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


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Old July 12th, 2006, 02:24 PM   #1
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My first Wedding this Saturday...Any Advice?

Hey all,

This my first wedding, I've been doing recitals for a year and a half.

I'll be running 2 Panny DVX100Bs, one on sticks (tall) and one on a monopod.
One Senny G2 wireless on the groom and a Rode shotty on the monopod cam.

No lights needed. The reception is at 5pm and well lit.

My bro-in-law will be running the cam on sticks at the back.

I'll be there for the bride and groom preparation through to garter/bouquet and cake although I may stay for the last dance.

Any advice before we jump in?

thanks,


ian
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Old July 12th, 2006, 02:50 PM   #2
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First, take a deep breath and relax. Second a weeding is much like a breaking news event. You only get one chance to get it right-recreations of parts generally don't work so stay ready at all times for the unexpected. If possible attend the rehearsal to get the lay of the land so to speak and do whatever you have to, to make sure the audio is right since its a hugh part of what you see.
Other than that just be ready to "rpll with the flow" and have fun. Even now after 23 years and about 1000 weddings they are still (for the most part) fun.
Enjoy yourself.

Don B.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 03:23 PM   #3
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First, take this with a grain of salt. It comes with my limited experience in videoing four family wedding-- although each one got a bit more professional as we went along.

Are you saying you will be done before sun goes down, or that reception has adequate lighting. I have VX2000, and even with its low light capability, shooting at the end of the evening will, in some scenes, require an on camera light. If the lights are dim on the last dance, or the the couple is back lit, you may need some fill. You may want to consider a camera light for those dark corners, even at preparation time, unless your subjects are willing to move to a favorable area.

Good luck, and show some results on the other side.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 05:20 PM   #4
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"No lights needed."

I beg to differ...
althought the DVX allows for a pretty infite tweaking of the gamma and matrix settings within a scene file to allow for higher sensitivity in darkened environments (and yes u CAN get it to be as sensitive as a PD170 if u tweak hard enough), a light would benefit you, especially when they dim the lights and you start to zoom in for the bridal waltz... once you start to zoom, be aware that you're losing luminance.
If anything, i run a light off the side of the dancefloor.. I try not to run a light directly from cam if i dont have to, but a light is definatley one of those "must haves" for weddings.

Put it this way, Weddings are not as controlled as recitals and stage shows, so u can throw out any ideas that things will be as pristine as that. Also lighting will probably be non existant so being prepared for the worst is the best thing to do.
Consider that what your considering to do without a light, is like a photographer working without a flash...

Me, i have 3 on cam light kits. 35w, 50w and 100w each way. Then i have a 3 point studio lighting set up for larger venues (i sometimes do "village" weddings with over 500 guests, where even the village idiot is invited... )
Most of the time, i jsut run a 50w on cam light on a light stand to the side
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Old July 13th, 2006, 12:30 AM   #5
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I've only done three weddings so far but I've learned a bunch of practical things I can tell you:

1. Make a shot list of the key moments (mothers lighting the candle, bride down the aisle, groom waiting for her, father handing her off, the vows, the rings, the kiss...) and plan out where the best angle will be. Then when your plan blows up in your face, think fast or you're gonna miss the shot.

2. Plan with your bro how tight he needs to frame those key moments from the back. Make sure one of you is on the bride, one on the groom, both closeups if you can. The more closeups of the emotional stuff the better it will come out.

3. I like to be at the end of the aisle as the bride comes down. About 1/4 of the way, I'll turn and grab a few seconds of the groom, then catch the second half of the bride down the aisle, right up to the father hand off. It edits together nicely.

3a. Find out where the photographer is going to be shooting from during the ceremony. So he isn't in your shot and you aren't in his.

4. Have your bro practice holding the tripod up by the legs and keeping the shot steady, just in case... (beware of people standing). Or better yet, make sure he has a clear shot of everything he needs, even with everyone standing. You need him bad.

5. During the non-key moments, make sure your bro is in a medium safe shot, very watchable, but just so he isn't zooming in and out and panning all over the place all the time. You will need a lot of his shots to bail you out when your footage is too shaky to use, or when you're moving to reset.

6. Give yourself plenty of time to get setup at the church. If you're doing bride/groom preps in the morning, time flies, and things go wrong. You do not want to find your audio giving you problems and having to figure it out (and sweating serious bullets) when you should be catching shots.

6a. I like to get a shot of the groom getting out of the limo. Then later the bride in the limo, waiting. Then one of the groom backstage, waiting. Then the bride getting out the limo. Then the bride waiting inside. Learn to be in five places at once.

