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


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Old September 21st, 2014, 03:48 AM   #16
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Agree with Roger 100% - don't get too hung up on the gear to the detriment of providing the coverage you'll need - think ahead and treat it like a military operation - make sure you have enough time to set up in the venue, how are you going to do this is you are filming the bride and groom prep up to the moment they leave for the church? After 8 years doing this as a solo shooter I've got it down to 5 - 10 minutes depending on the location - and that is 3 cameras and 3 audio recorders.

So many small decisions on the day can make a big difference - 'do I get some shots of the groom waiting nervously, risking missing the bride arriving, or do I wait outside and not get some shots of the nervous groom?'

After the ceremony you'll need to scoot round and pack it up quickly if you are moving on to another location but you'll also need to be filming at the same time - difficult but not impossible - made all the harder by a church verger tapping you on the shoulder saying 'we need to lock up now'

Make sure you have an agenda for the day down to the last detail so you can mentally prepare - this is so important!

Regarding gear - GoPro's are great but need a lot of light, if the light is not sufficient I find the footage murky and ill defined. I find a monopod sometimes beats a tripod for ceremony or speeches if space is tight or you are likely to get blocked by a tog/priest. I always like to position myself at the front on the groom's side for my main camera with locked off cameras on the other side facing the groom and centrally at the back shooting down the aisle.

Are you familiar with the venue? Are there any restrictions? Can you park conveniently?

Above all be prepared for the unexpected - try and enjoy it but be prepared for a full body workout - it's tough!

Pete
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Old September 22nd, 2014, 05:10 AM   #17
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Like Roger said, be aware as a solo shooter it's hard to control all that gear and get the shots you need. You have to know if you'll have time to set this all up properly because if you miss something important because you were relying on or faffing about with another camera or sound recorder you're f**ked. Keep it simple and grow with experience.
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Old September 22nd, 2014, 05:34 PM   #18
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Guys, all this advice is seriously priceless - thank you!

From the various comments, I definitely agree about the 'keep it simple, stupid' approach.

The two venues are a park by the water, and then a semi-wide jetty/pier for the other. A few things there:

- no problem with low light, so GoPro on light stand up high is an easy 'safe shot'
- hoping I can get away with two DSLR cameras at ceremony instead of 3. Would have either:
a) Camera 1 on monopod to do tight shots of vows (switching sides for each persons vows - feasible?) readings etc. then Camera 2 with a 50mm in centre of aisle as wide shot (would this be overkill with the GoPro, or your ideal wife shot with GoPro as last resort
b) Instead of wide shot in aisle, Camera 2 could be on tripod on Bride's side to capture Groom, while I'm on monopod to capture Bride's face for vows rings etc.

Only times I'd be using a second body and tripod would be ceremony, and possibly during speeches (one camera on speaker, other on couple for reactions.

Does this sound like a more feasible plan to you guys? Once again, thanks again!
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Old September 22nd, 2014, 06:51 PM   #19
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Hi Mitch

I normally have my first camera on tripod BUT not in the aisle centre ..rather stick it off on the groom's side so it favours the bride's face ...you can run your 2nd cam either handheld or monopod to get the groom now and again. I always put my audio on my first camera as well ..that way I have a continuous run of the ceremony plus all the audio tracks ... of course the GoPro also runs from start to finish so it's easy to sync with the main camera. Just bear in mind that you will need Magic Lantern if you are using Canons as ceremonies run longer than 12 minutes.

Chris
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Old September 22nd, 2014, 08:14 PM   #20
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

By the water? Will it be behind the couple? If so, that might be a nightmare of reflected light. Off center cameras might be the best choice.
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Old September 22nd, 2014, 08:39 PM   #21
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Mitch

Go to the rehearsal!! Take a camera too!! That can solve all sorts of issues with positioning, and as Rob says lighting. They normally want their backs to the water but glare can be horrific so do a quick few clips at the rehearsal and if necessary change positions and try a few different exposures with a different EV if you think the water can be an issue. Weddings over here are well know for the bride and groom with their backs to a huge expanse of water and sky which makes exposure very tricky!!

