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Old February 6th, 2006, 06:33 AM   #1
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wedding camera placement

I am posting this in hopes that you all will share your secrets of camera placement for a wedding. I will be using two cameras with only one manned. I have been thinking in circles about how I could set them up, and I have some idea about how I would do it. I'm not totally flying in the dark, but what do you think works best with 2 cameras and one person. Other things I have thought about...How can you keep children from disturbing the unmanned camera? How do you make sure people don't block the unmanned cameras view? Do you take masking tape and have people go to their spots? How crucial is it to make sure the other camera doesn't pick you up in the frame? For instance, if I was given permission to put a camera behind the bride and groom facing back at the guests (I know a lot of churches won't allow this). I'll have the manned camera somewhere on the right side of the church so I can see the bride well. I've heard over and over that its the brides day, but is it good idea to have the unmanned camera getting a shot that shows the front of the groom? I've hashed and rehashed all of the angles, literally. I realize each wedding will be unique to some degree and must be planned accordingly, but it will be good to see how the experienced videographers get the job done. Thanks a lot guys.

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Old February 6th, 2006, 07:04 AM   #2
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This is a dificult question to answer mainly because every venue is different. I've worked some where I can not only place a camera on the altar but I can man it if I desire -- I've been in others where I can't even be in the front for the processional and then move to the back. It just depends. However-in the venuses where I can place at least an unmanned camera on the altar I go for the best shot possible of the B&G-knowing the shot of the groom is going to be the back right side of his head. (I might also use a 3rd camera on the other side going for the grooms face-hey gotta be fair) I'll shoot the rest from the rear of the church-center aisle-to get the "other side" of the groom,the bride and the officiant. That also allows me to get the lighting of the unity candle,giving of the roses to the mothers etc. Actually, in my opinion just because I can place a camera on the altar doesn't mean I will as it's not always the best shot available-this is where talking to he officiant to find out where the B&G might be moving around to helps. Every venue and officiant is different-you need to talk to the officaiant and save yourself from going in circles.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 09:00 AM   #3
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Brandon, it would help more if you first find out the layout of the venue and their restrictions. Talk to the officiant prociding before hand if possible, and attaned the rehearsal if possible as well.

As for camera setup, 2 cameras would be best used.

Camera 1: You up front filming processional and getting vows and closeup shots of the bride. I generally film just in front of the groomsman and shoot up the isle for processional, and shot of the bride coming down the isle, and handed off to the groom. Then move off to the side to place my camera on preplaced tripod for lockdown shooting the rest of the service.

Camera 2: Manned if best, but doesn't have to be. In back of center isle behind guests and raised up as high as possible to shoot over guests when standing. Frame your shot before hand, with alter properly framed (medium closeup), and white balanced, and start recording before the processional entrance. This will be your cutaway cam for times when you are moving, (like back to your tripod for lockdown shot), and any other good shots you might want to get, like the kiss of ring exchange, sheepches etc.
It will be very important that you setup your framed shot, with the tripod set very high, as the guests will stand when the bride enters.

This setup should work in most cases, and can be adapted to most shooting situations. If you have to or possible, shoot in the balconmy for 2nd camera for great overhead shots.

Also remember, audio is just as if not more important tot he Ceremony. Use a wireless hookup whenever possible on the groom/and or officinat for good clear audio pickup. Maybe even a digital recorder like an IRIver with a lav or shotgun mic, placed up front to capture backup and/or reading audio. Your camera mic, even with shotgun, will not work well most likely, unless you are at about 5-10 feet away, which I doubt you will be able to do.
If you can't mic the groom (which you should really try to do), then place a shotgun mic on a mic stand somewhere up front hidden in flower arrangement or the like, and send to your camera via wireless, and monitor and adjust audio when needed.

I hope this helps a bit.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 09:27 AM   #4
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...

