priests walk around, face different directions, etc...making even a shotgun mic on our closest camera somewhat useless.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 09:30 AM   #2
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

You signed an agreement to not use microphones, then did?

You can pursued, ask nicely, explain the reasons, but in the end - the priest is free to do whatever they want. The wedding takes place on their property, under their control, and as such - everyone else is there with their permission. If a priest takes this line, then the bride and groom should have got married somewhere more accommodating if the issue is that important. If you agree to do something, and sign to this affect - apart from the legal issues, it really means the priest means it.

Thank goodness I'm not in the wedding world. In my one, if I have to sign confidentiality agreements I keep quiet, and if I'm told not to shoot certain things, I follow these rules. Breaking these rules would mean no more work for me. Obviously in the wedding world your word is not your bond - say anything to get the job done, and damn anybody else's feelings - or do I read this wrong?

Surely, you just tell the bride/groom these rules have been put in place, explain what it means and then leave it to them, and you do the best you can?

I can imagine how these people must feel having their methods challenged in this way.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 09:42 AM   #3
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

Wow...OK, I didn't post this expecting to get lectured on rules and ethics...but thanks for that.

The bride herself presented this agreement to me and without me even bringing it up already knew the groom would be wearing a microphone. She was the one that said we would be breaking that rule, not me...I can't imagine anyone else here not putting a mic on the groom either. What was I to do? Tell her "I'm sorry I can't film your wedding"

The agreement was to be signed by the photographer too,and turns out he didn't sign one at all...guess I'm the stupid one for even signing it in the first place. The fact is, that agreement was made by someone a long time ago on a power trip who probably had a negative experience with too many people and too much equipment and our style is not obtrusive in any way at all. Also, I don't know who's feelings possibly could have been hurt??? There was NO ONE there that day to tell us what to do, what we couldn't do or where we couldn't go, and no one seemed to care about anything...if, like the photographer, I had never even seen the agreement, it would have been (and actually was) business as usual.

Of course, had I not put a lav on the groom, there was also (shocker!) a shotgun mic on my camera...No mics!! Guess there was no way around that microphone rule without breaking my own contract.

My contract is with the BRIDE and GROOM, not the church. If there had been any issues, it is clearly stated in my contract that it is up to them to figure them out!

If anyone has any audio advice, would LOVE to hear it.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 10:04 AM   #4
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

Katie, I agree the "agreement" was curious, to put it mildly. I could use other descriptive words but I'll keep it civil here. To judge you for dealing with the situation in the best interests of your customer would be unfair and pointless. You handled things the best way you could at the time. It is always easy to second guess after the fact. You handled things just fine.

You could try putting a recorder on the lectern, which I do, and it can help in some cases when the priest doesn't stray to far from it.

You can also put a recorder near a loudspeaker anywhere in the church, which can yield surprisingly good results.

Always enjoy hearing from you, your posts are always relevant and thought-provoking, thank you.

Last edited by Jeff Harper; May 29th, 2012 at 03:20 PM.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 03:08 PM   #5
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

I agree with Jeff. Frankly I think Paul overstepped here. We all do things differently and since no one got hurt or died as a result of your actions I personally have no problem with them.
As for mic'ing the officiant, I don't. I mic the groom and use a unit on the pulpit. Between those and my shotgun on my B cam for the music I generally have no issue with audio.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 03:42 PM   #6
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

Thanks for the input...often we do only mic the groom and there has been very little issue with audio...but like I said, there's that small percent that sometimes we can't pick up what we want from the groom's mic.

Another issue with this is that occasionally while the priest is mid-sermon, the groom might lean over and whisper to the bride -- actually I was thinking I was going to have smooth sailing all the way through the sermon, even when he strayed from the groom's mic it was still going to be easy to boost it up, and then with about 2 minutes to go in the sermon, the groom did just that!

At this particular wedding we did have a zoom on the lectern, but the priest just veered too far away from it to get anything useful. Some catholic churches have two lecterns, I'm thinking maybe a zoom on each would be good. I also have planted one in front of a speaker as you suggest Jeff, but unfortunately they were ceiling mounted this time.

I wish there were some amazing audio filter to remove echo! I just really hate the change in tone from a mic'd up groom to a non mic'd officiant, which is why we really try to mic them both when possible. Thanks, Don and Jeff, for your input, I appreciate it as always!
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Old May 29th, 2012, 06:34 PM   #7
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

In that scenario I'll be using a xlr shotgun mic feed on my Tascam DR-100 and aim it close to where the speaker system is. If its top on the ceiling, I aim it towards there, It may not be the best solution, but the acoustic audio is far better compared to the onboard camera mic.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 07:56 PM   #8
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

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Originally Posted by Katie Fasel View Post
I wish there were some amazing audio filter to remove echo! I just really hate the change in tone from a mic'd up groom to a non mic'd officiant, which is why we really try to mic them both when possible.
You're right about not being able to remove echo - so maybe try adding a little to the groom's mic. I find it makes it sound as if they are in the same place.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:22 AM   #9
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

Hi Katie

Refusing all microphones is downright crazy!! There is no point in having vows if you can't record them..Most priests here (Catholic especially) won't wear a mic so I usually mic the groom and also the lectern from where they do the readings..we have a priest here who wanders around the entire Church doing his homily so my solution there is simple..I just leave it out!!! Most brides seem only insistant that the vows are heard clearly ..they are normally not too fussed about the prayers and sermons from the priest but always want the readings!!

