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


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Old November 15th, 2005, 10:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Columbia,SC
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Help with wedding logistics

Hey there,
I don't know if anyone else has some of these problems I have, but I figured I would ask anyway.
1. I have a real hard time with camera placement. It seems like to be able to get a good angle on the ceremony, I have to sacrifice the entrance. I have not been able to get cameras into any of the suggested spots for an upclose second shot. I end up struggling through the entire processional.
2. How do you handle recording at the reception with the DJ blasting Kenny G in background? I have been told that using music overlays makes the video "impersonal" and "stale". How do you get ambient sound when there is always music playing in the background.
3. Do you "structure" each video about the same way in editing. I find myself making the same video over and over with different B & G. If they show any particular personality I will include that, but the basic video structure is the same. Is this ok? should I try to make them each very different?
4. I have both an Iriver and a sennheiser wireless. I have had problems with my sennheiser giving me static if I'm farther than 100 feet or so from the groom. Should I continue to do both or is there a reason to hold on to the $500 wireless system in lieu of the $100 Iriver?
5. Do you get each video as "perfect" as possible or do you accept certain limitations that the layout of the ceremony put on you. How much work should I put into smoothing out awkward areas that the customer may not ever notice.

Sorry about the redundancy of any of these questions, but I have not seen them all together anywhere. Thanks in advance.
Bill Grant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 15th, 2005, 11:54 AM   #2
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1) You can only do what the venue and officiant allow you to do-example; I shoot a lot in a couple of churchs where I am the ONLY videographer allowed to do place a camera on the altar because they know I WILL NOT do anything to interupt the sanctity of the service. By the same token saturday both the photog and I were relegated to the back of the church for the entire service including the procession. I was able to place a camera up front off the altar but had no shot of the procession only the kneelers and altar area. The B&G knew this up front and I told them again on saturday and they were fine with it. They knew the rules.
2) For the reception I use a handheld wireless mic on a small stand in front of one of the DJs speakers for a clean music track and the shotgun on the cam for ambient room noise and a 2ndary music track. It seems to work fine although I know many people use an IRiver in lieu of the wireless.
3) As for structure of the video I pretty much have an idea prior to shooting what I'm going to do but each wedding comes out a bit different of course because of many factors. How front heavy I got, the personalities of the B&G and bridal party, were people having a GOOD time at the reception etc but overall yes, I try to keep the same structure of each wedding. It makes it a bit easier for me.
4) if you're getting decent audio with the gear you have keep it, if you're having a problem with the wireless then perhaps you need to look further into it and try to find out why you have the static problem. It could be you need to change the freqs on the wireless.
5) I'm kind of a perfectionist BUT there is only so much you can do-EXAMPLE-earlier this year I did one and I was not feeling well. Actually I was sick as a dog, but I did it anyway. It was a very nice ceremony and the reception was one of those that was really fun. The couple were as nice as could be and I didn't FEEL that I did my best but I plowed ahead anyway. They sent me one of the nicest thank you cards I've ever received-they loved there video. I wasn't 100% happy but they were and in the long run, thats all that counts. BTW, I've looked at it again since then and it wasn't as bad as I thought.
To clarify something though, I do a condensed edit and my finished products run 45-55 minutes so the structure of the peice is very important. It's gotta make sense.
HTHs
Don
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Old November 15th, 2005, 05:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Grant
Hey there,
I don't know if anyone else has some of these problems I have, but I figured I would ask anyway.
1. I have a real hard time with camera placement.
2. How do you handle recording at the reception with the DJ blasting Kenny G in background?
3. Do you "structure" each video about the same way in editing.
4. I have both an Iriver and a sennheiser wireless.
5. Do you get each video as "perfect" as possible
1. Rehearsals are key to good placement. You attend those are your worries are limited. Here's why if you can't get the shot they want or you want you need to compromise and tell the B&G that night if you can't make the shot they want and why. I find it's always best to be up front and honest. They usually say, "Just get whatever you can the best you can, we understand". I also lay it out in the contract that it's the B&G's reposibility to let me know ahead of time of any restrictions and if I need to be up front I usually have the B&G ask the officiant, since they have usually a better repore with them then we would.

We always shoot two PD-150's and 1 PD-170. Two manned 1 unmanned.. Usually the unmanned is in the back or up in the balcony..

2. I've always overlayed the dances as for the reception.. I use a AT825 on one of the cameras, shotguns on the other and usually line-out from the DJ's mixer to the Iriver.. So then I have usually 4-5 audio tracks to make a mix from for the reception..

3. Structure, about the only structure I have is the house I live in.. lol.. Every video is different and on purpose. I never make two the same, everyone is unique. While I am running out new ways, it just always makes it a fresh look at things.. I've done them with the Processional Starting to breaking into the formal portrait session, back to some ceremony, child hood photo montage (if they wanted one), back to some ceremony, off to the reception and basically the entire day ends with the vows and the man and wife gig. For them, it fit their style.. So just get to know your B&G and take the time to talk to them, about movies they liked, music, etc..etc..

4. Iriver - Can't monitor the audio can only hope everything turns out. Solve the static issue. Are scanning channels prior to recording and letting the Senn pick the best available channels. Dual Diversity UHF I have always had out standing luck with..

5. Perfect is only your best. Just do your best, be upfront with the B&G about your best and want to achieve. If you play it up and can't deliver than you will have problems. I have had camera issues in the past infact where I lost the first dance from my wide shot and only had my tight moving shot which was shot knowing I could cutaway to my wide.. Perfect No.. Perfect to them YES. Here's why, I called them right away and was honest with them upfront I offered to refund half the money when it was completed.. When they saw it they returned my refund. I usually do a music video, credits, outtakes, bloopers, basically I fill up the DVD.. So they thought all that was worth it.. What I ended up doing with the dance was slowing it down and cutting the cake cutting and their toast in between it to make up for the length of the song.


