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


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Old March 13th, 2006, 02:49 PM   #1
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First Wedding DONE.

I have been a leech on this board for a while so I thought I would share some things I learned last weekend at my first wedding shoot. Not that these bit me, but I learned more about these topics in 10 minutes than I could by ever reading a manual. For those that are planning their first wedding:

1. Attend the rehearsal
2. Auto Focus? Forget it.. It will ruin an unmanned camera.
3. Unmanned camera? Almost useless. What is your wife doing this Saturday? I asked mine to come after I attended the rehearsal.
4. Manual white balance as much as possible. Use presets only in a hurry.
5. Wireless mics? Don't skimp here. Sennheiser G2 is a minimum need.
6. If you can get a soundboard feed, this is the best situation for music, etc.
6. Stabilization? I didn't use it, but I will from now on. I do plan to build it myself. I haven't seen this site on here yet, but check out homebuiltstabilizers.com. I have seen a lot of build your own stabilizer people here on this board.
7. MOST IMPORTANT: Be nice to and follow the photographer! At least while you are trying to get shots of the bride getting ready, etc. He was very helpful in knowing when and where everything would happen. Priceless for a new person.
8. I was using a GL2. It was necessary to use a custom preset. I thought it had too much color, and it was a little red. This worked for the entire shoot.

Although I haven't edited much of it, I would really like it to be previewed here for the opinions. You guys seem to not hold back. I will let you know when.

Thanks!
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Old March 13th, 2006, 08:58 PM   #2
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"unmanned" cameras are certainly not useless.....i've seen better footage from some unmanned cameras than manned one's on these forums...it all depends on how you frame the unmanned shot, they can work quite well if done properly...although we want them all to manned by pros!

who on earth told you to use auto focus......leave that for uncle willy "the vidiot.....did you actually use auto focus...curious??? cheers- joe



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barrow
I have been a leech on this board for a while so I thought I would share some things I learned last weekend at my first wedding shoot. Not that these bit me, but I learned more about these topics in 10 minutes than I could by ever reading a manual. For those that are planning their first wedding:

1. Attend the rehearsal
2. Auto Focus? Forget it.. It will ruin an unmanned camera.
3. Unmanned camera? Almost useless. What is your wife doing this Saturday? I asked mine to come after I attended the rehearsal.
4. Manual white balance as much as possible. Use presets only in a hurry.
5. Wireless mics? Don't skimp here. Sennheiser G2 is a minimum need.
6. If you can get a soundboard feed, this is the best situation for music, etc.
6. Stabilization? I didn't use it, but I will from now on. I do plan to build it myself. I haven't seen this site on here yet, but check out homebuiltstabilizers.com. I have seen a lot of build your own stabilizer people here on this board.
7. MOST IMPORTANT: Be nice to and follow the photographer! At least while you are trying to get shots of the bride getting ready, etc. He was very helpful in knowing when and where everything would happen. Priceless for a new person.
8. I was using a GL2. It was necessary to use a custom preset. I thought it had too much color, and it was a little red. This worked for the entire shoot.

Although I haven't edited much of it, I would really like it to be previewed here for the opinions. You guys seem to not hold back. I will let you know when.

Thanks!
Joe Allen Rosenberger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 13th, 2006, 11:21 PM   #3
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Unmanned cameras are, in my opinion, useless. If you take my perspective into account, it is understandable. I have shot well over 200 weddings and practiced a lot when I was inexperienced. I've shot about 50 one-man ceremonies which REALLY puts you on the spot. You really need to be on your toes for a one-camera ceremony. I ended up using my second camera attached to a firewire getting a simultaneous duplicate of my primary camera. I expect nothing less than good (perfect is impossible) camera work for 99% of the wedding from each camera.

I understand Joe's point and don't disagree with him. Don't have a novice man your second camera. Give that person lessons first, and tell them to move the camera as little as possible. A decent medium shot with occaisional framing adjustments would be fine. Of course, the operator must understand good composition. You would be surprised how few people can compose a shot. Lots of people leave too much headroom. In a wedding, it is better to get the shot lower to see the fancy clothes than to show the back wall of the church over their heads.