Chris
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Old September 23rd, 2014, 04:23 AM   #22
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Mitch, two quick thoughts:

-- Maybe a sandbag for that GoPro on a stick. I've had a a lightstand blow over before at outdoor weddings.

-- If you're all DSLR and don't have Magic Lantern installed, think about taking two tripods rather than monopod + tripod. What happens if you need to adjust the tripod camera, or move it? If you'll need to put the monopod down. But then there's nothing to cut to. Whereas if you had the monopod camera on a tripod instead, at least it's still rolling, so there's no gap in coverage.

This does depend on space though. Outdoor weddings are sometimes, paradoxically, very cramped.
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Old September 23rd, 2014, 05:09 AM   #23
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Mitch I use sandbags on all my tripods/light stands indoors or outdoors - It's saved my back many times - at best someone may knock your camera out of alignment rendering the footage useless, at worst they'll knock it over possibly damaging your camera and a wedding guest!

Think about when you are going to turn everything on before the ceremony and give yourself time to do it, I turn on about 15 minutes before as i like to do a time lapse of guests taking their seats - for long church ceremonies the GoPro battery can die so I use a USB battery like this

http://www.amazon.co.uk/10000mAh-Por...+battery+anker

Pete
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Old October 5th, 2014, 05:28 AM   #24
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

How did your wedding go Mitch?
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Old October 6th, 2014, 09:09 PM   #25
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Hi Mervyn,

Thanks for asking. I definitely learnt a LOT out of the first two weddings, and my second shoot was so much more comfortable than the first. My main points to note were:

1. Impossible as solo shooter to capture any groom prep, as once at bride prep, I didn't have enough time once she was in her dress to get to groom prep before needing to get set up at ceremony.
2. I had a lot of issues with focus at the first ceremony because of bright sunlight and the fact that my Kamerar viewfinder was without the baseplate that magnetically connects to the LCD screen (as baseplate was on 70-200 lens mount instead). This caused me to actually have to had hold the viewfinder to the back of the screen, making focus slow and cumbersome. I got an extra base plate for the second wedding and this made it super easy by comparison.
3. A safety cam in front of the groom just below waist heigh would help mitigate risk of not tracking bride all the way down the aisle, so I'll need to look at how to work this into my set up.
4. Need to shoot moving subjects (bridesmaids and bride walking down aisle) at apertures with deeper depth of field, as it's too risky at 2.8 or so to accurately track bride. Devastatingly, I learnt this the hard way as I failed to get bride in focus on her walk down aisle. Hoping I can cover this with safety cam in the edit.
5. Need a good low light second body to mount on tripod for speeches. Had my 550D/T2i for speeches at second wedding which did OK, but image was a little noisy at ISO 800. This was still better than first wedding as room was too dark and 550D was unusable, so had to use my 6D on a monopod which means full speech coverage will be impossible to provide, as I was needing to get reaction shots with the same camera.
6. Need to be more conscious of not breaking 180 rule. Second ceremony was VERY tight (on a jetty wharf) so had very limited space to manoeuvre on Groom's side in front of bridal party, so some shots (including rings and kiss) were shot behind grooms men. Not a deal breaker as couple aren't likely to notice, but just a reminder to myself to do some further thinking into where I position myself during all parts of ceremony.
7. Audio was fine as I used my Zoom H6 for direct feed, and a SmartLav+ on the groom.

OVERALL, really positive learning experience, and both couples were great. I'll likely be delivering a short highlight film with ceremony and speech coverage in as fuller capacity as possible. Thanks to everyone for their tips along the way.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 09:20 PM   #26
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Hey Mitch, just realised that you're in Sydney! Where were the ceremony and reception held?

-- Re capturing groom prep... If you really want it, you have to communicate with couple beforehand. It may involve getting the groom out of bed earlier in the morning, so you can shoot at his place first, and then go to the bride's.

