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


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Old March 27th, 2006, 02:25 AM   #1
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First wedding of the season...

...and my first one shot with my recently purchased PD-150 rig. First impressions:

-This camera absolutely rocks! I shot the whole thing in DVCAM mode, and it performed flawlessly all day and night. I never once experienced that display problem I've mentioned in previous posts, and one of the Sony "8-hour" batteries almost got me through the entire shoot (with the LCD screen open, it's more like 6 hours). Of course, shooting in DVCAM meant I used 7 tapes...

-I have the Sony twin-lamp light, and I found that unless the room is pitch dark, you really only need to use one of the lamps. The footage was actually too bright at times, and when using both lamps, that thing eats a battery pretty quick. By the end of the night, I had two dead batteries and the one good one left (I have three "8-hour" batteries) was needed to power the camera. I threw one on the charger for a little while so I could finish the night - yeah, I know, I should have charged one up as soon as I got to the hall. Even with no light, I got nice footage in a moderately dim room.

-My cordless lavalier system, the Shure Performer, is very good, but the receiver is a tabletop type, so it was only meant to be used with the furnished power supply. Last year, I hooked it to my Fostex MR-8 and recorded the vows separately, but since the camera can take a direct feed, I needed a way to make it happen. I fabricated a 12v power supply by purchasing an 8xAA battery holder from Radio Shack, along with a package of 9v battery clips (the holder has 9v-style terminals). Cut off the plug from an old fried power supply, connected it to a 9v clip, taped it up, and now I had battery power for the receiver, but how to mount it on the tripod? Yes, there are products designed for that purpose, but they just plain cost too much, so I applied a little ghetto ingenuity. I went to Wal-Mart with no idea what I wanted - the plan was to wander the aisles until I found something, anything, that would hold the mic receiver to the tripod.

After touring the entire store, I wound up purchasing a small $3.00 plastic toolbox (approx. 15" x 7") that had a removable shelf inside with a handle, along with a jar of assorted bungee cords and a package of industrial-strength Velcro tape. (Oh, and 8 Sony Premium DV tapes in assorted fashion colors!) Placed four pieces of the Velcro tape on the flat side of the plastic shelf (corresponding pieces were stuck to the bottom of the Shure receiver), strapped it to two legs of the tripod with two bungee cords (there are two grooves across the bottom of the shelf that the bungee cords fit perfectly inside) with the handle facing inward, then stuck the mic receiver on it. Velcroed the battery holder to the top of the receiver (which is now the side), wrapped one more bungee cord around the whole mess, pointed the antennas skyward, and voila! It ain't pretty, but it works, and I don't have to deal with syncing the vows with the tape, plus the rest of the plastic toolbox is good for storing tapes, bungee cords, etc. Factory shotgun mic is on channel 1, ghetto cordless mic system is on channel 2, and mixdown is anticipated to be a piece of cake.

-I just plain felt different using this camera. The fact that this one is mine (as opposed to one borrowed from the company I contract with), coupled with knowing that it was the best camera I'd ever used, gave me a new confidence. I no longer feel the need to apologize or make excuses for anything, and while I've always taken pride in my work, it's now on a whole new level. I actually watched some of the footage as soon as I got home because I couldn't wait to see it on a television; in the past I simply put away the tapes until I was ready to capture them.

Yep, this year is off to a flying start. Next one is April 8, and I'm bringing my nephew, an 18 y/o A/V wannabee, along for slave labor. I might even let him run the camera for a while...
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Old March 27th, 2006, 03:32 AM   #2
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Good to read your report John, and it sounds as if you have as much fun filming weddings as I do.

You say, ''-I have the Sony twin-lamp light, and I found that unless the room is pitch dark, you really only need to use one of the lamps. The footage was actually too bright at times, and when using both lamps, that thing eats a battery pretty quick.''

Some points regarding this lamp. Firstly if the footage is ''actually too bright at times'' it means you've got the exposure wrong, nothing else. Sorry.

Next thing is it's actually much better to have both lamps lit as this removes the harsh shadows that come from using a point light source. I diffuse mine with a Lumiquest velcro'd to the front of it and this softens the light even more but of course loses you a stop and a half. No squints from the guests, just beautifully soft light. And my 960 runs it for over an hour, so no complaints here.

The slave labour idea sounds grand...

tom.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 01:04 PM   #3
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Sounds like you were quite the MacGyver. For the benefit of those who are too young to remember or from another country. MacGyver was a tv show and the guy could make some great contraption out of a stick of gum and a paper clip.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 02:30 PM   #4
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Yeah, sometimes ya just gotta make do with what ya got. I mean, I had this perfectly good cordless lav system that I just dropped $400 on last year, and there was no way I was going to spend hundreds more again for a totally cordless camera-mounted system. A lot of my DJ equipment, mainly mics and cables, is pulling double duty, although I'm now semi-retired from the DJ end of the business.

Yes, Tom, I do have a lot to learn about setting exposure, gain, etc. Many people here will call for my head after this revelation: I mostly use this fine camera, with all its flexible manual goodness, in auto-lock mode. I do focus and white balance manually, but that's pretty much it. In the past, using the company's VX1000, I've set up what appeared in the viewfinder to be a good-looking set of settings, only to have reality bite me in the (insert favorite body part) when viewing the footage on a television. Putting a diffuser of some sort on the light is a good idea, and I'm surprised Sony doesn't offer one. Hmmm, let's see...Popsicle sticks, Elmer's Glue, and an old dryer sheet...
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Old March 29th, 2006, 09:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
I diffuse mine with a Lumiquest velcro'd to the front
Hi Tom,

Which model Lumiquest do you use to fit your Sony light, please?

It doesn't get too hot?
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Old March 30th, 2006, 01:44 AM   #6
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No. it doesn't get too hot, but the Lumiquest diffuser does somewhat 'sag' slightly if on for half an hour, say.

Here's a shot of it:

http://www.cameramad.co.uk/item--Min...eads--638.html

I attach it vertically of course and it comes with all the self-adhesive velcro you need, so can be removed and folded flat at any time.

tom.
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