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


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Old December 7th, 2014, 04:57 AM   #1
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REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Hi All,

I run my own small time video production/ photography business in the UK, mostly I do kickstarter videos and stuff of that nature, but I also spend a lot of my time editing videos for other wedding videographers from around the world (USB 3 has freed our minds :) ).

I've detailed some of what I do in the Multicam in Prem Pro thread earlier today, so I won't repeat it here.

Anyway, I've had a few enquirers from friends to video their wedding and although I was resistant to the idea (I used to do it when the world was all SD based) I have now started to think that, on a small scale at least, that it's something I could enjoy doing and perhaps earn some much needed money from.

Currently I have a 600D (50mm 1.8 and 28-70 2.8, plus some other cheaper lenses). A rode VideoPro mic and an non branded shotgun mic as well that I use on camera for reference sound. A Zoom H1. Dead Cat. and some other stuff that I use on and off.

I am set up on my i7 to run Premiere Pro via the Creative Cloud.

So what sort of kit will I need to add to this to start me off? Money is a little tight, so I would need to make some baby steps outwards before I could commit larger amounts of money, and to be honest I probably would have to hire a lot of stuff at first, which would hit my profit margin, but that's probably the only way I can get it going at the moment.

Any helpful advice would be appreciated.

Paul
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Old December 7th, 2014, 07:05 AM   #2
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Hi Paul,

The first thing you need to decide is what type of wedding video you want to produce. If you intend to go for the short form music video style, then you might manage with your 600D and lenses. there is no way that you will be able to capture an entire wedding with that equipment! as you will be changing lenses, losing focus and probably running out of recording time. You didn't mention a tripod, which personally I consider essential for stable footage during ceremony and speeches. If you intend to offer doc style and you want to keep it simple, then you will need a video camera for most flexibility at weddings. If continuing with dslr then you will need more cams to cover the gaps in recording time, lens changes etc.

If you have a background as a photographer, I would also suggest that you seriously research and read up on visual flow and filming techniques if you don't want your videos to be dull and boring. All you need to film a wedding successfully and simply is a decent video camera and tripod a sound recorder and mic or two and a great eye for using video properly. You also need to be totally aware of what is going on at all times, be able to work quickly and know exactly what your client expects. By all means have extra cameras for different angles, but don't forget that more cameras means more set up and breakdown and more chance to miss something that is happening.

I spent many years successfully filming weddings with one camera and it was hugely beneficial to learning techniques and accuracy. I now also use multi camera mounts on the tripod, locked off cameras and clamps wherever appropriate, but there will never be a substitute for great technique and a good eye.

You only have one chance to get a wedding right so use the right tools for the job, the main one being yourself!

Roger
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Old December 7th, 2014, 07:19 AM   #3
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Hey Paul, this might be one of those, "ask two videographers, get 20 different opinions" questions.

Mine shopping list would go:
-- additional camera body; otherwise, there's nothing to cut to when your DSLR times out and no safety cam to save your butt. (It's possible to shoot a wedding with just one camera, especially if you're doing short form edit, but you need a clear plan.)
-- enough batteries and cards to get through the day. If you're really tight for cash, there are shortcuts, but they're all risky. Eg, you don't want to be downloading cards to a laptop and reformatting.
-- cables to be able to get a line out from DJ
-- tripod.

Don't need extra lenses: can shoot a wedding on a 50 and nothing else if you have to. Don't need lights (though desirable) because primes are awesome. Don't need monopod, steadicam, slider because if you have to, you can handhold that 50. Don't need lavs because if you have to you can use on-camera sound; as dodgy as that might seem to some people, many videographer do it.
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Old December 7th, 2014, 07:49 AM   #4
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

It's quite possible to film some types of wedding video with the gear you have. It's not possible to do others.

So, the very first question to have to ask / answer is what type of video are you making?

If they are only getting highlights AND you're going to be able to stand / move where you want then yes, you can do it. It's not ideal, but it's possible.

At the very least you need a backup body (I've had cameras go faulty on me at the worst possible time).

You need to plan on having enough batteries to film for 6+ hours and pace yourself. While you could recharge them during the day, you can't always rely on power points and they don't charge as fast as you can use them.

