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

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Old June 12th, 2019, 06:53 AM   #1
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Question for monopod users?

I'm not a big fan of monopods, seems like duplicity. Namely, I cannot leave my camera unmanned to go check on something (other cameras positioning). So, I don't get it, now I'd just need to bring 2 tripods AND a monopod. I find mine mostly only usable during dance floor scene, and even at that it can be a burden/liability if the floor is crowded. During prep & photos I can see a purpose for it, but sometimes I just want that steady, locked in shot, and want the tripod.


Am I missing something? Does anyone use a monopod about 100% or significant amount of the day? Are you a solo shooter?
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Old June 12th, 2019, 09:33 AM   #2
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Re: Question for monopod users?

I don't think any video shooter in his right mind would prefer a monopod over a tripod, but there are times when I find a monopod is the answer. I shoot mainly run-and-gun unrepeatable stuff, unfortunately many times a tripod would just get in the way and be a hazard to others.

When travelling my weapons of choice are a Gorillapod Focus and a Velbon Ultrastick 8 with a swivel head. I use the Gorillapod when possible, but the monopod at other times. It is very quick to set up as it has twist locks and with the swivel head, it's easy to get the correct angle for the evf. The other way it is particularly handy is when wanting to shoot over obstructions like the heads of others, I shorten it and put the foot in my belt to make a makeshift crane, using the LCD then of course.

When I first tried a monopod I hated it, but found I needed to change my attitude towards it. It is NOT a replacement for a tripod, but a substitute. I then had to learn how to use it. I saw several how-to-use-a-monopod instructions on line, none of which worked very well for me, so I figured out my own way and now it can be almost as steady as a tripod. Almost.
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Old June 12th, 2019, 01:23 PM   #3
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Re: Question for monopod users?

There are three-legged monopods and three-legged monopods but I found that until recently none of them had retractable legs that are long enough to safely support an unmanned cam. So I modified an old Gitzo carbon fibre monopod by adding the legs of a calumet backlight stand:
https://www.wexphotovideo.com/calume...nsion-1638552/

You can see it in action in the right photo in this group of three:
https://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/video...ilation-01.jpg

It was not ideal as although the legs fold into one, they still form an L shape between the monopod and the legs when transporting.

Then I found at a recent trade show the Sirui P-424SR carbon fibre monopod. It has legs that are long enough that you can readily let the monopod and kit sit on its own e.g. with a quite heavy Canon 5D Mark IV plus Tamron 24-70 f2.8 G2 plus Rode Videomic Pro all on a Manfrotto 701 head. I use it regularly at a height up to about chin height (I'm 6ft). I have the Surui with its included shoulder strap on it so I can easily carry the whole lot between locations on one shoulder. Its not particularly short when collapsed but it does work well when collapsed you have its base on your waist for extra stability.

Its not cheap though.
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Old June 12th, 2019, 04:19 PM   #4
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Re: Question for monopod users?

Depends on the job.
If I'm shooting a wedding ceremony by myself I use a monopod for my A-cam and have the other cameras on stands/mounts.
If there are multiple camera ops I still use the monopod and put the other people on tripods or tall stands with remote control cameras.

I move around with the monopod and get most of the key shots. And I can walk it like a steadicam.
Then for the recpetion we take the cameras hand held usually.

I prefer a tripod over monopod except for those type events where we need to move around a lot but need more stabilization than handheld. For events where everyone needs to move a lot, we all might use monopods.
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Old June 12th, 2019, 09:49 PM   #5
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Re: Question for monopod users?

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Originally Posted by David Barnett View Post
I'm not a big fan of monopods, seems like duplicity. Namely, I cannot leave my camera unmanned to go check on something (other cameras positioning). So, I don't get it, now I'd just need to bring 2 tripods AND a monopod. I find mine mostly only usable during dance floor scene, and even at that it can be a burden/liability if the floor is crowded. During prep & photos I can see a purpose for it, but sometimes I just want that steady, locked in shot, and want the tripod.


Am I missing something? Does anyone use a monopod about 100% or significant amount of the day? Are you a solo shooter?
To answer your first question, I bought Sirui largest monopod. The feet are really big as a consequence if you have a small enough lens, and long enough plate you should be able to balance the camera and lockoff the head and leave it. I usually lower the mono pod and put it next to a wall so someone won't knock it over. Even then I wouldn't leave it for more that a minute unattended.
The other advantage of this big monopod is you can get up high ever been blocked out of a cake cutting or kiss at a small crowded venue. Not a problem raise all the way up to get over every one's head.

I use monopods mostly for bride/groom prep, broll, and reception. For speeches its too long to hand hold and often the best position is up front low, you can quickly re-adjust your position, or pivot between speaker and crowd reaction.

For dance floor I agree hand hold mostly because monopod gets in the way. For cinematic style, what's needed are 10 sec clips that are steady, but lots of variety of angles. The tripod is good for second camera or long ceremony shots, anything else is, hand held, monopod, or gimbal.

