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


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Old August 6th, 2014, 01:03 PM   #1
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Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Hey guys,

One of my great friends is getting married and he asked me not only to be in his bridal party but also to shoot video for his wedding. Now, I'm a hobbyist when it comes to video. I'm assuming he asked me shoot the video because he wanted it for free and didn't care to look around for one that was paid (let's face it, you have lots of planning to do, and to remove one thing from your plate is good). Regardless though, I'm super excited to give this a shot, but I have a few questions:

1. Has anyone ever attempted this, or done this?
2. Based on my gear list, what would you recommend buying next?
3. Would it be wise to supplement your wedding footage with non-wedding day footage possibly interviewing the bride/groom/bridal party with heart felt comments? (I feel like this would offer even more narrative opportunity)

Gear List (it's weak, I know):
Canon 550d, f/1.8 50mm, f/2.8 11-16mm, VT-2100 Fluid Head tripod, Tascam DR-40, Rode NTG-2, Kamerar 23" slider, various accessories.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 01:14 PM   #2
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

I cant see how you can be in the wedding and filming it as well, I'd say it would get hectic pretty fast!
First off you need to discuss with him his expectations of what you can produce, then consider if you can actually do it to the standard he might expect, if you ruin it maybe he might find it hard to be such a good friend!
If your doing the wedding you'll have to cover the essentials i.e, the arrival at the church/venue the ceremony itself, exchange or rings/vows etc. and so on, I dont think you can just present him with some interviews and leave it at that!
As for your gear - yea you could do it with what you have, but i would advise on getting a loan of a second cam, gives you a backup if your own one fails for whatever reason and also gives you a different viewpoint so you have two angles.
Personally I would tactfully decline a gig like this - its fraught with problems.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 01:16 PM   #3
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Nothing wrong with your gear list, except for a nice long focal length lens. Or failing that, an older (vintage!) one that can do the job for now.

The problem is, of course, having someone run the darn camera. Unless you shoot wide enough that everything is in frame of your one shot, which kind of stinks, depending on where you are. The Catholic church I was just in, I was at a nice wide shot (from WAAAAAAYYYYY back), but still panned from left and right to get readers, the pastor, or B&G, as relevant. So, shoot super wide, or get an usher or some random to pan for you?

You'll have to set your aperture so your depth of field is deep enough to not need adjustment, too.

With the 550D, you'll want Magic Lantern, if you don't already, so that it will auto-restart after 12 minutes of filming, and you get audio meters, and even be able to set your white balance via Kelvin. Good sound will be key, and I usually do a wireless mic on the pastor, pocket recorder on the groom, maybe a pocket recorder where the readings will be, and on camera for ambient.

For free, he gets single camera and that's it. Anything else you do, like details or establishing shots would be entirely for your own benefit.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 01:40 PM   #4
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

It's easy to find weddings to shoot and not get paid for, not sure why you (or anyone) would try and be in a wedding party and shoot a wedding at the same time.

When I saw the post at first I though it was a joke, but then quickly remembered we are likely to see anything on here.

As an experienced wedding videographer the concept of what you're doing seems ridiculous to me.

You may be in the wedding party on paper, but shooting the wedding you will in no way be able to participate as a proper groomsman.

I would expect you would have a miserable day, it would be stressed filled, and you will not fill either role properly. Sounds dreadful.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 01:41 PM   #5
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

So you are a part of the bridal party AND you are supposed to produce a video? :) I"d leave out any fancy stuff like the slider and go full documentary style, that means shoot any ongoing stuff before the ceremony handheld, since everyone knows you they would feel much more comfortable if you push the camera in their faces to ask for reactions, I would just shoot whatever happens and don't try to be creative like getting shallow dof slider shots etc, just concentrate on content and talk to family and friends while filming them and ask for reactions, maybe best wishes and so on.

In church just put the camera with the wideangle in a position where you can cover the altar and lectern in one shot and only shoot the most important parts, like when they enter the church, when the say their vows and when they leave the church.

Your tascam you could place in front of a church soundspeaker and later on at the venue connect it to the soundsystem or also just place it in front of a soundspeaker.

If you are comfortable using it the 50mm might be great during speeches if they don't move, otherwise use the wide angle again and place the camera closer to the speakers.

I wouldn't buy anything, you will have enough to deal with your current gear since you don't have experience with weddings, the more you use the more can go wrong, better keep it real simple and try to enjoy the party.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 02:48 PM   #6
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Rob,

Great point about talking about expectations. I would really not want to let him down promising something that is impossible for me to do.

Robert,

I definitely use magic lantern, those features are so critical for videography. The RGB parade, the recording picture style, the better options for ISO and aperture, where do I stop? It's all good.

