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Old March 13th, 2014, 12:15 PM   #1
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Where are you positioned in the Church?

Hello everyone. I will be shooting my first church ceremony here in a few months. I will have two cameras both 60d. The straight ahead camera from the middle of the phews will be have a 70-200 2.8 canon lens. The other camera on the right will have an option of the 18-55 lens or a 70-200 cannon lens same as the one in the middle.

My question is where do you guys stand during the walking of the bride. I was planning on having the camera to the right be stationary. I just don't know where to place the middle camera? And I know many churches do not like you moving all around the place. During the vows like I said, the main camera will be in the middle of the isle. I guess I am just confused on where I really need to be as well as wanting to be out of the way. How do you do your setup? Thanks in advance.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 01:14 PM   #2
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Much depends on the layout of the church, though many are similar.

We'll put the rear camera (with a wider lens) off to one side while the bride walks in so you can pan to follow, but then when you get in to the isle and you know the front camera is the money shot, that's when you change to the 70-200.

As for the front/side cameras, that's entirely church dependant so without knowing the layout I can't be precise.

We often put an unattended camera in the choir stalls looking back towards the couple. This gets the officiant side/back and the couple's faces when ever they are not turned looking at each other. We put it on the groom's side so we're looking at the bride's face rather than the groom. If we can get another one on the other side as well (looking at the groom) then it's a bonus.

The side camera is typically also on the groom's side so that the unattended camera and manned side camera aren't looking at each other.

But, I could point to lots of churches even around here where this formula doesn't work because of the church layout / size. Sometimes there's simply no room for the side camera and a couple I've been to where there's no room for the front camera either, so it's just two cameras from the rear!

Do you have a church layout ?

You can usually move around to position the rear camera while the bride / bridesmaids and getting in to position and passing flowers back to mum etc and not cause problems because you're behind everything that's going on.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 01:31 PM   #3
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Dave, thanks for the suggestions. I am going to look at the layout soon. The wedding is in August so I have some time. I just like to prepare myself. Thanks again.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 04:09 PM   #4
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Hi Jeff,

This is how I think about processional...

Camera position 3 -- safety wide. To be a proper safety, make it wide enough to include all bridesmaids and groomsmen. Alternate plan is to frame it tighter, just for the middle of the aisle, and then readjust later. If it's only you, then this one will be unmanned on entry.

Some videographers man this camera, and leave the camera at the front unmanned (either pointing up the aisle, or pointing towards where the couple end up). This means you can pan to follow the bridesmaids if they're coming in from the side, and that you're in a perfect position to readjust the camera to centre aisle later. The trade off is that you won't see the bride's face as she walks down the aisle (unless your other camera gets it). You might get a great over-the-shoulder of the groom's reaction though.

Camera position 3a -- an alternative... think about "crossing the line" and where your other camera will be placed. Think about from which side the girls will walk in (left, right, or from straight back).

Note that, if you like, you can reposition both these cameras to centre aisle during the ceremony, but you'll have to run around and move them before communion / recessional afterwards.

I prefer to leave aisle free whenever possible -- photographers appreciate it.

Camera position 2 -- the problems with this position are that you'll be all over your wide shot, you'll pee off any photographer trying to get a wide shot, many priests won't let you stand here anyway, and the final catch -- you might get zero groom reaction. But if everyone is okay with this shot, then it's a great angle to cover entry, you usually do see something of the groom's face, and some ceremonies have the couple faced the opposite direction for the most part anyway (Catholic masses are often like this; Greek, Armenian ceremonies very often like this; even Jehovah's Witness sometimes like this).

Camera position 2a or 2b -- more discreet version of 2.

Camera position 1 -- where, in practice, most people stand. To remove yourself, or be less distracting, for the wide shot, you might crouch with monopod or shoulder mount to cover girls' entry. If you're game, you can even spin around from time to time to get some sort of reaction from groom. Covering the handover/unveiling can be messy, though -- at some point you'll have to scamper out of the way at the last minute, and quickly set up for it.

If your wide angle is going to be unmanned for most of the ceremony, this is also a good place to capture priest/readers from (but more to the side, to be more discreet).

I usually start at 1a rather than 1, so that I wind up on the side favouring the bride. But 1a doesn't give you an optimum shot of the groom's first look. Sometimes he turns side on, and all you see is back of head.

Incidentally, depending on layout, both 1 and 1a might be too close for a 70-200.

Camera positions 4 and 4a -- the basic problem with 4, although it's more discreet, is that when everyone stands up you'll probably get blocked.

Camera positions 5 and 5a -- risky -- high chance of being blocked. But maybe you can pick up interesting through-the-crowd shots of the bride entering, for about a second. Can be used with slider or steadicam. If you've only got two cameras, and you start your manned camera in this position, obviously you're going to have to run around to the front after you get a few shots to cover the handover... unless you've got a long enough lens / enough people not blocking you, to see from that angle... and even then it's not optimum.

