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


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Old June 21st, 2012, 05:16 AM   #16
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Working solo with 2 or 3 camera's is always a risk, that's why a camera with very good auto functions is almost a must, there are some times where you have no other choice then to let the unmanned cameras run in full auto. I do wish I had a operator at every camera though, would make a world of difference but unfortunately that's not the case.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 05:22 AM   #17
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

It's amusing to see the assertiveness that some people have to to ridiculing others' ways of operating with the conviction that their way is the right way.

Anyone who has been doing weddings for sometime and is getting repeat work, be it by recommendations or showreels, must be doing something right even if it's only for their customers.

The day when there is one all-embracing generic style for wedding DVD and one way of doing it is still thankfully a long way off.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 06:05 AM   #18
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Nigel and others, its simple to avoid the CCTV look by ensuring that the cams are at eye level or lower unless the particular demands of the moment mean that you have no choice than to shoot from higher up. This ensures that the scene is as the human eye sees it e.g. as if present during the ceremony. In the multicam edit I cut between the bride and grooms sides and the rear (or whatever) when using 3 cams and further interest value is added by some cropping. In the real world all the cams are NOT locked down - I always have one close to me than I can readily reframe with etc. And if there is sufficient space to move around without causing a distraction I will move and reframe the other two cams as well. And I'm always mindful of not moving into my own shot - or if I have to then only move when I know one of the other cams has a "clean" shot or if I know I can crop myself out.

N. my comment about big guys with big equipment is only half in jest. I've read your comments about expanding into stills with some interest; I think that once you start to get a high volume of consultations for photography you may be shocked at how weddings videographers are perceived by prospective clients. Mainstream clients do attach a lot of importance to their day not being - as they would see it - disrupted, whether by videographers treating it like a TV shoot or photographers shooting endless formals. In the past decade in which I've been shooting a high volume of weddings as the photographer I've had under 5% where there has also been a pro videographer present. I've researched why with real life clients and thats the feedback.

Pete
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Old June 21st, 2012, 06:09 AM   #19
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Bravo George!

When I bought the 2 Panasonic AC-130's in February and was bitterly disappointed with all their auto functions I was severely told "you should be shooting in manual" ....I'd like to see them juggle three cameras all in full manual at a wedding ceremony solo!!! I NEED auto in some cases to cover my wedding correctly and I really couldn't care if it's not the accepted way..it works, my brides are happy and I get repeat business. (It really doesn't matter whether you use a big or small camera and how you use it...it's the end result that counts!!! If you can produce sparking wedding footage with 3 Android phones then, hey, I applaud you!! You can give a monkey a pro camera and you will get a bad result but give an expert (term loosely used) a handicam and you might just be surprised!!

Just for interest I ditched the 130's and went over to cams that work correctly for me in full auto when I need it to!! It was an expensive exercise!!!

In fact instead of lugging my big Pannys around gardens on the stedicam I'm going to use a Lumix GH1 instead...it's way lighter and might even surprise me with it's footage!!

Chris
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Old June 21st, 2012, 08:21 AM   #20
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Quote:
but give an expert (term loosely used) a handicam and you might just be surprised!!
Oh, thx for the compliment Chris! ;-)

You really "ditched" your 130's? You sold them or do you only use them in other situations where you have the time to properly set them up manually?

Just incase my earlier question might go lost in this discussion, I"d appreaciate any canon xa10 users feedback (see my question at the end of page 1)
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Old June 21st, 2012, 08:29 AM   #21
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

I too would be interested in why you ditched the 130's I thought that you were taken with them.I think I told you a while ago that a friend of mine is shooting with those and she likes them, mind you she mostly shoots stage shows. What was it that put you off?

So what are you using now for weddings; GH1 or GH2? I assume that you'll be using a video camera as well, though not a handicam.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 09:03 AM   #22
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Yes, I want to know too about the 130's! Is it just the auto mode that turns you off, or are there other features you have been disappointed with?
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Old June 21st, 2012, 09:04 AM   #23
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Hi George and Noa and Katie

Here we go :
(1) Autofocus hunts badly ..if can use manual for static cameras but not on the steadycam and it's a pain on the fly too when things are happening fast. I do need AF sometimes. In my opinion if the option is on the camera it should work correctly.
(2) The chips have a pronounced jello effect if you bump the camera..even zooming up the image wobbles for a while
(3) Autoiris works BUT only within the iris range..the camera needs 4 ND filters and you have situations where you need to switch ND's in the middle of an outdoor ceremony which causes a glitch...even a cloud passing over might require an ND change. Manual iris is the same it only adjusts iris not shutter so you have a tiny exposure window...I ended up with doing outdoor shoots and maybe switching in and out ND's 6 or 7 times..tough on a stedicam!!
(4) Auto Audio is really bad..it just gives the waveform a haircut!!! I use manual anyway so it wasn't a huge deal
(5) The camera is impractical to use handheld..I ended up with a rig, shoulder mount and an extra loupe to use it handheld.

