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


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Old October 19th, 2012, 02:17 PM   #1
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New business, could use a few specific tips.

Okay, this question has been asked numerous times here, but I have a few specific questions in helping to launch my brand.

First off, I have a fair amount of gear. Canon XHA1, Two Panasonic GH2's and lots of lenses and filters, including a Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 and Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8, Zoom H4n, Jag35 shoulder rig w/ follow focus, Steadicam Merlin, Glidetrack Slider, Two Sony UHF wireless lapel mics, Sony UHF wireless handheld mic, Rode NTG-2, Rode Videomic Pro, Comer 1800 LED on camera light, Canon VLi-10 on camera light, Matthews C-stand, K-tek Avalon Boom Pole, Rode Blimp, ARRI light kit, fluorescent light kit, tons of cables and connectors, etc.

I use Adobe CS5 Production Premium, Neat Video, Magic Bullet Looks, Plural Eyes, Cockos Reaper, and have royalty free sound fx, music, and textures from Digital Juice.

Okay, some of that stuff might not be useful in a wedding, but I just listed the gear I use for general productions. I'm about to pull the trigger on an Aviator Travel Jib (The Aviator Travel Jib – The Professional Mini Camera Crane), and a set of sticks to go with it. I'm also looking at getting a couple of CN600 LED lights, and some music from The Music Bed. I recently designed a logo, bought a domain, opened a vimeo page, and hired a company to design me a website. Unfortunately I've only shot two weddings. I'm uploaded the demo from the most recent one to my new vimeo page and will use that as a demo for now.

Here is where I'm a bit confused. My company has the word "HD" in it, because I would like to only offer HD delivery. Video on vimeo plus either a flash drive or bluray, or both. I understand some people are offering a media player or a bluray player with their HD package. The problem with that is, what if they already have those things, do you give them a deduction for the hardware? Or what if they need one of those devices, but now they have now way to send the video to granny who doesn't, do you include one for every video they purchase? Also, are you creating a Flash file disc menu for the thumb drive, or just individual clips? I understand Flash will be dead soon, so is it a bad idea to do the former? And how would that operate in a media reader hooked up to an HDTV?

When I watch the sample clips on the forum, they're usually 5 or so minutes long. There's a guy in town here who produces 12-15 minute videos as the main edit, as well as a 45-90 minute full ceremony/reception highlight video. Looking at his website, he also seems to do 5 minute highlight videos, too. Do you guys generally make three different videos? If so, do you combine them all for one price, or do you have different prices for each or certain combos? I generally like to keep things simple. I need to make a rate card, but I don't want the dizzying options I see others list on their sites. For one, I do not want to provide raw footage. I also will use a minimum of 2 cameras. I think offering an option for just one camera is ludicrous for obvious reasons. I also feel charging a lot of money for extra copies of DVD's is ridiculous (although I'd prefer to only offer a DVD option on special request). A copy takes a few minutes and each one is a $1 at most. What's the best way to come up with a rate card that makes sense and is reasonable?

I see in nearly all the sample videos that there's a scene where the bride is standing around and the groom walks up to her and surprises her, many times in a series of complex camera angles/moves. This is shot during the photo/video session after the ceremony, correct? Also, how much time do you generally have to pull stuff like that off? Isn't the time pretty limited before heading to the reception? Not to mention you have to share that time with the photographer, and I'd imagine it'd be difficult to deal with them when staging moves like this. Also, do you have enough time afterwards to make it to the reception hall to set up your lights, cameras, and hook up sound? It seems quite difficult for a one man job.

I mentioned getting those CN600 LED lights. Are those a good choice for wedding receptions? For those that have a set up like that, are they distracting? Do you have couples or others discourage you from using them? What do you use to haul everything? That last wedding I did I used one of the hotel's luggage carts to wheel around the massive amount of gear I brought. I have to run, but I'm sure I'll think of other things. Thanks in advance!!!
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Old October 19th, 2012, 02:55 PM   #2
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Patrick you can follow your current plan and shoot for yourself, but I would suggest before you start a weddinig videography service to begin by shooting for others if possible. You will learn more faster, and hopefully network with others. I find my relationships with others in the business have been key in my survival.

