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Old May 31st, 2013, 07:14 PM   #1
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Hindu Wedding Tips

Hi All,

I will be filming my first Hindu Wedding in 3 weeks and was wondering if anybody had any tips in terms of camera placement and sound as the ceremony lasts over 3 hours and I will only be using DSLRS.

Thanks
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Old May 31st, 2013, 08:24 PM   #2
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

I've only done a handful of these. The job isn't made easier by the fact that, apparently, there are about a dozen different types of Hindu wedding.

But, generally, there's only one priest speaking, so he'll need a mic or two. Groom doesn't usually say anything I think, but don't count on that -- mic him anyway. Then there's quite often a separate civil ceremony as well.

Processional: likely two processionals, so they'll make a fuss over groom entry as well as bride's. Maybe dancers, drummers, etc. Sometimes the bride enters twice (the groom gives her a sari; she goes out and changes into it and comes back in.)

Key part of ceremony is walking around the fire. But record everything anyway.

I've generally found you get nice coverage with one static wide rolling the entire thing, and two close-up cameras for picking out details, same as with any other wedding. But I'm very keen to hear how people with more experience cover these things. I've seen videos with sliders, etc.

Another thing to be conscious of -- often everyone is seated, facing towards the audience for the duration; but, depending on the ceremony, there can be large sections with people facing away from audience. I remember wishing I had a GoPro in place for the last one I shot, a Tamil Sri Lankan Hindu wedding, because of the particular layout, when they turned away from the audience. Maybe Nigel's GoPro on the canopy that he uses for Jewish weddings could work well here also, when the priest does stuff to the fire.

Sometimes there are events away from the main canopy. I do remember the last wedding I did had some sort of musical instrument the priest played, as well as something with candles.

Generally there aren't people crowding around for the duration, depending on the setup; guests get tired and sit down, or eat something if there are tables. But,for certain parts, there WILL be crowds, eg the processionals, so be wary of that (monopod or Merlin steadicam or handheld might be safer than tripod).

One thing that worries me about Hindu and Indian weddings is not so much the ceremony itself, as all the other rituals that might happen during the day, and how best to cover them amidst the chaos. For instance, rituals at groom's house in the morning, bride being welcomed into groom's house after ceremony, things at reception like bridesmaids stealing shoes and bartering for their return, or rituals when the couple returns to their house after the reception.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 02:10 AM   #3
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

I've shot and edited quite a few of them and I'm starting to get more familiar with Hindu weddings so let me try to chip in based on the best of my knowledge.

There seems to be many variants on how the rituals are performed but I'll share what seems to be recurring the most in the ones that I've seen so far.

1) Baraat
The baraat is the groom's processional celebration as he arrives to the wedding venue. You will normally expect to see the groom's side of the family dancing and chanting with drums and musical band and he will either be riding a horse, elephant, car, or simply walk to the venue. There will be a big crowd of people depending on the size of the bridal party and everyone will be dancing around him as he slowly walks towards the venue.

The bride's side of the family will normally be standing by the door of the wedding venue to greet them once they reach the venue. As soon as the two family join, there will be some more dancing and chanting and the priest is normally also standing there and ask everyone to gather around him

The parents of the bride will welcome the groom in their family and perform a little ritual where they will put a red dot on his forehead.

The priest will then introduce different family members from both sides and ask them to step up and they will put a garland around each other's neck with a hug and often try to lift each other up in the air. The priest will proceed with each pair of important family members (father vs father, mother vs mother, grandpa vs grandpa, brothers, sisters, uncles, etc.) one at a time.

Expect to work around a big crowd and when they get near the door, be ready to get close to the groom and priest to capture the family welcoming ritual. It's not a bad idea to put a lav mic on the priest and the groom before the baraat starts.

If you are a team of two people, it's a good idea to go with a steadicam / monopod combination during the baraat as they will be a bit of walking around and dancing to capture. If you are shooting this by yourself, then just go with either steadicam or monopod only as you will have to run around and work your way around people a lot.

2) Processional
This part is quite similar to catholic ceremonies in which the groom will walk down the aisle and come up to the mandap (altar) and he will take off his shoes and sit on a chair to wait for the bride

The bride will then walk down the aisle like most catholic ceremonies and meet the groom at the mandap as well. The priest will say some prayers and the bride and groom will put a garland around each other's neck as well.

3) rituals
One of the main ritual in hindu ceremonies is the Saptapadi that consist of the bride and groom walking around the holy fire.

Other ones will vary based on family traditions and religions but I often see parents stand up and join hands or put their hands on the couple's shoulders then repeat words after the priest.

The bride's brother is often asked to come up and put his hand on the bride's foot and then pass on rice to her hand and her to the groom's hand then put in the fire.

The groom's sisters will often come up to put a scarf around the couple and tie a knot.

The groom will at some point put a red dot on the bride and a necklace around her neck.

The ring exchange and signature of official documents will normally happen at the same spot while they are seated. The priest would just hand them the documents and ask them to sign. (at least at the weddings I've been to)

Most priest will say prayers and ask the bride and groom, their parents and some other people to come up and repeat after him. There is usually no other official readings other than that.

Most hindu ceremony venues will have a DJ that provides a wireless microphone for the priest so you might want to get a feed from his board on top of putting lav on the priest and groom.

Most of the action will be happening around the holy fire and you will find the bride and groom as well as their parents sitting around it.

It's a good idea to have at least one camera locked down on a tripod to film the whole action and then have your second camera on a monopod to walk in for close-up and creative shots during the rituals.

Important/Interesting close-up shots are of the hands and feet during those rituals as it will be dynamic and some moving around depending on what is being performed. Rituals usually follow a pattern and repeat a few times so as long as your main camera gets the whole picture, the monopod camera can study the pattern and anticipate the next action for close-ups.

