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


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Old October 19th, 2014, 08:31 AM   #1
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My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

Hi all
I want to share my experiences in video recording a wedding yesterday, my first for 8 years. This was a free job for a couple that were not getting a video done as they couldn't afford it. I wanted to practice.

First a bit of history,
Back in the late 80's and early 90's I used to video a few weddings. Usually with a hired 3 tube camera and u-matic recorder. Great quality and I still look forward to digitising some of the originals and work some modern day technology on them.
But the last wedding I did was for a cousin 8 years ago using Canon DV and Sony Digital 8 camera's.
Not bad for the time but I struggled for a long time with getting hardware and software up to speed and my new job (and new wife) has kept me away from my old hobby until now.

Anyway, about 12 months I started getting up to speed with the latest camera's, technology and prices.
I still can't justify a new camera yet, but it will be a video camera, not a video capable DSLR.

So for this wedding I decided my 2 year old domestic Sony video camera would have to do and audio was more important. So I invested in some audio gear, lapel mics, Zoom H1 and light stands and a light.
I borrowed a second video camera (with operator for the ceremony) and 2 GoPro's.

So Here's a list of what I had at my disposal, and some notes.

Sony HDR-XR260VE camera. This is mine. It's a bit noisy in low light but love the wide angle 35mm eqiv. 26.8mm to 321mm). The sound from it is amazing too.

Sony HDR-XR500E camera. Borrowed. Excellent image quality, much better in low light. A lot more complicated settings and I wasnt used to it as I used it at the reception. But I was not impressed by the wide angle. (35mm equiv. 43 to 516mm)

2 x borrowed GoPro's front side and rear of the ceremony and each side of the angled bridal table one grabbing the bridal table, dance floor and seated people. The other similar form the other side.
For the outdoor ceremony, fantasic, but not so good in the evening inside under lights. I think I'd prefer a couple of $300 video camera's.

1 x WF or Fancier FT-717 tripod Fancier FT-717 1.66m Heavy Duty Video Camera Tripod Kit w/ Fluid Head 3/8 Screw Mount Panhead" . It was really good value and perfect for my small camera. I dod notice it quite stiff in the cool morning.

1 x $70 Sony video tripod. OK for holding a camera and swinging it around, but no fluid action.

2 x Rode Smartlav+ with TRRS to TRS adapter leads.

Zoom H1 with accessory pack. I was going to put this in the grooms pocket with a Smartlav+, but ended up using on a Microphone boom stand pointed toward the PA speaker at both locations.

I used one Smartlav+ into my Sony Xperia Z mobile phone running RecForge II which I had tested for hours during the preceeding days. I put that on the groom and inside jacket pocket. It worked fantastic for the ceremony.

2 x cheap eBay chinese light stands (2 for $24 delivered). Fantasic. 6ft tall, low footprint, lightweight. I added some small barbell weights for stability. If it was windy the gopro's might have wavered a bit outdoors, but it was OK.

1 x Yongnuo YN300 II video light. This one light on the cheap light stand covered the bridal table and dance floor and made quite a difference at about half brightness. Also used it on low in the brides house. Great light.

I also brought a sun sheild for the XR260 as it does not have a veiwfinder. It worked a treat. Amazon.com : LCD Screen Sun Shield for DSLR Cameras and Camcorders compatible with Canon EOS Rebel T5i T4i T3i, Canon VIXIA FS100 FS200 HF10 HG20 HF100, Nikon D5200 D5100 + MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloth : Digital Camera Accessory Kits : Camera

Lessons learned.
Some GoPro batteries don't last long in the sun.
Late brides cause wasted batteries.
2 GoPros with 32GB memory cards. Both on about equal time, but one was FULL before the other. Both had the same settings.
My XR260 only had 2 small size batteries. I flattened one by the end of the ceremony and started to panic as I didnt have an external charger. However I was able to keep chargin it in the quiet times of the reception and never even had to use my second batteries.
My friends' XR500 had a huge after market battery on it and it went all day and night.
Must get bigger batteries and external charger.
Forgot to turn on the ZOOM H1 twice, as it was on a mic stand. It could have recorded all day, next time it will be checked and left on.
2 camera operators are better than one, but that's not always practical or affordable. Have at least 2 or 3 cameras through.
Smartlav+ on the groom, smart idea. Smartlav+ on the table in a noisy reception, not a smart idea, I need a shotgun mic.

Well that's it for the gear & the lessons. If you are still with me, sorry for the long post. If you have any questions or comments, feel free.
Merv
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Old October 19th, 2014, 08:47 AM   #2
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

Lots of lessons learned there Mervyn!

GoPros definitely go through batteries quickly, especially if you have WiFi turned on. Consider a USB battery such as this one I use:

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

This will last for hours and hours - I filmed a Hindu ceremony a few weeks back and it had only used a quarter charge after 2 hours!

