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


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Old June 22nd, 2014, 09:23 AM   #1
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Need a bit of help

Hello guys,

I am an avid reader of many of the topics presented on this forum. I have learned a great deal from you guys. Now i am back again for some help. I have a huge outdoor catholic wedding coming up and had some questions..

1. What is the best position for a 2 cameraman during the ceremony ? My plan was to have one cameraman behind the priest getting the brides reaction/medium shot and one cameraman behind the bride getting grooms reaction/audience reaction etc and have one locked off wide angle camera ideally in center of the aisle or by the side... I would love to do a steadicam walk with the bride when she enters, and then go to the side of the audience and follow her from the side as she walks in ...Any way to acheieve this ??
* Attaching a picture with red dots representing camera positions...
2. Is there any apps or software you guys use to make your second shooters visualize your plan so everything goes perfectly ??....

As always i thank you for your valuable comments and criticism ..
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 01:32 PM   #2
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Re: Need a bit of help

Instead of an app, talk to him, and provide still shot examples of what you want. That's what we do when we talk about shot ideas, especially for the ceremony, when communication is difficult.

Presumably, your camera position behind everything will be blocked for all other views by the wedding party, and/or you'll be in each other's shot.

Basically, it's a one shot setup (the wedding party will be standing in the way).

If you flip your position to the front/outside with a clear view over the groom's shoulder of the bride's face, the same as your other camera position, just on the right side, you avoid flipping your axis (from front to back) when the shots are intercut, and you can also turn that camera to catch parents, guests at large, or a 3/4 shot of the pastor and any readers, or easily retreat to a different view from further back, if your view ends up obstructed by a DARN GROOMSMEN WHO WON"T STOP MOVING INTO YOUR WAY... sorry....

IF you decided you like a camera behind the priest, I would take your aisle camera for it, and center it behind the priest, though the objection there is, it will be in all the guests' sight lines. If you did it, I'd do an over the shoulder of the priest, pre-focused for the front, but with a wide depth of field, and you'll get the processional, too.

Or, maybe test out a small, subtle camera to put back there. I have a little gorillapod tripod and if it's outdoors, I'll sometimes use my cell phone's video camera, like some use a GoPro, because of it's absolutely tiny profile and low weight. I've attached it to the underside of a pergola over the priest/couple to get the 'from behind' wide shot. I only used a few clips, but it was so easy, and no one saw it. Just remember to put it into airplane mode, first.

Last edited by Robert Benda; June 22nd, 2014 at 02:15 PM.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 05:17 PM   #3
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Re: Need a bit of help

Game plan it out before hand and learn and use some basic hand signals. I worked with a guy for a lotta years (he'd shoot 2nd for me, I'd shoot 2nd for him) and we never talked or texted, we used hand signals. Not that we were constantly watching one another but after you work together enough you get to be instinctive about what the other guy is doing or needs to do but here's a tip for everyone for no charge...shoot the job as if there are no other cameras running. IOW the camera you have your hands on is the ONLY camera that you can honestly say you know 100% the shot it's recording. That way IF there's a problem with framing or focus or getting blocked out by people you've got what you need to produce a quality product and while it might not be the most creative footage IMHO of over 30 years shooting weddings, I'd rather have boring footage and be able to make a decent product with than a bunch of poorly framed, out of focus footage of the back of someone's head. Sometimes you just gotta get what you can get and move on.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 05:54 PM   #4
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Re: Need a bit of help

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... we never talked or texted, we used hand signals. Not that we were constantly watching one another but after you work together enough you get to be instinctive about what the other guy is doing or needs to do but here's a tip for everyone for no charge...shoot the job as if there are no other cameras running.
Ain't that the truth. It's my wife and I working together. We learned these complimentary rules:

1) if you don't have to change something, keep your hands off your camera
2) IF we have to make an adjustment, look at the other person first. If they are touching their camera, you don't touch yours. You assume they are making a change, so you wait until they are done, then make yours. This way, you know one of you has the shot.
3) if you don't have a shot at all, forget rule #2, and just fix it. I had a groomsman move, suddenly, about 2 seconds before the vows started and completely block my view of the bride. I picked up, moved, and reset as fast as I could.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 07:00 PM   #5
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Re: Need a bit of help

