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


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Old June 20th, 2014, 07:25 AM   #1
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Wedding ceremony shooting

Hello all. I will be doing a wedding with a second shooter for the first time. I wanted to cover the middle and the right side with cameras. My question is does the most experience person shoot from the side? I was planning on shooting the bride walking down Isle while also shooting the groom reaction. Then shoot the hand off from father to groom and run back to the side and shoot the ceremony. The camera in center will be somewhat tight for the stage ahead two shot.
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Old June 20th, 2014, 07:44 AM   #2
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Hi Jeff

I always put what I call my main camera on the groom side of the aisle or Church so the shot (usually tight of just the couple and the officiant) favours the bride's face and the groom's profile rather than the other way around. Let's face it the bride will watch it a lot more than the groom so I figured keep the emphasis on her ..I don't think she would appreciate the back of her head. That being said getting groom reactions means your 2nd shooter will be up front on the bride's side and then you can do the entry with your 2nd cam. I normally put a high mount cam in the middle so I always have a safety shot for the entire ceremony. If someone blocks you no-one can get in front of a camera 8' up in the air

Is this inside or outside?

Chris
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Old June 20th, 2014, 10:30 AM   #3
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Hi Chris,
It will be in doors. I will have a small camera for coverage on the back side of alter shooting towards the couple. I planned on being on groom side the whole time. I wanted to shoot the bride down Isle and groom reaction while the center camera shoots down the middle. The person who will be helping me isn't as versed as I am and I thought the best position for them would be the venter camera since they won't need to move around so much. Am I right?
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Old June 20th, 2014, 01:53 PM   #4
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Here is our 3 camera (2 person) setup. I hope this helps:
#1: safety camera in the rear, pre-focused on the front of the aisle, slightly off center so it's not in the shot too bad.
#2: on the bride's side, off to the side, up front. This gets a clear view of the groom's face and reaction, and the entire front space. Stays reasonably tight on the groom, and can track wedding party coming down the aisle. Also a great spot to shoot faces of parents/guests during the ceremony
#3: during the processional, crouched up front, , to get the faces of everyone as they come down the aisle. Once the bride gets reasonably near the front, I start to retreat to the side opposite of camera #2. This gives me a clear view of the hand off (#2 also has it) so that we almost always have all the faces. I then transfer my camera from monopod to tripod, still upfront, in the side aisle.

Currently, during the ceremony, this puts rear camera (#1) as our wide shot; #2 (bride's side) as our tight shot; and #3 (groom's side) as our medium. Camera #2 knows she can snipe random details. I switch #2 to tight for the vows/rings.

For recessional, I move #2 to have a high shot from the side (halfway down the aisle), or turn it for a crowd reaction shot, or a super wide shot from a balcony. and I man the rear camera (start from halfway down the aisle, and backup as they start their exit).
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Old June 20th, 2014, 03:30 PM   #5
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

In my years of doing weddings, IF I had a 2nd operator and IF they could get up front then they were to get a 1 or 2 shoot of the couple and occasionally a 3 shot with the officiant but since most churches around here wouldn't let me have a MANNED camera up front I'd have to go with an unmanned and sometimes I couldn't even have that. My MAIN camera was ALWAYS down the center aisle where the bride would walk to the altar. I would be up front but not on the altar itself and as soon as she passed by me I would do a 180 and slowly roll back to a position towards the back. that way I was out of the way and yet the "action" was always in my viewfinder. If a reader went to the lectern I could pan over since it almost always took time to for them to get there. Having done a "few" weddings in my time I KNEW what was going to happen in what order and if not I'd grab a printed program if they had them. 90% of the wedding took place centered on the altar and I could cover it quite easily with 1 camera. In the late 90s I started using a 2nd camera as a safety shot, if I couldn't get it on the altar then I would put it in the balcony just to cover and the last 5 or 6 years I would have a 3rd camera sometimes with an operator sometimes not and placement would be where I felt it would get an interesting shot. I always was flexible EXCEPT for the center camera (my A or main camera) that was always down the center cause that's where the wedding was taking place.
Regardless of what style I was shooting...be it long form doc style, short form, short form cine style or in-camera edit on VHS or SVHS, I needed to have the footage to be able to tell the story of the day and being CENTERED on the ceremony was IMHO, ALWAYS the best place to be because you can see both the B&G and when they say the vows and do the rings they faced each other. I always figured they would be looking at their wedding as a guest saw it.
But that's just me. Of course now I'm retired from weddings so what do I know?!
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Old June 20th, 2014, 08:06 PM   #6
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Nice to see the great Don here again!

