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


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Old June 25th, 2012, 05:36 AM   #46
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Thought I'd post a few straight screen grabs to illustrate how Noa's guy with the big cam would have died at yesterdays wedding, and also to illustrate how fixed positions do not need to have a CCTV look.

The ceremony room is fairly typical of many in the UK. Long and thin, dark but subjects backlit, filled to overflowing with guests and therefore making movement difficult.

Not sure if these screen grabs are going to show or whether you'll need to click on links, anyway:

The first is from a cam positioned at the back of the room on a lightstand and framed to provide good scene establishing shots whether the couple are standing or sitting, and to include the various readers when possible. Would not include usable shots when the guests are standing as they block the view and having the cam any higher risks giving that look that Nigel hates :- ) Normally I would aim to place this cam in the centre aisle at the back so that usable footage is available regardless of whether the guests are sitting or standing. On this occasion the framing is off centre so that I can include the readings but I will crop to centre the couple where appropriate. In larger rooms I may get the opportunity to revisit and reposition this cam but thats not practical in this scenario – no space to squeeze past the groom from my front right corner stills shooting position, never mind getting round the guests.

http://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/images/dvinfo/image1a.jpg

You'll see that there is a second cam attached to the window with a Delkin suction bracket. Its more prominent than I would have liked but there was no available window fixture which I could use with a mini clamp. Guests and couples never notice these cams anyway – I would know if they did because of feedback and also they would show looking at the cams in the footage. The alternative for the more – as it were – creative videographer would have been an operator standing in the window alcove right next to the celebrant and in full view of the couple and guests – totally unacceptable.

Again footage from the window cam can be cropped to account for whether the couple are seated or standing as the cam cannot be adjusted mid-ceremony for obvious reasons.

A grab from the window cam:

http://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/images/dvinfo/image2a.jpg

The window cam captured beautiful footage of the processional including flowergirls and bridesmaids – something that was totally impractical for me to do as the stills shooter. It also got great footage of the ring exchange which again was very hard to do as the stills shooter from my front corner position as the walls either side of the window alcove mean you cannot get far forward enough and the crush of guests means you can't move backwards either.

I had asked the celebrant to go slightly towards the side of the table away from the window cam so as not to block its view and she was fine with that.

You can just make out the 1st cam on its stand in the rear corner of the room. Not something thats going to detract from the ceremony at all.

The one cam I was able to control stayed with me front corner. I got a variety of reframes with this for example the next grab from the same part of the ceremony in which the brides brother makes his reading:

http://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/images/dvinfo/image3a.jpg

This series of shots also illustrates another reason why videographers seem to be in low demand – many UK venues simply don't lend themselves to the requirements for space that has until now been required. I have shot at this venue where huge flower arrangements have been on either side at the front and where a relation has videod from the opposite side front to me (before I offered video). You can just imagine what its like if you add live music as well!

The main audio recorder was hidden in the flowers on the table and a second one off to the opposite front to capture the reader from close. Even picture frames can be used to clamp small recorders in place. Personally I like the results from H1's used in this way – plenty of emphasis on the persons speaking but with ambient that is an accurate rendition of what it was like to actually be there in the room.

As regards style, mine is unashamedly documentary. This comes from my years of experience designing hundreds of albums from stills for clients. I give my clients as much input as they want into the design and they approve the design before manufacture. Before the wedding they all think they will want a largely arty concept album but afterwards, when a few weeks or months have gone by and they've settled down, the images chosen are dominated by formals. This is just a fact of life. So whilst you do need arty concept stuff to attract some clients in the first place I don't think its an accurate reflection of mainstream tastes. Many photographers give their clients little or no input into the design process, playing the “I'm the artist” card. This bogus reason hides the real life situation that many rely on software or templates or subcontract designers that cannot really cope with client revisions so its for the photographers convenience not for the clients best interests.

Noa – you mentioned cropping. Yes I am aware of the technicalities :- ) But many modern DVD and BluRay players make such a good job of upscaling that often its a non-issue. If I were cropping footage shot in standard definition then that would be another matter …..

Noa – the Pannys I use are pretty good with their auto settings especially backlight compensation. The wide shot from the rear above is a case in point. If I were setting manual exposure then I would have to change it every time the sun came out from the clouds as the window in front of the couple had very varying illumination. I usually prefer to deal with white balance in post because it can change so drastically depending on where your cam is framing especially in large churches with multiple light sources. In practice the Pannys usually get pretty close or spot on though they are very slightly different from one to the next.