-- Tracking the bride during processional... One method is not to bother tracking. Ie: preset the focus at a certain point, then just let her walk into then out of focus.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 09:38 PM   #27
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Hi Mitch

Just some ideas based on your points :

(1) Yes you can do the guys! (I try to tell the bride we will just get some shots before the ceremony to make life easier BUT) if you do the guys just do them early ... they can get changed, shoot some footage of them and then they can simply go back to their boardies and singlets before they get ready again for real. It works well as long as they are happy to change twice..most are!!

(2) Why are you shooting with a minimum zoom of 70mm ... stick on a wider lens for your first camera like a 24-70 rather than a 70 -200 and get in closer .. that way you have more DOF to work with and less likely to have a focus issue ..do you REALLY need the DOF to be that shallow anyway? Not sure if you have Canon's but doesn't Magic Lantern has focus peaking? It's a lot easier and also Hoodman make great loupes that you can keep on the LCD and they stay there.

(3) I always put my Camera 3 and 4 up high ...on top of a lighting stand and it's an awesome safety camera and gives a nice semi-aerial view of the ceremony ... photogs can't block your shot and it will seriously save your bacon ... I use two actually and both are action cams (Hero and SJ4000) and brides love the wide view! Let them run from start to finish. You don't have to use the footage but it's nice to have.

(4) For speeches work with a lectern ..we use them in Australia all the time! Most venues have one and that way the speaker stays in one spot so you can zap a light on a stand on them too. On my 2nd cam at the reception I use fast lenses!! My goto lens for my handheld cam is a Sigma 18-35 F1.8 constant .. it very rare that I need lights on the camera except when they turn everything off sometimes for the first dance...again, working at 18mm and staying close you still have a decent DOF of a few feet to work with!

Hope the next one is even more fun!

Chris
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Old October 6th, 2014, 11:39 PM   #28
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Adrian - great suggestion about the pre-focus and let her walk into and out of focus. What aperture would you typically shoot at for this?

Weddings were at Palm Beach (Dunes) for first wedding, then quarantine Station for second wedding. I live in Manly so was super convenient.

Regarding groom prep, I tried to ask second groom if I could come by earlier but quite honestly he didn't seem too worried about me missing him. Will definitely suggest for future weddings that I want to build in 20-30 minutes for groom prep before I go to the bride, and just position that it really helps to tell the story of the day.

Chris - I think I was probably a bit shy about getting right in there for my first few weddings, but agree a 24-70 and being closer to the action would be more beneficial.

Don't have ML on my 6D as it's brand new and I'm a little concerned about voiding warranty and it being unstable. Any thoughts on this?
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Old October 6th, 2014, 11:53 PM   #29
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Hi Mitch

Don't over think the groom prep .. at best the guys are reluctant anyway so rather tell the bride they are not worth filming and you will get better footage of them at the ceremony as they arrive 30 mins early anyway. Seriously 90% of grooms/groomsmen drink beer and play video games/watch sport until it's 5 minutes to leaving time. They jump into their suits and speed off. I find it better to film them arriving at the venue and get Mum to pin on their button holes (if she has already done it just do it again)

I don't use Canon but I know Adrian does so he can advise you on that. My Sony's have focus peaking built in and without that I would struggle!!

Yeah just zone focus the bridal party . If you don't like the loss of focus as they come closer cut just before and switch back to the main cam so you get reaction shots.

Chris
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Old October 7th, 2014, 01:06 AM   #30
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Re: First Wedding - advice for a solo shooter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitch Phillips View Post
Adrian - great suggestion about the pre-focus and let her walk into and out of focus. What aperture would you typically shoot at for this?
Well, to be honest, I've never actually done it that way! I've always tried to pull focus all the way. My last few weddings, I've used a 50mm at 2.0 or 2.8.

If you're going to use the "prefocus and let her walk" method, I guess you'd want to set focus at least for the moment when she'd fill the frame. But as for how much depth of field, it's up to your taste. Can't really advise you.

Last edited by Adrian Tan; October 7th, 2014 at 03:31 AM.
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