Your question about when you shoot the first blush (first meeting) demonstrates your need to learn the the basics, and by working with others first you can learn all of these things much more thoroughly.

The primary tool you need for wedding video is a working knowledge of how weddings work, and the variations of same.

The first meeting is where they meet for the first time of the day, having hid from each other all day long, until they are transported some place for the photo op.

The shot can be staged after the ceremony, but normally this is a moment directed by the photographer prior to the ceremony. You have one shot to get it.

I shoot 3-4 cameras, cover bridal prep, first meeting, and the whole rest of the day by myself, so you can do it. But if you don't know what you're doing it is no picnic, and you'll come off looking kind of dumb because you'll be clueless at the very times you will need to know what's what.

Instead shoot with someone else if you can to learn the ropes, then branch out on your own. That's what I would do. It's what I did, it just makes sense.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 04:22 PM   #3
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Jeff, thanks for the reply. I didn't mean to imply that once my website was up and running that I would start booking clients. I just want to have some sort of professional presence in place, but then to start slowly and cheaply. I just want to have all my ducks in a row. I would still like answers to the questions I asked. I'm not sure about shooting for a local business because what am I going to tell him, that I will be his future competition and that I'd like him to show me the ropes first?

Also, you said you have one chance to get the first blush right, but from what I've seen they all looked pretty staged in order to get multiple angles and whatnot.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #4
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Most videographers offer two choices of film, the 'documentary style' edit, which is the 60-90 minute chronological film of the day. The other option is the 'short form' edit, which is the 15-20 minute film where the narrative is completely in the hands of the videographer. Start with the ceremony then onto preps? Cool. Start with first dance and end with ceremony? Cool. All down to personal preference/brand. I don't see the point in offering BOTH but that's just me. However, offering documentary edits of the important parts of the day is quite standard.

Like Jeff said, it would be ideal if you could shoot with someone else to get a few more under your belt. You say you've shot 2 weddings, is that 2 full weddings from start to end, including post-production and delivery? If so you should have a good idea of what it all entails and with prior experience in the industry i don't see the problem going at it alone, i assume you'll start of somewhat 'cheap' until you feel more confident. You don't NEED two shooters but an assistant would do wonders for you. You will need two camera's though and should have enough time to deal with both.

About the 'first blush' scene. I'm not particularly familiar with that scene as in my experience the bride never see's the groom until the ceremony (at least here in the UK).
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Old October 19th, 2012, 07:53 PM   #5
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Let me take a crack at your delivery options.

First of all, I am having a difficult time following your question on the options for delivery and the questions you have. That tells me one thing, it's way too complex and needs to be simplified. The reason I say that, if I am having a hard time following, your customers are going to be lost and confused inside of seconds. The last thing you want while trying to convince a customer to hire you is to confuse them. That's normally the surest way to lose them.

You need to deliver "hard copy" to them. Internet only delivery of the sole copy of their video is asking for trouble. Vimeo most likely wouldn't, but COULD fold up shop tomorrow. So make an upload to Vimeo an "add on" to a more conventional "hard copy" delivery.

SD card or flash drive, that's fine for the customer that is that tech savvy. Most brides, my guess, would rather have a disc to pop in and just hit play. A disc is "idiot proof" in as long as you don't damage it physically, it pretty much is going to work. SD card or flash drive, to the unskilled, to me sounds like a nightmare just waiting to happen.

IMO, you have to deliver the same finished product regardless of which "vehicle" the customer chooses for delivery. If they are expecting menus etc, it better be there with however you ship it to them. If I am reading your questions about that correctly, then yes you hve to do a menu in whatever format is available, just like the DVD would look.

You HAVE to offer an SD DVD for as you assume, for Mom and grandma and whoever isn't bluray at the time. As far as your pricing duplicates super cheap, you are not taking into account the time and wear and tear on your machine. I think you have to completely "cost out" a DVD printing and burn, then the packaging, and set your price accordingly.

