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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old December 16th, 2005, 05:19 PM   #1
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What to consider when first starting in this line of business?

Hello to all,

I want to start filming weddings, anniversaries, parties, etc, but I am very limited in equipment. I just recently baught an XL2 and that is really ALL I have.
I have my computer set-up for editing, but as far as other equipment goes, I have only the camera.

Would it be wise to wait until I get more equipment to work with such as lavalier microphones to hook onto the bride and groom? Camera Stabilizer?

Generally speaking, what other equipment is vital when filming a wedding?

I'm not a novice cameraman, I have filmed music videos and other short films before (In college), but I'm completely new to filming on the spot events.

Hope to hear from people soon.

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Old December 16th, 2005, 07:42 PM   #2
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Hi Roger,
Although I am not a seasoned or expert wedding videographer, but I have a few suggestions that will hopefully be augmented by more seasoned pros in the field with additional posts.

I have done alot of media work, and lots of various types of editing, including repair work on other people's wedding videos. Around here, it is kind of saturated (wedding videography) with a wide range of expertise and price ranges. I don't do alot of wedding videography, but I finally decided to do my own 'behind the camera' work last year and bought an XL2. On top of other types of shooting, I have done a number of weddings in my first year to keep me pretty busy, and have learned a few things.

As a very basic assortment, I strongly recommend getting a good sturdy tripod with a nice smooth pan head. You will also need extra batteries, and perhaps you will want to think about a small light accessory depending upon the types of places and times you will shoot.

As far as mics go, as a basic, I shoot weddings mimimum with a lavalier on the groom or officiant, a shotgun mic on the cam, and the stock stereo mic for environmental ambience. (I use the 4 channel settings for the ceremony only). If I have to move up from there depending upon the number of additional elements to the shoot, I add other mics or devices dedicated for those purposes, but I am just mentioning the basics here.

Finally, you will want to make sure you have a good case or cases to carry all your stuff.

From there, you may learn as you go, but those are the things I would recommend you starting out with as a mimimum.

Good luck.
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Old December 16th, 2005, 07:49 PM   #3
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Batteries (IMHO you need 3 BIG one for the cam) wireless lav OR iRiver for the vows. Tripod or monopod-on cam light for those nice dark reception venues (a 10/20 watter works fine). To me thats the absolute minimum for doing a wedding and then you'd better hope you don't have any equipment problems or your prime cam shot isn't blocked or shakey from moving. So that leads me to BACK UP GEAR! Now no one could expect you to have 2 or more of everything starting out but perhaps you could borrow or rent another cam to use as a 2nd cam for the ceremony (don't forget the tripod to put it on).
Remember a couple of things. First, you don't have to have all brand new stuff-check the various forums trading posts or ebay for used gear-borrow or rent gear and most important-you have only one chance at doing any one wedding-it's like shooting a breaking news event-things can happen fast and sometimes be unplanned for so you've got to be ready all the time.
I'm not saying don't do it but get your gear in order first before you start marketing yourself. It'll save you pain later on
Good luck and welcome to the wonderful wacky world of weddings. I've been doing them for 23 years and still enjoy MOST of them.
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Old December 16th, 2005, 09:11 PM   #4
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hi roger. weddings are fun, just remember to come into them with the right attitude and you'll be ok. i've worked with some vendors who are so uppity about themselves that it's not even funny. after your first few weddings, you'll know what i mean. ;-P

jonathan is right about the batteries, tripod and head. my rule is that you'll want as many batteries as it takes to never have to walk into an event wondering if you have enough juice. a mic is important for the vows. i use both a senn wireless and an iriver/giant squid lav combo and for some reason i like the audio that comes from the iriver/giant squid combo better... is it just me?

smoothness of shots will always be a problem, and i can tell you that i pretty much suck at it. it helps that i have 2 partners that shoot amazingly smooth shots. basically, you can get away without a stabilizer for awhile, if you are low on capital, so it's not a must on your first shoot. the xl2 should help since it's shoulder-mounted unlike the pd or vx series sony cameras.

i also recommend a clip-on wide-angle lens. if you'll be shooting solo, it'll help add depth (width? hehe) to your shoots. it's also good for those tight spaces you may end up in (limos, bathrooms, closets, gazebos, etc.).

since you are using the canon, i suggest getting a shoe-mount light. i first started out with an xl1, and had it paired with a frezzi mini-fill with dimmer. receptions can get pretty dark, and the xl wants a lot of light.

finally, get yourself a nice, comfortable pair of shoes. don't go cheap either. you'll be on your dogs all day.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 07:17 PM   #5
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Thank you all for the replies.

I actually have a tripod...just not a very good one. I bought it at Best Buy for 80 buxs. I'm not entirely sure if it will be enough for now though...I'm looking into buying a Bogen/Manfrotto tripod.

I'll look into how much all this will cost me and I'm make sure not to start advertising until I have these bare essentials!

The only real big problem would be getting a hold of another camcorder. I can easily get a hi-8 cam. but compared to the XL2, it's next to nothing. I also don't have another camera operator. My only option (which I'm highly considering) is training my wife on how to use a camcorder and how to compose her shots and all that good stuff. It's something that I'm going to do so we can both team up, but getting a hold of a high quality camcorder is the tough part.

Thank you for the replies, I appreciate it.

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Old December 19th, 2005, 06:18 AM   #6
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As for the tripod issue, well, you get what you pay for BUT if thats what you've got and can't afford something better, well something is better than nothing. Just be slow and careful with pans and tilts.
As for a camera, again, something is better than nothing. You might not need the footage from the Hi8 at all but you can't edit what you don't have (and need) as for an operator, I can only speak for myself but I have always been a solo operator-always shoot 2 and sometimes 3 cams at the ceremony and aside from getting winded from running around setting them up and taking them down-it works out just fine shooting by myself. I am considering however, hiring a young kid to help me move stuff in and out of venue and help with the set up and breakdown-I'm getting far to old to keep doing it myself.
As I said before, I don't think too many of us had EVERYTHING we needed or wanted when we first started out.
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