Camera positions 6 and 6a -- variation of 1 and 1a. Depending on layout of the church, you might want to start standing the pews. I don't like doing this, but some people do it all the time. There might well not be enough room to have a tripod in there, so it's monopod or shoulder-mount... or tripod with legs folder together. But one big advantage of this position is that you can readily readjust to centre aisle after she walks past to cover the rest of it. If you're game, you might even try having both wide cam and secondary cam with you in this position, and readjust both of them after processional.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 05:24 PM   #5
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

I'm similar to Adrian. StillMotion has some great videos on Vimeo walking you through all this, though I think they're nuts to trail the bride down the aisle.

For the processional:
Camera in back will be framed so that the groom is in it, and hopefully visible between the bride & her dad. In a perfect world, it will be tight enough so that the people in the pews up front will frame the edges

If I have one other camera, I will crouch up front with a monopod, on the same side of the aisle as my rear camera. Usually a wider lens like 35-50mm. I'm perfectly happy with letting people walk through the frame, and with starting far away and letting them get closer, no zooming. I love my 70D for this.

If I have a 3rd camera, I will put it in a side aisle, front 1/3, raised as high as it goes (about 8 feet) so that it frames the aisle with the groom at the left. I usually use a 35mm or 50mm on our full frame.

Once the ceremony starts:
rear camera stays about where it is.
Camera 2 favors the brides face (as in, is on the same side as the groom)
If I have a 3rd camera, it would be the exact oppostie side to get a tight shot of the groom's face during vows.

For up front, I'd use the 70-200's once the ceremony starts. Depending on the size of the church, I might be happy with the 70mm but am just as likely to want something wider.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 10:33 AM   #6
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Hi Adrian,
Thank you so much for the in depth review of setting up in a church. I was thinking I would have one camera at 3a 70-200 and I would be moving about from position 1a to get groom's reaction and maybe stay there or go to 4a. If I setup at 1a do I stand and record or should I kneel down or sit down while recording. If I stand I feel I might be in the way of the crowd, but hey we are getting paid to produce a product right? If I am at 1a I am sure I will be in the shot of 3a? How do you work around that...not be so tight on 3a?
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Old March 14th, 2014, 10:50 AM   #7
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Also, as a videographer I am much more experience than the other camera person. Which position should I take? Should I take the Wide, or the 1a? Thanks again. Wouldn't a 17-55 mm do well in the 1a or 4a position?
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Old March 14th, 2014, 02:23 PM   #8
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Hey Jeff,

Lens choice -- just depends on the layout of the church. Best to go to the rehearsal and check it out.

Which camera to operate if you have two shooters -- definitely the front camera. The back camera (3, 3a) can be left unmanned -- it's mainly there as a safety.

Another thought: if you have two shooters, the possible positions change. For instance, instead of a safety wide, you could have one shooter at camera position 4 getting a clean groom's first look, and then covering the handover, while you're at position 1a (in this case it's crossing the line, but, in the scheme of things, doesn't matter for weddings). But if the second shooter is inexperienced, an unmanned wide camera would probably be better than relying on them to get shots... you risk having nothing to cut away to while you're adjusting your camera.

And one more thought: a position I didn't mention is the roaming steadicam -- following the girls in at least to when they start to enter the aisle proper. But, frankly, I don't think you should worry about this shot... It's eye candy. I think the reactions of bride and groom are the most important.

Keeping out of shot... Well, alternatives are:

1. Frame the camera at position 3, 3a so it's getting a mid-shot on the groom, and you're crouched out of frame under the shot. The problem with crouching on a monopod is that at the last minute you'll need to awkwardly scamper out of the way to get the handover.

2. Depending on church layout, frame camera 3,3a so that it's a close-up on groom, giving you plenty of movement (very risky though -- grooms often don't stay in the same spot, and it's tricky to readjust at the last minute before the action starts).

3. Frame the camera at position 3, 3a so it's getting a wide of entire bridal party and you're less conspicuous in the shot. Wear black clothes. Trust me -- no one will care except you. The photographer is going to be all over the shot anyway (either walking backwards in the aisle, in front of the bride, snapping away, or standing/crouching at position 1 to match you).

4. Get the shot, standing up with a tripod, and don't worry about being in frame. Plenty of videographers will do this.

5. Do something else, like start at position 4a and hold the camera up really high to cover above the crowd to get bride and bridesmaids entering, then lower it to cover the hand-off. I find this intrusive, and you probably won't get a good look at bride's reaction, but it's an option.

By the way, check out this video of mine... Skip ahead to 1:06. You can see me in the wide shots as the bride enters (not ideal, but at least I got the shot), and you can see where the photographer stands, which is also where a lot of videographers do like to stand. You can also see the overexposure problem you might well face as you point straight down the aisle...

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Old March 14th, 2014, 02:56 PM   #9
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
Which camera to operate if you have two shooters -- definitely the front camera. The back camera (3, 3a) can be left unmanned -- it's mainly there as a safety.
I hesitate to be that definitive. There are some days when the back shot has been the money shot and other days when the front camera is the money shot. Much depends on what happens.