You need enough memory cards to complete the day + some spare capacity. Don't rely on being able to download during the day. You may not have time and/or your equipment could fail. I had a card ready fail during one wedding, though fortunately I was only 'backing up' and could wait until I got home.

Audio will be a big problem if the ceremony is spread out. Imagine you're placed at the back of a long dark church by the Vicar, what will your shotgun mic pick up? Probably enough echo to make it problematic. Where will you place your H1? How will you get the lecturn?

If you're filming from the back is your lens long enough to be able to get a tight(ish) shot and is it fast enough in low(ish) light? An f5.6 lens is too slow IMO for a dark church and you'll have to raise ISO way too high.

How will you cover speeches? One camera and shotgun? Yes it can be done, though it's not ideal since you can't get close & wide shots at the same time which makes editing harder, especially if you're trying to intercut speeches too.

How will you cover the time limitations on the single DSLR? It's OK saying you don't want a long form but you need to capture everything in order to make that choice during the edit.

Some people are Ok hand holding (even walking with) an unstabilised DSLR but I hated the jello effect from those sensors. Practice now to see what you can can't do.

Personally, I wouldn't take a booking with only the gear you have. Other people do. Their videos are perhaps some of the ones you've seen on the web ;)
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Old December 7th, 2014, 07:52 AM   #5
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

I agree with what's already been said, especially getting a safety camera along with a fluid head and tripod for your main camera. I would also suggest adding something else to your audio setup. Everyone has a different approach to audio, but I think most people agree that having redundancy with multiple recorders is a wise decision. I personally have a Sennheiser G3 wireless system to place on the groom, a Rode Smartlav on the officiant, a Tascam DR-40 hooked into the house PA system, and then shotgun mics on two of the cameras. This way if one or two of the audio sources has an issue for part of the ceremony, I've got backup(s) so unless something catastrophic happens I can be assured that I'll have good audio. As Adrian mentioned, you'll want a variety of cables and adaptors so you can plug in a recorder to the PA system or DJ's equipment.

The safety camera will provide a nice backup in case you miss an important moment due to incorrect exposure, focus, or a photographer walking in front of you. I think a good match for your Canon DSLR would be one of Canon's consumer/prosumer cameras like the Canon G20, HF M500, or something similar because the colors will match fairly well and they have lots of auto features to keep focus even if the subjects move.

Once the basics are covered, if I were you I would then try to find a very capable second shooter who you trust to get great footage. This is not everyone's approach as many people shoot weddings solo, but I've found that my job is MUCH easier if I have a second shooter who I can depend on even if they just stay for the first few hours of the day. I've found that it can be tough to get bridal prep shots, groom prep shots, and all the other necessary "pre-ceremony b-roll" while also having to set up cameras and audio for the ceremony. However, you don't want to hire someone with little or no experience because half your footage will look like it was shot by an amateur (I know this because I once hired someone with little experience hoping he would catch on and it ended up degrading the quality of the videos rather than increasing the quality). Once I found a couple shooters who I trusted then things went more smoothly and the end product was much better.
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Old December 7th, 2014, 08:21 AM   #6
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

WOW! This is a super friendly forum. Can't remember why I don't come here more often. Posted last year about my need for hard drives and got some super advice that I followed and didn't regret, and now here within a few hours I've again got some solid advice and ideas to think through.

My thanks to everyone that has contributed to the topic.

Just to answer a few questions at random;

Yes I have a tripod, I really don't use it that much, although it does get some service. I prefer to use a steadycam that I built a few years back. It's old and a bit naff, but it allowed me to do some of the tracking shots on this (non wedding related montage short):


I also have a number of light stands which I note you guys are using for all manor of tasks!

My background was originally in photography (back in the dark room days) but I moved from photography to video in the late 90's. Some of you might remember me as being part of the Avid Liquid development team.

I would prefer to do the documentary style long-form edits, probably with a musical montage added on (not sure if that's supposed to be an added extra to the client or inclusive?).

So given that and the comments here I need the following:

A second (possibly third) camera. Something that does not have a recording time limit (so no DSLR's), so a camcorder of some kind.

