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


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Old April 29th, 2006, 12:27 PM   #1
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Entering the business - what should I know?

Hi.

So, I'm planning to enter the event videography business - don't worry folks, it's bar mitzvahs I'm after, not weddings. I've already got an FX-1 with a decent shotgun mic, I have worked out my prices based on the prices of another amateur videographer, and I plan to distribute flyers around the neighborhood including at a few Jewish schools. I have a few questions before I begin:

1 - What should I cover in my contract? Does anyone have a sample contract I can look at?

2 - Should I take a deposit? If so, how much and in what form?

3 - Do I need a videolight? The FX1 is generally pretty good in low light. If I do what do you reccomend?

4 - How many hours of battery life and how many hours of tape should I have if I attend the event from 5:30 - 11 (ish)?

Thanks in advance for any answers, and any additional advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 12:06 AM   #2
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CONTRACT: Cover EVERYTHING-any continency that you even think might come up from meals to lenght of time to produce the finished product to acts of God or accidents. in other words CYA!

Never take a DEPOSIT but ALWAYS take a RETAINER-it's a legalise term in that depostits by law can be ordered to be returned whereas a RETAINER for your services do not necessairly have to be (this is from my lawyer who wrote my contract) I take cash, checks, money orders or credit cards-and its at the time they sign the service agreement with the balance paid 30 days prior to the event. (I was burned once many years ago-never again)

LIGHT-YES!!!! Example-I just got back from a wedding tonight where the reception venue was so dark that there was no way to shoot my JVC5000 even with a 20W light. It was literally a black hole. I pulled out my PD150 with a 35W light kicked the gain to 12db and fired away. If not for the light I would have been screwed. Get one and use it . A good rule of thumb, if I'm inside (not at the ceremony but any other time) I use a light

Battery life-however long the battery is said to last it probably won't. Using the LCD will take battery power- so again a general rule is to have at least 3 of the biggest batteries you can use on the camera as sometimes batteries die on you. I have had a couple of batteries blow cells-no fun they last about 10-20 minutes. For my 150 I have 3 960s and 1 970. For my full size I have 4 Dionic 90s. You can never have enough batteries.
Nothing worse than the camera running dry right in the middle of the event.

Of course I'm also overly protective in the sense that I firmly believe that anything can and will go wrong at the worst time and in my years in the video business I've seen just about every piece of equipment die, stop working or blowup ALWAYS at the critical time (or so it seems)


Don
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Old April 30th, 2006, 01:07 AM   #3
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It's a good way to be, thanks for all the advice. I'm actually using a relatively similar camera to your 150 - what light do you use for that?
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Old April 30th, 2006, 09:11 AM   #4
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I have a couple of different ones. I will use the Anton Bauer Ultra light with a conversion conector to a 12V battery OR I use a Bescor light kit that is a 50W light but I use a 35W bulb and it too runs off of a battery belt or juice box. I also have a little 20W emergeny lite I keep in my bag that I bought at Best Buy a few years ago-it'll run about 1 hour but if I needed it - it would get me thru a job.
A lot of people I know use the Sony 10/20 light - others use a powerpak type be it a PAG or a Frezzi or an NRG. Just depends on whether you want to carry a seperate battery on your shoulder or belt OR if you want the battery on the light itself (which adds a lot of weight to the camera)

Don
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Old April 30th, 2006, 10:40 AM   #5
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Don, interesting you mention Retainer as opposed to deposit.. I'll have to look that up, but i totally agree with you.
Im also jsut abotu to go and update my own contract (which by the way was drawn up by a Prof of Corp Law)... surprised he didnt pick THAT up...

Either way, thank you for headshake.. i like to refine my contracts down to the T...
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Old April 30th, 2006, 11:30 AM   #6
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Peter,
I don't know how it is in AUS but here (at least in my area-I think the rest of the USA as well) a deposit is a downpayment for goods or services and if for some reason the goods or services are not provided then the deposit is returnable. A retainer is just that. The client is paying an amount to retain the services of you or a lawyer or an accountant, whatever, to perform a service and you have scheduled that service into your schedule and turned down other work (supposedly) to perform the service for that client-if they should cancel the service prior to the performance of that service then you are entitled to keep the retainer and you can apply it to another date of service for that client or keep it if they do not rebook for services (within a reasonable period of time as set forth in your service agreement). The fact is is that when I hired my accountant and attorney I had to pay a retainer for their services although it was open ended due to the nature of the work but if I had never given them the work they were still entitled to the reatainer as I would have been the one cancelling the services.