We've had times when the front shot is too crowded by 'things' in the church, like large carved pew ends and you just can't get a clear shot of the B+G.

We've also had many small churches (less likely in the US) where there just isn't any room at the front and even the B+G are finding it a squeeze to fit in. Also, the vicar can be a little awkward from time to time and banish everyone to the back and no one gets to be at the front.

If you can't get a good position at the front then you could end up with problems capturing readings and/or the sermon etc which could be hidden from your view. OTOH, if the couple don't turn to face each other during the vows and rings then then the back shot doesn't get the exchange of rings very well.

Seriously, this is why we always attend church rehearsals. There are no two churches exactly alike in this area so every one needs to be carefully considered. While we have a couple of different formulas we can apply, we have to be adaptable.

Some churches we've run 5 or 6 cameras with no problems at all and got great footage. Others we've had two cameras squeezed together at the back for one wide and one close.

If the OP can get a look in the church and possibly post a floor plan and some photos then it makes it much easier. Otherwise the permutations are endless.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 03:30 PM   #10
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Anyone else done a dual mount on their tripod to use two cameras at once? I've been considering trying this. Most of the time, it would allow two different focal lengths from the same position. During something like the processional, if I'm up front, crouched and shooting down the aisle, I could put my 14mm on camera #2 and point it at the groom, and make him look larger than life.

Or, maybe taking an aisle seat 1/3 of the way back, like I see some photogs do. With a dual mount I could shoot down both directions of the aisle. for the procession and recession.


Anyone done that? Thought it might work when I've got more cameras than operators.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 03:43 PM   #11
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Roger Gunkel does this, I believe. I've experimented with it at a few receptions (not ceremonies), using a Manfrotto dual camera bar, and it's worked pretty well! Occupied less space than two tripods; easier to operate two cameras.

Possible downsides:
-- Weight issues. Personally, I have to use a very, very sturdy tripod to make it work, and even then it's at the limit of what the head can cope with. Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on what bodies/lenses you have.
-- The resulting contraption was a bit of an eyesore/less discreet.
-- Having two tripods rather than one gives you more flexibility with camera placement
-- if you had two tripods before, you could adjust one, and then the other, if you needed to reposition. Now that you're effectively adjusting both tripods at once, there might be nothing for you to cut to.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 03:58 PM   #12
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Thanks a lot for the tips and for the actual video footage for me to see. I think I will be going from 1a to 4a during the handing off and the reaction. I will probably stay at 4a and have a camera at 3a. I am going to check out the church soon and see the layout. I will probably canvass the church the same time the wedding will take place so I can see how it is lit. Thanks again.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 08:46 AM   #13
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Trying to bring this up, more specifically, where do you position yourself in the front of the aisle during the procession of the bridal party and bride?

I had an outdoor wedding yesterday, which had a very thin aisle, so I couldn't be in it nor the front of it. Had to get 2-3 feet back to let the bridal part walk past me (both guys & girls walked the aisle), yet I really felt like I was standing right in front of the groom! Also, his Mom's head kept peeking back down the aisle to see the next couple walk.

I suppose I should have been more to the brides side of the aisle, but that makes it challenging when she arrives imho. I dunno, any advice? Definitely was not my best aisle procession.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 09:01 AM   #14
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Hi David

Narrow aisles can be a real bummer especially if the bridal party (the guys) are only a few feet from the end of the aisle. Plus all you need is eager Mum's and Dad's to lean out a bit and your view is completely blocked.

That's why I always go to the rehearsal and see where I can get a shot from. Some easy going officiants/priests might let you go up behind them but it's really an issue of doing a dummy run at the rehearsal and seeing exactly where you can get a shot from. My fixed cam nowdays is usually at Adrian's position 1A or 4A and I will do the bridal entry handheld so at least I can move to a clear shot position. Going to a rehearsal also allows you to see when the groomsmen will sit down! It's useless using position 4A if they are going to stand thruout the ceremony but fine it they sit down for the vows. My little GoPro is often a lifesaver for me as the aisle blocks up and clogs like a freeway traffic jam, it's sitting right up in the air and misses all the congestion. I've had to use that footage on more than one occasional when I poorly planned wedding blocks all cameras.

Some ceremonies can be downright tough unless you know the layout beforehand!

Chris
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 10:26 PM   #15
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Re: Where are you positioned in the Church?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Barnett View Post
Trying to bring this up, more specifically, where do you position yourself in the front of the aisle during the procession of the bridal party and bride? I had an outdoor wedding yesterday, which had a very thin aisle...
Height could be your friend. In this case, you could shoot from the sides, instead of the top of the aisle, but still see her. Ie tall tripod, or monopod extended, or simply holding the camera up if you have to (maybe attached to a steadicam).

Alternatives... Could be behind the priest, like in the notorious video where the priest turns and yells at the photographer and videographer to move. Could push one set of parents out of the way in the first row of chairs, and shoot from there. Or, if all else fails, you could stick an unmanned camera (maybe even a GoPro) somewhere strategic to cover the entry.
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