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Old December 4th, 2014, 05:12 PM   #1
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1st dances

I am curious on how you guys shoot the 1st dance. I am currently using 2 cameras, one with 17mm lens and the other with a 50mm lens. Both cams are dslr canons. The 17mm is the steady shot, while I go around getting more creative shots. I have noticed though, I am using more of the 17mm shots and not enough of my shots. I am using a t1.5 lens while the other is a F2.8. My shots are better than my wifes' but can use too many due to the fact I am jumping all over the place. Do you guys usually just stay put with one cam wide shot and one cam tight? I would like a variety of shots to use for the trailer, that is another reason why I jump from spot to spot.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 05:24 PM   #2
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Re: 1st dances

I use a gh3 with a 12mm f2.0 on a steadicam and very slowly circle the couple on the edge of the dancefloor so I have them completely in frame.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 05:46 PM   #3
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Re: 1st dances

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
I use a gh3 with a 12mm f2.0 on a steadicam and very slowly circle the couple on the edge of the dancefloor so I have them completely in frame.
And what do you do when someone bumps in to you and trashes your shot? Does that just get edited out somehow?
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Old December 4th, 2014, 05:48 PM   #4
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Re: 1st dances

Hey Jeff, I pretty much always have two camera operators, thank goodness. Very rarely have the luxury of three or the difficulty of one.

First problem is fiddling with cameras before it starts. I'm usually on really tight lenses for the speeches (partly so that I don't get in the way of the photographer), so transitioning to the first dance often involves awkward changing of lenses and balancing of steadicam. I was thinking earlier today that I've really got to talk to the brides about this beforehand, and insist that they leave a gap between speeches and bridal waltz.

Second issue is lights. We normally try to quickly reposition these before dancing starts.

Then the actual coverage... Well:

-- with two cameras: one person on steadicam, the other person tight
-- with three cameras: one wide-angle safety
-- with four cameras: one audience-reaction shot, or sometimes other variation, like low-angle slider. Never done jib yet.

But the main coverage is just with two cameras; and the fact that you've got a steadicam can make it difficult for any other wide-angle option.

With two cameras, the easiest way to divide up the duties is to say one person is getting continuous, safety coverage, and the other person is getting more creative shots. The dodgier option is if you're both trying to get creative shots; in this case you might have to rely on the wide-angle safety.

If steadicam is getting creative shots, then he/she can do things like lead in from the ceiling, shoot from behind the bridal table or the first line of guests, dolly in and out, boom up and down, do roundie-roundies, zoom in to do shallow depth of field, etc. If the tight angle is getting creative shots, then their options include: extreme close-ups; guest reactions; lens flares; shots with stuff in the foreground, like wedding cake; rack focuses; tilts.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 05:49 PM   #5
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Re: 1st dances

Favourite setup. One camera on wide on a light stand looking down - great for when guests get in the way. Then I'll have a wide on me plus a close up - anything from 17.5 to 45mm depending on the dancefloor. If there's a band playing or large enough space, I may add a 4th for variety. I tend to stay put, let the couple enjoy the dancefloor. Later if possible I'll circle the couple when they're on the dancefloor again; without flash Photography it looks a lot better and the couple are more relaxed.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 05:56 PM   #6
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Re: 1st dances

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Originally Posted by Dave Partington View Post
And what do you do when someone bumps in to you and trashes your shot? Does that just get edited out somehow?
I never use the first dance completely in my edit, unless they do a danceroutine, most of the time it's a slow and they hardly move for the length of a song so there is no use to have that from beginning to end in the highlights, I do however shoot it completely and add it separately with the longer parts of the day (like ceremony etc) If I am circling the couple I never bump into anyone because they are not in my path and always sitting or standing behind me but it has happened I knocked it out of balance myself but that's not an issue, I just cut that part out and use a dissolve.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 08:10 PM   #7
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Re: 1st dances

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post

Then the actual coverage... Well:

-- with two cameras: one person on steadicam, the other person tight
-- with three cameras: one wide-angle safety
-- with four cameras: one audience-reaction shot, or sometimes other variation, like low-angle slider. Never done jib yet.
The first dances are something I've always kind of never gotten a good formula on. This was the first year I had a steadicam operator on site and after going through a few of these this year, I decided that the first method, is what we should use. The one on sticks tight, and the one on steadicam wide with creative. I like the wide look, but tighter is better and more "personal" if you will.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 09:10 PM   #8
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Re: 1st dances

