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


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Old October 2nd, 2006, 03:07 AM   #1
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do you use an onboard camera light for the first dance?

I have filmed many weddings and the last couple have given me problems with regards to lighting. What do people generally do to cure this problem short of setting up a light on a stand which i'd imagine would anger the DJ if he has a lighting set up with him.

edit: I have just scrolled down and found a rather useful post about on board lights at receptions. Doh!
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 10:09 AM   #2
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I use a studio light with sofbox and usually point it up or down, rather than directly at the couple. I, of course, talk to them about htis before hadn and only use it if needed but most of the times it is needed for thw weddings we shoot. I think an on-camera light would be more distracting but I haven't personally tried. I have never had any problems with DJs when using my lights regardless of what lights they are providing. I've also never had any bad feedback about the lights on the wedding day or after it. When couples opt out of lighting, I usually try to keep the gain at 6 or under (for Sony cams) and then go to black and white in post and really boost the levels. An old film effect can also work for the right couple.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 04:54 PM   #3
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David -- I read your post a couple of times and I can't determine if the complaints you received were about too much lighting (ruining the atmosphere + annoying the guests), or too little lighting (grainy/dark video.)

I use the VX2100, so it has to be pretty dark before I need any light. I never ask the couple ahead of time if it's okay to use additional light. Most don't have a clue what the light level will be at the reception hall and they definitely don't know my requirements. When discussing the job, I mention that for key events -- like the cake cutting, 1st dance, boquet toss -- if it's too dark for quality video I'll use a small on-camera light. That seems reasonable, and I haven't had a complaint yet.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 05:52 PM   #4
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I have a general rule of thumb for receptions. If inside I use a light. I use either a 20W with a softbox and kick the gain to 9 OR use a 35W with a softbox and leave the gain alone. What I have found is 2 things, first, people tend to forget about the light after a while (or at least get used to it) and second (most importantly) my clients (the B&G want a quality piece, not something where the colors and shadows all blend into one mass. I have never had a B or G complain about the low level light. Now having said that, I also keep it up off the camera. I use a 2 inch stud to raise my light up and it helps a lot with shadows that are made by the light.
If you're not sure if you should use it try this. Hold your hand out in front of you in the light level of the room. If you can not see detail in you skin then use the light. Lights do more than just light up an area, they add sparkle to some details (especially wedding dress with applicates on them) they add a sparkle to eyes, they add some (what I call) bounce to the shot. It also seperates the main subject from the background. Remember most of us use nothing more than a 50W light with a softbox or diffuser which will give you about 10 watts less effective power than without. If you're still not sure, shot some without a light then some with---compare and see for yourself.

Don
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 07:53 AM   #5
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Don is God... :)

i inside, i have a 35w light on teh camera. It doesnt mean i use it, but its there if i need it... and usually i need it when the venue kills the lights without warning.. (even though they say theyre gonna warn you... )

Usually for dancing, i run a 75w or 100w off the side of the dancefloor.. about 8 to 9 feet up in the air on a tripod and dolly.... this gives me a pivot point for shots and i can use the light to establish placement and positioning of the floor within any given environment.
When watching, the light itself is the source of "the OUR position" and everythign shot is around teh "light" so as it doesnt move, IT establishes WHERE we are and the blocking and position of teh events on the floor.. it helps establish a point of view to the viewer and offers a more comfortable way of seeing where our bearings are.

u dont get that "which way is the table? which way are we look at now... " kinda thing.. having the light establishes the environmental spacing.. and sets your bearings..
i cant think fo the word.. but hopefully you get my meaning..
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 03:48 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Tom Tomkowiak]David -- I read your post a couple of times and I can't determine if the complaints you received were about too much lighting (ruining the atmosphere + annoying the guests), or too little lighting (grainy/dark video.)

yeah the problem is not enough light resulting in grainy dark video. I turn the gain up to +15 or even +18 sometimes which cures the light problem 9 times out of 10 but results in grainy footage.
I dont really like the idea of setting up a freestanding light on the side of the dance floor as I think it might be a little obtrusive but an on board camera light just there if I need it sounds good. Does anyone have any recommendations for an on board light for an xl1s?

thanks
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 04:26 PM   #7
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David,

Do you have the Anton Bauer battery mount? If so, then a light with a battery tap would work perfect. If not, then you have some choices.

Buy a light that comes with a battery belt pack or puchase one seperatly. The shoulder strap batteries work but are incovienent. You'll want the belt pack so you can just plug in and hit the switch. Don Bloom showed me a great technique of putting the belt pack around the tripod. Can't do that with a shoulder strap.

The light itself should have some type of soft filter or matte box. Unfiltered light at any usable wattage is hard on the subject. The guests will thank you :)

There's a lot of good light kits out there. A good light kit is like a good shotgun mic, once you start using it you'll wonder how you ever did without it.

Ben
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 05:10 PM   #8
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There are a lot of reasonably priced good lights out there, I have a Bescor that I can change the bulbs for different wattage that i use on my small cameras. I have an Anton Bauer that I use on my full sized camera, I also have a little 20W light I got at Best Buy a few years ago (I call it my last ditch light) that works really well for a short period of time. On all of my lights I use a softbox of some type of diffusion, typically Tough-Spun material which really helps to soften the lighting.
Ben is right, the shoulder carry batteries for lights can be a real hassle so I opt for the belt when I use the Bescor light but if I'm on the tripod for any length of time, that thing gets hooked up to the legs, it's heavy.

Don
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 07:21 PM   #9
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For the dimly lit dances my wife and I have tried working in tandem with pretty good results. One of us holds a switchable 10/20/30w on camera light in our hand with our arm extended up and angled about 30-45 degrees to the side of the camera operator and 45 degrees downward. We try to simulate a key light kind of setup you might see in a studio. This gives a more dramatic look on the subject than an on camera light would. The light intensity is also easily varied by just moving the light closer or further away. We move together, circling the dancers or whatever but trying to stay in the same basic configuration. A bonus is we can also keep our external on camera mic on the camera to pick up the audio.

For interviews we've tried the same setup also with good results. If the camera operator asks the questions the subject does not have to squint as they look to the camera and respond.
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