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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old June 19th, 2006, 01:58 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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First wedding report, and a few questions (long)

Hi all.

Usual story. A friend was getting married, and 'Hey, Anders, can you tape it ?' I was not so sure I wanted to, but I convinced myself to do it as a wedding presant.

So, hauling all equipment to the stage, and setting it up. The scene was lit, but the rest of the room was not, so I decided to whitebalance and set shutter based off how it was up there. These settings I dared not change at all during the cermony.

So, people started getting in, I positioned myself to the back, near the entrace door. More and more people came in, some bumping and pushing as it got crowded, and just as someone behind me started organicing getting more chairs and asking people to move, the bridal march started. Argh. I moved my camerasetup to the middle and got a few shots of the bride as she entered the isle(stage). Unfortunatly a bit bumpy, and I made a few bumemrs as I tried to focus and frame and at the same time let go of the fact i dint get the entrace shots of either broom or bride. (used a dolly with wheels to have the camera on tripod and somewhat moveable)

Then there was the speeches and some music, at witch times I had to be pretty far back to get both of them in the shot, and zooming in to get facal expressions. They where facing eachother, and there was not realy an option to get to the sides to get frontal footage of them. Too bad. The photographer is luckily a childhood friend, and I asked if I could get his fotos for jumpcuts. No problem.

Then I felt a bit safer in reframing and zooming :)

Well, suddenly the bride and broom stands up and turns back on the audience. WTF ?? I asked very spesific witch way they where facing when doing wows, and when. And according to the plan his was not when, and not how. Bugger, I ran up just in time to atleast grab the hands and rings, and a very touching closeup of the kissing, but I missed the 'I do' parts of the bride.

Yeah, did I mention I dont do weddings, so I dont have wireless mics and stuff ? I was monitoring the sound so I at least get something hearable, and by cranking up the volume I hope the results will be ok (Im pretty sure it will far outperform any other home made movies anyway)

Well, all things over with, I packed and told the broom I would head home to stash the equipment. I was also a guest, and wanted to have a few drinks as well. Hmm, he begged me to tape some at the reception too (Well, we had agreed ont the cermony only), so I decided to bring my small GS-75 panasonic for the rest of the evning.

Got some decent footage of the coctail table (outside) before dinner, even though it is in 4:3 (cermony is filmed 16:9). Im considering making sort of frame in 16:9 and use a mask to show this footage behind so it doesnt look so obvious.

Speeches alone filled an entire tape with questionable sound and somwhat dark room. And here is one question:

During the dances and cake and such, the images are pretty dark. I can make them far more visible by using equalizing and stuff, but then the images get quite grainy. I am considering using this to 'degrade' the images even more, to make it look more vintage. Anyone tried this before, or do you have other solutions ?

Then it is the issue of 'cencorship'. Do I put in an hour worth of speeches, or do I edit them down ? there are places I as a good friend of the broom would actual suggest NOT put in the whole thing. When the broom tells us about how he met his wife as a 'f** friend' and had to rid off the later boyfriends of her, when his brother (and best man) tries to use his older brothers style of joking but doesn't quite work, when the brides mothers finest words about the broom was 'my daughter really likes him' .. Also the broom promises that within a year they will have a kid. All fun and bold right now, but what in 3 years time and they struggle to become pregnant, what about in 15 years when they are showing the video to their kids and hear dady talk about mom as a 'f* friend'..

I think its tricky. Combined with not top-notch quality I realy lean towards shortening it down and using cross cliping to make an impression that the speeches are almost in full lenght. But what say you ? Anyone got feedback from customers enjoying 1 hour of speeches or watching themselves watching themselves while listening to music for 5 mins ?

I could ofcourse pick out the highlights for the 'feature', and have added tracks with the full speeches.

So to boil it down:
- What is a good way to use a more 'home movie' style 4:3 that is dark ?
- Edit or not edit speeches ?

As the quality of video and images are quite varied, I am thinking of 'chapters' ala:

-Staring with rugged photo/videomontage from the stagparties.

-Establishing shot and cermony (this is the 'estetic' part with high quality video and profesional photos)

-The coctail table sequence, drinking champainge and such

-'vintage TV' from the party inside with dance, highlights from speeches, cake etc.

-round it up with more professional photos from the party/couple and highligts from the cermony.

I think I rambeled on for too long now. Nice to have a place to just put out some thoughts about this :)

It was a bit stressfull, particulary when I knew I was 'screwing up' some shots etc. But I also got kind of a kick and want to do it again, only better.
Anders Risvold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2006, 07:10 AM   #2
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i think weve all had ceremonies where the couples turn to face teh priest as opposed to facing each other..