With a situation like that as long as you inform the bride of the situation she won't expect any miracles..then again I have a preist who always asks me .."Where would you like me to do the Homily" ..He is easy to work with and he normally does the Gospel and Homily from the lectern but then again he is very "video savvy"

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Old May 30th, 2012, 08:29 AM   #10
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

For some reason Catholic churches seem to be equipped with the very worst PA systems and I also find most priests will wear their system mic. but not another one. I mic the groom with a Sennheiser Ew100 and find that that is sufficient to capture the priest as well, I have another transmitter on the lectern for any family or friends' readings. I don't include the priests official preamble, or the homily unless the couple specifically ask for it to be included if for instance he is a family friend, I do tell them this beforehand. So in effect I record the entrance with the live music as played, the brief welcome by the priest - "We are here today to witness etc, etc., then cut to the vows and exchange of rings, only readings from the lectern if they are personal and just one verse of each hymn.
I have had churches that have imposed the no extraneous mic rule, and I'm afraid that against the trend here, I abide by it. If I know a particular church or minister has strict rules I make it clear to my clients at the enquiry stage, the booking stage and at the final meeting before their wedding that I will only work within the permission they get from the church. I'll happily discuss the situation with their officiant before but never deliberately go against an agreement. I found in early years that many vicars banned video because they found operators would ignore their rules so it was easier just to say no. I think that if I present myself as a professional I should act like one.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 09:00 AM   #11
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

Yes, George, the abbreviated Catholic wedding is my preference too. Unfortunately this season already I've had two brides (this one included) request the full mass.

Just to be clear, the situation with the no microphone rules wasn't as if I signed the agreement and then maliciously went behind everyone's back to get the job done. Neither myself or the bride knew of this rule when they booked us. When she presented the agreement she herself brought up the fact that she knew the groom would have a mic, and I even hesitated to sign it, explaining to her that she needed to figure that part out with the church, and she assured me that it would be "taken care of."

The day of the wedding, as I said, it was pretty much business as usual, so I did my job, assuming she did her part to get everything "taken care of." Since no one stopped the wedding to take the mic off our groom, I can only assume she must have either gotten permission, or no one cared! That would be my guess.

But being a professional, I carried out my end of the deal without causing scene or harm. That's most important in my book.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 09:30 AM   #12
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

Hi Katie.

I didn't mean to imply that you weren't being professional. As a professional we do have to find our way through or around obstacles to get the job done and I understand that sometimes it's more expeditious to squeeze through barriers than make a stand, especially when the barrier appears to have been put there for no good reason. If you look through my back post you'll find that I've had to deal with some spurious and illogical rules put in place by (particularly Catholic) clergy.

The point I was making about the stance I take - and it is only my personal approach - is that in the small area that I work in it has taken some time to foster a trusting working relationship with clergy whereby I usually can get my way but I've had occasions where someone has come along with an "I'm here to get what I need at any cost" attitude which has set things back, including a recent - no video rule - at a church which previously had been very welcoming. I have posted about this at length a while ago.

I just prefer to be open with clients from the start. I advise every enquirer to notify the church that they are thinking of video before even booking me, and on booking they sign to confirm that they have sought and obtained permission from the church and are aware of any restrictions.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 09:37 AM   #13
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

That is good advice George, thank you...I don't mean to sound offended, I do think it is a great idea to tell them to contact their church first. We do have in our contract that they should find out rules and regulations first, but we may start emphasizing that before they sign.

I can't imagine a "no video" rule. As a Catholic bride myself, I got married in the church I grew up in, and it was just something that was certain from the day I got engaged -- as I'm sure it is for a lot of Catholic brides. It would be very hurtful to not be able to have the event captured on video somewhere that is so close to a family's life and traditions. Let's hope that doesn't catch on!
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Old May 30th, 2012, 10:21 AM   #14
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

Glad we've not fallen out Katie, sometimes when just expressing an opinion it can come across as being a bit preachy. I don't mean to suggest that my way is the right way, merely that it's the way I do things.

The priest who had the no video rule had always said that his homily was not to be filmed, which I always abided by; as I said before I don't usually include that anyway, but he'd had a few weddings where that was ignored by the videographers. Rather than make an issue of it during the ceremony, or try to find out before who the videographer was going to be, he eventually instigated his ban.

That priest has now moved on to another church and the new one is fine with video.

I think that here in UK there is a different attitude to personal videos and many older clergy are not very comfortable with it. Though it's getting rarer there are still some churches that won't allow it and most do permit it with firm restrictions.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:09 PM   #15
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Re: Priests That Won't Wear Mics - How do you Cope?

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
There is no point in having vows if you can't record them..
I'm still stunned by that remark. It appears that you think the only point in having a marriage ceremony is to provide set pieces to film. I can only hope I have completely misunderstood you somehow.
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