A back up sound system (possibly two). I do have an old iphone 3gs that I don't use. I'm guessing if I turn off all phone functions the recorder would be good for an hour. That would mean I could have a SmartLav on the vicar/priest/holyperson (not sure what they are called for Indian weddings). If I used the H1 Zoom on another lavmic for the groom, possibly then a Tascam linked to a shotgun mic for overall continuous sound, and then a shotgun mic linked to the camcorder to create an emergancy backup sound source (?) Maybe?

How's all that sound?

Paul
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Old December 7th, 2014, 09:05 AM   #7
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

I wouldn't dream of running a ceremony on a steadycam - that's a tripod job for sure ;)
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Old December 7th, 2014, 10:16 AM   #8
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Get a monopod for tight areas, especially during the ceremony, sure you can fold in your tripod legs and get sort of the same but something like the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 will also allow you smooth pans and tilts.
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Old December 7th, 2014, 01:31 PM   #9
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Partington View Post
I wouldn't dream of running a ceremony on a steadycam - that's a tripod job for sure ;)
Our very first paid job we tried this. "Why spend money on a tripod when I can buy a Glidecam". The next day we bought a second tripod :)

We have a blog post which may help. It lists our entire kit bag for both MintySlippers which is a C100 high end setup and A Hint of Mint which is a great getting started kit.

THE MINTYSLIPPERS KIT BAG | Minty Slippers
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Old December 8th, 2014, 03:32 AM   #10
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Cool minty flavored link. Thank you for that. I recognized the venue, I helped film some football awards in the same room last Monday :)


Me in the background at 17 seconds. Camera man on the right of the frame (on the platform).
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Old December 8th, 2014, 06:45 AM   #11
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny O'Neill View Post
We have a blog post which may help. It lists our entire kit bag for both MintySlippers which is a C100 high end setup and A Hint of Mint which is a great getting started kit.THE MINTYSLIPPERS KIT BAG | Minty Slippers
I think it's really impressive, incidentally, that Danny is doing a lot with a little. He's got his gear streamlined. So one doesn't need a billion cameras and lenses -- it's more the operator than the gear.
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Old December 8th, 2014, 08:15 AM   #12
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

Danny's post and blog have made me think that I've asked the question the wrong way round.

Rather than ask what I NEED, perhaps it would be better to ask what you would TAKE.

So for this scenario, what would be the minimum equipment you would take and why.

You are booked to do a wedding at a registrars office and follow onto a local venue for speeches and dance. Brief would be (correct me if I miss anything) -

Groom arriving/waiting. Guests arriving/waiting. Bride arriving and entrance. Ceremony. Signing book. Leaving with congrats covered in documentary style (dip in and out). Bride and groom leaving.

Speeches from brides father, groom, best man.

Cake cutting.

First dance.

If any of you have the time to answer this one I would of course be grateful for any input.

Paul
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Old December 8th, 2014, 09:58 AM   #13
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

This will assume solo shooting.

2 cameras. Install Magic Lantern on your 600D if you haven't already.
2 tripods, or 1 tripod and 1 monopod
Rode Mic for your walking around is good. Either 2-3 pocket recorders or wireless mics for the pastor, groom (vows!) and reader/singer would be advised.
1 wide, 1 medium, and one long lens are good. They don't have to be expensive, just useful. 2 reasonably fast primes for the reception are important.
Lots and lots and lots of cards and batteries.

I'd want a non-DSLR for a rear camera, mounted with your H1 recorder, Rode mic, and send the pastor's wireless mic to that H1, too. No syncing of sound required in post.

Pocket recorder on the groom for the vows. Pocket recorder at the lectern for readers/singers if you can.

I put the non-DSLR in the back, pre-focused on the groom when the bride walks in so that camera #2 is manned up front, if possible, to get bride's intro. Camera #2 (probably your 600D) is for cutaways and closeups. So try and catch that random shot of parents' faces, B&G holding hands, or other little interesting 3-5 second shots. We use a cheap Canon 55-250mm for reach because our churchs are quite large.

