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


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Old November 1st, 2006, 09:01 PM   #1
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Filming A Wedding - Questions

Hey everyone. New member here. Now I'm primarily a documentary filmmaker for motocross (www.myspace.com/robbswiatekfilms) with very little experience in shooting anything else really. But I've been asked by a friend to shoot a wedding and while not obligated to take the offer, I'm definitely considering it. Basically, they don't expect a full-on professional studio type project but rather something that they'll have for keepsake. But as with anything and everything concerning weddings, everyone always wants everything to be perfect. So onto my questions...

First off, for anyone with any experience in shooting a wedding; what are the basic necessities to have to make sure everything goes smoothly (audio equipment, lighting, etc)? I shoot with a VX2100 and have a Rode shotgun mic as well as a 2 socket xlr adaptor and Audio Technica omni directional interview mic. Would it be logical to have the bride and groom mic'd up (via wireless mics and can they be rented) or would the shotgun mic be enough?

Secondly, for a one man show, where's the best place to be standing while everything is going on? Primarily while the bride and groom are standing on the altar.

Finally, just any tips you folks might have in regards to shooting this type of event. And also what kind of price should be coupled to this project? IF I decide to do it, I'll be passing up shooting a mx event that would be contributing to my "big" payday in a month with the release of my mx film. Advice anyone?

Thanks,

Robb Swiatek
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Old November 1st, 2006, 11:05 PM   #2
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Robb, there's a forum section down at the bottom that's more geared twords your question. You might get better answers there.

Also, do you have a website for your video or clips? I used to be into MX/SX and would like to see your work.
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Old November 1st, 2006, 11:36 PM   #3
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Moved to Wedding / Event Videography Techniques from Open DV Discussion.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 05:00 AM   #4
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You really should have a lavalier mic on the groom. A top-quality wireless is best, but something like the iriver mp3 pocket recorder can also do a good job.

A small on-camera video light with a soft box seems to be what most people use at the reception. Too much light angers the guests, but no light can make the image too noisy and colorless. It appears that you shoot with a VX2100, so you probably only need a tiny little on-camera light with some diffusion over it.

The price is determined by how much you need to make, how much the couple is willing to pay, and the level of service you provide. Having never done a wedding before, it will be difficult to provide service in the high-end range of $3,000 or so. The low-end range for a fully-edited wedding with professional gear is about $1000 unless someone is working low-ball to get a reel together. If you are doing it for friends, make them pay something or they won't appreciate your work. Prices vary tremendously from $200 up to about $10,000, but the typical prices seem to be $1500 to $2500 for two-camera shoots. Everyone expects Hollywood production quality, but I have yet had anyone allow multiple takes and they get cranky when I yell "CUT!" during the kiss...

There is a recent thread about where to stand if doing a one-camera job. Scroll down a bit.

GO TO THE REHEARSAL.

I would only take this job if they are really accepting of the fact that you don't have experience with weddings. I wouldn't want friends mad at me because I goofed during their big day. Things happen and you only get one shot at weddings.

If you don't get great shots of the important events, try to re-stage the rings and the kiss at the altar before they leave the church. If nothing else, you can use those shots to simulate a two-camera shoot. Also, get lots of cutaway footage like the guests and flowers and other scenery that can be spliced in to cover up mistakes.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 08:42 AM   #5
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If you're used to shooting motorcross, weddings can be similar, although you have to imagine yourself in the middle of the race track, not on the side lines.

Marcus speaks the gospel about attending the rehearsal and getting them to pay you something. It is my experience that when you do work for free, it is very rarely appreciated, unless it's your mom or something.

And while you may do this wedding for next to nothing. You still need a contract, that's just my opinion. I do no wedding without one. You are just setting yourself up for more headaches than I think you'll want if you do not have some type of written agreement. For example, let's say you layout a good plan for their special day, you get to the church, and the minister says that you can't do this, you can't do that. Well, every thing that you planned on has to be changed. Most us carry a clause in our contracts to cover this problem.

I would get a contract.

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Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:07 AM   #6
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another difference

fans(guests) and participants in weddings can be far more dangerous and mean than any motorcross event.......
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 02:25 PM   #7
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B-Roll the HECK out of that event

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
get lots of cutaway footage like the guests and flowers and other scenery that can be spliced in to cover up mistakes.
Seconded. With one camera, your b-roll footage is much more important. Shoot shoot shoot. People walking, in, people sitting waiting (usefull for covering up missed shots durring the ceremony), flowers, kids (always shoot kids.... it doesnt' seem to matter what the kids are doing, the bride will think it is cute).

I have had my b-roll footage save the day many times. Also consider takign a decent digital SLR / still camera and shootign stills while your one camera is set up on a tripod filming a stationary scene (talk talk talk). These shots are great to cut away to just give more live to the event. Apply some Ken Burns to make the pictures move and provide focus and that can help a lot.

jason
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 02:38 PM   #8
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Opportunity Cost of The Wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robb Swiatek
IF I decide to do it, I'll be passing up shooting a mx event that would be contributing to my "big" payday in a month with the release of my mx film. Advice anyone?
This may be the bigger factor in taking (or not) the job. The opportunity cost of a wedding. What other work will you be passing on in order to do this job. If the friend is a life long buddy, then may be you should be at the wedding any way and you might as well shoot it (and charge something). If the guy is "a friend" ... then consider how much income / opportunity you are passing up to take the wedding over the MX event.

I also thought I should chime in that I have always been a single camera unit, and since I started (1.5yrs and 5 weddings ago) I have learned that the B-roll is very important.

It also is a good idea to look at as many samples as possible. Surf the pages listed in signatures here. View as many samples as possible because that will open completely different ideas for you. Then make a list of what you liked, and shoot it and see if you can cut it together to work.

The more experienced film makers here (because weddings are one of the greatest stories to tell) probably don't need shot lists and story boards because they have such an eye for the wedding that they naturally know what they want and how to find it.

One large decision to make before hand is how involved in the shots do you expect to be. As a MX shooter I assume that you pretty much set up in the best place possible and capture the event as it happens. That is to say you do not direct the action, your observe and record the action. That has always been how I shoot a wedding. The more experienced shooters actually direct the action and the bride / groom because they know what they need to see in order to get the shots they want.

This is a style choice. Will you movie be observational or directed? The fancy shots of B&G kissing with heavy back lighting under arches with multiple angles are RARELY just observed. Those have to be planned, set up, lite properly, and possibly require multiple takes (especially if shooting with one camera). However, those are the shots that look the best & are the most impressive to brides & grooms.

To be directing the B&G on the wedding day requires a specific understanding from the B&G about your role. You need to let them know that to get the movie they want you to make will require them following your directions, just like the follow the photographer's instructions on where to stand, tilt the head to the left a bit, etc.

Hope these ideas help.

jason
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 03:45 PM   #9
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I think I have a better answer than before.

Take Donald Trump's advice:

Do what you love. If you don't love what you do, you won't be successful.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 06:04 PM   #10
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Wow thanks for all the quick responses folks!


I'll keep you all updated on what I end up doing. The actual wedding is this weekend so I highly doubt I'll have enough time to get everything ready (plus the fact that I don't own a tux!). But I'm going to be chatting it up quite a bit about what's happening tonight with my buddy.

Thanks again guys. I really appreciate it. And I'll be doing some heavy forum research for awhile.

And for those that wanted to see some of my mx work well all I've got for a site at the moment is www.myspace.com/robbswiatekfilms until my real site is up and running.
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