Bottom line. Don't overstate your abilities, don't pretend to deliver something you can't and never try to cover up mistakes as they usually come to bite you in the ass later.. The last one is my own personal opinion, but has treated me well. If your confident in your abilities and the B&G are expecting you to deliver what you told them you could and can. You'll find you'll end up making some darn good videos..

Just my two cents. Cash Value .00001
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Old November 15th, 2005, 10:06 PM   #4
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1. Standing behind the bride and groom (B&G) is almost always the best shot. You can get over-the-shoulder (OTS) of the groom as he watches the bride come down the aisle. Also, as they face the officiant (priest, preacher, etc.), you get their families in your background. Stay on the side that allows you to OTS the groom and face the bride. The hard part is that you must be good at knowing when to move around to the front. I try to move to the front just before they exchange rings. In this shot, you can frame from their hands up to their faces and get the officiant in their background. If the officiant is standing on steps or an altar a bit above the B&G, shoot from a low angle to get everybody's faces. This approach gets the groom's face (at least in profile) if it was not clearly visible during the vows since you were doing an OTS of him towards the bride. Of course, none of this applies if the church won't let you near the altar. I love outdoor weddings because I can then get away with almost anything as long as I am not distracting.

2. I just let the DJ music stay in the video. It is illegal to take music from a CD and put it in your video unless you have paid the exhorbitant licensing rights. If the music was playing while you shot the video, it is not your fault someone's copyrighted music got on your tape.

Put your lavalier mic on the podium or mic stand where people will be giving speaches/toasts to get the best sound of these events. This also can pick up sound (comments, laughs) from people at the head table at a lower volume. Here in Hawaii, things may be done differently than where you are, but we almost always have a podium right next to the head table for speaches.

3. I end up keeping the structure mostly the same, but I try to improve that basic structure constantly. Always try to be creative at every shoot or you will get into a rut and not enjoy the shoot or make a good product. Almost all weddings are basically the same, so there is only so much you can do, but keep trying.

4. Getting a $1100 Lectrosonics mic was the best thing I ever did for my video production. I don't ever have to worry about audio issues (except for the time I forgot my foam windscreen!) and, as you know, those can be some BIG worries. I'm thinking of getting a micro-size flash-recording dictation recorder as backup now that they are so small and cheap.

5. Customers should realize that they are not hiring a motion picture film crew. I would be happy to provide that service, but they still probably would only allow one take. Without lights, gaffers, grips, multiple cameras, and ADR (audio dubbing and recording), it won't be "Hollywood". Regardless, your video should still be enough better than the average Joe's home movies that they will be impressed. Sometimes, working around glitches is where the creativity works it's way into the production!


I just looked up the Iriver. It looks like what I am thinking of getting as backup. Although, I really like having the audio synced to the video to cut down on time editing. Perhaps it isn't so hard with the Iriver? I once used a minidisc recorder, but it was too slow to get the audio into the computer via the soundcard.

Marcus
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Old November 16th, 2005, 10:42 AM   #5
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Location: Richmond, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Grant
Hey there,
I don't know if anyone else has some of these problems I have, but I figured I would ask anyway.
1. I have a real hard time with camera placement. It seems like to be able to get a good angle on the ceremony, I have to sacrifice the entrance. I have not been able to get cameras into any of the suggested spots for an upclose second shot. I end up struggling through the entire processional.

Tip Number 1 IMO; Communicate your needs to the coordinator and bride what your needs are. I typically let the coordinator tell me what the general idea is for choregraphy, then I change it around placing people etc. Very few coordinators, espcially if they are 'Aunt Jane' understand camera angles and such

2. How do you handle recording at the reception with the DJ blasting Kenny G in background? I have been told that using music overlays makes the video "impersonal" and "stale". How do you get ambient sound when there is always music playing in the background.

I use a shot gun microphone which I try to point away from the DJ's speakers. You could always use another type of recording device to get the ambient, onboard mic, another shotgun etc.

3. Do you "structure" each video about the same way in editing. I find myself making the same video over and over with different B & G. If they show any particular personality I will include that, but the basic video structure is the same. Is this ok? should I try to make them each very different?

I think communication with the b & g are important but at some point you go beyond the product that was promised and into extra cost. I'll reedit and reedit as long as they pay for it. That's a fine line though, I would just try to produce what you feel they were after.


4. I have both an Iriver and a sennheiser wireless. I have had problems with my sennheiser giving me static if I'm farther than 100 feet or so from the groom. Should I continue to do both or is there a reason to hold on to the $500 wireless system in lieu of the $100 Iriver?

Dunno, I would check what the DJ or soundman is using making sure he is not on the same freq, or buy a better mic.


5. Do you get each video as "perfect" as possible or do you accept certain limitations that the layout of the ceremony put on you. How much work should I put into smoothing out awkward areas that the customer may not ever notice.

I film and add the best stuff. There is a certain flow to each wedding/reception/gig. I will typically ask the B&G how many closeups they want etc. Although I typically try to stay away from so close. Multiple cameras help.


Sorry about the redundancy of any of these questions, but I have not seen them all together anywhere. Thanks in advance.

I hope this helps.
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Old November 16th, 2005, 01:02 PM   #6
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Thanks

thanks guys, at least I know I 'm not alone in this...

Bill
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