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

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Old February 11th, 2003, 07:07 PM   #16
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I wish I could take credit, but I don't have anything to do with Big Sky. They simply have some of the best "wedding documentaries" that I've seen.

I used to do weddings about 15 years ago using 3/4" equipment until I got so burned out that I just couldn't make myself do it again. Yes, wedding videos can be a drag at times but they're a great way to get some extra money to pay for equipment.

A lot of people need to look at them as creating documentaries. You also never know who might see the final results. I've considered getting back into doing them, especially due to the fact that more people are willing to pay you a fair price for your time involved. Some wedding videos in my area are bidding for over $10,000! Do the math - one or two of these a month wouldn't be too bad of a living.

Here's some of the rules I used to shoot weddings with (that I still remember at least): 1) Out dress the wedding crowd. Buy or rent a tux and make yourself look like part of the wedding. You get a lot more respect this way. 2) Work out a strategy with the still photographer. 3) NEVER be the main videographer for a friend or family member's wedding. Instead hire someone else to be the official videographer and you simply shoot B-roll. 4) Figure out how many tapes and batteries you need - then triple that amount! You'll be surprised how quickly these will disappear. Change tapes often. 5) Hire a caddy! Find someone to help you pack-up and go especially if you're using multiple cameras. You'll have very little time to get to the reception if it's at a different location. Ride along in the limo if you can (you can get some great video there so bring a light) and have you're caddy drive ahead to the reception and tape the arrival. 6) Make sure your vehicle, or the caddy's vehicle has enough gas! 7) NEVER sit down at the reception and relax or eat! This will guarantee that you miss something. Instead, follow the bride and groom around and make something happen. Try and use an on-camera soft box or bounce the light. 8) When the main events of the reception end (cake cutting, garter toss, bouquet toss, first dance, etc) then it's a good time to interview the family and wedding party. Watch for random toasts to the B & G. 9) ALWAYS attend the rehearsals and talk with the wedding planner and/or still photographer to figure out who will be coordinating the reception. 10) If you're not familiar with how some of the various religion's celebrate, find out, esp. at Jewish weddings - shooting the chair dance is always fun!

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Old February 11th, 2003, 07:21 PM   #17
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Lots of good advice so far, so I will not add my own. Especially as I have never shot a wedding and hope to never shoot one.

You have obviously rejected the first thing that came to my mind (find a new fiance) which suggests that she is a woman of quality who just made a mistake.

I hope you have tactfully communicated that in the future she should not volunteer you for weddings, fighting fires or breaking broncos without your express consent in advance.

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Old February 12th, 2003, 07:10 AM   #18
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ALWAYS DRAFT THE ONE WHO VOLUNTEERS YOU!!! My wife has volunteered me twice, once letting me know 2 weeks before the event!

You can get by with 60s even in SP mode. I shoot all the early stuff first on one tape. Then I replace it with a fresh one just before the ceremony.

If you can get someone to point out the major players you won't have to spend time videoing the spinster aunt no one thought would come.

If the groom is wearing a black tux, great, you'll never see the mic. Mount the mic on the same side of the tux as the bride will stand on.

Finally make your grip really, really work. That way you'll never have to do this again.
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Old February 12th, 2003, 09:17 AM   #19
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I also tape the formal pictures.
The last wedding I did I editted down to a little over 60 minutes. My theory is if it's to long it will bore the crap out of most people. Put in the main shots.
Good luck and have fun!!
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Old February 12th, 2003, 09:36 AM   #20
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For the benefit of anyone else in my position reading this thread, here is an excellent list of stuff sent to me by forum member Adam Wakely of Quantum Productions, a wedding videographer.

The only way to "learn" how to tape a wedding correctly is after you've done
it and you have to edit your own footage!
You will see the continuity, steadiness, framing and lighting! Then you'll
swear at your footage while you try to edit it!
The next wedding you do you'll remember what "not" to do! :)

Lot's of charged batteries, tapes, head cleaner (general), wireless mic for
groom at ceremony & reception speeches. (use 4 channel audio or switch
wireless mic to channel 1&2 if your capture card only captures 1 stereo
source) (I use Raptor edit because it will capture 4 channels at once).
I use the small Canon 10watt light at it works well enough. (mostly used
when the lights go dim at the reception). People hate lights and cameras in
their faces so keep the light off until you need a shot.
Most important, shut the red flashing camera light off!! People won't "act
normal" if they think your recording! Fool them and look the other way but
"actually" record them!
Other than the ceremony & speeches, record most shots for about 10 seconds!
(the XL1 counts this down for you after you hit record).
You can always edit out latter but this technic makes you tape "quality
shots"! Also it makes a shot not too short for editing eithier!
I record on "A mode" always and do white balances alot!
Trust your EVF and compare with the real view! (unless you want to lug
around a field monitor!)
At a wedding leave everything else mostly on auto as you usually don't have
time to "set up" shots! (this is safer!)
You can "play" with all the dials during safer times like pre ceremony,
photo shoots, after speeches etc.
The AE SHIFT dial I use alot to adjust the lighting down when needed! (when
set slightly dark it looks better on mine)
When using a light during the reception and your move close to your subject
the AE Shift dial helps out alot! (eg: the bride & groom's first dance as
you walk in and out while they dance, dial down as you get close and back to
"0" as you back away) If you don't their faces get washed out.