Your rule #1 is my rule #1. If I was working with someone I didn't work with a lot of ever my words to them was this..."Keep your hands in your pockets cause if I see you touching the camera, I'll break your hands".
Yeah it sounds worse than it really was. The people I worked with most time knew what I meant.
Your rules 2 and 3 were also in my top 4 rules and moving like you did...good job.
My rule #4 was simple...you can't edit what you didn't shoot....shoot it all, let the editor (me) sort it out!
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 10:06 PM   #6
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Re: Need a bit of help

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Originally Posted by Alan Daniel View Post
II have a huge outdoor catholic wedding... 1. What is the best position for a 2 cameraman during the ceremony? ... I would love to do a steadicam walk with the bride when she enters, and then go to the side of the audience and follow her from the side as she walks in ...Any way to acheieve this ??
Hey Alan, some quick thoughts...

One problem with Catholic ceremonies is that, quite often, the couple will have their backs to the audience for most of it -- hence the need for a camera behind the priest, pointed towards the audience, as you've diagrammed, so that you're capturing their faces.

But, as you have it set up, there are then other problems. The cameras diagonally opposite each other are very likely going to get in each other's shots. The camera behind the priest will probably end up in the wide shot. And, if it matters, you're crossing the line. When you intercut bride/groom doing vows later, they're going to be on the same side of the screen.

Alternatives... Firstly, if they don't have their backs to the audience for most of it, you can relocate that behind-the-priest camera.

But if they do... Well, instead of having a 45-degree camera pointed at the groom from the audience's point of view, think about having two aisle cameras, one wide and one close-up, so that you're not crossing the line, and have more of a chance of staying out of each other's frame. This tends to be my setup for Greek ceremonies, except that I'd probably use an extra camera from behind the priest, so I can get a wide as well as a close from that perspective.

About the steadicam walk... I don't really understand what you're asking about when you say, "Any way to achieve this?" Could you clarify? I mean, what's stopping you from doing it? All it'll mean is that you'll need to do bolt down the side of the audience after she walks a few metres, and will need to fiddle with cameras after the entry. For instance, if you have only three cameras, you may have to take one camera off steadicam and move it to tripod.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 04:00 AM   #7
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Re: Need a bit of help

i've used this - Hollywood Camera Work - Shot Designer - Shot Designer with some success when trying to explain a setup where the other shooter(s) havent been to the location.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 06:38 AM   #8
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Re: Need a bit of help

I just got the Steadicam walk part..

he wants to trail the bride, using a Steadicam, and when she heads up the center aisle, he is in the side and continues up the aisle, same as her.

Difficulty: high

Issue: A steadicam takes practice to get smooth already, but having to raise it because the guests stand up is pretty tough, because you usually have to raise it pretty high. I've tried substituting using a tripod setup - I fold the legs up - The weight helps me keep it smooth. Once I raise it, though, I only have my two hands to keep it steady, instead of my usual multiple points of contract.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 09:48 AM   #9
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Re: Need a bit of help

I'll pipe in on the steadicam part. I've been using one at weddings for 7 years, but never used one at a ceremony. I'm the mistro on a days shoot. I have a million things to be doing, directing etc, so steadicam work is not something I want to do at a ceremony. I know what look you are looking for, but to me it's not worth it, because if you get bumped, your weight is just a tad off, you'll be fixing it in post. To me, a dead camera low, such as a go pro will get that artsy shot you're looking for, while maintaining your money shot of her walk.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 12:05 PM   #10
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Re: Need a bit of help

Alan, if you really want to steadicam some or all of the processional, then here's two plays to think about, with cameras to be relocated after processional:

1. You're on steadicam, you've got an unmanned wide safety shot, and your second shooter is responsible for BOTH the shot looking down the aisle, to see bride and bridesmaids' faces, and for spinning around and getting a few seconds of groom reaction, and then back again. I don't think it's ideal, but with that wide safety it's cuttable. There's at least one video company around my area that prefers this option, and I'm assuming that solo shooters often use some version of this.

