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


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Old October 18th, 2012, 02:06 PM   #1
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First wedding video ....

Hey guys,

I have been taking pictures and video for personal use as long as I can remember. Even took a photography class in college (on FILM!) back in 2001.

This year, my son was born, and I have become much more serious about capturing video and photos. I switched from a dedicated video camera to my DSLR (a T2i). While my wife was pregnent, I spent a lot of time poring over videography books and buying gear ... 30mm fixed lens, 50mm fix lens, steadicam (well, the knock off version), slider, Rode videomic, plus software (Adobe CS5 suite) etc., in anticipation of the birth of my son.

Ultimately, all that led up to this video I made of my son's first five days:


NOW .... I was very happy with that video, but I had five full days in which to film it, and I threw out an enormous amount of waste footage .. stuff that was too blurry, or white balance was too far gone, etc.

Nonetheless, the video appears to have generated some buzz. A local business has asked me to do a promotional video for them, which I am working on now. Again, that doesn't stress me out because I can keep going back as much as I need to to get the shots I want.

BUT, then I was asked by my wife's friend to video their wedding. To me, this begins to freak me out a bit. I want to do it, (it isn't until next spring), but the fact that events at a wedding only happen once is making me nervous. What if i have a camera failure? Etc. I'm sure I can figure out some of the more technical things (i.e. I don't think I will have additional camera people involved but I will probably be setting up some gopros around the church so I can capture a few different angles, for example).

What is the best way to alleviate this fear? I am definitely giving these people a deal ... I'm sure I will spend at least 10 hours on the ceremony plus another 20 - 30 editing, and the price is low ... and I did tell them straight out that I am not a pro (yet!) and they need to understand that. I guess trying to set expectations in line with myself.

Ideally I could see this as a springboard to something bigger - this is still a hobby for me (nights / weekends) - but who knows, I love love love shooting video and capturing memories so you never know. Just nervous about everything happening just ones - vows, cake cutting, first dance - and paranoid about missing something or screwing up a shot.

Thanks all! Glad to be a member on this board and look forward to talking with you all more!
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Old October 18th, 2012, 03:34 PM   #2
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Re: First wedding video ....

Your son's video shows you have talent and I"m sure the promotional video that you are doing will look good as well, the reason why you will succeed in both disciplines is because you have talent+time+the right equipment (you don't have that much gear but I think the basics for doing that promo video, add more experience to that and it will become better and better.

Weddings though require talent+experience+the right equipment to do right + there are no second chances.

If you want my honest opinion, if you are going to use your t2i that's asking for trouble, dslr's are probably the worst "video" camera's to use in a run and gun situation if you are a solo shooter. If you are asking money for that first wedding, buy a top end small handicam with it before you do the wedding and use that as your main camera for any important once in a life time shot, they are pretty idiot proof in automode (not calling you an idiot, I use small handicams for weddings and they are very forgiving even if you would freak out completely under pressure) and then use your t2i for beauty shots when time allows.

Gopro's are great for safetyangles but I would only use those if you have covered the basics by having a camera that you can operate blindly when you only have one shot at it.

Also buy a pair of yamaha c24 kind of recorders with lavalier mics so you can at least mic the groom and attach a second one to the handle of any microphone (with a velcro strap) that is used during speeches, or just lay them down on the altar or attach them to a lightstand in front of a loudspeaker. They are small, cheap, easy to use and will enhance your audio considerably. Your rode on the dslr will only help if you are close to the source which at weddings is often not the case so it won't help that much.

If you don't have the budget yet to buy additional gear and if you plan on using your t2i only and film alone I wouldn't accept the wedding or do it for free.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 03:35 PM   #3
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Re: First wedding video ....

Hi Nick,

First, what an awesome memory you just made for your family. Very cool.

In regards to your first wedding, there are a lot of stories on here of people doing weddings as "favors" for people whether at a discount or not. I'm sure that most of the time these things turn out fine, but there are enough stories of the client/friend having expectations that are way too high for someone shooting their first wedding film. Don't let it stop you, but definitely have a frank conversation with them letting them know where you are as far as experience goes in shooting something like a wedding. And if they're getting it at a low price, they better be realistic and not be looking for a masterpiece.

About your fears of shooting a wedding (non-repeatable event), there's no one on this board or any other forum that will tell you they don't get things wrong at weddings. Doing it for years doesn't make for perfection in this business. Just make sure you have backups of your backups - cameras, microphones, tapes, cards, etc...Point is, get the backup for your state of mind - not out of fear of something messing up. If you miss something or screw the pooch on something you have to let it go because, otherwise, it will affect the rest of your day filming the wedding.

Expect the unexpected.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 05:08 PM   #4
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Re: First wedding video ....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Reuter View Post
the fact that events at a wedding only happen once is making me nervous. What if i have a camera failure? Etc. I'm sure I can figure out some of the more technical things (i.e. I don't think I will have additional camera people involved but I will probably be setting up some gopros around the church so I can capture a few different angles, for example).