If you have very dark conditions during the reception turn on the digital
shutter speed. "SLOW S-30" works well with a 10 watt light on but panning
must be slower. (also a manual focus will stop the "hunting")
I switch back and forth between my wide 3X and 16X all day & night long! (if
you have no time to think, use the 16X to be safe).
Get a copy or look at the list of events for the night from the MC. (nothing
worse than hearing the first dance begin when your not ready!)
If you run out of tape during a long ceremony or speech, don't worry, just
eject and put in another from your pocket! (you can edit latter)
keep tapes in a different pocket than spare batteries! :)

The XL1's mics is crappy for interviews unless you're close or have a shot
gun mic!
A wireless hand held is better.
I ask the B&G to get someone to interview people so guests feel more
comfortable! Usually it ends up NOT happening so less work for me!
Be unobtrusive as hell! (I think of myself as a documentary camera person
taping a wedding, it's not a "movie")
I like to use my tripod but usually end up holding it as people are always
in the way! Plus I have to hold the camera over my head alot too!

A photographer during their photo sessions is great because they set up all
the people and shots!
You just steal their hard work on tape!!
Use moving angled shots, artistic shots with you camera during the photo
shoots! Having part of the photographer in your footage looks good!
(also let them get their shots when needed as you can usally zoom in from
anywhere! but kick their ass out of the way when it's your turn!)
I did a wedding where the photographer put a chair in the middle of the
dance floor during my taping of the first dance! He went right in front of
me while I was taping! I had to get him out of the shot! After the dance I
told him to keep the F*** out of my way! Lot's of fun!

I use normal mode for everything except the Photo shoot and the party after!
Then I use frame mode. It loses that "reality" look!

My most important tip!


If you tape a 10 sec clip of the Groom looking to the right make sure the
NEXT clip has continuity! Maybe the bride looks back to the left!
Try to think of you operating 2 cameras at the same time!
If you forgot your last clip then use the "search" button of just choose a
"cut away" shot! (eg: close up of bride's flowers and THEN pan up to her
face or a completely different shot). You may have a shot of the B&G walking
into site. Then you don't want the next shot to be them still standing in
the same spot a few inches over! It will look like a "glitch"! Get something
else different and then back!
This makes your editing time a snap latter plus it shows a "natual
progression" of the day in correct order.
Use the zooming for framing and then record. Some "live zooming" still looks
good here and there (unless of course it's a continuous event like the
ceremony or speeches)
Close-ups look great on the XL1 but wide shots not as clear. Get lot's of
face close ups! Also lot's of the couple kissing!
Over stay your shots after they are complete (eg: after the long kiss keep
rolling a few seconds more). This is sometimes needed for editing latter!
(eg: reverse speed of clip so it looks like kiss again as it may look
Oh ya, let people walk into the cameras view and also let them completely
walk out before you stop recording! (no half bodies!)

I sure you know alot of camera technics already!

These are just a few ramblings off the top of my head durning a wedding!
Good luck on your wedding!
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Old February 12th, 2003, 09:41 AM   #21
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YES, make her work and as suggested, find someone in the know that can help you figure out who's important and who's not.

My edits NEVER run more than 60 minutes, I just did one that went 52 and looks great, the folks loved it. If they want to see it all, fine, I'll transfer masters to vhs and they buy it. Never had 1 yet. They know what they're going to get when they see the sample, I don't usually use a "demo", I show a complete wedding. We can still FF thru and they see the real thing.
Just my way!
I agree, too long and ZAP! the 1st time they'll watch all, after that they FF thru it by the 5th time ZAP! it's put away and not watched again! Just MHO!

BTW, if you really don't want to do it, you can always come down with a bad mirgrane headache, flu, break a leg or arm or simply vanish into the darkness of night!
Go forth and HAVE FUN!
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Old February 12th, 2003, 04:47 PM   #22
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Consider yourself lucky, i was asked to film a post wedding event....hmmmm

Lets just say i kindly refused.

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Old February 13th, 2003, 09:32 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the info Dylan from Adam.
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Old February 14th, 2003, 07:59 AM   #24
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The worst part is the post wedding look-see at your finished project: "Well, I don't think Aunt Whomsoever, looked that BAD at the reception."


"How come you took so much of His/Her side of the family, and not mine?


Last rites are some times neccessary for the mere mortal that enters these doors.

Good Luck.
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Old February 14th, 2003, 04:07 PM   #25
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Dylan you bastard

What the hell have you signed me up for, man?

This thread scares the hell out of me.

It sounds like I won't have time to hit on chicks.
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Old February 14th, 2003, 04:50 PM   #26
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Keith, think of it as good practice, sort of a dry run, for when you volunteer to shoot Dylan's big day.

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Old February 14th, 2003, 05:37 PM   #27
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You're right. When it comes to my big day I'll have to organize the filming, get married and hit on chicks at the same time.
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Old February 14th, 2003, 05:43 PM   #28
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Heh heh, what Jeff said! ;)
Don't worry, wedding chicks dig guys with big cameras! You'll go home with a few phone numbers for sure!
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Old February 16th, 2003, 11:54 AM   #29
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So how did it go Dylan? Do let us know!

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Old February 16th, 2003, 12:11 PM   #30
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Rob, it's this upcoming Sat. I will let you guys know, unless I'm still curled in a ball crying. :)
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