6b. During the post ceremony photos, I let the photog run most of the setups and just do flybys and different things. But I'll always have a few shots I want and I make sure everyone knows to hold their poses for a few seconds after the picture is taken so I can do my thing. And tell them to look at the photog's camera, not yours, to pretend your invisible. Unless, of course, you want them to look at you. But I don't like that look.

7. I generally hate camera lights at receptions. I think they look very intrusive. But the fact is the later the night goes the darker it gets. The reception manager will not care about your light situation. But the bride will. The first time I got lucky and the lighting was fine all night. The second time I had unusable footage toward the end, but I had plenty of dancing stuff to edit together so it didn't matter. The third time I warned the bride that if she wants the video to come out I may need her to ask the reception manager to keep the lights up just for a few dancing songs (after the formal stuff), then they can go down. She was into it. And it worked. But I'd bring lights just in case.

8. Ask the DJ if the toasts are over his speakers or if the reception place has house audio. The house thing surprised me once and I scrambled.

9. Find out the path the bridal party will take with their entrances and make sure you have a good line of sight. Everybody stands and everybody is taller than they seem. Scrambling ensues. Shots are lost.

Know this stuff, but don't obsess over it. You will inevitably make mistakes. Don't worry about it. Magic can happen in the editing room. Just make sure your camera is rolling, you can see the shot, and hear the audio. Bring more tapes and batteries than you'll need. Water, fruit, and/or energy bars are beautiful things. It's a long day of relentless ongoing action. You'll need to be in exact spots at exact times with everything working properly. The more you know about those spots and those times, the better off you'll be.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 04:43 PM   #6
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One thing no one has mentioned: Find out what the church's restrictions are!

Some churches/pastors are great, and will let you do whatever you want, within reason. (Climbing on top of the altar? Not gonna fly. :) ) Some churches, however, can have some amazingly restrictive rules. And it's no good arguing with them. Just got to roll with it.

I did a wedding in a beautiful, historic Episcopalian church in Austin a few months ago. (All Saints, for those from the area) During the rehearsal, I was wandering around, making a list of shots. It was going to be spectacular. So, after they're done, I go up to the church's day-of planner, and ask about some of the shots that might be borderline unacceptable. She says no. So I decide to fall back on some more inobtrusive shots. Once again, no. She informs me that the only place I can run the camera is at the very back of the church, on sticks, with no op! Needless to say, I'm a bit cheezed off. Can I at least mic the groom? You guessed it. No. Apparently the fact that we were allowed in at all was amazing, because "We don't allow cameras, or any kind of technology during our services, especially weddings".

So during the ceremony, the photographer and I sat out back of the church, praticing our speeches to the bride as to why her ceremony coverage sucks.

The moral of the story? Check with the church. I wouldn't suggest asking "Where can I be?" at the begining, because you'll likely get a really limiting answer. Instead, plan a couple of really great shots, and run them past the people in charge, along with WHY you need those shots. You'll probably get better results.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 04:54 PM   #7
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Ben,
This is something that the bride should have known about beforehand and if she didn't than shame on her. One thing I do everytime regardless of how many times I've shot in a particular venue with a certain officiant is to fine out before hand what I can and can not do. CASE in pint. There is a certain church in downtown Chicago that I've only shot in twice it's beautiful but very restrictive. Years ago when Banyan Productions was doing "A Wedding Story" they did a wedding there and even THEY had to abide by the rules of the church. You could get the processional from the ground floor but then you had to make your way to one of 3 balconies. One to the rear of the church and 1 on either side of the front of the church. They were rotten for a shooting angle so it was off to the rear I went. I missed a part of the ceremony while running (not really but fast walking) but luckily I had another unmanned camera going so I could manage the footage. The next time I went I sat in a pew as a "guest" used a small camera (PD150) with a very lightweight consumer tripos as a monopod-had the reciever in my jacket pocket (I wore a suit coat just for that reason) and everything went just fine. No one said anything to me and all was well in the land of churches.

You absolutley not only have to check but you must do it early and inform the B&G of any retrictions placed on you so later on no one can say you didn't tell them. Just to CYA!
Don
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Old July 14th, 2006, 04:40 AM   #8
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It was definitely a learning experience. Not exactly the best way to handle my first big wedding (which it was). Out of town, strange church, new equipment. Yeargh. Luckily it was my cousin's wedding, so she was very understanding about the lack of coverage.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 08:02 AM   #9
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I TOTALLY disagree with you guys. The one thing I know about churches is that they love to impose unnecessary rules, just for the asking. If you flake out and go to them ASKING for rules, you'll get them. Lot's of them.

If I do approach the officiant, I quite nicely inform them of where I'm going to shoot, and then tell them I'm doing this so they'll know what to expect and walk away. Quickly.