It's a good camera but I guess I expected the 1/3rd chips to work a lot better at receptions...Even at F3 using a video light the dark areas had more noise than my 1/4" chip camera running open iris and 12db gain!!!

I would say it's great for theatre work, dance recitals and that sort of event..for me (and that's just me) it just didn't cut it for weddings.

Yep I onsold the cameras and bought two new HMC82's that I previously had been using....they do an good job and have built-in ND's so when things get rough the camera can control exposure from bright sun to indoors with no issues. On the stedicam and at receptions I will be also using a hacked GH1

I'm not saying it's not a good camera..it just didn't work for me and my style of wedding shoots running three camera where they HAVE to look after themselves..they would be awesome with a full time operator.

Comparing weddings shot last year and this year, last years weddings look a darn side better ..I guess I upgraded cos they were supposed to be the latest and greatest...maybe I expected a camera that cost me twice as much to be twice as good ..it was only half as good....even the default scene files very very poor....I need a cam that does the job with minimum hassle and the 130 doubled the hassle so they had to go!!

Bear in mind that I did give them a solid test..12 weddings over 3 months and about 20 Realty shoots..I logged 80 hours and 100 hours on the A and B cam so I did give them a fair go (as we say here!)


Chris

Last edited by Chris Harding; June 21st, 2012 at 09:35 AM.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 09:28 AM   #24
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

About the ND filters, it's not that if the camera asks for it that you have to switch immediately, it's just telling you it's getting in too much light and that the iris is at a value which is not optimal anymore, it also means that you "could" get a soft image due to diffraction but that usually happens if you are at 1/4th ND and your filming in glaring sunlight.

The small handicams that have no ND's solve this by adjusting shutter but this is not always a good thing, sure you can get away with it but in certain situations it can cause effects that you don't want, I saw this clearly on a shot outside the church when they threw the rice which gave a "Saving private Ryan" effect. I didn't see what value it was at but can imaging it was very high. I honestly would prefer to add a nd filter onto the lens if I would have the time, just to keep the shutter at 1/50 but like it always goes with weddings you have to run outside to get the shot.

I used to own a dvx100b and it also had scene files but with some higher end Panasonic camera's you are supposed to dive into the tweak settings for your image and once set properly it can give a much better image. the small handicams don't give you those settings but they come preconfigured and that's usually fine to use. Only not on my sony xr520 which has too much contrast and added sharpness which can give it a forced look and I can't change that in camera. The cx730 has a flatter look which makes it easier to adjust like I want to in post. The dvx100b, and I also saw this behaviour on the ag ac130, did handle hot spots quite badly, the af100 also seem to display this problem, again this can be minimised by adjusting the image settings in camera but I think this should be set up properly when the camera leaves the factory.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 11:35 AM   #25
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
N. my comment about big guys with big equipment is only half in jest. I've read your comments about expanding into stills with some interest; I think that once you start to get a high volume of consultations for photography you may be shocked at how weddings videographers are perceived by prospective clients. Mainstream clients do attach a lot of importance to their day not being - as they would see it - disrupted, whether by videographers treating it like a TV shoot or photographers shooting endless formals. In the past decade in which I've been shooting a high volume of weddings as the photographer I've had under 5% where there has also been a pro videographer present. I've researched why with real life clients and thats the feedback.
We know exactly how traditional wedding video is perceived by the majority of couples. I have been at wedding fairs & seen the speed that prospects flee with an expression on their face like there is a bad smell under their nose if you even mention the word video to them. We have clients who tell us that they expressly booked us because we don't have broadcast sized video cameras & yet at those same wedding fairs I have seen other videographers dressing their stand with a large tripod & broadcast sized video camera presumably in the hope that it will impress the prospects with the size of their equipment.

Incidentally in my experience the requests for endless formal photographs usually come from the bride or more likely her mother.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 01:54 PM   #26
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
We don't use broadcast size video cameras or have huge sweaty operators but there is no comparison between using a bunch of locked off cameras & having operators following the action. The former may as well be CCTV which admittedly is immensely popular here in the UK but isn't the sort of wedding video that our clients want to watch.
I think the "big sweaty operators" was tongue in cheek... but big cams and gear...