And simple video or not, I love showing the vows from this sort of angle, rather than wide shot from the back:
http://rnbweddings.com/wp-content/up...014/12/011.jpg
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Old December 8th, 2014, 03:25 PM   #14
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

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Originally Posted by Robert Benda View Post
Pocket recorder on the groom for the vows. Pocket recorder at the lectern for readers/singers if you can.
Ditto this. You may get so wrapped up in all the other equipment that you might forget this. The mics you're using are good for ambient sound around the camera, but you NEED good, clear vows to do it professionally. The H1 is a bit too bulky for putting inside the groom's jacket, but it will work fine on a lectern/podium. Grab yourself a unit like the Olympus DM-620 for the groom (or it's UK equivalent).
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Old December 9th, 2014, 01:06 PM   #15
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Re: REQ: Minimum Setup Advice

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Originally Posted by Paul Ekert View Post
Rather than ask what I NEED, perhaps it would be better to ask what you would TAKE. So for this scenario, what would be the minimum equipment you would take and why.
Ok, so this is based on what equipment I already have, how I normally shoot, what my minimum standards are, and one person (just me) shooting. Don't know if I shoot cinematic (don't know what the word means), but I don't think I shoot plain documentary either.

First, I'd aim to fit it all inside two bags, one backpack and one tripod bag. Maybe a belt or a jacket for personal effects / always-carry-on-you items. This leaves one hand free for carry a camera while you're carrying all other equipment. I have a rule for myself that you've got to be able to take all the equipment in one trip from the car. You don't know how far from the ceremony/reception site you'll have to park.

-- Cameras: 2 x 5DMk3, which now have Magic Lantern installed (mainly due to Robert Benda's recommendations actually). Reason for two bodies: wide + close-up during ceremony; speaker + cutaway during speeches; wide + steadicam during first dance; steadicam (no need to keep balancing) + close-up during general running around; backup body in case one dies.

-- Lenses: 16-35, 24-105, 70-200, 24. Could get by with less (aka the popular 24-70 and 70-200 combo), but this is the minimum I'd take. 16-35 because it's my favourite for steadicam. 24-105 because it's my favourite all-round lens. 70-200 for close-ups (possibly could replace with a 135 to save bag space and give more low-light ability). 24 for an unmanned wide angle when they switch off the lights during the first dance (I'd be operating a 16-35 on steadicam at that point, and the f/4 of the 25-105 wouldn't cut it). In terms of low-light woes, you can get by with f/2.8 and a 5D3 in pretty much any situation, as long as you have a light handy, but I just don't find f/4 usable.

-- Cards + batteries: enough for both cameras to roll continuously for however many hours the duration is. This is overkill, but I'd do it anyway. What if they ask you to stay extra time? What if you discover there's already data on one of the cards and you don't want to format over it just in case? What if a card gets corrupted? Etc. Note: I wouldn't take battery chargers, but would just take enough batteries to see me through.

-- Lens-cleaning gear.

-- Zacuto Z-finder mainly for the being-able-to-see-LCD-in-outdoors-daylight factor.

-- Lighting: One Switronix Torchbolt + two batteries.

-- Two Rode VMPs + spare 9V, because there are times when you need on-camera audio.

At this point, the backpack is pretty much full. Very limited in terms of audio. So I'd take:

-- 3 x Roland R-05 (+batteries and cards). During ceremony, you're looking at one on registrar, one on groom, one on lectern or just hidden on the table for backup. During reception, I'd probably be going for one into DJ, one in front of soundpeakers, one on lectern or taped to microphone, but obviously it would depend on if there's a separate house system, if there's a band, etc. In terms of batteries, obviously I'd take spares, but I've rarely found I need them if the recorders are loaded with Eneloop AAs.
-- 3 x Tram TR50 (lav microphones)
-- Cables to plug into anything
-- Gaffer tape (for taping Roland to a microphone)
-- Possibly one or two Yamaha C24 recorders, because they're easier to tape than Rolands and don't take up much space

In the tripod case:

-- 2 x tripods -- for during ceremony; what happens if you want to leave one camera to go check on the other -- with a monopod + tripod combo, the camera you're leaving is no longer getting a usable shot
-- monopod, because that's my main weapon through the day, and I don't do handheld
-- slider, though I went through a period when I was leaving the slider at home in favour of steadicam-only
-- steadicam Merlin, because I don't do handheld. I'd take it out for most parts of the day, except the registry ceremony.
-- 3 x lightstand (used for recorders, not just light)

Miscellaneous:

-- lots of random things in my bag... for instance, spare lens and body caps, allen key for monopod, ear plugs, spare light stand adapter, blue tac, string, USB flashdisk.
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