At the end of the ceremony, people usually gather around the mandap and throw flower petals at the couple and then line up to give them hugs.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 02:17 AM   #4
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

Here's a Story Film + Same Day Edit that Konrad did a while back that features an Indian couple to give you a quick idea of what you could expect. I didn't join the team yet back then but I did get the chance to help a bit on the main feature later on for this one. I've since then shot and edited a few more so while I don't know everything about Hindu weddings, I do know a bit about them. If you have more questions, feel free to ask :)

Luxmi + Rishi | Fresh Wedding Intro on Vimeo

Last edited by Long Truong; June 1st, 2013 at 10:28 AM.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 02:55 AM   #5
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

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Originally Posted by Tariq Peter View Post
Hi All,

I will be filming my first Hindu Wedding in 3 weeks and was wondering if anybody had any tips in terms of camera placement and sound as the ceremony lasts over 3 hours and I will only be using DSLRS.

Thanks
I would personally tell the couple you haven't done a hindu one. Fact is, they know you have skill in capturing and editing. If anything they should be glad to help. That way you will know exactly what they want and as long as you cover it ... expect no follow up emails saying "oh you missed this, or that"
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Old June 1st, 2013, 08:29 AM   #6
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

I've done a couple... the two I did were very very long. In fact the last one I did around 2008 - the events covered 3 days. Now that last one was for a friend so...I cut them a deal, but to do something like that one again would cost $8,000 - $10,000 for all the time and effort involved.

My "on-site" time for those 3 days was about 20 hours total, with the majority being on the wedding day starting at 8:00 AM and ending at 10:00 PM.

In my experiences the actual ceremony is very informal, yet formal. You can walk around and what not. People converse amongst themselves and walk around etc to some degree.

They will likely want everything too, meaning when it comes time to do the DVDs you're going to have two completely full DVD sets, and then they'll probably want multiple copies (in my case about 10 complete set copies). I managed to squeeze right at 4 hours onto 2 DVDs.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 11:09 AM   #7
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

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Originally Posted by Kyle Root View Post
I've done a couple... the two I did were very very long. In fact the last one I did around 2008 - the events covered 3 days. Now that last one was for a friend so...I cut them a deal, but to do something like that one again would cost $8,000 - $10,000 for all the time and effort involved.

My "on-site" time for those 3 days was about 20 hours total, with the majority being on the wedding day starting at 8:00 AM and ending at 10:00 PM.

In my experiences the actual ceremony is very informal, yet formal. You can walk around and what not. People converse amongst themselves and walk around etc to some degree.

They will likely want everything too, meaning when it comes time to do the DVDs you're going to have two completely full DVD sets, and then they'll probably want multiple copies (in my case about 10 complete set copies). I managed to squeeze right at 4 hours onto 2 DVDs.
From experience, this is true.

Last edited by James Manford; June 1st, 2013 at 12:40 PM.
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Old June 1st, 2013, 05:57 PM   #8
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

Incidentally, am shooting a Hindu wedding today, as a subcontractor, for a DSLR company that specialises in them.

Standard way they handle the ceremony seems to be: one wide angle set right in front of the canopy so that no togs walk in front of it (frequently unmanned), one close-up from the side, and one roaming steadicam to get accent shots.
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Old June 2nd, 2013, 05:36 PM   #9
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

Some notes on the ceremony from yesterday:

-- I lost track of time, but I think this one was about an hour in duration
-- ceremony venue same as reception
-- three sound systems: venue, DJ, plus priests brought portable speakers
-- MC spoke on house system to introduce proceedings
-- during ceremony proper, two priests speaking, using mix of handheld microphones (DJ's and their own)
-- priests refused to be lapelled, on the basis that they weren't wearing anything under their robes
-- groom and bride both spoke during ceremony (not into microphones)
-- bride's parents may have repeated a sentence or two; no readings as such
-- processional VERY crowded; difficult to get a shot unless you're standing in the aisle at the point where it meets the stage
-- needed to have wide angle camera on the stage itself in order to not be blocked during the ceremony proper; same for other events during the day -- needed to push to the front
-- two close-up cams during ceremony = much better than one
-- plenty of time for slider and steadicam experimentation
-- main priest conducted civil ceremony at a table in front of stage immediately afterwards; bride and groom had traditional vows
-- no throwing of petals
-- no formal receiving line; congratulations happening everywhere -- parents in front of stage, couple on stage but sometimes walking off, etc.
-- no recessional; everyone kind of herded out of room
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 10:56 AM   #10
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

The last one I did started at 8 in the morning with bridal prep, finishing at midnight - they took to the dance floor at 9 and wanted it all filming - be prepared to get in there to get any good shots - it's a bit scary.

IMO nothing runs to time - speeches were over a 2 hour period and again - not to time.

Get a detailed list of the intricacies of the ceremony beforehand from the arranger (quite often a sister of the groom) - you will need to capture it all.

Tripods quite often are too restrictive - there will be an awful lot of people there - a monopod will be your best friend - but only for part od the day - be prepared for a lot of hand held

Finally - despite what your contract says - you will be asked for many changes - I've a feeling lots of family members have an input into this.

One one occasion - despite seeing examples of my previous work - after filming (although this was a Pakistani wedding) i was presented with the groom's brother's wedding video (made by FilmAsia) and was told - "we'd like it editing like this"!!! I pointed out that FilmAsia have a different style to me and have 3 videographers in attendance, whereas I work alone - needless to say that was a difficult one!
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Old June 11th, 2013, 03:08 AM   #11
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Re: Hindu Wedding Tips

Tariq, how did it all go?
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