I try to remind couples to face each other, as theyre not marrying the priest.. turn it into a joke, and u get a better response..

as for the bride down the aisle, im usually standing beside the groom, or about 3 -5 metres away... this way we see what hes seeing.. i then get a cut back to him and his reaction. Works well, easy to zoom and focus and as they come down, i have enough footage to slowmo and intercut between the 2 shots.

once shes given away, i position myself in teh aisle, about 3 pews down. this allows for shallower DoF but i wouldnt recommend it if ur shaky or if u dont have a stabiliser or tripod. I go commando coz im an old fart at this, and id rather be as discrete as posible (as discrete as standing in the aisle can be that is.. ) If i can sit though, i will.. done that afew times..

Ok, with regard to some of the solutions you havbe to your problems..

Low Light - yeah u could deliberatly dirty them up, many ppl do.. many ppl also use BW to cover up WB stuff ups as opposed to CC'ing. Be aware that these kind of effects CAN distract from the event occuring.. i prefer to use effects on non volatile material, and keep actual events as clean as possible, save for some colour grading. then go nuts with the highlights or what have u.. In some cases, ur not given that option, but adding some film grain and scratches and a vignette and mould that in with the bridal waltz would work, slowly as the dance ends, you evovle the effect to a more natural look.. Thats jsut a thought, but im not one to really push the wow factor of effects. Yeah it can be done, but only to serve a purpose..
I woudlnt recommend ppl use effects to CREATE a scene, only to emphasise a scene or to give it a theme or some more character.

I wouldnt bother using the footage from the speeches in teh final edit.. instead, save yourself the hassle and just give them the footage you have so far onto DVD. The fact that hes a friend and u were filming the reception as an afterthought should be enough to cover ur ass.. if it was a business transaction, then id be giving u some different advice, but as its a mate, i woudlnt worry too much.. give them the speech on a disc and they shoudl be happy with it..

As for wifey being a f*** friend.. do u have any pics?? LOL kidding aside, i seriously recommend ditching the speech in the final edit..

heres what id recommend for your "mate" edit..
- Preps.. basic to music, keep some key spoken elements. Nothign to flash. this is FREE after all..
- Ceremony. As best u can. Full ceremony in tact and if theyre not facing the front tough shit.. it happens. u cant move around and they al know where you are, so its not liek they couldnt jsut take a stap to the side to get into shot
- Photoshoot - Reception -
Have fun with this, then slowly move into shots of the reception. Show tbles, guests mingling, parents, their entry....
Then from that point, show the cake and move across to the bridal waltz and then their farewell.
This shoudl make for a decent edit that wont annoy people and wont disclose any issues you may have had to the public.

Ditch everything else, and just give them that ditched footage on disc unedited.

As a friend, they shoudl be greatful for what theyre getting in the first place, and your really only retaining the pieces which work to create an entertaining piece that doesnt drag on.

Like i said, if this was a business transaction, id be saying somethign else.. but for now, i think this will do
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Old June 19th, 2006, 08:52 AM   #3
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Hi, Pete, thanks for the input.

My 'problem' is that most of the indoor party is far too dark to 'not' do something about it, that includes cake and waltz and speeches and all.

edit in their farewells ? uhm. It was almost pitch black inside when they left, and I was very drunk and in deep conversation about Isley whiskys when the broom came to say farewell. Im afraid they wont get any video from that :)

Also the highlights will be an issue, mainly due to camera differences. The cermony was shot on tripod with my xl-2, 16:9 and have pretty high quality.

The cocktail hour part was outside (and sunshine), so I got good footage with my gs-75, but it is in 4:3.

And inside it is pretty messed up, I had no idea what happened when, and got 'happy' myself. after all, I was a participant to a party with many guests I had not spoken to in a while.

My dilemma is that I want it to be as good as I can get it (and possible just not include crap shots), but also the groom told me 'film as much as you can and are willing to, we are very happy for it and want the memories'.

After all, I did skip giving them wedding presant as I recconed I'd give them 30 hours free video and editing, including stress involved.

Usually I'm a hard cutter and would trim that 20 min cermony down to 1-2 mins if it was up to me, and present the entire evning in 5 mins. Then it might be actually watchable for someone else than the B&G.

EDIT: I put out a few files to illustrate. even with crap compression it demostrates the difference

1: cermony 2 megs

2: cake and dance, first unedited then some attemp to brighten up: 2 megs

EDIT 2: oh, and the person conducting the cermony wanted a copy of the dvd for 'educational' purposes to show alternative weddings. The broom ok'ed it, so I'm trying to make an effort of making it good and have my email/webaddress stamped all over it. Who knows what buisness might come out of it.

EDIT: Groom, not broom :)

Last edited by Anders Risvold; June 19th, 2006 at 11:49 PM.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 07:09 PM   #4
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"but also the broom told me "

GROOM BRO GROOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sorry.. hey im fuxored, im goin to take a nap, il check this out when i wake up
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Old June 21st, 2006, 12:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
"but also the broom told me "

GROOM BRO GROOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sorry.. hey im fuxored, im goin to take a nap, il check this out when i wake up

That damm BROOM! I'm sorry, I laughed at this as well. But seriously Peter, should you and I be laughing at typoes. Geez, some people think I speak another language.
What happens if I push the 'Red' button?
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