SO do your UK weddings have people runnang about wildly or something? Because I can pretty much predict where the action will happen and place a camer at the proper angle and framing and let it run... so places I might not be able to get when I'm shooting are covered. It's not "stick one cam on a tripod at the back of the room with a lampshade, and let 'er roll"...

The multicam locked down approach relies on the experience of the operator to know where the shot will be - it's typically pretty predictable, and the one "manned" cam is there to cover the closeups, and anything unexpected... like if the groom runs screaming from the church or something... you're still depending on operator skil, but by multitasking/multicam'ing, you get things you otherwise couldn't without a big sweaty "crew" <wink> running around.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 02:27 AM   #27
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Now that the DSLR vs Videocam debate has died down here it seems that a bigcam vs littlecam battle is building up.

It's plainly obvious from the variety of ways we describe our different approaches that there is a market for a wide spectrum of approaches - broadcast cams or handicams - solo or crew - your belief that you've got it right is reinforced by the fact that you attract the clients that like your work and your way of working. That doesn't mean that nobody likes any other way.

Why the need to ridicule the way others do things when they don't accord with your way?
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 03:39 AM   #28
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Not really sure there's a "debate" - you shoot what works - I've got image aquisition deveices (cameras) that shoot 1080/60p that range from a pocket camera (DSC-TX100) through the "small video cam", and have just added the A65, which of course has that "big chip magic". I gave up the "big cam" when the small cam image quality was as good or better, plain and simple. The samples with the A65 have that shallow DoF, and there are places where that will add visual quality that will be nice, other places a wide DoF is better, and the other cams will handle it nicely.

It's easy to say the tools make the shooter, but as has already been pointed out, that's not how it works...

Not everyone can afford (nor can every market support) "big cams", and when you can get excellent quality and have multiple cams/angles out of a troika or quartet (or more) of smaller cams, for the cost or less of ONE "big cam", it makes some sense when you want more to work with in edit to "tell the story".

In the end it's the nut behind the lens that matters most, learn to use whatever you've got to the maximum effect, then get better or bigger gear when warranted.

When you can walk up to any camera, take a quick tour through the menus/controls and manage to "get the shot", that's when you realize that while every piece of tech has "limitations", you use the tools at hand... some tools are better for some things than others, but you don't drive screws with a hammer or nails with a screwdriver (actually you CAN do that... sorta ugly though).

Learn the tools, use them appropriately...enjoy!
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 06:22 AM   #29
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Hi Guys

Now just for interest from a technical POV I really don't think that bride's give a hoot what you shoot on as long as you go a good job. I have a photog mate who insists on taking his camera with him on interviews complete with a honking big zoom and proceeds to tell the bride all about how great his camera is!! (I know I was there with him!)

Firstly when I visit a bride, I take a contract and have a sample DVD in my case (just in case they want to see something) BUT I never ever take gear or tell them about gear. In the last 10 years I probably have had 2 grooms-to-be ask about the format ... otherwise the topic never has come up so in my market they are only interested in what they will get (they normally have already looked on line at samples) and how much it will cost them. Gear seems to be unimportant. So, for me IF I do the best job possible with a huge Digi Betacam then that's my style but I also may be just as comfortable with a little Canon 500D with a wide lens .... the bride couldn't care less so I use what tools work for me...yep I use shoulder mount cams so they are a little larger than a DSLR but that's what works for me and what I'm comfortable with.

Chris
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 06:50 AM   #30
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

I am not sure that there was a debate either or why anyone should take offence. Earlier in this thread I said that I was considering getting a couple of little Canon consumer camcorders to augment my existing cameras. However I would never rely on just three more or less locked off cameras which as I understand it is what Peter is using. However as he is basically there to shoot still photographs with the video as a bonus freebie I can see that as a single-handed operator there is no alternative. Even at the fixed parts of the wedding day like the service & speeches people move about & should ideally to be followed by a camera e.g. one of the wedding party gets up from a pew & stands behind a lectern to give a reading. You can theoretically cover it with locked off cameras but it's going to look like CCTV. One of the reasons that I want to get away from that look is because aside from big sweaty operators with big sweaty cameras what typifies a wedding video to many couples is that rigid point of view from the big broadcast camera on the big tripod at the back (so they can boast of being discreet) only mitigating the tedium by overuse of the 20X motor zoom.

Take a look at our videos on Alice Barker Images - Cinematic Wedding Video & Photography - Video Portfolio. There are locked off cameras used but usually at most two operators & the cameras are generally on the move whether on monopod, carbon fibre tripod, crane or Steadicam. Watch any TV show or movie. The cameras rarely stay still for a second. Even when it's a talking heads interview there is a little gentle push in.
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