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


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Old November 15th, 2006, 11:06 PM   #1
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Wedding highlights clip - need some critique

After much debate, I've decided to post this for review. This is my most recent wedding highlights clip that starts with the rehearsal and goes through the reception, and I need some opinions, good and bad... so let me have it.

High quality Quicktime (24 MB, 30 fps):
http://www.superiumpro.com/video/mik...ights_high.mov

Low quality Quicktime (9 MB, 15 fps):
http://www.superiumpro.com/video/mik...lights_low.mov

Edited with Final Cut Pro, lower third created in Photoshop, animated with Motion. Shot with Sony VX2100 and Canon XL1s with 16x manual lens. Shot completely in 4:3 using a Photoshop file I created as a mask to make it "look" widescreen.

You can leave out comments about shaky handheld shots and jumpy pans. The shaky shots are from the 16x manual lens (no OIS) which I no longer plan to use, and the bad pans are from both a badly adjusted fluid head and a novice operator I hired for the second camera. Both issues have been corrected for future projects, and I'm aware of the presence of these flaws in this clip. Also, there's a weird brown look in some of the clips... something the quicktime codec has messed with; the original looks normal.

Any other comments such as composition of the shots, and editing style would be great. FYI, I've been doing this for about 5 months and this is my fourth wedding video... so far still having fun :)

Thanks
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Old November 16th, 2006, 12:15 AM   #2
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Overall, I thought it looked good. I liked your decision to rely on cuts and not a bunch of dissolves. It gives the video movement and life which is what video is supposed to have.

I don't usually care for long cross dissolves or transparency like you had at the beginning. Its just a personal preference though.

I thought some of your composition on close-ups looked weird. People were cut off at the neck. Generally you shouldn't cut people of right at the knees, waist, neck... That's what they told me the "rule" is in good old film school anyway. Get a little bit of the shoulders in there so they have a body, or take it in even tighter just on the face. My guess is that it is the widescreen mask, and that the 4:3 looks better.

I'd leave it 4:3. What is your motivation for using the mask?
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Old November 16th, 2006, 07:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Trubac
I thought some of your composition on close-ups looked weird. People were cut off at the neck. Generally you shouldn't cut people of right at the knees, waist, neck... That's what they told me the "rule" is in good old film school anyway. Get a little bit of the shoulders in there so they have a body, or take it in even tighter just on the face. My guess is that it is the widescreen mask, and that the 4:3 looks better.

I'd leave it 4:3. What is your motivation for using the mask?
You're exactly right about the 4:3, the shot includes the shoulders and doesn't weird. I also agree... this video looks very weird. I was actually wondering if anyone would point that out.

The widescreen mask was a last minute decision after I completed the entire production in 4:3. Here's the story...

I'm just getting started in this business, and I've been hiring a good friend of mine to help with the videos. His parents are both photographers, so he naturally has an "eye" for shots. I let him borrow my VX2100 for a week and get to know it, and explained to him basic manual operation. He picked up on it very fast and does a great job.

Now, because I don't have any real professional contacts just yet, I had to use my brother for this last wedding. My other friend was going to be out of town that weekend on a long planned trip, it just happaned to fall on the same weekend.

So, I sat down with my bother for about 2-3 weeks, explaining how to operate a video camera, what iris does, etc. etc. The poor guy had never touched a camera before, and now he's doing paid job with a VX2100 in manual mode! Everything seemed fine until I got home with the tapes. He made a huge mistake and centered everyones faces in the 4:3 shots, no matter what the zoom. So you end up having the shots I made with the heads at the top of the screen, making a good "portrait" shot, then a cut to his shot, where their heads are centered, and you're left with a lot of empty space at the top of the screen.

I created the widescreen mask in photoshop as opposed to using the FCP one because I could move the video up or down to correct for his bad angles behind the mask. It ends up looking better than the original, but then you come to my shots, which look normal in 4:3 but very weird in the "mask."

I might post the original later tonight
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Old November 16th, 2006, 09:05 AM   #4
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I think you can slide the video up or down with the FCP widescreen mask. Take a look at the parameters under the filters tab again.