Noa – setting a stills cam to shoot at regular intervals would not work as I'm sure you realise as the right moments are so short and fleeting. I am however considering using a GoPro for just that in scenarios where I cannot get a desirable position either because of venue rules of physical limitations. This would work much better with GoPros than with standard cameras because the extreme wide angle means that facial expressions are not as prominent.

Pete
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Old June 25th, 2012, 06:30 AM   #47
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Thx Pete for sharing, The framegrabs look very good indeed, too bad you don't have a videosample. I didn't want to be too nosy but since the stills linked to your site I had a quick look :) Is there a reason why you don't have any video samples at all on your site or not even mention anything about it? (maybe I overlooked it) Since you do and sell both at the same time? Because you get so good client reactions to your videos you should display them as it would be an extra reason why people should hire you, you even could include the reactions as free advertising, just like you do now with your photo's.

Btw, I do like the idea of the suction bracket, that point of view would not have been possible from a tripod since there was no space so thanks for sharing that info, very usefull.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 08:26 AM   #48
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
One more question a for those solo operators that use a 2 to 3 camera set up at a ceremony. Do you run your unmanned camera in full auto mode? And do you whitebalance all your camera's?
When I am shooting solo I will definitely use 3 cameras at the ceremony. My methods have now evolved to using an XF105 for the wide safety shot straight down the aisle then an unmanned 5D3 on the bride's side shooting towards the groom & operating either a C300 or another 5D3 from the groom's side shooting towards the bride. I also have a 5D2 on a Glidecam beside me ready to grab & use for shots like me walking backwards shooting them coming towards me as they walk down the aisle at the end of the service. I white balance all the cameras to be the same. If there is time &/or the light is weird then I will do a custom manual white balance but generally I will pick daylight or tungsten as appropriate & make sure that all cameras are set the same.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 08:40 AM   #49
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Wow Nigel, that's quite an impressive videokit you have there :) I guess you never can blame your equipment for bad images ;)
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Old June 25th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #50
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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Wow Nigel, that's quite an impressive videokit you have there :) I guess you never can blame your equipment for bad images ;)
I wasn't trying to brag:-) I have far too many cameras & really should sell some of those that I don't use e.g. Panasonic GH2 but I don't really need the money at present & there is always the thought that it might be useful. It would probably be easier particularly for editing if I just used three 5D3s but the C300 (which justifies itself for other work) produces such stunning images that it's difficult to leave it at home even if it is more difficult to use than the 5D3.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 02:00 PM   #51
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
Rickey, can I ask which supplier makes the mattebox and guiding rails you use? It does look quite compact, do you think a sony cx730 would fit as well? Does it also allow for wide angle lenzes to work, the cut out in front for the lens does look too narrow or can you remove that part?
Here is the CX550v with the mattebox and rail, and to my observation it didn't look bad after all. I didn't push the lens inside the donut for it was not the correct size, but yes to answer your question it will fit with the supplied correct size. Though I prefer not to mount the mattebox on the CX, so I could put it in the holster as for back up, in case big brother Z7u lock up.....knock on wood!
Attached Thumbnails
Shooting weddings with small handicams-front-viewjpg.jpg   Shooting weddings with small handicams-right-side.jpg  

Shooting weddings with small handicams-left-rear-side.jpg   Shooting weddings with small handicams-top.jpg  

Shooting weddings with small handicams-holster.jpg  
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Old June 25th, 2012, 02:44 PM   #52
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

i've been thinking about getting that Matte Box for my DSLR rig, i want a compact one that doesn't throw everything off in my rig size and weight wise (like a RedRock for example).

The Genus looks like the best quality one i could get but i always see the model you have on many people's rigs and it costs much less. Any comments on it? pros, cons?

How much vertical adjustment is there?

Any help is appreciated :)
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Old June 25th, 2012, 04:04 PM   #53
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Originally my preference was the Genus but the I found that it is too big and heavy for the DSLR, besides the vertical adjustment does not come with it.

That's why I went with this mattebox, it's compact, lite and the built is of high quality, the donut ring comes in different sizes as I have mentioned earlier, the vertical adjustment is 1 1/2".

The only negative that I could say is that, there are some black residue in their packaging, and I don't know if those are dirt from their factory.