SO, IMO, you need to start with Encore CS5 and see if it will build a DVD style menu for flash drive or SD card delivery. If not CS5, look into CS6. If not Encore, possibly another DVD authoring program will do it instead. But, IMO, you HAVE to make all the options look exactly the same across the board. If Suzy gets a menu on her DVD and her friend Sally doesn't on her flash drive, expect Sally to be calling and ripping you a new one as she screams "where is my menu?" :-)
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Old October 19th, 2012, 10:24 PM   #6
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

As Chip says, people are not as up to date as yourself and here, we have bride's with the latest Smart TV with a giant 75" screen and plugged into the back is a $39.95 domestic DVD player!!

Get used to the fact that the bride doesn't want to be dazzled by your technical skills..she just wants a video of her wedding where she and the bridesmaids look pretty. She cannot even spell "resolution" never mind know what it is....If you fluff a shot from a technical aspect she won't even notice but if her bridesmaid's dresses are pink in real life and look lilac in the video she will pick that up instantly.

Look at your production simply from a bride's POV ...in fact advice from your girlfriend/wife/sister is a good idea...they know what bride's want much more than you do!!

Also, as Chip says, Grandma probably still has has a CRT 23" TV that she bought back in the 90's and might have an old DVD player ...there is a good chance she also doesn't have either an computer nor an internet connection ....if you want to go high tech then you need to supply a thumb drive complete with media player AND a composite cable as well as the HDMI cable.

Chris
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Old October 20th, 2012, 04:52 AM   #7
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Yes Chris is absolutely right. It's not the tech aspect that counts but how "good" she and her brides maid looks at the video. I always shoot with SD and HD modes (Sony NX5) and almost all my DVD that I give are SD and so far only one couple requested a Blu-ray disk. Also bear in mind, as Chris said, their parents most probably have an relatively old TV and player. Also if the final product looks good to you, most probably it will also look good to the couple.

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Old October 20th, 2012, 08:36 PM   #8
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to shoot in SD!! I shoot everything in 1920x1080 of course and then downsize to MPEG2 for the DVD. I can safely say that over the last 5 seasons at least not ONE couple has ever asked me for a BluRay, digital delivery or have expected anything except a DVD set.

I do, of course, provide the couple with an online clip usually of their ceremony so overseas friends can watch it.... I have tried marketing my services by offering a free media player and the video on thumb drives (so they can watch it in HD) but weirdly enough, no takers.

So the bottom line is not how clever you are with all your technical jargon and expertise but simply that you can deliver the content that she is looking for and more importantly, expecting. We tend to get way too tangled up with technology and forget that content is king!

Chris
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Old October 21st, 2012, 05:36 AM   #9
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to shoot in SD!! I shoot everything in 1920x1080 of course and then downsize to MPEG2 for the DVD. I can safely say that over the last 5 seasons at least not ONE couple has ever asked me for a BluRay, digital delivery or have expected anything except a DVD set.

I do, of course, provide the couple with an online clip usually of their ceremony so overseas friends can watch it.... I have tried marketing my services by offering a free media player and the video on thumb drives (so they can watch it in HD) but weirdly enough, no takers.

So the bottom line is not how clever you are with all your technical jargon and expertise but simply that you can deliver the content that she is looking for and more importantly, expecting. We tend to get way too tangled up with technology and forget that content is king!

Chris
Do you have a good workflow/tutorial for your downsizing Chris?
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Old October 21st, 2012, 09:23 AM   #10
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Hi Jordan

I use Sony Vegas and shoot in 50i only....Very simple for me...I use native files on the timeline and properties set to match the AVCHD source files..I set deinterlacing to "blend"

Files are rendered to MPEG2 at an average of 6000 mbps but one secret I do use is all video tracks have a Sony Sharpen plugin (set to zero) inserted

Are the results perfect?? I suspect there are better ways but I have watched my SD footage on a 50" TV and it looks pretty good...I entered the HD camera market back in 2008 and do around 35 weddings a year and never had a bride complain about IQ. I believe that using a 3 stage render workflow you can achieve better results but as I said my clients always seem to be happy so I keep it simple!!