To be honest during the wedding ceremonies where I have had a 2nd shooter I felt at a loose end during the ceremony as she had the 2nd camera and the 1st and 3rd cams are always fixed so I had nothing to do. Do you REALLY need a 2nd shooter ...you already are saying he isn't experienced so what happens if he/she totally fouls up what you could have done?? The only reason I used to use a 2nd shooter was if I had guys and girls prep together in different houses and then I let my shooter stay to the reception. Now I just tell the guys I'm doing their shoot earlier.

Sometimes it's safer to do the job yourself and really, three cams (two fixed and one handheld) can cover most ceremonies ..I have yet to find a ceremony I cannot do alone and if someone is going to foul up I would rather it was me...imagine doing your edit and finding out your 2nd shooter didn't check exposure so the bridal party coming down the aisle is totally blown out ... (yes, it happened to me!!) I would much rather carefully setup and place fixed cams than trust a 2nd shooter unless you allocate shots to them that won't really matter so then, what's the point of having another shooter?

Chris
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Old June 20th, 2014, 09:42 PM   #7
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Hey Chris,
I've been here just not posting anything. Anyway, I agree. I almost would rather shoot solo with a couple of lockdowns than have a 2nd shooter but there are times that a 2nd is handy but no matter what my A camera...the one I have MY hands on is...was, always center aisle because all of the "action" happens center on the altar except for readings which around here always happen at the pulpit which is either left or right of center and generally "stage" left.
For weddings that weren't in a church of course there were a lot more options but my A camera was ALWAYS center aisle. No matter what I always had the B&G framed in and if I had 1 or 2 cameras up front, manned or not I knew I had cut away material of the B&G.
different strokes for different folks.
I think the OP best check with the church and officiant if the wedding is in a church to find out what they allow him to do. I STILL prefer to ask permission than forgiveness because 1) I might be going back there and 2) No reason to make life hard for the next guy. I'm such a nice guy I can't stand it! ;-)
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Old June 20th, 2014, 10:26 PM   #8
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Quite correct Don

You are a nice guy but besides that you have oodles of experience so your comments are worth considering. Yes, the Church layout does matter and Churches with narrow aisles are tricky to work in. I love the more modern Churches which tend to be wide rather than skinny and narrow and in those I tend to move out of the aisle and shoot in a comfortable position on the right of the Church (here that's the groom side) so I get a decent shot of the bride's face and can also swing across to the lectern for readings.

My A-Cam is always on a tripod and carries all the audio and concentrates on the couple only (and readers) My B-Cam is the one on my shoulder so I can move into the aisle when the bride comes in, wander around and take cutaways so the Homily isn't just a talking head and shoot some medium shots of the bridal party. My C-Cam is the one on a light stand 8' up and covers the entire event ..very useful when the aisle and front area becomes cluttered. I must admit I do prefer Churches with lots of space between where the couple are standing and the first set of pews ..Makes life so much easier and you are out of the way too!

Enjoying retirement??

Chris
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Old June 21st, 2014, 05:46 AM   #9
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

I also like the wider aisles of course but one way or another we old timers are gonna make it work.

Am I enjoying retirement? You bet. I'm am still doing some corp type stuff but not too much, just enough to pay for some cruises. I'm also trying to stay out of my wifes way. I don't want to get under her feet. :-)
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 02:02 PM   #10
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

There are several possibilities here.

When I shoot solo, the vast majority of the time, I'm only shooting from the very back of the venue. I typically run 2 cameras. Occasionally I'll work with one on a monopod and use that for the processional and will shoot from the very front if allowed, then move to the back.

Last weekend, I did a large outfdoor wedding and actually had four shooters for the ceremony. During the processional there were 2 up front (one on the left and one on the right) who then moved to the sides, a jib operator in the back, and then I was also in the back running the wide safety shot w/ ceremony wireless audio and getting close ups using a Nikon V1 and 70-200 F2.8.

We also had a GoPro right up front and a Canon HV40 shooting a safety shot down the aisle for the processional as well.

7 video cameras at a wedding ceremony. I think we got that one covered from every angle. Haha.