Jeff,

Yeah, it may sound dreadful but I revel in the challenge. It's going to be a great exercise in uniquely creating a wedding video w/o sacrificing quality.

To all,

If the church/venue I am in has a live-sound guy, can I just ask him for a line-out feed to plug into my tascam to capture all of the audio? I feel like this is a good way to use one recorder and still capture good quality audio.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 02:53 PM   #7
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

You cannot count on a quality audio signal from a soundboard, especially one that you do not control.

I just as often as not cannot use an audio feed from a mixer, it is often usless.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 03:16 PM   #8
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

1. Has anyone ever attempted this, or done this?

Yes, in April of this year, and it was my first time too.

Here is the resulting film:


Password: 170414

It's not as difficult as many are making out, in my opinion, but it all comes down to preparation; and admittedly, I did become obsessced and purchased quite a lot of gear to shoot it well. I'd recommend watching Ray Roman's Wedding Videography Cinematography course at CreativeLive.com. Reason being, that he will set you at ease, whilst also educating you as to how to shoot a wedding well, as well as ways to get great shots with a Manfrotto Video Monopod (which I'd recommend as your ONLY buy). Remember that you're a part of the wedding, a groomsmen? (as I was, if so). There were small moments that I missed out on, but for the most part, I was able to take part. E.g. I had a shot of whiskey with the boys in the morning, received a gift and still appeared in all of the photographs, had a meal with my friends and stopped recording after the first three dances. Was it a busy day? Yes, of course it was, but if you're enthusiastic and prepared (which will take extra time - recommending a visit to the venues and picking out where the best positions will be etc.), I'm sure you'll do a good job. I'd definitely recommend giving them a highlight video, as you only need a few useable shots per event - and you don't need to have great audio if you effectively make them a music video. Even if you delivered a two minute memory for them... if it was filled with nice shots, you will give them a lot to remember. Personally, I'd take your slider and use it solely for the preps. Then hide it away and enjoy your day, walking around with a monopod. Use your tripod for a lock off during the ceremony and speeches, and position yourself close by for re-framing during the speeches. But for the ceremony, I'd lock it off looking down the aisle with your wide at 16mm, and then sit off to the side and shoot with your 50 - try to be as close as possible though, so you have a nice medium shot.

2. Based on my gear list, what would you recommend buying next?

Ray Roman's Wedding Cinematography course at CreativeLive and a Manfrotto Video Monopod. Don't buy anything else unless you're thinking of taking it up for a living. It gets expensive. Fast.

Use your DR40 and NTG-2 mics to secure your audio (goes without saying).I'd potentially buy a pocket recorder (cheap one) and then place it on the table in front of the speakers - I'd even ask if they could all read from the same place to reduce your need for gear. But I'd definitely focus on having one back up for audio. Deliver them a ceremony and speeches edit, along with a highlights and you're done. That's what I'd do anyways...

3. Would it be wise to supplement your wedding footage with non-wedding day footage possibly interviewing the bride/groom/bridal party with heart felt comments? (I feel like this would offer even more narrative opportunity)

That would potentially offer more to your film, but it depends as to how much effort you wish to put in.

I can't offer much advice, other than to listen to the people who you see post here as much as possible, watch lots of wedding films to get a vibe of the films that you might like to produce and remember to just capture the shots - it's better to have a safe shot than to fail miserably with a supposed great shot.

Otherwise, take what I say with a pinch of salt. I've only ever shot three weddings and two of those were in the past week!

Good luck!
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Old August 6th, 2014, 03:27 PM   #9
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott James Walter View Post
To all,

If the church/venue I am in has a live-sound guy, can I just ask him for a line-out feed to plug into my tascam to capture all of the audio? I feel like this is a good way to use one recorder and still capture good quality audio.
That's what I suggested, but like Jeff said, don't expect it to be perfect and certainly don't use it as your only audio source. Either monitor the sound constantly and place your 550d not to far from a soundspeaker so you still have that if the recording to your tascam would fail.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 03:54 PM   #10
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott James Walter View Post
Hey guys,
One of my great friends is getting married and he asked me not only to be in his bridal party but also to shoot video for his wedding.
I think that this is a very bad idea. You are unlikely to do be able to fulfill the expectations of the happy couple as either a participant or a videographer. Sure, you will probably be able to take some worthwhile video, but forget getting any sort of complete record of the occasion. Unless the groom/bride/celebrant are willing to hold up/ repeat parts of the proceedings to let you take video, it's one or the other.