I didn't clarify very well in my first post. I am starting in the business, I don't have anything lined up as of yet. I plan on talking to the officiant before any wedding I would do. I am just looking for general info on ways you all have set up before. I have two dvc30s and I bought two of the davis and sanford provista airlift tripods with f18 fluid heads (they aren't bogen, but I was impressed with them). They are fairly tall, but I'm not sure if they would shoot over standing guest if one was at the back of the church. I also bought a monopod, but it isnt here yet. I am not sure if I will use it for the manned camera or stick with my second tripod. As far as audio goes...I have an azden lapel system on its way and a rode videomic condenser shotgun mic. I also have an iriver...I may buy a squid for it. Since you mentioned it, I should have the wireless set hooked up to the camera I will be manning correct? I think it is the most important of all. But at the same time, I don't feel comfortable putting the shotgun at the back of the church and relying on it to get a good feed from there. Both the uhf azden lapel and the shotgun go straight to mini, my budget is spent and I have a few more things to get. I just wasn't in a position to buy the xlr adapters. The shotgun picks up some handling noise, so it almost needs to be on the stationary. I just don't know...I had the shotgun mic out in the hallway the other night and I just don't think it will pick up a feed from the back of the church. Any ideas about that? ..Btw, I'm not a complete video newbie, I have toyed with it for a few years now, even done a few weddings. I've only done one two camera wedding and the church had a balcony so I just went with that. Honestly I didn't like the way the shots lined up when switching back and forth in post. It just didn't feel right, they say people look better shot looking up at them, and then to switch from that to an overhead...it just never seemed to look right to me??? One more thing, we used wireless mics in the studio when I was in high school...do they pick up a lot of shirt noise? My set isn't here yet so I don't know, maybe the ones we used were junk??? How can I avoid the shirt noise, and still have it hidden? Also, nobody has really talked about how to avoid getting the second camera blocked by accident or bumped by a kid, does anybody know any good tips to lessen the chances of those things happening? Thanks for taking the time to respond guys.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 09:51 AM   #5
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"Also, nobody has really talked about how to avoid getting the second camera blocked by accident or bumped by a kid, does anybody know any good tips to lessen the chances of those things happening? Thanks for taking the time to respond guys."

Brandon, as I said earlier, the only way that you can make sure that Camera 2 deosn't get blocked, is to have it set on a tripod high enough to shoot over guests when standing, always in back. This is the only way besides placing it in a balcony to shoot to do this.

As for being knocked by kids and such, this is why my wife is my second shooter, as she is able to man the 2nd camera to frame shots, and keep others away from the camera.

What might work if shooting by yourself, is getting one of those velet ropes to place around your camera setup. This is all I can think of, as I don't think it would be right to inform guests to stay away (even though I think we all have teh right to do this to protect our investment) from your setup, as some might seem this to be rude. Best to do it in a subtle way like roping it off.

As for lav mic placement, I place the lav on the grooms jacket lapel about half way down his lapel or in corsage, and do a sound chack before hand.
And, you are correct in that a shotgun mic will not work well with audio pickup from back of a church. Actually shotgun mics work best outdoors, as there is too much noise bouncing in an indoor environment to work well from a distance, unless the shotgun mic is either close to your sound source or up high above on a boom (not too good for a wedding).
Before I got a wireless, I tried shotgun mics without much success.

I hope this helps a bit more...
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Old February 6th, 2006, 10:42 AM   #6
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The 2nd cam placement will dictatye IF it will be blocked out. Many times (especially since I generally fly solo) I will not put a camera on the altar, first more often than not it gets blocked by the bridal party and 2nd, as I said before it might not be the best shot. I have been in venues where the 2nd camera HAS to be placed in the balconey, it can make for a nice dramatic shot sometimes. I have been in venues that the officaiant does't care where I go or what I do and I have been in a couple of venues where I had to be in the back of the church for everything including the processional. Of course I've also played "guest" and sat in one of the pews with my wireless going to my 2nd camera (I use a PD150 for "guest" shooting not my JVC5000) and they never say anything about that. Go figure!
As for audio, either a wireless on the groom or a iRiver type is much preferred over using a shotgun for the vows. First shotguns generally suck in a church-they just don't pickup audio very wll since its so far from the source and without good audio especially for the vows, well the video could be the absolute BEST but bad audio will not make the B&G happy. Invest in a wireless or iRiver type to get the best audio possible. I prefer wireless to be able to monitor the sound and I don't have to sync it later in post but that's just me.
I've had a couple of events last years where there wasn't a balconey and I couldn't place a camera anywhere but at the rear of the venue so I put my tripod up as high as I could get it to go (about 8 feet without using the center column) and unless it was Yao Min standing in front of the camera it worked out fine.
Every venue and every officiant has their own set of rules-for me-I abide by them (as much as possible) since ther's a good chance I'll be back there again and I really don't want to tick them off-makes life too hard the next time.