GoPro cameras are poor in low light however so If I were you I'd consider a small camcorder for a safety camera - the Sony CX or PJ series have wide Zeiss lenses and produce a nice image - even the cheap ones

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-CX240E-...=sony+handycam

Pete
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Old October 19th, 2014, 09:04 AM   #3
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

Nice report Mervyn and all seems pretty logical to me.

A couple of observations would be that I like your decision to go with video cameras rather than DSLRs. Apart from the limits with DSLR recording time, there are numerous other problems using a camera designed for stills to video a wedding. Many people do it successfully, but like you, I come from a video background and prefer to use a video camera for video work.

I have a Zoom H1, but find it a bit bulky for the Groom's pocket, preferring to use the Sony ICD PX312 with the Sony stereo lav mic. Sony ICD-PX312 - Digital voice recorder - flash 2 GB - MP3 - black: Amazon.co.uk: Office Products I use GoPro cams for overall and backup shots, but always use them with a portable power pack which gets over the battery life problem. PortaPow Battery Extender Pack for Smartphones: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

I try to avoid using lights, as modern video cameras seem to handle comparatively low light levels well, only resorting to LED lights when the light levels are becoming too low for the eye to see detail well, the first dance being a typical example.

It's always interesting to hear the experiences of someone with an old school background getting back into it.

Roger

Last edited by Roger Gunkel; October 19th, 2014 at 09:05 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old October 19th, 2014, 10:51 AM   #4
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

I have a xr500 here as well which belonged to my father, great little camera's but I have a cx730 also which is even better, especially in low light, it performs about the same but it almost doesn't have any noise, even with the gain at it's highest setting.

There are many that use gopros at weddings but I never would use it to cover a important non repeatable event like the ceremony, you would have much more control and reliability with simple small handicams.

About choosing a video camera vs a dslr, if you want to make your life easier, definitely go for the videocamera, if you want versatility in lens choice, shallow dof and good low light performances which would enable you to shoot without extra light, definitely go the dslr route.

I happily can operate 4 videocamera's during a ceremony alone and go home knowing I will have decent looking material but I would not sleep well if that where 4 dslr's :)
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Old October 19th, 2014, 05:11 PM   #5
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post

I happily can operate 4 videocamera's during a ceremony alone and go home knowing I will have decent looking material but I would not sleep well if that where 4 dslr's :)
I will definitely second that :-)

Roger
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Old October 19th, 2014, 05:19 PM   #6
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

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Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
I will definitely second that :-)

Roger
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Old October 19th, 2014, 07:44 PM   #7
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

We learned some similar lessons our first few weddings. We now have a LOT of extra batteries and memory cards, just in case :).

I like having a light or two on hand, even if it stays in the car. Never know when you'll be in a truly awful spot and wish you had it.

For me, something like a GoPro would be cool to stash in a spot where you might get an amazing shot, but it's no big deal if it doesn't work out (I've actually used my phone's camera in a similar way). Otherwise, our coverage is 3 camera.

I like the Olympus .... DM620 (or something like that) for the groom, for its size. We just ordered the Zoom H4 and will use that to combine a shotgun mic (on a stand near the front) and a wireless lav (pastor) onto our master camera.

//still don't get the DSLR hate, but fully understand going either way
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Old October 19th, 2014, 08:39 PM   #8
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

I don't do weddings without at least one action cam! You don't need to use the footage but it has saved me many, many times and inside a reasonably lit Church the lighting is still good enough. I have started using the SJ4000 action cams now .. apart from being a quarter of the price of a GoPro they produce a nice image and the batteries seem to last longer than a GoPro ... my Hero 2 eats batteries if WiFi is on and if I don't use wifi I have to connect a LCD display at the bottom of the stand so I can frame correctly.
The cheaper SJ4000 also has a bright (but tiny) LCD built in and it's certainly good enough for framing so I have ripped the LCD off the stand now which makes life a lot easier.. less to worry about and less to connect!

I don't like DSLR's at all ..not because they are DSLR's (I have two but only for stills) but simply because the form factor doesn't suit video at all ..trying to hold it like a still camera and then twisting lens barrels isn't a good idea for handheld work ..well for me anyway! My Sony EA-50's give me the best of both worlds .. they are a "proper" shoulder mount video camera but have a DSLR sensor so I get all the advantages of a DSLR including using all my Nikon lenses but still have a decent form factor without having to use a cumbersome rig.

Chris
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Old October 20th, 2014, 02:12 AM   #9
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

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Originally Posted by Robert Benda View Post
//still don't get the DSLR hate, but fully understand going either way
It's not hate but anyone looking for good results using multiple camera's in a multicam set up when you shoot solo will be much happier using a videocamera, dslr's can give a very nice look but will make your life much more difficult.
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Old October 20th, 2014, 06:23 AM   #10
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Re: My first wedding video for 8 years. Lessons learned.

I also don't hate DSLRs, I use them for stills, but working with dedicated video cameras is sooooo much easier at weddings with less chance of screwing up a vital shot. I also like performance sports cars, but wouldn't want to rely on one for everyday family use :-)

Roger
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