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


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Old December 19th, 2005, 10:21 AM   #1
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Hey Guys, I haven't shot my first wedding yet, but I have been doing plays and recitals. I've been using two cameras with time consuming results.

A Sony VX2100 and a Canon GL1.

As you might imagine, I've been doing a lot of color tweaking in post and am still not completely satisfied with the cuts between these two cameras.

The Sony has been a gem for low light stage/auditorium events. The light plays havoc with the Canon. I have the Canon at the back and am using it for wide angle shots. I'm getting complaints about the video showing too much Top and bottom.

I'm assuming a wide angle lens would take care of the problem of too much top and too much bottom in the video while capturing both sides but I really don't know as I've never used one. So my first question is whether or not a wide angle lens will solve this problem?

If a wide angle lens will solve the problem, my next question is which camera should I buy the lens for? As I only have about $350.

I've noticed that the Canon does better in these dark stage situations if I zoom up close to the subject. So I'm wondering if my best bet would be to buy the lens for the Sony and use it for wide angle and use the Canon for close ups.

Any way. If you had to make due with these two cameras, which one would you buy the wide angle lens for?

Thanks,
Scott
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Old December 19th, 2005, 12:49 PM   #2
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If I had those two camera's I'd buy a lens that fits both! The Canon WD-58 is a screw on WA with 58mm thread that will fit both of those units. It's a reasonably good piece of glass with a partial zoom thru capability. It's a good investment if you buy it. (I think someone had one for sale in the private classifieds not long ago as well so you may want to look there first).

Next, the wide angle lens won't fix your problem of to much top and bottom in the frame. It will allow you to show more, but the framing in that sense won't change. You need to eliminate that ultra wide shot your doing and man that camera. Instead of a full stage shot (a worthless shot 99% of the time), have the second camera as a tight group shot. If there's 4 dancers then they show all 4 of them and they stay with the group. If the group spread through the entire stage then you show it for a time, but if the entire stage is filled with people then you'll focus on 10 of them at most and work with different groupings. Then use the second camera as the tight camera and only work tights. Singles and two shots at most.

This will get you better footage and help with the difference in the camera's. The canon doesn't have the latitude that the Sony has so using it as any type of group or wide shot is a bad choice. If you use it for tight material it will work better. When you cut from the tight shot to the group shot the change is significant and the color difference and quality difference isn't as noticable.

If you set yourself up to fail (canon wide and sony tight) then your looking for trouble. If you position yourself properly then you can make the tools you have work for what you need.

Ben Lynn
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Old December 20th, 2005, 07:29 AM   #3
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Wide angle lens or on-camera light

Hey Ben,
Everything you said about the canon being used for wide showed through in my edits. When it was tight, it matched much better to the Sony. I'm going to change that immediately and move the Sony to wide.

I apparently wasn't thinking right on the wide angle any way. I suppose that would be used when I'm closer to something and need to get it all, like the wall in the room of a house.

I started this thread as a way of trying to get opinions on what was a more necessary purchase- a wide angle lens or an on camera light.

If you were in my situation with the two cameras and could only make 1 purchase in the next 60 days, would you buy the WA lens or the light, knowing you had two plays and 1 recital and no weddings but was hoping for a wedding.

Thanks,
Scott
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Old December 20th, 2005, 10:26 AM   #4
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My advice: Don't buy anything at this point. You don't want a wide angle lens or a light for theater work. Wait until you book your first wedding, then make a purchase. At that point, the light is more important than the wide angle lens if you have to choose between the two.

Just keep doing your theater work with what you have. The stock lenses are more than wide enough for covering a stage. And before you get to full wide with the stock lens the stage is to small in the frame and it's a bad shot anyway. And you should never add lighting to the camera for a theater production. That's a quick way to be disliked by the theater company and cast members and it's just not a good idea.

Sit tight and be patient. See what comes up for the weddings and go from there since that's where you would need the additional equipment.

Ben
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Old December 20th, 2005, 11:00 AM   #5
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Scott,

For your one purchase, I'd suggest a WA lens. I bought a light and a WA lens for my VX2100 when I first got it; I've had a lot of use out of the lens (Sony VCL-HG0758); I've rarely used the light.

I've never done a play or recital; I can't imagine needing a light for either. The stage lights should be more than adequate with a VX2100. And, even if it's only an elementary school play & you're the official videographer, along the line of what Ben wrote, I can't imagine either the director or audience being happy with the distraction of an extra light moving around.

Seems to me a WA would be useful for a play, but, that's only an opinion based on doing weddings, not on any play taping experience.

I also have zero experience with a GL1, so no opinion there.

Tom T.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 12:30 PM   #6
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Yeah, I'm smart enough not to use an on camera light for a play. I know the light would never reach the subject and I'd be booed from the auditorium for using one. I was wanting the light for receptions. Even then I may not use it, but I did do a 40th birthday party where they danced in the dark and even that was too much for the Sony and I felt like a dweeb when I had to do the color corections in post and make the dark scenes at least viewable.

With the plays, audio was my first embarrassment. I've since fixed that with a Beach, Soundboard cables, and a Rode VM. I'm just trying to stall off the next embarrassment and the cash I have today will be gone next week if I don't invest it soon.

