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

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Old January 25th, 2006, 04:21 PM   #1
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Here's a silly question!

Ok, don't laugh! A mini DV tape can record up to 60 minutes in SP mode but longer in SLP. I know that SLP loses quality. So, what do you do when you have to film a catholic wedding that usually lasts well over an hour? Do you record in SLP and take the quality loss?

I'm new to the wedding video business, so I'm sure to have many more silly questions for you!
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Old January 25th, 2006, 04:27 PM   #2
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Not a silly question, and I don't do weddings. Any time you are shooting an event that runs longer than your tape capacity, (Weddings, theatrical plays, concerts, sporting events) you have two choices.

Shoot with two cameras, so that one camera is shooting while you are changing tapes on the other.

Change tapes in what is likely to be a 'pause' in the ceremony, or event.

(The third option being, to ask the event to hold while you change tapes, is not very feasable.)

Of course, recording to a firestore or direct to harddrive is not addressed as you are speaking specifically of tape capacity.

If you've never been to a catholic service, I suggest you attend a few at the chuch in question, and see that rythm of the mass. You'll get a feel for when a tape change can be made. (And really, does your client want the WHOLE mass on tape?)

If you're Catholic you probably know when you can change anyway.

(Yes, I'm Catholic)

Good luck.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 04:45 PM   #3
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Thanks so much. I think I'll take your advice and ask them to hold while I change tapes!

But really, I'm going to guess that communion would be a good time. Communion usually lasts pretty long and won't need most of that footage anyway as long as I get the B&G and wedding party.

Thanks again!
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Old January 25th, 2006, 05:19 PM   #4
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I pretty much only shoot with 63 minute tapes in SP, so someone correct me if I'm mistaken. My understanding is that in mini-DV LP mode, you don't lose resolution, but the slower tape speed might give a slightly higher probability of dropouts.

This may or may not be true for other manufacturers, but Panasonic tapes longer than 63 minutes are actually physically thinner, so in theory could be more susceptible to problems. I've read posts from people who say they do shoot with the longer tapes and that in practice, they don't have trouble with them.

So if you get a good quality 83 minute tape and shoot in LP, you could get you two straight hours of recording on one tape. (If you're shooting HDV, only SP speed is available).
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Old January 25th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #5
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In 20 plus years of doing weddings and almost 10 of thoses years doing them with mini tapes it's never been a problem. First tapes are cheap (compared to years ago) so if you have say 15 or 20 minutes of pre ceremnoy footage change tapes before the ceremony and a 60 minute tape should get you thru OR change tapes during the communion of the masses-you can disolve the clips together and no one will really notice IF you even give them the communion of the masses. Stay away from LP or SLP or whatever they call it, it can be more trouble than its worth. Of coure you can also use the Panny PQ83 minute tapes for the ceremony if you really want to. I used them for years with no trouble at all. The only reason I stopped is because 1) they are more than double the price of 60s and 2) with 3 cameras running during a ceremony it got to be kind of expensive and 3) since I change during the communion of the masses it's not a problem.
Have fun
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Old January 25th, 2006, 07:18 PM   #6
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Hi Heather,

I spent about 11 years coordinating pastoral and worship ministries on Catholic parish and diocesan levels. I feel qualified to offer a few pennies worth of thought:

First - a technical note: I remember hearing or reading somewhere that some NLE's won't properly import footage recorded in LP mode. I am not sure if this is true, but I would guess that if it is, than perhaps lower-grade or consumer level NLE's that don't offer multispeed control over camcorder functions would pose a problem. I don't know what you edit with, but if you are considering shooting in LP, first check to be sure that your NLE can work with it. I may be totally off-base on this information - so be wary. I've only shot in SP mode (although I used a few Panasonic 80 tapes in SP mode last year and did experience a few rare dropouts)

Regarding the full-Mass wedding;
Richard's suggestion to attend the site and experience the Mass there a few times is a very good one. It will also give you some idea of angles, lighting and so forth as well as the rythm, timing, and elements of the ceremony.

