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


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Old September 16th, 2006, 03:03 PM   #1
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Sanctuary.....Sanctuary

I'm sure there will be others out there who have had this same experience. I shot a RC Wedding yesterday and introduced myself to the Priest. As usual, was advised that The Sanctuary was OFF limits unless I stood right at the back, in the corner, and NEVER moved. Corner had a lectern blocking the centre of the aisle and I wouldn't have caught the procession either way.

I set up two cameras either side, and all was going well until the vows, when they moved up onto the first step of the sanctuary, which put them ahead of us. Added to that, we got my other worst nightmare..."A Huddle" i.e. bridesamaids and best man standing either side facing into the B & G totally blocking any chance of a shot.

What would you do?

Me........I grabbed my camera and carefully crept up onto the sanctuary (obviously I will now burn in hell!!!!). Even doing this, I was just, and I mean just able to get the brides face.

I then sent the other camera up to the back of the church so we had a group shot to work with albeit one from behind.

Luckily, the priest either didn't or chose not to notice me so...PHEW!!!!

I wish we had the ability to position ourselves without these restrictions. As someone else said. Quote from a Priest. Nowhere is off limits, its the people in the building that make it Holy.

Just wondered who else has been through this. I can't be alone!!!!!

Second in my list of hates is the "Musical Chairs" couple. The one where they change position all the way through the ceremony whilst you are pinned down in your alloted spot. Argh.......sanctuary.....sanctuary!!!!!

Do you think Quasimodo used to film weddings?
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Old September 16th, 2006, 05:33 PM   #2
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Hi Alastair,

I've usually been allowed to set up an unmaned Cam somewhere in front of the couple, and hide it pretty well, to get their Vows.

Sounds like you did not got to the rehersal to know what they planed to do and where you could set up.

If you could have had your Cam a bit higher, would you have been able to shoot over the lecturn ?? I can put my Cam at 7' in the air.

You're quite correct that most places weddings are done are not set up for Video, or for the people that do it. Then there are all those pesky rules that different Ministers and Priests have. Fun challenge, huh !

Harold
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Old September 16th, 2006, 07:37 PM   #3
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The only thing I believe makes sense to do in a situation like this is make an appointment with the priest specifically to have a knock-down-drag-out discussion regarding the benefits of a wedding video to the bridal couple and how the traditional (and often worn out) concepts of a "sacred" worship environment really do not apply to a wedding. Hopefully, you will have an open minded priest to engage in conversation.
Were I in your situation I would first be willing to position cameras in non-movable postions. I have always done this for at least one camera and usually do it for all cameras. Careful planning beforehand should resolve most camera placement issues. Should anything unexpected happen that can not be captured on camera because of church restrictions, blame it on the church!
I would then remind the priest first of your documentary responsibility of accurately recording EVERY SPOKEN WORD and how that could potentially and positively impact a fragile moment in this couple's relationship some years into the future, when the hopes and promises of that very special wedding day could well bring a lot of discourse back into focus.
Then I would forcefully reinforce this concept: while video camera crews may SEEM to be a distraction in reality they are quickly forgotten because it is the wedding ceremony everyone came to witness. When all is said and done, it is the ceremony that will be remembered, not the video crew.
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Old September 17th, 2006, 10:36 AM   #4
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I do mostly Catholic weddings and can say this has never been a problem and never need to even get near the altar. I set up a manned side cam that captures the bride's face and will use a manned rear cam about mid center aisle for most everything else except the processional which is done handheld from up front.

As far as the "huddle", you just have to show the wedding party before the ceremony where your side cam is and tell them to be mindful of it.

The church has rules - some are very stupid to be sure but the couple knows this going into it. When we start shooting for the client and less for our demos this becomes less of an issue IMO.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 01:33 PM   #5
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Question...

I have yet to film an indoor wedding so-far. Regarding the "Unmanned" cam. Do most of you control it with it's wireless controller to stop-start? If not, what do you do if the ceremony is over an hour and runs the tape down?
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Old September 18th, 2006, 01:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Brown
(obviously I will now burn in hell!!!!).
Well, can I have your gear?

Seriously, it's a good thing you didn't get caught. I think Peter Jeferson has posted a nightmare story somewhere that will give you room for pause. But you do the best you can, I ran into a person or two recently, I explained to them that I needed x,y,z angle and actually spent time explaining why, they were good to go after that.

The best thing you can do for that is cover it at the rehearsal if that's an option.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 01:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lucena
Do most of you control it with it's wireless controller to stop-start?
No, I have unmaned and man if there's a lot of movement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lucena
Question...

If not, what do you do if the ceremony is over an hour and runs the tape down?
You need to know this before it ever gets going. Ask the bride, examine her ceremony, talk to the minister. The minister is the one that can tell you how long.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 02:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Steele
I do mostly Catholic weddings and can say this has never been a problem and never need to even get near the altar. I set up a manned side cam that captures the bride's face and will use a manned rear cam about mid center aisle for most everything else except the processional which is done handheld from up front.

As far as the "huddle", you just have to show the wedding party before the ceremony where your side cam is and tell them to be mindful of it.