2. Lose the wide safety. You're on steadicam, second shooter is pointed down the aisle for the girls, and you have an unmanned camera getting groom's reaction. There's a possibility that this unmanned camera will be blocked by guests or that the groom will move out of focus; it's a question of how risky you want to be and how tight the framing. I often go for this option if I have a competent second who can steadicam, and fortunately I haven't been burned yet, but it's definitely risky.

Or play #3 -- stuff the steadicam; play it safe and get bridal shot, groom reaction, unmanned wide safety.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 12:18 PM   #11
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Re: Need a bit of help

Quote:
Or play #3 -- stuff the steadicam; play it safe and get bridal shot, groom reaction, wide safety.
The fact that you ask where to position the camera means you don't have much experience in these matters and then Adrians nr 3 suggestion is the best option. The grooms reaction when he sees he bride (preferably a closeup from his face), a tighter shot from the bride walking down the aisle shot from the grooms perspective and a wide safety shot showing the groom, bride, guests and a large part from the church is all you need. If you shoot with 2 and if you then add a steadicam as well I would only recommend that if you are an experienced shooter and both of you know exactly what to do and when. Lots of stuff can happen that you did not expect where guests blocking a camera view is just one.
I would leave the fancy stuff behind and get the basics right.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 01:47 PM   #12
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Re: Need a bit of help

If you practice to get ready, and really want this sort of shot, here is how I'd set it up:

Camera #1 is unmanned. It's up front, off to the side, the same side the bride will eventually stand on, so it gets a clear view of the groom's face. I'd check it once the groom is in position.

Camera #2 is manned, on a monopod or shortened tripod, crouched up front, same side of the aisle as camera #1. This gets all your faces. If there is a gap, I'd also turn to get that great wide shot, looking up at the groom, making him look larger than life. You retreat from this spot once the bride nears the front, and you get the medium/wide shot of the hand-off & hugs, before moving to your position on the opposite side of camera #1 to capture the bride's face during vows/rings. OR this one ends up as the rear camera.

Camera #3 is manned, on a monopod, steadicam, or shortened tripod, in the back, same side of the aisle as cameras #1 & #2. Let's you get anything going on in the back, or the shot from the back. You let the bride pass you, then start to follow her at a respectful distance. Only works if that won't interfere with photog.

OR, camera #3, in the side aisle, ready to start walking sideways, with the camera up high, with a wide shot, with the last full row as your right side edge, focused on the aisle. When the bride enters the frame, you start moving. This move needs practicing, a lot. This also gets you side shot of the wedding party going down the aisle, though you're not walking with them, just letting them walk through your frame.

I don't have a steadicam. I do have a monopod, though for my walking shots, I prefer my Manfrotto tripod, legs as short as possible, and 2 hands on. I've practiced enough that, if I"m shooting 50mm or wider, it's very usable... until I lift it over my head.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 04:13 PM   #13
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Re: Need a bit of help

Thank You guys for all your input... I think i am going to eliminate the steadicam scenario from this picture and incorporate what Adrian and Noa said...I hope everything comes out ok...I have shoot many weddings as 2nd shooter and third shooter,but this is my first gig as my own studio with a second shooter i trust... Hopefully we will be able to nail this and get some good gigs in the future...

Last edited by Alan Daniel; June 23rd, 2014 at 04:48 PM.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 07:23 PM   #14
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Re: Need a bit of help

Other thing, if you work with a second shooter try to invest o a two way radio google Baofeng that is what Im using, very affordable $75 a pair, very handy at all times specially if you want to give direction to your shooter.

Also check first with the church if they allow camera in the back of the priest because some may not.

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Old June 23rd, 2014, 09:24 PM   #15
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Re: Need a bit of help

I had an old Azden VHF wireless mic setup that I wasn't using so I plugged a set of earbuds into the receiver and the 2nd shooter would drop it in her pocket. I had the transmitter and mic on my collar so I could then quietly whisper instructions to my 2nd shooter and tell her where to move and what shot to get for me on the other side of the Church without disturbing the ceremony.

It's only one way communication but it does work really well and you just have to say quietly "Move behind the couple and get me some reverse angle footage" and hey presto it's done without having to try and resort to frantic sign language.

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