Last edited by Rickey Brillantes; June 26th, 2012 at 05:35 AM.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 04:10 PM   #54
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Thx Rickey for the pictures! I see you have a beachtek, does that work well with the cx550? First I wanted to get a extra xa10 but for a lot cheaper I could attach a Beachtek DXA-5DA to a second cx740 which has level meters, size also seems to be exaclty right but I needed some first hand experience with these type of adapters. I don't know if the cx series suffer from that audio agc issue dslr's seem to have which introduces a hiss in the sound, I understood Beachtek sends a 20 kHz tone to the camera to prevent the camera to increase to a too high level. How does that beachtek cx550 combination work when using xlr microphones, is the recorded sound quality good? Any noticeable hiss or other stuff that's not supposed to be in there?
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Old June 25th, 2012, 09:21 PM   #55
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Noa, I haven't notice hissing sound from the CX with the Beachtek , sometimes I use this combo for interviews and it gives great results, sound coming out from CX alone without the Beachtek is clean using the wireless mics.
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Old June 26th, 2012, 06:01 AM   #56
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
Thx Pete for sharing, The framegrabs look very good indeed, too bad you don't have a videosample. I didn't want to be too nosy but since the stills linked to your site I had a quick look :) Is there a reason why you don't have any video samples at all on your site or not even mention anything about it? (maybe I overlooked it) Since you do and sell both at the same time? Because you get so good client reactions to your videos you should display them as it would be an extra reason why people should hire you, you even could include the reactions as free advertising, just like you do now with your photo's.

Btw, I do like the idea of the suction bracket, that point of view would not have been possible from a tripod since there was no space so thanks for sharing that info, very usefull.
Noa, I've just printed those three screen grabs from Panny TM900's at 7.5" x 5" using my Epson 4800 wide body pigment ink printer (n.b. for that read professional printer :- ) ). I did a small amount of editing to the JPEGs in Capture One Pro. They have come out to a standard that I would regard as more than acceptable and since content does trump technical merit every time I'm sure that most clients would be delighted to have this extra variety from the alternative viewpoints. The only time I've done that before is where shooting of stills or video has not been allowed and I've just let a sneaky 5DII run in video mode without the celebrants knowledge; 5DII's were good for that before celebrants realised these could shoot video :- )

For comparison I also printed a 7.5x5 of the reader which was shot in full stills RAW and edited in Capture One. There is a clear difference in technical quality e.g. in hair detail and in suit stripes when viewed side by side but it does not make the screen grabs look bad. And there was me thinking I'd have to wait for 4000 Reds shooting RAW video :- ) And when you know that the still was shot at 4000ISO with the exposure just backed down .6 of a stop in post the comparison is even more interesting.

This could be a very significant development - the ability to provide usable stills from several different vantage points without using more than one operator.

The reason I don't have much info about video on my wedding site is partly because of pressure of work. I do provide details in response to enquiries and include sample discs. However I'm also aware that the V word can work against me as well as for me. Video is so poorly regarded by the public at large that this could adversely affect my stills bookings. The same happens with mixing wedding and commercial work in the stills field. If you have weddings on your site you don't get commercial work and if you have commercial work you don't get weddings. You really need to have two separate business identities. Thats just the way it is.

I've looked at some of the 5D video samples and I'm not seeing a night and day difference between these and the smaller cams. The same sorts of demanding interior lighting conditions are making the finished product less than perfect, which is only to be expected. The shallow depth of field may mean the occasional missed focus or people closer than the subjects going too much out of the DOF to seem natural. And the manual exposure challenges in rapidly changing light; I favour spinning the ISO whilst recording with the 5DII's when that happens rather than changing the aperture or shutter speed or slinging on a filter but it can of course mean jogging the cam. Again the fixed screen on the Canon is hard to view compared to a fully articulating screen. I use a Zacuto viewer with my 5DII's but you still can't get always get the viewing angle you need.

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Old June 26th, 2012, 12:07 PM   #57
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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I'm also aware that the V word can work against me as well as for me. Video is so poorly regarded by the public at large that this could adversely affect my stills bookings.
My experience is just he opposite, you are providing a service to the same kind of clients and video/stills can complement each other and gain a lot more bookings if both are equally good. If you provide exceptional work, even by yourself, there's no harm in showing this and clients will approach you for what they see. Clients often want to book photo and video from the same company because they know the co-operation between the two will be without any issue the day of the wedding. I could imagine that if you advertise doing video and photo together all by yourself that this might scare clients off a bit, even if the end result is good, I at least would not have any trust in that if I could not see any finished demo's and even then I still would question how you can do 2 totally different jobs simultaneously. In that way I could understand why you don't mention anything about it.