I've tried several different setups, and the one I like best is with myself using my Canon 70D with 50mm F/1.4 and my second operator with a Steadicam using a Canon C100 and a 24mm F/1.4 lens. I usually shoot at F/2.0 and he will shoot around F/4.0 with his ISO bumped up to around 2000 ISO as the C100 can do this without showing hardly any noise. We both use the continuous autofocus on our cameras which really helps keep the subjects in focus. He will do some slow movements with his steadicam in a semicircle while I'm on a tripod slowly panning with the couple dancing. I've found that when I edit these shots together it gives me a nice wide shot that's not stationary (Steadicam) and a the 70D gives me a medium/tight shot with a very shallow depth of field. I prefer this to having to having two cameras on tripods because the added movement of the Steadicam really helps to keep it more interesting, while the medium/tight shot is very intimate and it's great to cut to.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 09:32 PM   #9
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Re: 1st dances

Like the vows, the 1st dance is one of those times I really like the intimacy of a tight shot.

Our current setup is 3 cameras. The two 70Ds get their 40mm f/2.8 STM and the new 24mm f/2.8 STM if its bright enough. My 5d Mark ii gets an 85mm f/1.8, or an 135mm f/2.8

My goal is a tight, medium and wide shot. If we have two operators, she can get parent's faces and such. We keep both cameras on the same side as the DJ, but opposite corners of the dance floor.

If I can, I have a little battery powered light that can go on a stand for a hair light. Small and subtle.
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Old December 4th, 2014, 11:37 PM   #10
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Re: 1st dances

I only use 1 camera on a shoulder bracket. I never get too close to the dancing couple. I stay like around 20 feet from them, I stay in one spot. I get the entire song and slowly zoom in and out just a few times. It worked for me without a complaint for over 40 years. I just make sure the shot is steady without any abrupt zooms or panning.
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Old December 5th, 2014, 10:20 AM   #11
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Re: 1st dances

Thanks for the advice. I have thought of using my flycam for a few shots during the 1st dance, but some times the dance floor is really small. I also do not want to get in the shot of the photographer. I think what I will do next time around is do one cam medium flycam wide shot around the couple, and then move onto my other cam and shot tight shots. I will probably only use the flycam in a few shots and then dump it.
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Old December 5th, 2014, 01:51 PM   #12
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Re: 1st dances

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Originally Posted by Jeff Cook View Post
Thanks for the advice. I have thought of using my flycam for a few shots during the 1st dance, but some times the dance floor is really small. I also do not want to get in the shot of the photographer. I think what I will do next time around is do one cam medium flycam wide shot around the couple, and then move onto my other cam and shot tight shots. I will probably only use the flycam in a few shots and then dump it.
That's what I do. I tell the photographer that I'm going to spin around the couple one time at the beginning of the dance, so she/he knows that I'll be in their way for just a moment. I've never had any sort of pushback from them.

My second shooter will have a wide shot (35mm) shot, while I'll run back to my gear to switch lenses and put the camera on a monopod to capture the rest of the dance with an 85.
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Old December 5th, 2014, 04:08 PM   #13
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Re: 1st dances

@Daniel, sounds like you and I have the same plan. Sounds good to me. I was going to try this out last time, but the dance floor was too small, and I do not want to draw too much attention to me. Thanks again for your input.
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Old December 6th, 2014, 03:51 AM   #14
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Re: 1st dances

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Cook View Post
Thanks for the advice. I have thought of using my flycam for a few shots during the 1st dance, but some times the dance floor is really small. I also do not want to get in the shot of the photographer. I think what I will do next time around is do one cam medium flycam wide shot around the couple, and then move onto my other cam and shot tight shots. I will probably only use the flycam in a few shots and then dump it.
You're lucky Jeff if you get the time to do that - the last couple of first dances I did lasted less than a minute before the DJ got the wedding party and guests to join them - when I've used my Merlin for first dances I've had to ditch it quickly when this happens. These days I just play safe with my 5D and 14mm lens up high on a lightstand and my main cam shoulder mounted for a mid shot with my 24-105 @f2.8 for a relatively shallow DOF. Quite often I find the dance floor to small for a roundie shot anyway.

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Old December 6th, 2014, 06:36 AM   #15
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Re: 1st dances

I use my main cam on a lightweight tripod with legs retracted and supported off the floor with one hand, lightly holding it round the central column under the head. It works very much like a steadycam with the folded legs supplying the counter balance, allowing me to circle, move in and out or hold position. I can also lift it high for a downward view and I have a second camcorder usually clamped to the dj rig giving a wider view over heads. If it's bright enough I might clamp a GoPro somewhere.

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