Here are my comments on the numbers:

1. Yes, until you are experienced. Try to see the church in the same lighting conditions as the time of your event.
2. I use manual focus, but occaisionally push the momentary button for auto focus.
3. See above.
4. I agree.
5. I wholeheartedly agree. Audio is just as important as video and you shouldn't use a $200 camera to shoot a wedding and expect to be paid. The same goes for the audio. I spend $1200 on my wireless and don't regret my decision at all. In fact, I don't have to ever think about audio except for some level adjustments.
6. Patching into the soundboard can be a problem if the sound guy is not on the ball. It can also be a copyright issue.
7. Work with the photographer and things will be great. Don't let them push you around. Check shooting restrictions with the location coordinator. If there are no restrictions in shooting in the aisle, don't let the photographer tell you not to go there. Try not to get in their way, but don't let them restrict you. A good photographer will be shooting past you or standing right next to you. Let them peek over your shoulder and get a couple of shots during the ceremony if you are in a tight location. Don't flinch and jerk the camera if they tap you on the shoulder.
8. Always learn the ins and outs of your camera to get the best image.

Practice, practice, practice!
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Old March 14th, 2006, 03:47 AM   #4
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unmanned cameras are not useless unless u put them somewhere useless...

i find a god option is to have one fixed onto the lectern where teh readings and sermons will take place, then shoot your manned camera from the aisle'
from here, you have the best possible shot for the "static" boring bits, all the while, youre given the option to shoot family and friends, the couple which can then be used in varous locations of the edit.

Unmanned cameras are NOT useless...

hell, ive even planted a camera here in sydneys St Marys cathedral whereby the ceremony and vows take place about 30 metres from where we are "alowed" to stand, then had a second camera on teh lectern for the readings (up the front) then shot handheld from almost centre aisle.

It works if used effectively....

I also agree with the cmments made about audio, as well as manual focussing during static shots. U shoudl be able to find focus and lock it for shots like this.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 04:29 AM   #5
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well said peter....i have a partner so we always have 2 manned cams....plus 2 unmanned......and we use the 2 unmanned angle frequently in the edit.....and they look really nice.....the point of the angle may be useless may apply if you dont place the unamnned cam in a desireable location....



Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
unmanned cameras are not useless unless u put them somewhere useless...

i find a god option is to have one fixed onto the lectern where teh readings and sermons will take place, then shoot your manned camera from the aisle'
from here, you have the best possible shot for the "static" boring bits, all the while, youre given the option to shoot family and friends, the couple which can then be used in varous locations of the edit.

Unmanned cameras are NOT useless...

hell, ive even planted a camera here in sydneys St Marys cathedral whereby the ceremony and vows take place about 30 metres from where we are "alowed" to stand, then had a second camera on teh lectern for the readings (up the front) then shot handheld from almost centre aisle.

It works if used effectively....

I also agree with the cmments made about audio, as well as manual focussing during static shots. U shoudl be able to find focus and lock it for shots like this.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 08:44 AM   #6
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I say "almost useless" because it will provide a cutaway if you need it. It's just that if you cut to it very many times, it looks very unmanned to me. I think it can be used tastefully, but if you can get it manned, by all means do it. I don't plan on having mine manned always, but I will get my wife to do as often as possible even if I don't charge for two operators. BTW, would that be an womanned camera?

Oh, I didn't actually use autofocus for recording, it was just a tip for those that might not have learned that yet.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 06:03 PM   #7
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I like the idea to put the unmanned on the podium/lecturn or in a location a videographer can't go. Still, I would do this with a third camera and have the second partially manned by a friend/wife.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 07:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barrow
7. MOST IMPORTANT: Be nice to and follow the photographer! At least while you are trying to get shots of the bride getting ready, etc. He was very helpful in knowing when and where everything would happen. Priceless for a new person.

I agree completely. I had my first wedding about a month ago and the photographer knew exactly what was going on and what was gonna happen when. It made my job a WHOLE lot easier.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 08:26 PM   #9
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My opinion is that an unmanned camera can be invaluable . . .

I use 3 cameras to shoot ceremonies, and originally, I also had 3 operators. Aside from the cost-issue of paying 2 additional operators, it is really difficult to find 2 people that can do a good job for a nomial fee. The comment about getting better footage from an unmanned couldn't be more true.

I generally set up the unmanned camera somewhere in the back, set for a nice wide shot of the festivities. The beautiful thing about it is that it always has a shot (except during the entry of the bride when everyone stands). So, my assistant and I can try out creative shots independently and I know I always have a safety shot to go to. Granted, I don't use most of the footage from the unmanned, but it has certainly saved my butt a few times when the other two cameras got blocked temporarily or whatnot.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 10:09 PM   #10
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Exactly Travis.....and the unmanned has saved our butts too. Not only can they be use creatively, but for security reasons as you mentioned.....it affords you to blow a shot every now and then. Good deal.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel
My opinion is that an unmanned camera can be invaluable . . .