One time, the officiant lengthily told me not to ever get on the altar. But if you saw the layout of the church, it would be impossible to catch the B&G from any angle but the back and the photographer was directly behind them. I decided to put my tripod right next to the officiant, soon after the wedding started on one side, then the other side. After the ceremony finished, I told him he looked great on film. He was flattered, and that was the end of it. I have another wedding booked in that same church later on this year. We'll see what happens.

The way I look at this situation is, I'm doing a service for my clients. The officiant is also providing a service and should know how much time, effort and dollars are put into those moments. I refuse to be restricted in a way that I can't get close-ups of the B&G during THEIR ceremony. It's unfair to the B&G.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 08:07 AM   #10
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PLUS, the B&G pays us and the officiants. Why defer to the officiant? They aren't paying you. Would you do the same thing with the catering manager? I don't get this at all.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 08:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michelle Lewis
PLUS, the B&G pays us and the officiants. Why defer to the officiant? They aren't paying you. Would you do the same thing with the catering manager? I don't get this at all.
Simple: Annoy the officiant and you may find yourself never allowed to shoot in that church again. (Ever hear of public relations?) Also, you honor the church policies out of respect for the sanctity of ceremony and respect for religious practices. PLUS, you don't want to draw attention to yourself. The bride and groom are the "stars" of the day, not the videographer or photographer. Dang, people! No wonder videographers don't get the respect they deserve.

Creativity has its place, but we're not making feature films here. Why endure (and cause) the extra stress?
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Old July 14th, 2006, 08:44 AM   #12
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Who says anything about annoying the officiant? Or videographer as 'the star?' I don't understand that logic.

The B&G SHOULD be the star, NOT the officiant. Any good officiant will understand I am doing my job. And they have. Being direct with the officiant will win you respect with both your client and the officiant. Not getting good footage because you are scared of the officiant, reflects badly on any videographer.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 10:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michelle Lewis
Who says anything about annoying the officiant? Or videographer as 'the star?' I don't understand that logic.

The B&G SHOULD be the star, NOT the officiant. Any good officiant will understand I am doing my job. And they have. Being direct with the officiant will win you respect with both your client and the officiant. Not getting good footage because you are scared of the officiant, reflects badly on any videographer.
Michelle... in a way you are right, but the B&G should know the restrictions of the facility when they book and would expect a videographer to respect those restrictions and provide the best video under those circumstances.

The problem with breaking the rules is that it may not only affect you, but other videographers who shoot in that location after you. They may decide not to allow video all together if no one respects their wishes. It's not up to us to decide if the rules are unreasonable.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 11:56 AM   #14
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While I would like to agree with Michelle, I find it hard not to agree with David. I've found a number of officiants that will go out of their way to make our life hard IF we don't respect them AND the rules and regs of the church. I've walked into some venues where because of someone else NOT following those rules it's made my work day hell.
Do I bend over for them NO but I do respect them and always remember that the wedding is generally a religious ceremony and not a Hollywood set.
NOW having said that, I find that more and more of the venues and officiants in my area are more open to videographers doing what we need to do to properly capture the day WITHIN REASON. Most churchs will absolutely NOT allow you on the altar but many are now allowing an unmanned camera there. I'll take what I can get. As long as the B&G know and understand the limitations of the venue things should be fine, however I'm the guy that will probably follow the person who doesn't ask the officiant about what they can and can't do in a particular venue and tick that officiant off and then they'll make my job even harder than it already is which really ticks ME off.
I don't know about other areas of the country but here in the greater Chicagoland area if you tick off the officiant in his church the next time YOU or anyone else works there, well, I hope you get the point.
I always tell my B&Gs about rules and regs and that camera placement is at the discretion of the camera operator (me) based on the R&R of the church and officiant. As long as they know up front it's never a problem.
Oh yeah one more thing. Asking the officiant is the RIGHT thing to do. As for asking a caterer, well they have nothing to do with my doing my job so thats a moot point.

Don B.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 12:19 PM   #15
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*panic*

*huff*

*huff*

*huff*

Aw geez, I'm hyperventilating.

hehe.

j/k

Seriously though, thank you ALL for the great advice and guidance.

Re: lights...yeah, I know I need one but right now it's not budgeted...my bad.
However I'm looking at the various LED lighting setups from Varizoom and others. I think I'm going that way and from what I've read here, it better be soon.

JEFF!

Thank you for that list.

You should make a separate post and maybe a moderator could pin it to the top of this forum. Just great stuff there.

PETER!

Three point light set-up? Pray tell, how does that work for you? Is this a setup during ceremony, reception, dancing or guest best-wishes?

As for everyone else.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I'll let you know how it goes on Sunday and, hopefully have a bit of footage together by the end of next week, although I have 7 dance recitals to cut as well.

sincerely,


ian
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