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


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Old November 25th, 2014, 04:36 PM   #16
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

Well I've owned the Canon 24mm f3.5 tilt and shift for at least 10 years and in all that time I've never used it at a wedding whether that be for stills or video.

My original reason for buying it was to correct converging verticals and for that its brilliant. However then came along software that could correct converging verticals and suddenly there was no point in carrying this extra bit of heavy manual focus kit; simply shoot the stills a bit wider and correct in post :- )

Again with stills you can achieve better front to rear depth of field by focus stacking rather than nursing a T&S lens or using a very small aperture (and suffering its diffraction in the process of).

Much of the T&S work I see is eye-catching mostly because it looks so unnatural e.g. tiny people in toytown settings seen from rooftop vantage points. Do you really want unnatural in wedding films?

Seems to me that we are often guilty of rationalising why we need a particular piece of kit or why we must use a particular technique (a technique so often used that it is actually "traditional" and NOT innovative or creative at all). But the truth is the wedding clients couldn't care less. The content and the capturing of emotion is where its at for them. Who ever gets any negative feedback from any client about anything other than the occasional question as to why a certain sequence that they thought you had captured is missing from the final product?

If all the kit and all the quack techniques give you personal satisfaction then great; its wonderful to be doing a job that we enjoy. But make no mistake - you ARE over-engineering the product for the target market.

I was reading an online exchange between some brides today who were discussing which photographer to go with, both of whom were quoting over 5,000. One rather let the cat out of the bag by saying that she had shown some of the pics to, quote, "people in the know, I work in TV" and these had confirmed the pics were of a high quality. In other words she had no idea herself and could have achieved the same level of satisfaction paying half the price if that had been a priority for her.

Pete
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Old November 25th, 2014, 04:56 PM   #17
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
The things that count as "stuff that brides notice" -- I guess that's debatable. For instance, whether brides do notice good audio or not. I personally think there are many brides who are wowed by shallow depth and by slider shots, because they've told me as much. "Look at so-and-so's work. It's amazing." And you look, and it's formulaic, and there's technical problems all over the place -- bad focus and exposure and camera shake -- but it's full of slider reveal after slider reveal, and is shot as shallow as hell.
I'll assume those videos are short, 5 minutes or so. Have you ever asked those brides about the longer videos? Is that really all they want, a music video?

I'd be curious to know.
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Old November 25th, 2014, 05:03 PM   #18
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

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Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
Who ever gets any negative feedback from any client about anything other than the occasional question as to why a certain sequence that they thought you had captured is missing from the final product?

Pete
One of my earliest Weddings, I got critique on my B & C Cameras not colour matching my A Camera - too pink. It went back and forth several times before I got colour that was acceptable to the Bride. I once had a complaint that I didn't use my slider; I was hired by the Groom in that instance. I've also been called up on camera placement. I had to explain the restrictions the church made, but basically my rear camera wasn't placed to her satisfaction. One Bride complained a table decoration was in the way during the Speeches, blocking a shot of the groom and her. I had been forced to move to another spot by the Venue Manager who wanted access to deliver the flowers & gifts at key moments. The Bride was none too pleased and complained to the Venue over this.

I've also been questioned several times by both Brides and Grooms on poor audio they've heard in other videos, particularly in the Speeches and concerned that I capture it well. Requests for cameras attached to vehicles have been made, I have one Wedding next year where I've been asked to get aerial shots and another asking for the whole thing to be shot in 4K - yep someone has a 4K TV. Wish I did.
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Old November 25th, 2014, 06:50 PM   #19
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

I've come in late on this thread, but one thing I think is more important than any of the others mentioned, is visual flow.

Cranes, Jibs, Dollies, Sliders, Shallow DOF etc, might give you technical advantages over Uncle Bob, but give me a smart phone and give Uncle Bob all the high tech equipment, and my smart phone video will be more watchable. That's because after thirty years, I know what shots the couple will like, how long they need to be, what needs to be included and how to edit the whole lot together to hold their attention and keep them watching.

Without visual flow, you may be able to wow them for a few minutes with technical sparkle, but without the story and flow, it will have no real substance and no lasting value.

Roger
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Old November 25th, 2014, 09:24 PM   #20
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

Adrian - you started a very interesting thread. I like it.

Yea, you started out with your wish for a tilt/shift lens …. but because you wrote about what makes a difference it has nicely segued into thoughts other than just the equipment.

In retail sales, it's a lot about "bells and whistles," and to some degree one could say that about the video products we sell, as well. What several have mentioned, or suggested, is the main important thing is the story.

I like Rogers post #19 about using an iPhone vs Uncle Bob is a good example, and he's not alone as several of the earlier posts have mentioned or suggested something like this. Let me pass along some figures I've read.

85% of a good movie is the storyline. This was said by someone like a producer or director and it was in a book about script writing. Okay, so maybe it's a bit biased toward script writers but as much as I like equipment and working with it, the statement struck a chord. One can argue the number but I know myself, if the story isn't good I'm switching channels or turning it off.

Another very large percentage (don't remember the number) of a good movie is the casting. Well, if it's a wedding video I don't know what to say. Maybe there's an exception.

2/3rds of a good video is the audio. This was a statement by a big name in movies (don't remember the name) in the book "How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck".