I had a colleague of mine who excels at wedding video, covered a dance recital that needed a behind the scenes video, in under 30 minutes, he knocked out almost 100 usable short clips on a monopod. Everything from wide establishing, closeups, pans, tilts, low angle, broll, action, etc. You just can't work that quickly and efficiently with a tripod. While many shots had a slight shake, throw on a stabilizer effect and slow them down and they're smooth enough to use.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 12:11 AM   #6
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Re: Question for monopod users?

I use it exclusively for Bridal and Groom Preps. Some Ceremonies, between 50% and 90% of the Photo Session, never for Speeches or 1st Dance and about 70% of the dancing. Rest of the time, my main camera is handheld. I only use tripods for B Cameras.
Never have a problem using it. It gets me steady shots on my non IS cameras, namely my Pocket 4K. Only camera I use the monopod for.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 01:29 AM   #7
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Re: Question for monopod users?

I used to use 4 or even 5 video cams for the static parts of the day like the ceremony and speeches, but although the couples loved the variety many times the guests would feel uncomfortable about it. Now I use 3 or even just 2 - one locked down on a wide composition for most of the time and the other with me to move around and frequently recompose. The Sirui I mentioned is fine on its own if not at maximum height or if there are kids charging around. The cam I use on the monopod is either the 5D-IV or the 6D-II and these are particularly good for their dual pixel auto-focus as thats accurate and almost instant (maybe the competition has now caught up?).

As regards comparing using a tripod to a monopod when needing to move around, for me it depends a lot on the tripod. One I use is the Manfrotto MT055CXPRO4 carbon fibre with a 701 head sat on it. It is very light-weight and the diameter of the legs when spread out can be variable including very narrow. Another one I use is the much heavier Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 with a 503 head and a 438 ball leveller. Its leg spread functionality is similar but its total weight is a disadvantage in some scenarios.

For height I use heavy duty air-cushioned lightstands in the "cheetah" style n.b. they close up the legs automatically when you lift them up, sometimes with Manfrotto 4.3kg iron weights on the base. They are great other than they are noisy if moved during ceremonies around stone floors in churches as they clatter. They are particularly good for the dance floor.

If I need to stabilise monopod or handheld clips in post I use Mercalli standalone.

I'm falling out of love with gimbals.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 03:03 AM   #8
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Re: Question for monopod users?

That's odd, I use 4 to 5 cameras myself. Never got the sense guests were uncomfortable with them myself. I keep them as discreet as possible. In fact they are so discreet, guests don't notice them at all and stand in front of them, which is another issue entirely. Lol

I can't be bothered with tripod except for static cameras. I find the monopod works well for me with my Pocket 4K, whilst my GH5 is used for more run n gun; its IS works well for handheld for those quick shots. It's quite a freedom to just have to carry the camera and I can grab low and high angle shots quickly on the fly. Its focus isn't up to Canons effort but workable.

As for Pocket 4K, its manual focus all the way, but I use it for beauty shots as the look is gorgeous compared to Panasonic. I have to take my time more with it, but it's worth it. Paired with the Monopod, it's my favourite setup for really nice shots. Though you lose speed and agility with your camera shots as a consequence.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 04:08 AM   #9
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Re: Question for monopod users?

I filmed some crowd/protest events from within the crowd and to do so I bought a really solid aluminium telescoping (two piece) window cleaning pole and brush, for about $NZ20 as I recall...maybe less. I took the brush off and fitted a screw suitable to take a tripod head into the plastic fitting that takes the brush. This enabled me to hoist the camera really high...on a super dooper high monopod. I could easily adjust the height I had the camera at, up to about 2.9m. Problem then was that when the camera was out of reach, I couldn't manipulate the tripod head with the camera on it. So...I made a long handle (made of a number of sections) which replaced the regular tripod head handle. This enabled me to to control the up and down of the camera pretty well. Obviously turning was no issue as I just swiveled the pole. Some up and down could be control by just tilting the pole forward or back, but being able to use the handle really helped. I also used the wired controller for the camera to zoom in and out. Worked well. Got really stable shots of the various speakers, etc, over the heads of everyone...Renton
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Old June 13th, 2019, 04:56 AM   #10
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Re: Question for monopod users?

Ceremony and speeches: Tripod
Everything else monopod

We used to use tripods for everything. But in the preps what do you do? Stay static or move a 3 legged beast around. No thanks.

Sometimes we go ghetto and use a tripod with one leg down but its way heavier.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 08:19 AM   #11
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Re: Question for monopod users?

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Originally Posted by Steve Burkett View Post
.....I use 4 to 5 cameras myself. Never got the sense guests were uncomfortable with them ...
Its there for sure, the more so if you get into a conversation or if a guest has loosened their tongue with a drink or two. No matter that you're only going to be using the clips for a few seconds a few times in e.g. the speeches, the guests can feel awkward if they feel that a cam is staring at them for the whole duration.