Remember that brides are not technical experts! They are more interested in good content, accurate colour and good focus. Create a good story is far more important than creating a technical masterpiece that's unwatchable.

Chris
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 05:07 AM   #11
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to shoot in SD!! I shoot everything in 1920x1080 of course and then downsize to MPEG2 for the DVD.....
Chris, as you probably know, the NX5 has the option to shoot in SD or HD, so when I first got the camera I always was shooting in HD on both media (the HXR-FMU128 Flash Memory and the SD cards), and then (as you are doing) downsized to MPEG2 for the DVDs. Then I decided to do a test by recording SD on to the SD cards and HD on the Flash memory unit. I tool both files (the SD and HD) and made two DVDss one from the SD card (downsised to MPEG2) and the other DVD from the HD flash drive. To my surprise the quality of both DVDs were exactly the same, I might dare to say that the DVD that was made from the SD source (to my eyes, and my son's) looked a bit better. So since then I record SD on to the SD cards and HD on the 128GB flash memory. This way I can record more capacity on the SD cards.

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Old October 22nd, 2012, 06:08 AM   #12
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Hi Stelios

I shoot weddings with two Panasonic HMC82's and they too can write to either 576i or 576p as an SD option ..However I found that shooting in SD has two major issues ...Firstly it writes DV-AVI files to the card uncompressed so on a per-minute basis the files are massive!! In AVCHD 1920x1080 I can normally do a wedding using just one 16GB card per camera..occasionally I might need to go to a third card but that doesn't happen often. I did some tests in all my cameras 6 formats and DV still came out the worst when each test clip was rendered out to MPEG2 onto a DVD...you could see the resolution difference.

I just stay with shooting in AVCHD now at 50i (for some reason despite progressive being technically a better format I seem to get pixellation on cheek bones so I stopped using it) Also in PAL I only have 1080 25P on these cameras not 50P so I end up with a bit of blur when I using the stedicam and going around the couple in a big circle. I have 720 50P but it didn't look as good.

Chris
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 08:02 AM   #13
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Hi Chris
OK I see now why you shoot HD, With my NX5 though the HD format is MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (AVCHD)
and the SD format is MPEG-2 PS so filming in SD as well it's fine for me.

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Old October 22nd, 2012, 11:42 AM   #14
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Hi Jordan

I use Sony Vegas and shoot in 50i only....Very simple for me...I use native files on the timeline and properties set to match the AVCHD source files..I set deinterlacing to "blend"

Files are rendered to MPEG2 at an average of 6000 mbps but one secret I do use is all video tracks have a Sony Sharpen plugin (set to zero) inserted

Are the results perfect?? I suspect there are better ways but I have watched my SD footage on a 50" TV and it looks pretty good...I entered the HD camera market back in 2008 and do around 35 weddings a year and never had a bride complain about IQ. I believe that using a 3 stage render workflow you can achieve better results but as I said my clients always seem to be happy so I keep it simple!!

Remember that brides are not technical experts! They are more interested in good content, accurate colour and good focus. Create a good story is far more important than creating a technical masterpiece that's unwatchable.

Chris
Hi Chris,

Thanks for this! This is basically all i do too. I tried the 3-stage workflow and it was just too time consuming and in the end, wasn't worth it. Like you, i get good enough results doing it the simple way.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 07:45 PM   #15
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Re: New business, could use a few specific tips.

Hi Jordan

Glad someone else does it the simple way. I have no idea why you have to put a Sharpen plugin on the video tracks..I would have thought that it's doing nothing to the video if it is set at zero but it certainly does make a difference so I keep it in!! I wonder if anyone here knows why a plugin set to zero still has an effect on the ouput quality.

Yeah going throught the Virtual Dub scenario and having to do multiple renders was simply too much like hard work for me so I stuck with the simple route ...I think the workflow might have been originally devised by a lady called Eugenia who is pretty clued up when it comes to editing AVCHD.

Chris
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