What is the best way to alleviate this fear? I am definitely giving these people a deal ... I'm sure I will spend at least 10 hours on the ceremony plus another 20 - 30 editing, and the price is low ... and I did tell them straight out that I am not a pro (yet!) and they need to understand that. I guess trying to set expectations in line with myself.
My AUS$0.02 on how to alleviate fear:

-- preparation (go through all logistics with a fine-toothed comb; parking and traffc and travel times are very important; discuss with couple anything you're unsure about; even contact DJ and church beforehand with any questions -- for instance, what output ports they have from their mixers; whether there's another wedding beforehand; whether there's another wedding afterwards; where you're allowed/not allowed to stand, etc)
-- planning coverage (how are you going to cover entry and exit of church; how are you going to cover signing the registry; where will readers be standing; which side will bride be on; attending the rehearsal helps a lot!)
-- redundancy (if you have enough cameras and sound devices rolling, you're at least going to at least catch those one-off moments, even if not always optimally)
-- giving yourself adequate setup time for the really important parts (I try to allow myself at least 30-60 minutes before the couple arrive at church and at reception; I'll usually miss departure shots from the bride's house, and sometimes miss final shots of the bride getting ready, in order to prepare properly for the ceremony)
-- communication (ask the MC to warn you five minutes before anything happens; be talking to bride and groom when you're filming their prep and let them know when they need to get ready).

I think, for a first wedding, you shouldn't stress about anything fancy. Just get the basics right. Just capture it. If this means plonking a tripod down, centre aisle, front of the church, and filming everything in one static wide shot, using on-camera sound, then so be it. At least you're not stressing over running between different cameras and DSLR recording times and whether you've got lens choices right, etc.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 06:16 PM   #5
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Re: First wedding video ....

Nick, most wedding video/photography horror stories I hear come from people who hire friends with little to no experience. You are setting yourself up for a royal mess and a lot of hurt feelings by all parties involved.

If they are your friends, or your wife's friends, almost anything you charge is too much. You say you are giving them a deal. If you are doing it for free, then you are giving them a deal, because you should not be charging a dime. You have NO wedding video experience. You shot your child for five days and threw out most of your footage because you are an inexperienced shooter and hobbyist. This is how many of us started. You cannot do this with your wife's friends wedding. If you have any sense of the gravity of what you are getting into, you would do it for free, and thank them for the opportunity.

I shot my first five events or so at no charge. I felt I was being given an opportunity to learn.

IMO, you should lower your price to free. then warn them you do NOT KNOW what you are doing, but you will do the best you can.

There are those here who will say you should always be paid, I say that is absolutely and completely wrong. People pay to go to school. This is the equivalent of training for you, and you should not charge someone for learning how to shoot a live event, in my opinion it would be irresponsible to do so.

It is true people do not value what is free. I understand this concept. But they cannot bitch about something they did not pay for, and if you are honest with them about your lack of experience, then they are responsible, not you.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 08:08 AM   #6
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Re: First wedding video ....

Great video Nick! My wife is due in the next few weeks, I've been told NO CAMERAS ALLOWED though!

Also, we have the same nursery wall stickers in a different colour!
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Old October 19th, 2012, 08:42 AM   #7
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Re: First wedding video ....

Thanks guys, the feedback here is invaluable and I truly appreciate it.

I should clarify ... the lady getting married is more of an acquaintance than a friend. Actually; she is my wife's hairdresser and owns her own hair salon. The agreement we are coming up with was basically 50% of the set cost in $$ and 50% in barter agreement for my wife getting her hair done :)

I do see it as a stepping stone though and potentially opening up a new career path for me... but as everyone alluded to I am a bit nervous.

I also did tell her earlier that I am not a pro and that there is a risk she might not end up with anything. I also told her that if she wasn't satisfied with whatever video I took, that I wouldn't expect her to pay a dime ... I realize that's subjective but I'm willing to take her subjectivity for it. Worst case scenario is I build experience I guess.

I think for this particular couple the other option for them is not getting a videographer at all ...

I took a lot of inspiration from a friend of mine who just got married, their videographer was amazing (of course, they paid I believe something on the order or $4k for it and they had a husband / wife team), filmed entirely on DSLR.


I don't expect to get results half of that but this lady seems to understand.

Gonna keep thinking about this, luckily this wedding isn't until next APril or May (have to double check) so there is a little bit of time (a month or two) to keep thinking / planning. Even if I do it for free that's OK with me.

Thanks all ... again I definitely don't think I am even a fraction of a pro for having done one decent video of my son. Even that video has a lot of technical failures for me, i.e. a lot of shots hand-held that are fairly wobbly that I would never want in a wedding vid.