Hope that all makes sense.
NOW, PLEASE PLEASE keep in mind I AM NOT an attorney nor have I ever played one on TV nor do I want to --- The above rambleings are the best of my recollection of things my attorney has told me over the years as I would question him as to why certain things were the way they were. Perhaps it was just his way of justifing his fee-you know-dazzle 'em with brilliance razzle 'em with BS but in any case I trust him to the nth degree and am merely recalling what he has told me over the years. And mostly while sober too ;-)

Don
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Old April 30th, 2006, 11:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom
Of course I'm also overly protective in the sense that I firmly believe that anything can and will go wrong at the worst time and in my years in the video business I've seen just about every piece of equipment die, stop working or blowup ALWAYS at the critical time (or so it seems)
Don
It would be useful to describe how you mitigate these risks. It's OK to cover yourself in your contract, but if the objective is to deliver a quality product (as opposed to avoid liability), how do you plan for handling inevitable equipment failures? Do you have a list of things that you absolutely must have backups for, and for those those you don't, a planned workaround?
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Old April 30th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #8
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So would this light be sufficient?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

Guess I'd need one of these too:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=146293&is=REG
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Old April 30th, 2006, 01:45 PM   #9
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That light should work fine. A 20W with the option of going to 40W would light up most anything you'd need to at a reception be it a wedding or bar mitzvah. Generally most of the mitzvahs I've done are much brighter than wedding receptions. Again for the most part I use a 20W or a 35W depending on which camera and light setup I'm using and haven't had any problems with that wattage.
As for mounting I mount my lights in the cold shoe of the camera but I know a lot of guys that use a handle or mount like the one you found for 2 reasons. One it takes the light off the top of the camera and may help a bit with shadows and second, it gives a place to put your hand to support the camera a bit more steady than without it.

Don
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Old May 1st, 2006, 11:47 AM   #10
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I've been using the FX-1 to shoot weddings, and so far I've only had to use a light during the reception. I use the Sony 10W/20W light and have been very pleased with its performance so far. In fact, I only needed the 20W once and that was for the bouquet/garter toss in an extremely dark room.

The 10W worked great for every other shot in the same room (dance floor closeups, cake-cutting, etc.)

I've only shot a few weddings and booked several more for this Fall. I've amended my contract each time as I discover more and more things that are not specified. I will have to research deposit vs. retainer.

The legalese of the contract is a fine line because, on the one hand, we have to protect ourselves against any and all contingencies. On the other hand, we're selling a service and product for one of the happiest days of our client's life, and the last thing we want to do is to scare them off.

Good luck with your new business!
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Old May 1st, 2006, 09:13 PM   #11
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Christopher,
I just got an FX1, but have been shooting with a Canon XL2 for 1 1/2 years. I bought the FX1 as a second camera and an entry into hdv.I haven't been able to find a comfortable method of shooting eye level( other than a tripod). What are you using for support for the FX1? I'm used to the shoulder mount XL2, and have no idea how I can use the FX1 hand held, at eye level, with the viewfinder without some kind of support.
Bruce Yarock
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Old May 1st, 2006, 10:48 PM   #12
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Bruce - with my FX1 I've used my left hand on the top handle and my right hand in the right strap. This has kept it quite steady, although focus control is out of reach. I'm going to be investing in a shoulder mount for precisely this reason in the near future, maybe a spider mount or a varizoom.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 06:56 AM   #13
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This is for Jim Micahel-I didn't mean to pass your post over I just spaced out on it and missed it. So in answer to your question

"It would be useful to describe how you mitigate these risks. It's OK to cover yourself in your contract, but if the objective is to deliver a quality product (as opposed to avoid liability), how do you plan for handling inevitable equipment failures? Do you have a list of things that you absolutely must have backups for, and for those those you don't, a planned workaround?"

My service agreement covers things such as (in no particular order) editing rights (who has the right to make the edit decisions) Food and parking (downtown Chicago can be $30 bucks for a night) liability clause (in case G-Ma "trips" over something) what happens to their retainer if they cancel the event (depends on how far out they cancel), when my time ends for the day ---it has ZERO to do with what equipment I will be carrying or using. As for the object to produce a quality product -100% correct- BUT at the same time I need to cover myself. I've seen guy get sued for stupid stuff and literally go bankrupt and frankly I make a very decent living from this business and am not about to let somebody try to take it from me-hence the TERMS and CONDITIONS on both my wedding agreement and my corporate agreement. If they don't like the T&C too bad-find someone else. I don't change my business practices. I may bend a bit, give an extra DVD or an extra 15 or even 30 minutes but I run a business not Romper Room.

All the other stuff, info on the B&G-ceremony, reception and the coverage they bought are on the front of the agreement-nowhere does it specify equipment. It's not theirs to say. I'm the pro so I determine what I need to use to shoot their event. As for a list of things well not really, but I bring 3 cameras to every event (may not use them but I bring them) 3 tripods, a monopod, 2 shotgum mics plus my new baby, an AKGHypercaroid(works like crazy in a church) 2 wireless with 3 bodypaks, 3 different on camera lights and a "toolbox" that I carry that has every nut and bolt, tools, extra cable just a "junk pile" of extra stuff I've collected over the years.
Now I keep someof this stuff in the car BUT it's there if I need it. If a wireless goesout in the middle of the ceremony you can't fix it anyhow. I know what I need to do the job with-I try very hard to maintain my gear properly and try to use "best practices" at all times to make the job not only as enjoyable as I can but also to produce the best possible product for the client.
Bottom line is I carry at LEAST 2 of everything and in most cases 3 so when it happens and it will I'm covered.
Don
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