Quote:
1. Has anyone ever attempted this, or done this?
Almost everybody takes photos and/or video at weddings, including members of bridal parties, but that's not what you are meaning, I suspect.
For my wedding (many moons ago), I had three friends shoot Super 8. Between them, they nailed it.
My daughter ordered me not to bring any sort of camera to her wedding - I booked an experienced video pro from this forum who did an excellent job, an I was able to concentrate on my duties and enjoy the day.
Quote:
2. Based on my gear list, what would you recommend buying next?
That's not the big problem, but shooting weddings on a DSLR can be more difficult than on a conventional camcorder. As already discussed, audio is a big part of this problem.
Quote:
3. Would it be wise to supplement your wedding footage with non-wedding day footage possibly interviewing the bride/groom/bridal party with heart felt comments? (I feel like this would offer even more narrative opportunity)
If you feel you really must do this, I would try to visit the venue(s) before and after the event and try to get as much cutaway footage as you can - you can never have too much. Film the invitation/ order of service/ menu/ signage - anything and everything. Then you might be able to cobble something decent together. Ask your friend if there is anyone else who can take video as well - it might well produce footage that you were unable to take.
Sorry if this appears unduly negative, but you did ask! :-)
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Old August 6th, 2014, 05:26 PM   #11
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Craig,

Awesome video. I was smiling the entire time. There's definitely something special about weddings. Thanks for the advice, I will look into some of the resources you mentioned. It seemed as though you weren't standing up at the front with the rest of the groomsmen but being rather mobile, was that the case? Also, how many cameras did you have?

Noa,

Sorry I missed your advice. I must've only read the bit about placing the DR-40 in front of the speakers as opposed to hooking it up to the live sound.

Colin,

I did indeed ask for it! Thanks for your advice about visiting the venue before hand to prepare as much as possible.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 05:28 PM   #12
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

This is a lively discussion! Here's a couple more thoughts:

1. Others have said to make sure there is an understanding of expectations, including, heaven forbid, if something didn't get captured. Prior to agreeing to do this, I'd recommend also talking to the bride and make sure she has an understanding of the potential pitfalls. Maybe the bride's mother too? It'd be terrible if this became argument source later.

2. For the locked-down camera, find someone who you can trust to protect (with their life) the tripod and the camera. I can just visualize someone walking by chatting with someone else and *bump* .... "Oops, sorry!"
Also, the watchman tripod guard should make ure the little red light is doing what it is supposed to do (i.e., blink or stay steady). Have a plan for what happens if it doesn't and you're not there.

With the understanding about expectations and discussing your concerns about what could go wrong, you might get a little more support to in some areas.

Maybe sweeten the video with some still shots from guests where you couldn't be there? Use the Ken Burns effect?

Last edited by John Nantz; August 6th, 2014 at 05:30 PM. Reason: ure = sure
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Old August 6th, 2014, 06:55 PM   #13
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Hi Scott,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott James Walter View Post
Has anyone ever attempted this, or done this?
I've done video/MC and twice done video/guest.

To be honest, I don't really see you doing video/groomsman if you have to stand at the front of the church/enter at the reception with the other groomsmen.

Quote:
Would it be wise to supplement your wedding footage with non-wedding day footage
Yes.

Quote:
Based on my gear list, what would you recommend buying next?
1. Enough batteries and cards to last through the day.

2. Audio cables so you can plug into the DJ.

Have fun!
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Old August 6th, 2014, 08:22 PM   #14
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott James Walter View Post
Craig,

Awesome video. I was smiling the entire time. There's definitely something special about weddings. Thanks for the advice, I will look into some of the resources you mentioned. It seemed as though you weren't standing up at the front with the rest of the groomsmen but being rather mobile, was that the case? Also, how many cameras did you have?
Definitely check out Ray Roman's Cinematography class, just to watch his prep video alone.

Maybe it's different in the UK, but Groomsmen just sit with the family at the front - they don't stand - or at least haven't in the weddings that I've been to this year. If you can't be mobile, then I guess that isn't the end of the world. As others have stated, you're better off locking the camera off on a tripod by a speaker - back up audio. At the wedding I shot in this thread, I was allowed to move to the right of the groom and shoot from there. My only other camera was on the opposite side - locked off on a tripod.

As others have stated, DSLRs will add to the difficulty of shooting a wedding, but they have their plus sides too.

Ultimately, you're better off listening to others here. They know a lot more than me. :-)
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Old August 25th, 2014, 10:39 PM   #15
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Re: Shooting Video and Being In the Wedding

I had one of my best friends ask me to film his wedding and officiate it as well (I've been a pastor for 7 years). First off, I did his video for super cheap.

My first assistant and I shot all the prep. I brought in a second assistant just for the ceremony. And then my first assistant and I shot the reception. Needless to say, it was a VERY busy day!
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