Thanks all - you guys are incredibly helpful and this community rocks :P

I should be done with my promotional video sometime in November, I'll post here when that's done.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 08:59 AM   #8
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Re: First wedding video ....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
Also buy a pair of yamaha c24 kind of recorders with lavalier mics so you can at least mic the groom and attach a second one to the handle of any microphone (with a velcro strap) that is used during speeches, or just lay them down on the altar or attach them to a lightstand in front of a loudspeaker. They are small, cheap, easy to use and will enhance your audio considerably. Your rode on the dslr will only help if you are close to the source which at weddings is often not the case so it won't help that much.
Audio is one thing I haven't focused on at all other than the Rode, but that won't work well as you mentioned in a busier setting. How does the lav with a c24 work? They just put the c24 in a back pocket with the lav on their lapel? Then I have to match up the audio in post processing to the video footage later, right?

Is that the major difference between wired / wireless lav? A wireless lav goes into the camera and automatically matches the audio? I don't think I have $500+ for a Sennheiser system or anything like that haha

Thanks :)
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Old October 19th, 2012, 09:15 AM   #9
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Re: First wedding video ....

I just gave the yamaha as an example, a zoom h1 is also a good choice but a bit bulkier. I find the yamaha c24 an easy to use recorder that picks up spoken voices well enough if you just use the internal mikes (when placed on a table nearby a speaker) or when you connect a lavalier mic to it (then the recorder goes into the jacket inside pocket and the lav mic (bought separately) you just attach to his vest. It's not a high end recorder but gets the job done, I even attach it to a handle of a microphone with velcro straps during speeches if I can't get a live feed from the dj, It's my Swiss army knife for audio :). One aaa battery will also records for hours (I already did 8 hours recording on one battery and it was still not empty)

That file you need to sync with your video, easy if you have just one one hour file from a ceremony but more difficult if you have a lot of different files but for that you can buy software that do that syncing job for you (pluraleyes)
If you plan on having a lot of short recordings and need a to capture your audio from a separate mike its better to feed that mike directly into your camera, like you can do with your rode, or you can get a beachtek and connect a wireless microphone to your dslr but then you also need to buy a wireless receiver that goes into the beachtek and from the beachtek you can go to your camera. That's an area I'd stay clear from in the beginning, you don't have live control on those pocket recorders during a recording (meaning if a battery dies f.i. you only notice after the recording) but if you would have a wireless system where you can follow up your audio live, if something happens during recording you usually also can't fix it, you just hear when it goes wrong but you can't interrupt a ceremony for it. That's why it's always important to have a backup running, like a zoom h1,2 or 4 on a light stand in front of a loudspeaker.

Whatever you do when filming a wedding with no experience; keep it as simple as possible. :) Also don't worry about making mistakes because you will, only if you worry it can result in even more mistakes. Even experienced pro's make mistakes at weddings, like in the video you showed from your friends wedding where I also saw out of focus or overexposed footage. Most important is that you try to keep your cool under stress and secure you do have something to fall back on to, like an extra camera (even if it is "just" a simple gopro, better some then no footage - the new gopro 3 seems to deliver some astonishing footage :)) or backup audio and most important, try to enjoy the day, it will be over before you know it. :)
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Old October 19th, 2012, 10:32 AM   #10
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Re: First wedding video ....

Nick, I'm not a (full) pro. I am making money off it, but only as a second job. I've done ten weddings since starting in January. Its fresh in my mind the nerves involved.

Firstly i would say, you might be surprised how doing your first one answers nearly all your questions nad eliminates the majority of the nerves for wedding number two.

For me, the service is where the stress is at. Its more relaxing after that.

One thing only is absolutely essential, and that is making sure you record everything. I know that sounds stupid, but what I'm saying is. A battery dying, someone blocking your shot, these things are disastrous.

A second camera is vital. Do what I do, and have the second camera static (unless you have a willing second shooter). Put the second camera somewhere with a fairly wide view of things, and somewhere unlikely to be blocked.

You may not use it much in edit, but think of it as a backup.

A bride might not be happy with hard to hear audio, and even poor quality video, but its a whole other world of pain compared to her reaction to missing footage entirely.
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Old February 20th, 2013, 08:35 AM   #11
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Re: First wedding video ....

Hey guys! I'm back again after several months. Finished my first "real" commercial for the newborn photographer that did my son's baby photos - check it out!


Feedback is always appreciated. I still have this wedding coming up. I am thinking of picking up a cheap camcorder to supplement my DSLR shots .... but money is an object as I have spent way too much on everything else. Probably something under $300, maybe $400, I'm guessing low light performance is the most important factor. Will also be positioning several gopros around for B-roll footage.

Also, need some ideas for an audio solution, trying to keep it as cheap as possible, so I have sound during the ceremony. Is a Tascam or a Zoom equipped with a wired lapel mike sufficient? I won't have the $$ for a full wireless system.
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