The church has rules - some are very stupid to be sure but the couple knows this going into it. When we start shooting for the client and less for our demos this becomes less of an issue IMO.

Good points Rick has made here.

I always shoot with 4 cams at churches.....2 manned, 2 unmanned.
Many times the rules are pretty weak and the churches don't show a lot of compassion....whatever though. I stick to the church rules no matter what.

i often hear from church coordinators and church officiants that videographers and photographers break the house rules so they are constantly tightening their belts on the rules.

If the church says to stay here or there and no moving around.....no lights, etc etc. We must all follow these rules. You can only do your best to get the best shots from where you are. Make sure the clients knows this...which they should have this knowledge before hand.

Breaking the rules of the church only adds to the stigma of wedding videographers.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 08:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Joe Allen Rosenberger
Good points Rick has made here.

I always shoot with 4 cams at churches.....2 manned, 2 unmanned.
Many times the rules are pretty weak and the churches don't show a lot of compassion....whatever though. I stick to the church rules no matter what.

i often hear from church coordinators and church officiants that videographers and photographers break the house rules so they are constantly tightening their belts on the rules.

If the church says to stay here or there and no moving around.....no lights, etc etc. We must all follow these rules. You can only do your best to get the best shots from where you are. Make sure the clients knows this...which they should have this knowledge before hand.

Breaking the rules of the church only adds to the stigma of wedding videographers.
Absolutely! Always obey the facility rules, but always take the opportunity to engage facility administrators to discuss ways to change the rules. Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to discuss equipment set-up with a church secretary. I knew the senior pastor hated flash guns and extra lights in this dark facility from a previous conversation, so I simply asked, "Have you ever thought of changing the sanctuary lighting to lampos that have a higher color temperature?" That question, of course, meant a brief explanation of the value of a higher color temperature in terms of both Photo/Video friendliness as well as enhanced attention focus on the part of the congregation.
End result: No change in the lighting yet, but I can place my equipment pretty much anywhere I want...so long as Im discuss it ahead of the scheduled event. I do know that when the budget allows, there will be a change in sancturary lighting.
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Old September 21st, 2006, 11:37 AM   #10
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"Breaking the rules of the church only adds to the stigma of wedding videographers."

Work around them. .not through them... even with the trippy trivial stuff, there are always ways around restrictions...
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 12:24 AM   #11
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I stand off the altar, or maybe on the steps that lead up to it. I have never had a complaint that my monopod foot rests on the altar. Hold your cam out and use the flipout LCD and you can frame your shots. The hard part is adjusting the focus and zoom, but a lanc controller can fix that. Sometimes that extra two feet is what you really need. Act extra discreet at the beginning and nobody will notice you crept in a bit during the vows. Once things get going, all eyes are on the couple. I do most of my moves as the congregation is doing something like standing up or kneeling down. Actually, I try to only move once. I start at the side of the altar and move to the aisle for the rings and the couple walking down the aisle. Knowing how to predict the moment to move between the vows and rings is critical!
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 04:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Brown
What would you do?

Me........I grabbed my camera and carefully crept up onto the sanctuary (obviously I will now burn in hell!!!!). Even doing this, I was just, and I mean just able to get the brides face.

Just wondered who else has been through this. I can't be alone!!!!!
First, You're not alone. I've done photography for 2 weddings and doing my 1st video wedding next week. I've struggled finding the optimal location. In my little experience the center aisle is the best place to capture the vows/ring exchange. Most priests don't allow you in the sanctuary or behind them. Like other ppl have said be at the rehearsal, talk to the minister and the bride/groom so they understand what position you need them to be in to capture their moment.

You could have had them reenact the ring exchange. Seems corny but in a lot of my documentary work staging, while a pain and fake can save the day. Just remember what parts of the ceremony are your priorities and never let capturing the other parts interfere with that.

My last wedding the bride's hair was hidding her face during the vows. I wasn't happy with those shots, I wouldn't use them in my portfolio, but the couple was satisfied and I made up for it in other areas of the wedding.
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Old September 24th, 2006, 06:28 AM   #13
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"You could have had them reenact the ring exchange. Seems corny but in a lot of my documentary work staging, while a pain and fake can save the day. Just remember what parts of the ceremony are your priorities and never let capturing the other parts interfere with that."

U know i do this for all my weddings now.. so as they do the ring exchange, i focus on whats being spoken and not whats happening under the mid shot line...
Its not a waste of time iiiIMO and i actaully ask the clients BEFORE the wedding if we can do this..
THeyre usually cool it with coz the shots are MUCH better than trying to zoom in.. usualy i go for an over the shoulder macro as the rings are exchanged.
This really only take about 90 seconds to set up and shoot (i kid you not) so your not really stuffing people around by asking them reenact the rings being put onto their fingers. These will all be intercut witht eh actual cereomny anyway and in the long run makes for a better product as the key shot is exactly that.. a key shot that isnt missed.
It also allows u to focus on the ceremony and the spoken words, so u can close in while they speak and cut to the rings later...

Now these macro rign shots arent necessary (coz u should either be shooting mid or close up of the rings) , but IMO make for a better product as u can have the best of both worlds and decide later which way u want it to go
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