On the other hand, my experience is that if you put weddings and corporate videos together on one site that could result in getting very little corporate bookings, a corporate client might consider weddings as amateur stuff. Both are also totally different markets with different requirements.
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Old June 26th, 2012, 02:57 PM   #58
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

We're veering off target and at risk of subverting the thread any further I'll just add: Noa, when clients make enquiries of you as a videographer they already have an interest in wedding video to some degree ranging from maybe to wildly enthusiastic. But when they contact me as a stills photographer they usually have no interest or worse; they are pretty sure they DON'T want video - for all the reasons with which we are familiar whether justified or not.

It is the viewing of samples on a 50ins plasma screen in high def, on an Ipad3 and on a Galaxy3 smartphone which sparks their interest. Then they see how much variety is achieved with multiple cams. Then they are reassured by the compact form factor of the tools used. Then they are converts. And they can see from the scores of stills galleries on my site at any one time that stills coverage does not have to be compromised. In fact it can be improved as demonstrated in my note about prints from screen grabs.

I need to tackle how the mere mention of the V-word may put off some clients before they even contact me. And how to make short samples that reflect the documentary approach that I offer that also take into account the extremely short attention span of many initially casual browsers.

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Old June 26th, 2012, 03:03 PM   #59
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

Received my hotshoe adapter today and attached a rode SM4 suspension shock mount with my at897 mic and it's a perfect fit, it doesn't extend too high above the camera, looks like it is made for it. The mic only just barely stays out of the sony wide angle but luckily about a cm space left without it showing.
Also ordered a Beachtek DXA-5DA today, hopefully it will arrive this week and that will make the camera complete and once that is here I"ll post some pics. I decided not to add anything more to the camera, with the small hoodloupe attached to the lcdscreen its still a very small and portable setup, just the way I like it.

I most likely will be ordering a second cx730, they are still more then half the price of a xa10 until end of July, will probably pair that one with the Senheisser ew 100 eng g3 and that will complete my audio set and might get a second Beachtek DXA-5DA for this camera if the beachtek proves to be a good of good quality.
The 730 + the beachtek+ the sennheiser setup is about 100 dollar more expensive as one Canon xa-10 so I think that's a pretty good price for what you get.

I decided not to break my head anymore about what 2nd camera to get, will keep my xh-a1 just incase, (it's very difficult to get it sold unless you go really low in price) and will deal with the limitations of the small camera's. I've been using my dslr's for about 70% of the time the past 2 years anyway and they can be a real pain to operate in run and gun, much worse then the small sony's but I managed to get used to them as well and they have proven to be a very valuable asset in my gearbox. It's the combination of 4 camera's (2 dlsr's and the 2 Sony's) which will give me much more versatile results compared to just one expensive camera so I think they all are a very good investment in making more compelling wedding video's as a solo operator. It's just MUCH harder work to get there compared to when I was just using one camera years ago but I see it's all worth it as the responses I get on my videos have been very positive and the bookings are increasing as well so it finally pays off.

Last edited by Noa Put; June 26th, 2012 at 03:33 PM. Reason: typo
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Old June 26th, 2012, 03:20 PM   #60
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Re: Shooting weddings with small handicams

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And how to make short samples that reflect the documentary approach that I offer that also take into account the extremely short attention span of many initially casual browsers.
Like my demo on page one of this topic all my other demo's rarely hit the 4 minute mark, usually between 3 min to 3 min 30 and I try to pack as much as possible in there that reflects my shooting style. Standard ingredients are the steadicam, the slider, the shallow dof and I"ll add the vows or a short part from a speech to emphasize the sound quality and try to mix all that together to something that's visual interesting enough to keep their attention. I only have 6 demo's on my site and for each new (only a new one if it's better then an older one) I"ll remove an older and less good demo, based on google analytics I see that the first demo's are viewed the most and the last one the least so I put my best demo's on top. :) So more then 6 will hardly be watched anyway, for that I have a blog where I regular post some short footage about a venue, or just some funny stuff that happened at a wedding. The blog is very valuable tool for appearing in google for different video searchterms or especially venue's. I get a lot of clients that found me through a google search of their venue, usually also a link appears on the first page to a short video I did of the venue in my blog and that gets them interested, they then check my demo's and after that they contact me. :)
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