I use 3 cameras to shoot ceremonies, and originally, I also had 3 operators. Aside from the cost-issue of paying 2 additional operators, it is really difficult to find 2 people that can do a good job for a nomial fee. The comment about getting better footage from an unmanned couldn't be more true.

I generally set up the unmanned camera somewhere in the back, set for a nice wide shot of the festivities. The beautiful thing about it is that it always has a shot (except during the entry of the bride when everyone stands). So, my assistant and I can try out creative shots independently and I know I always have a safety shot to go to. Granted, I don't use most of the footage from the unmanned, but it has certainly saved my butt a few times when the other two cameras got blocked temporarily or whatnot.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 05:40 AM   #11
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"...it is really difficult to find 2 people that can do a good job for a nomial fee. The comment about getting better footage from an unmanned couldn't be more true."

It is so sad that almost nobody (not in the business) can compose a decent shot.

How much do you guys pay your extra operators (decent ones)?
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Old March 15th, 2006, 08:45 AM   #12
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Right now I pay about $20-40 for a ceremony, depending on experience (usually requires an hour of their time).

For our all-day coverage (which can literally be 10-12 hours, although not all of it is filming time), the fee is $80-100. So far, I've been having to shell out $80 to people that just can't do the job I want. I have one guy, who has been with me for 2 years, that almost hasn't even improved. It's a matter of laziness, lack of motivation and lack of a good compositional eye. It's really frustrating.

I just found a guy a week or so ago that apparently has good camera skills, including composition, so hopefully he'll be able to take over.

The tough part with weddings is that these guys are all very part time. I only need them a few days out of the year, but I need to have a few compentent people at my disposal in case someone can't work on a particular day. Also, they are not involved in the editing process, which I believe really makes a bad cameraman much better. Nothing like watching your mistakes and then realizing you have to find a solution for them, heh.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 09:25 AM   #13
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wow dude, thats cheap..

when i shoot for my competitor (who are friends of mine) i charge no less than 1100 inc GST AUD for a full day coverage with my own gear.

with their gear, i charge $750 AUD

when i charge people to choot for me, its usually anythign between $350 to $650 if theyre good.

One thing though.. when hiring someone (whether your doublebooking or jsut needing an extra hand) make sure they at least come to a couple of training sessions.

I learnt the hard way, but one thing i can say for sure is that if u ever hire anyone, ensure that you see their footage before u give them the job. by seeing their work, u can then justify how much your willing to pay them.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 01:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel
Right now I pay about $20-40 for a ceremony, depending on experience (usually requires an hour of their time).

For our all-day coverage (which can literally be 10-12 hours, although not all of it is filming time), the fee is $80-100. So far, I've been having to shell out $80 to people that just can't do the job I want. I have one guy, who has been with me for 2 years, that almost hasn't even improved. It's a matter of laziness, lack of motivation and lack of a good compositional eye. It's really frustrating.
Yikes - sounds a bit on the cheap side to me.

I'm more in line with Peter's take on paying and charging, although I tend to charge a bit more for work for someone else.

Bear in mind the ratio of cost versus quality - you pay peanuts and you get monkeys! I've got three guys I can call on at any one time and am happy to use them all - and they are all willing!

I would suggest a few bob more might entice the better quality person wanting to do a bit more.

On to the real gist of the thread - an unmanned cam will save your butt one day - don't ever adopt the notion that unmanned cams are not needed. Having spent quite a few years in the industry (not only weddings), I have used unmanned cams on many more than one occasion and have NEVER regretted the use.

Just make sure you compose the shot before hitting the record button!

Cheers
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Old March 15th, 2006, 02:44 PM   #15
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Wow, $300-1000 for an extra shooter? How much are you guys charging for your wedding videos? We charge $1450-2350 depending on the package, and it's still dog-eat-dog here. If I was paying that much for a 2nd operator, it wouldn't be worth my time to film a wedding . . .

Also, I would pay more if my operators were more experienced or better skilled. For example, if I was paying someone like you, Peter, who actually does this sort of thing all the time. However, like I said, it's hard to find someone that's any good. I'm not going to pay Joe Blow a $1,000 if he's pretty inexperienced and has few skills.
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