Some things to note however are that the dynamics can change considerably between one priest to another. The priest scheduled to celebrate the wedding may not be the same priest who normally celebrates Mass at that location. Sometimes, visiting priests are requested due to a long running relationship with the family, etc.

These dynamics can stipulate whether the wedding ultimately will last 50 minutes or 100 minutes. (or more)

Likewise, even if they will celebrate a full Mass at the wedding, there will be a few notable differences compared to the standard communal worship.
These differences are often not too big a deal, but will often involve a few additional prayers and blessings at the start and at the end of Mass - not to mention that addition of the vows and the exchange of rings.

Often times, immediate members of the families or even the bride & groom will opt to bring up the offertory gifts...this is often something that they wish to capture to film. (This usually happens immediately following the intercessory prayers - or the Prayers of the Faithful)

Differing priests will sometimes have differing demands or restrictions on the use of cameras in the worship space. It may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with any documented regulations pertaining to the location. You also may consider attending the rehearsal to consult with the celebrant to get an idea of what is or is not allowed. Some videographers would say 'NO' to this as it opens up a can of worms - (many priests wouldn't give it a 2nd thought until you make the invitation for control - then they begin making a flood of unreasonable demands - some of our forum members know what I am talking about...Some demands and restrictions are well-founded in sacred observance and regulations, but unfortunately I found that I was actually more well-versed in Canon law and the rubrics of Catholic worship than some of the priests I worked with - and I get frustrated when there is actually no valid basis for some of their demands. Proceed with caution. (Other times, they are great to work with and you will not have any problems producing the video you need to produce)

Not as common these days, but you will still find some priests, or parishes that will forbid the use of a camera during the consecration, or even throughout the entire communion ceremony. I don't have much of a problem with this at all. IMHO, the communion processional makes for awkward or boring video (although one parish in my area runs a communion processional like a 'cattle call' The 'blue-hairs' are literally falling over themselves to get into the aisle as quickly as possible...and then wait...and wait...and wait - very little civility- and somewhat entertaining.

Just be aware of timing. Quite often, the communion processional may begin 45 or 50 minutes into the ceremony...and you have time to change your tape....other times it may begin 75 minutes into the which case you have to be very much on your toes as to what works best.

Sorry, I seem to have run on too long. Anyway, Hope this helps.
Good luck.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 07:51 PM   #7
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pre ceremony shots are on a seperate tape altogether.. when teh brides car arrives, thats when i switch tapes to fresh ones...

the ceremony is then recorded on an 83min DVMQ.. never had a problem with these on the DVX or Z1, even though the manual even says dont use them... i think the weight of the spool may unbalance the drive and misalign the head.. and add wear to the drive unit.... I have never been given an actual rason why not to use them.. but again, ive never had a problem..

after the ceremony, if theres any tape left, i then shoot whatever is left on the tape for teh photoshoot and after ceremony photos. Then i swtich back to the pre ceremony tape and shoot the photoshoot.
no point in wasting tape stock when you dont have to..

when i started out, tapes were like 15bux each, and i used to shoot one tpe for every location, even if i had 20 minutes left on the spool, id start a fresh tape.. that was dumb...

As for NLEs and supporting LP capture.. it doesnt matter how its been recorded, its all still 1's and 0's. The playback deck will still play the correct data back at the correct time.
With LP, as it slows down the spooling of the tape during recording, that slowdown means that the tape head contact with the tape is for a longer period of time. That excess friction can cause excessive heat/wear, emulsion burn and lubricant ware.
All these play a factor in the integrity of the recording as if any one of these elements are affected, then you are susseptable to a drop out.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 08:28 PM   #8
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Great information from everyone. Thanks so much. I think I will take the advice and attend a few masses at the church before hand. I also plan on attending the rehearsal to better plan for the ceremony.
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