That was an extreme example. This was the first time I've ever used that many cameras and people. Normally 2 man and 4 cameras is my max. But for that one, we were trying a bunch of new stuff out and being very experimental.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 10:21 PM   #11
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

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Originally Posted by Jeff Cook View Post
The person who will be helping me isn't as versed as I am and I thought the best position for them would be the venter camera since they won't need to move around so much. Am I right?
There's so many possibilities for where to put a second shooter, and so many other variables (like layout), that I don't think there's any perfect answer.

First thought that comes to mind, though... I was filming on Saturday with someone who was completely new to wedding video. They had a film industry background, and had photographed weddings, but hadn't shot a wedding video, and I'd never properly worked with them.

We had three cameras. Ceremony setup was: one wide shot, one close-up getting most of the action (whoever is talking), and one camera getting cutaways, reaction shots, creative shots, shots of the couple.

I asked the second shooter to get the creative shots, and I got the boring static shots, and also occasionally checked/moved the wide-angle camera. Why? Because I wanted to make sure that I got the shot, and wasn't entirely sure what sort of footage the second shooter would produce. Would it be out of focus, overexposed, shaky? Would there be gaps in coverage? I hadn't worked with them before so didn't know, so it seemed to me that the better option was to take the main coverage myself. Plus, I knew I could handle two cameras, and wouldn't forget to press record every 12 minutes (5DMk2), whereas I had less faith in the second shooter's abilities.

During reception, I reversed the roles. So, during speeches, three cameras again -- one on speaker, one on couple, and one roaming camera getting cutaways, etc, and now I took the roaming camera, for two reasons. Firstly, I could occasionally go up behind the second shooter and check his work. Secondly, I knew that I had to switch out to a steadicam before the first dance, so I preferred that the second shooter keep going with main coverage while I was fiddling with the camera.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 11:00 PM   #12
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Hi Adrian

That's a very safe plan and what I do when I have to use a 2nd shooter. If the 2nd shooter fluffs a bunch of cutaways it's no big deal but if he messed up the vows you would have been in big trouble.

Probably that's why I try and do without a 2nd shooter ..unless they are brilliant you end up giving them the really unimportant and menial tasks for safety sake that you could probably snatch on your own anyway!!

I must admit I have never had the need for a 2nd shooter at a reception .. I rarely use them and mostly only if the preps are at the same time in different houses and they STILL screw that up!! One gave me 1min 30 secs of the guys getting ready! He said they didn't want to be filmed and what he did give me was mostly out of focus or horribily shot against a sun filled bedroom window ....and that was a qualified cameraman too!!!

Chris
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 12:16 PM   #13
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Well I have two DSLRs that have time limits of 12 min. So this is why I need a second shooter. I don't know how the church would react if I was walking back and forth from one camera to the next. I really want the Camera A, straight ahead for the tight 2 shot. That being said, I thought it would be best for the inexperienced videographer to take that, and I could take the side camera which would be moving around. I am planning on setting up the A camera for the inexperience videographer for exposure. We also have a 3rd camera safety behind the alter. I do feel Camera A is very important since it is the main camera, however, I do not have much faith in the videographer to be able to pull off the side camera, since they would have to get the bride coming down aisle, shot of groom, the hand off and then go get set up further away for the rest of the ceremony. Any ideas?
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 12:24 PM   #14
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

Quote:
inexperienced videographer
Quote:
I have two DSLRs
I do hope it works out for you ok with the good advise allready given here but I have learned my lesson the hard way letting a second inexperienced shooter (who sold himself as a experienced user to me) handle a dslr. A dslr requires a experienced user, period. If that is not the case give them a handicam.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 01:35 PM   #15
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Re: Wedding ceremony shooting

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
I do hope it works out for you ok with the good advise allready given here but I have learned my lesson the hard way letting a second inexperienced shooter (who sold himself as a experienced user to me) handle a dslr. A dslr requires a experienced user, period. If that is not the case give them a handicam.
I'd solve that my telling him he can't change any settings, and to set them for him, and then set his position. Then show a picture of expectations, like the shot for the vows (probably the only shot I have a specific look I want). My only other rule, off the top of my head, if I was worried is NO ZOOMING IN AND OUT DURING A SHOT. Seriously, there is a reason we have 3 cameras

Jeff, no Magic Lantern to solve your 12 minute limit?
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