A video tells a story so what is the story? In the case of the wedding video, does it just document what happened? Is that a "story"? Would a wedding video tell a story about HOW it happened? Like, for example, how the couple met? What each person found interesting about the other? What attracted them to each other?

Could the story start earlier, maybe something like their bio, how they grew up, with baby through teenage pictures then leading into the wedding? Interviews with relatives or friends about them growing up?

Just writing this it seems like it'd be a lot but it doesn't have to be. It can be what one wants to make it. In the case of wedding shoots there is already a more-or-less standard approach so the prelude, if you want to call it that, could also have a "standard" approach. It would be a nice add-on to the basic package. Perhaps not even for "general distribution" but just for the couple.

Just this morning I had a discussion with my wife about a copy (DVD video) I made of an old 8 mm film of my wife's relatives. She showed it to them yesterday and they absolutely loved it. We're talking about something shot around 1970 (44 years ago), (2/3rds is good audio - hey! this had NO audio (!)), but it brought back lots of memories. They all really loved it.

So, back to the story idea.

Guess my question is, "is the wedding JUST a documentary, or is it a story"? If it's a story, what IS the story? Note that even a documentary is a story but probably more like one of, say, like what a security camera might record.

If a wedding video is a story, wouldn't one want, shall we call it, the Prelude too?

Let me add one more thought - this is about the "equipment" part. If you're a guy videographer, probably the best "equipment" would be to team up with your wife, significant other, or another female. Hey, they see things differently. I don't care what anybody says - they are different. This is where I'd add on to what Roger Gunkel wrote about the iPhone. My wife sees "things" a lot different than me. These are the "little" nuances that make the big difference. (at least for me)

Adrian - thanks for starting this!

Last edited by John Nantz; November 25th, 2014 at 10:23 PM. Reason: deleted duplicate word
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Old November 26th, 2014, 04:02 AM   #21
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

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Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post

Without visual flow, you may be able to wow them for a few minutes with technical sparkle, but without the story and flow, it will have no real substance and no lasting value.

Roger
Hit the nail on the head.

Visual flow and content will ALWAYS beat technical sparkle.

This is the universal order to a good professional video in my opinion:

1. Content (a lovely venue, good looking, lively people all contribute towards the content as well as a bride crying etc)
2. Visual Flow (a good edit)
3. A steady image (that allows the viewer to see the subject properly)
4. Multi camera angles
5. Jib Crane, Steadicam or Slider Shots
6. Shallow depth of field
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Old November 26th, 2014, 04:41 AM   #22
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

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Originally Posted by James Manford View Post
Hit the nail on the head.

Visual flow and content will ALWAYS beat technical sparkle.

This is the universal order to a good professional video in my opinion:

1. Content (a lovely venue, good looking, lively people all contribute towards the content as well as a bride crying etc)
2. Visual Flow (a good edit)
3. A steady image (that allows the viewer to see the subject properly)
4. Multi camera angles
5. Jib Crane, Steadicam or Slider Shots
6. Shallow depth of field
There's one other aspect I think contributes to a Professional video; appropriate use of camera angles. For example, a close up of the Bride's face when she's crying will carry the emotion more effectively than a wide shot. Seems obvious, but I've seen a few videos that have got the balance wrong.
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Old November 27th, 2014, 09:01 AM   #23
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Re: Spending money where it matters to brides

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Originally Posted by Steve Burkett View Post
One of my earliest Weddings, I got critique on my B & C Cameras not colour matching my A Camera - too pink. It went back and forth several times before I got colour that was acceptable to the Bride. I once had a complaint that I didn't use my slider; I was hired by the Groom in that instance. I've also been called up on camera placement. I had to explain the restrictions the church made, but basically my rear camera wasn't placed to her satisfaction. One Bride complained a table decoration was in the way during the Speeches, blocking a shot of the groom and her. I had been forced to move to another spot by the Venue Manager who wanted access to deliver the flowers & gifts at key moments. The Bride was none too pleased and complained to the Venue over this.

I've also been questioned several times by both Brides and Grooms on poor audio they've heard in other videos, particularly in the Speeches and concerned that I capture it well. Requests for cameras attached to vehicles have been made, I have one Wedding next year where I've been asked to get aerial shots and another asking for the whole thing to be shot in 4K - yep someone has a 4K TV. Wish I did.
Steve I reckon much of that might be where you were finding your feet and would be unlikely to happen now. For example colour matching. Guess I took that for granted in video because its such an old chestnut in the stills world. I always ensure that my two stills cam outputs match as far as possible but I know not to obsess over it. And thats how I treat video as well. If one cam is way cooler or hotter than another I'm going to adjust but I'm not going to try and make them exact copies - that would be over-engineering for the market even if there is some pleasure in achieving it.

Use of slider? Well you've pretty much got to deliver what you show, as I expect you do.

Compromised shooting positions? I expect you mention it on the day if its really necessary. Table decoration blocking VIP face - I expect you get permission to move it for the speeches. Those things make focusing problematic at the very least :- )

Audio quality - probably part of your presentation.

Requests for 4k,, shots from moving vehicles etc. They aren't negative feedback.

Makes sense to me anyway :- )

Pete
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