So, I'm leaning toward the light at the moment. I see now that I can get away with the stock lenses for the moment. But if the situation arrises, I will never be able to compensate for a light without having one.

With that said, I'm thinking the Pag C6 (?) might be out of my price range. I couldn't even find it the last time I checked B&H.

Is there any light that would do the job adequately for under $300? Would I need some kind of L frame or other shoe attachment to use the Rode VM in conjunction with the light?

Thanks,
Scott
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Old December 20th, 2005, 12:33 PM   #7
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Play/Stage Shooting

Your solution to the extraneous "top and bottom", problem is shooting in 16:9 Letter box. With my VX 2000 I actually can add a letter box border when I shoot 4:3 that I have stored on the memory chip. Of course, you can also actually use 16:9 setting on the Sony. I don't know about GL, as I don't have one.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 12:45 PM   #8
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B+H has kits in the $200 range that are very usable (Smith-Victor and Bescor come to mind). Any of the kits in that price range should last you for a couple of years and give you the proper lighting that you need. Check if they come with diffusion filter because you'll need it for event coverage (evens out the light and keeps people from getting upset that there's a bright light in their face). Batteries usually run a 50watt bulb for 1 hour in that price range. If you need more run time then you can buy additional batteries or a battery belt.

You still need the L bracket and those are around $100, depends on what you get.

Ben
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 07:18 AM   #9
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manual

Personally on camera lighting I try to avoid... very disturbing and can be distracting. At any rate if you must use it your best bet would be for interviews in darken areas. I have been learning to use manual functions, these can definitely help when light is low. That on camera light should be your very last resort (carry it) don't rely on it. I know a cinematographer who also shoots stills and he doesn't even use a flash.

He once told me "if you light things correctly you can shoot light, dark, albino, whatever people together in the same shot and not over or under-expose any of them."
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 08:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante Waters
Personally on camera lighting I try to avoid... very disturbing and can be distracting. At any rate if you must use it your best bet would be for interviews in darken areas. I have been learning to use manual functions, these can definitely help when light is low. That on camera light should be your very last resort (carry it) don't rely on it. I know a cinematographer who also shoots stills and he doesn't even use a flash.

He once told me "if you light things correctly you can shoot light, dark, albino, whatever people together in the same shot and not over or under-expose any of them."
While this is true is some cases-specifically when you have the time to set up a shot and light it properly-in event videography, run and gun, news, sports and weddings-there is in 99.9% of the case no time to "properly" light a situation. A 20W on camera light (my preference-athough I can go up to 100W) will do a number of things. First it will allow at least a fairly decent image to show even in the worst of conditions-Second, in better conditions it will help bring out detail that might not be seen without it and Thirdly, the thing it will not do, if using the light correctly is disturb the guests nor give the deer in the headlight look- if it is used correctly. If I could I'd use at least a 3 point lighting setup for every job I shoot but obviously you can't do that in run and gun events and since people pay me to get footage in which they can see the faces of the other people-its an on camera for me. Best Solution? Nope! Only thing to do in the situation? Yep!
Movin' On!
Don B
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Old December 24th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #11
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In my opinion you would be better off putting the GL1 closer to the stage and forgo the full stage width shot. It has been of little use for me when I shoot dance performances. The light sensitivity of the GL1 will improve with closer placement to the stage. Arrive at and use the same exposure settings in manual mode for both cameras. Visually compare images before establishing exposure settings. I use two matched 13" CRT S-video monitors during shooting as opposed to the built-in flip-out LCD monitors. Focus is a real issue when the cameras are 50' out and the bigger image the beter. I use a GL1, a XL1s and sometimes a SONY 2000 for dance performances. Because of the location constraints placed upon me by our local concert hall house manager both of my cameras are some 50' from the stage. A wide angle lens is useless at that distance. The house stage manager is kind enough to allow me to use the intercom headsets, so clear communication between cameras is a blessing. This is wonderful for maintaining complimentary camera angles.
The wide angle lens will do nothing for stage performances, unless your camera is 3-4 feet from the subject.

White balancing cameras is a bit of a challenge. All are balanced to full stage lighting against a white sheet. The Canon's balance a bit closer than the SONY, so the SONY gets the role of center stage unattended, stationary, Mezzanine rail, reasonably wide angle location. Final tweaking is done in post.

In regards to on-camera lighting, I feel a strong, evenly dispersed light at close range would likely serve your anticipated use for receptions quite well. I use a 30 (I think) watt Cool-Lux, (micro-lux) model that uses a 12 volt power supply. I've modified the hot shoe mount to elevate the light itself some 10 inches above the hot shoe. Many videographers are quite happy with 10 watt units, as they tend to use them only for close-up work. I bought two of these Cool-lux lights some 18 years ago, so the current models might behave differently. In any case, I had a recent inquiry to Cool-Lux tech support completely ignored, so approach their products with caution. Both lights have home made flip-up diffusers attached. With the diffuser gel in front of the light I get a very even exposure on the GL1 at a distance of 3'-6'. Beyond that, the diffuser is useless. Without the diffuser, the light is too hot until the subject is 10'-15 away. Using the same light on the XL1s I leave the diffuser on all of the time, unless the subject is 30' or more away.

Hope this helps.
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Last edited by Waldemar Winkler; December 25th, 2005 at 06:24 PM.
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