Its perhaps easier to take it on board if you see what its like with the self-awareness or lack of with photographers. Particularly when they work in pairs and get close up everywhere; the more so when they regard themselves as experts in their "art" - currently they seem to love close-up with wide-angle lenses and have no idea that they are wrecking the ambience. I've had a run of them recently. One of them a couple of months ago shot the processional from the entrance door and then walked backwards continuing to shoot all the way up to the top table blocking absolutely everything. But he then fell over backwards onto a flower arrangement :- ) I have a muppet gallery of loads of ones like that to illustrate to prospective clients. Last saturdays wedding was the polar opposite - she is an Italian tog flown in for the day. She was to all intents and purposes invisible, restored my faith :- )

Re Renton's height shoots. One of my heads has an extending arm so it can be controlled from quite high, however its hard to see the cam screen articulated or otherwise let alone change the buttons or touch-screen so I use a smartphone to control either usb wired or wireless.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 08:28 AM   #12
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Re: Question for monopod users?

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Its there for sure, the more so if you get into a conversation or if a guest has loosened their tongue with a drink or two. No matter that you're only going to be using the clips for a few seconds a few times in e.g. the speeches, the guests can feel awkward if they feel that a cam is staring at them for the whole duration.
It depends how you use them. For Speeches, I have a camera on wide as per yourself. I have a camera on the person speaking, a camera on the couple, a camera covering the top table and then I am moving about getting guests reactions, with a long lens. It can be this camera that may make them feel uncomfortable, but since the couple ask for guests reactions in speeches, this is my job. In fact, I am sure filming guests with my A camera causes guests more concern than my unmanned cameras, which as I say, they quickly forget about. I dare say some don't want to be filmed on the dancefloor and its these reactions I tend to see, not those to the static cameras. But that's not much I can do about it, since I am being paid to film them.

Even for the Ceremony, I have a camera up high on the front altar, another at the back on wide, 1 at the front on wide covering the guests, tucked in the corner. A camera on the couple showing the Groom's face and my own on the Bride and also getting guests reactions. I still feel even there its my manned camera the guests notice more.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 03:53 PM   #13
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Re: Question for monopod users?

Thanks everyone. Kinda clarifies it and sorta what I felt. To me, it just becomes another item to bring, not always a bad thing although when I'm in town in a fairly big city, I park in a parking garage and often times the hotel, then church, then venue, I can easily be 4 or 5 blocks away from my car. I can't carry 2 camera bags, 2 tripods & a monopod around. II usually do try to bring a small slider, but the monopod is too much of a duplicate.

Admittedly the fluid head of my main tripod is smoother than the monopod too, so it gives better results. When I'm all at one location (golf course) I usually bring the monopod then goto my car when I'll need it during a break, or bring it to prep then grab the 2nd tripod when setting up for the ceremony.


How do you people shoot with 4 or 5 cameras? Do you bring assistants or 2nd shooters to help? How many tripods & monopods do you bring?

I'm not sure I've ever brought a 3rd camera when solo shooting, a GoPro at times but that's a bit different.
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Old June 13th, 2019, 08:06 PM   #14
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Re: Question for monopod users?

For my theater work I've been improving my transport system. For wedding its even more important to be able to have some sort of system that allows you load up a cart quickly and to pull what you need at will.

I've been thinking of getting an add on to my Rock n Roller cart. Its a bag that attaches to the cart that allows you to carry things like tripods and light stands. If you don't have the right system you'll waste lots of time. You could have an entire forum section dedicated to the topic of organizing and transporting equipment.
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Old June 14th, 2019, 01:58 AM   #15
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Re: Question for monopod users?

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Originally Posted by David Barnett View Post
..... How do you people shoot with 4 or 5 cameras? Do you bring assistants or 2nd shooters to help? How many tripods & monopods do you bring? I'm not sure I've ever brought a 3rd camera when solo shooting, a GoPro at times but that's a bit different .....
It's all down to whether it practical to get the gear there from the nearest parking space and then the internal layout of the venue's function room. I have a two wheeled cart that I can drop a large bag onto and then strap tripods to the outside. It works but it all takes valuable time and its unlikely to work well if e.g. it involves going straight from the getting ready finished to the church. If I do use 4 or 5 then a couple of them will be on clamps somewhere on the fixtures and fittings.

A few days ago I had to shoot a ceremony straight from getting ready and the ceremony room is not open till a few minutes before the start. It was not practical to use more than 2 cams. Beforehand I had a carbon fibre tripod on my shoulder plus a small shoulder bag with just a 2nd cam and mic in it (and a separate audio recorder and its clamp), and the 1st cam with mic on my monopod. There wasn't space to add a 3rd cam even if I'd wanted to. It worked really well and is a portfolio contender for sure apart from the photographer getting in the way all the time - they should have to go on training courses and pass exams at the end :- )

A downside of 4 or 5 is that often photographers won't even try to keep out of shot and thats perfectly understandable even if its frustrating.
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