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Old March 23rd, 2013, 11:20 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia
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Shooting from beside the priest

I'm very curious how other people handle this problem, so any thoughts appreciated.

With Catholic weddings and some other types (for instance, Greek Orthodox), I think it's very helpful to shoot from to one side of the priest (if you're allowed), facing the audience, since, often, the couple have their back turned to the audience for most of the ceremony. This audience-facing camera then neatly captures the bride's first look, as well as the father handing the bride over, and whatever follows -- all from one nice, continuous, tripod-friendly angle.

But I think you need at least one manned camera on the other side as well, facing the altar, for lots of reasons. For instance, because the readers and the priest face towards the audience, because there might be some action where it's better to view from the audience's side, because that person has more freedom of movement to get cutaways or possibly run around to check sound, etc.

But where do you put this altar-facing camera?

Here's four possibilities I think about. But they all seem to have shortcomings.

Sketches below. Apologies for their crudeness. Unmanned wide, by the way, is usually from second level or back of church raised up high.

Example 1: The altar-facing manned camera gets the groom's first look, and the audience-facing camera gets the bride's first look. The problem then, if the cameras don't have much freedom of movement, is that there's no close-up of the bride during crucial parts!

Example 2: Mirror reverse. Now you're favouring the important person. The problems are: (1) groom's first look might be difficult; sometimes the groom even stands side-on, so you can miss the first look entirely; (2) bride's first look might be difficult, because groom and priest might block you; (3) no close-up of groom during important parts.

Example 3: Cameras diagonally opposite. You're now set up to be able to get two close-ups during the important parts. Problems are: (1) crossing the line, though presumably the audience isn't really confused by the geography, and though you could always cut to wide camera or to a cutaway before you go to the other close-up; (2) more importantly, cameras getting in each other's line of fire!

Example 4: Relocating from a groom's first look set-up to double-aisle-camera. Interesting compromise, but: (1) the shuffling time involved in relocating cameras; (2) now you're blocking the aisle for photographers and for people taking communion; (3) you're probably blocking guests' views of the action; (4) some churches have aisles that are too narrow for this configuration anyway.

Anyway, for anyone who's faced a similar problem, with three cameras, what option do you go with?
Attached Thumbnails
Shooting from beside the priest-catholic1.jpg   Shooting from beside the priest-catholic2.jpg  

Shooting from beside the priest-catholic3.jpg   Shooting from beside the priest-catholic4.jpg  

Adrian Tan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 23rd, 2013, 01:18 PM   #2
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Re: Shooting from beside the priest

Option 1 for us...sort of.

We use just 2 cameras. One at the back like you have it for the grooms reaction and then the master wide/med shot throughout. The 2nd camera is crouched down at the front of the aisle (usually a few feet from the groom) on the same side as the master camera but facing up the aisle to get the bride walking down. When she get's most of the way there that camera pulls out to the side about 10 feet to get the "hand off" and when that's done he continues back around to the side and sets up for the close up on groom and then at some point moves quietly all the way around to the other side to get the close up on the bride. With 3 cameras, he wouldn't have to travel as much of course.

If the church has an area behind the altar on the sides where we are allowed to shoot from (that you show on your diagrams) then that camera might move there for portions of the ceremony as well. So one camera moves quietly all around while the other one stays in the center aisle getting the straight on shot mixing up med/mcu/wide shots, playing it safe while the first camera is on the move.

You mentioned if you don't have much "freedom of movement"...well, as you know, that can be tricky if with tight spaces but somehow we've found a way. Actually, the trickiest was a greek orthodox wedding where they went into a completely different room outside of view of anybody for a few moments...we just pulled wide and listened. Not much you can do and the bride/groom totally understood that. Even if our camera op has to quietly go out a door and all the way around (still rolling) to get to the other side of the church that's what we'll do. For the bride walking down the aisle shot, the trick here is being "allowed" to shoot in that center aisle (crouched down to be more inconspicuous) at the start of the Ceremony to get the processional. Most churches out here in SoCal let us do this but there are a few tough ones for sure. The stricter ones I simply have a "talk" with the church coordinator or even the priest and tell them my background and they ease up. And by background, I don't mean as a filmmaker, but as a Catholic church-going, choir-singing, member who appreciates the sanctity of the service (which happens to be true).

Sorry I don't have any diagrams :)
James Hobert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 23rd, 2013, 01:23 PM   #3
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Re: Shooting from beside the priest

Option two, but you want the 3rd cam as unmanned wide at the front on the brides side. This is assuming you can only man one cam or that you are only permitted access to one cam during the ceremony.

In practice the physical characteristics of most churches in the UK make this impossible so its more of a theoretical than a practical discussion.

Peter Riding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 27th, 2013, 07:30 PM   #4
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Re: Shooting from beside the priest

Is anyone using remote pan-tilt mounts for this position?
Chris DeVoe is offline   Reply

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