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Old February 6th, 2006, 11:45 AM   #7
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Thanks for your imput fellas. If anyone else has anything to add, I'll be glad to hear it.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 12:33 PM   #8
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if you can con a friend or relative into going with you to man the 2nd camera, i'd highly suggest it. even if they are not good at shooting, they can at least watch the viewfinder and man the tripod to make sure no-one blocks the view or kicks the sticks.

good luck with the shoot!
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Old February 7th, 2006, 10:15 PM   #9
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For the ceremony, one camera behind the bride and one camera behind the groom, occasionally (rarely) a 3rd camera that floats around. All are handheld.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 09:37 AM   #10
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I'm not trying to hijack this thread, but I have my first 3-camera wedding coming up and have been trying to visualize how I will place my cameras. 3-cameras, two operators. Any thoughts???
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Old February 12th, 2006, 01:34 PM   #11
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Again, camera placement hinges on 1) the phyiscal layout of the venue 2)the rules of the venue (and if you follow them) and 3) the rules of the officiant.
In other words there are no hard and fast rules for camera placement.
In a perfect world, I would put a manned camera on the altar, a manned camera center ailse mid or rear and an unmanned camera in the balconey however see the first part of the statement ;-0

I think in this case I would go to the rehearsal and check the place out and talk to the officiant to see what you can and can't do see how the ceremony is going to stand etc and set camera placement from there.

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Old February 13th, 2006, 12:39 AM   #12
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Alright, for our 3 camera weddings I generally try to put the unmanned camera in the back on a wide shot of the front. The other two cameras go up front on either side to get closeups of the bride and groom. Every venue is different, but this my typical approach.

Also, I usually dismount one of the manned cameras and move to the back to catch the couple leaving. Hope that helps.
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Old February 13th, 2006, 04:54 AM   #13
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I used an unmanned camera twice. My first wedding had an unmanned on a tripod and people stood right in front of it. My second one-man/two-camera job I got a very tall tripod and put the camera at the back of the chapel on a medium shot. It looked like security camera footage. I now consider unmanned cameras useless. I will never use one ever again. I would rather use stills to cut away to, if necessary.

If I can stand behind the groom near the "altar", I do that for the vows to shoot the bride and have her family in the background. Many weddings in Hawaii are outdoors and this is easy. If I can't do this, I shoot from near the top of the aisle, just behind the parents. I get as close as possible and kneel down near my monopod so my butt isn't in anyone's face. I move a bit to one side so the photographer can shoot past me. Even if I can shoot from the altar, I switch to the aisle for the rings and the kiss. I zoom in slowly on the kiss, then go wide and walk backward about 10 feet in front of the bride and groom as they proceed down the aisle. This gets a great shot of them as they walk by their friends and family. My monopod is stabilized, so the shot is smooth and lively. Frequently, this is also when flower petals are thrown, but that may be different where you live.
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Old February 13th, 2006, 05:02 AM   #14
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No question a manned camera is always better (unless the operator is terrible). However, I have found that having my 3rd camera unmanned gives me a great 'safety' shot. I can almost always, unless the congregation is standing, go to that camera if the other two cameras are setting up shots for some reason. I used to pay a 3rd assistant to man the 3rd camera, but after a year or so of this I stopped, since I only really wanted that safety shot anyways. I also have developed a system of hand signals with my assistants so we don't usually switch shots at the same time.

Marcus:
How is your monopod stablized? Flowpod?
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Old February 13th, 2006, 06:01 AM   #15
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Hi,
Whenever I do a wedding, I always take along a magic arm with clamp and tripod plate for the second camera, theres usually somewhere at the back of the church to attach it such as a high shelf, or the top of a doorframe. It keeps the second camera out of the way of kids and also you can sometimes mount it high enough to get a good panorama of the whole proceedings
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