Maybe scaling your shots up a little bit would help. I've found scaling up to 108-110% in FCP is hardly noticeable. It might get you to an actual close-up on faces instead of cutting people off at their necks... or use it on your brothers shot to eliminate some of the headroom, and you can revert back to 4:3.

Try scaling your brothers shots up a bit first. You'll also be able to play with the position after scaling, so try sliding the clip up using the vertical position parameter. Maybe that will end up looking better?
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Old November 16th, 2006, 02:20 PM   #5
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Very nice edit, it has very good flow. I'm using that same song now for one of my weddings..
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Old November 17th, 2006, 03:36 AM   #6
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Nick I posted a comment to you on my post (retrospective work in progress..)
But I will follow up on my comments..

Like I said before (in other post) use the manual lens as much as you can.. It will help give a much more filmic look when properly used. It's also the best piece of glass you have.

GET OFF THE TRIPOD.. I am never NEVER on a tripod if I can help it. Only one camera is on a tripod during the ceremony.. that's the Safety shot which is usually back center and capturing the main audio (S.ound O.n T.ape);

I don't know what the sony or the xl1 have as far as color adjustments but play with the color settings (boost them)

Always use 16:9 if possible or the widescreen mask.. 16:9 gives a filmic look.

Get Extreme closeups.. don't be afraid.. if you mess up don't worry! As a rule.. just fill the frame!

Don't worry about your edits for now.. focus on your photography skills first, that's needed most. If you have great footage you don't have to worry about your edits.

Start watching movies and great wedding videographers examples (where available).. examine the framing/angles/colors etc.. see if you can "tag-along" with a dynamic professional.

Use focusing a lot.. in other words purposely get out of focus..then in focus.

Use Dutching.. Zooming while Dutching.. etc..

Get depth and demention in your footage.. DONT shoot with flat angles (most of your footage is flat)..

And for shot selections, think.. "if it's done in hollywood.. I should do it too"

Ok i'm done. this is the best advice I can give.. hope it helps. must get sleep. wedding in the morning.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 02:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Trubac
Overall, I thought it looked good. I liked your decision to rely on cuts and not a bunch of dissolves. It gives the video movement and life which is what video is supposed to have.

I don't usually care for long cross dissolves or transparency like you had at the beginning. Its just a personal preference though.
I enjoy cuts more too... my first couple of videos I used dissolves on everything. I'm glad I realized how boring it was. On this clip, I felt like the dissolves kinda fit the music in the slow part in the beginning. That's why I switched to faster cuts as the songs picks up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Trubac
Maybe scaling your shots up a little bit would help. I've found scaling up to 108-110% in FCP is hardly noticeable. It might get you to an actual close-up on faces instead of cutting people off at their necks... or use it on your brothers shot to eliminate some of the headroom, and you can revert back to 4:3.
Tried scaling. It's not too noticeable on my preview monitor (15") but when I play it on a larger TV it looks very pixellated compared to adjacent shots and to mee just looks "funny". I'm sure clients would never realize it, but I'm picky...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Padilla
Like I said before (in other post) use the manual lens as much as you can.. It will help give a much more filmic look when properly used. It's also the best piece of glass you have.

GET OFF THE TRIPOD.. I am never NEVER on a tripod if I can help it. Only one camera is on a tripod during the ceremony.. that's the Safety shot which is usually back center and capturing the main audio (S.ound O.n T.ape);
I'm slowly weening myself away from the tripod, it's just a habit because the shots are so much steadier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Padilla
Don't worry about your edits for now.. focus on your photography skills first, that's needed most. If you have great footage you don't have to worry about your edits.

Start watching movies and great wedding videographers examples (where available).. examine the framing/angles/colors etc.. see if you can "tag-along" with a dynamic professional.

Use focusing a lot.. in other words purposely get out of focus..then in focus.

Use Dutching.. Zooming while Dutching.. etc..

Get depth and demention in your footage.. DONT shoot with flat angles (most of your footage is flat)..
What do you mean by "flat angles"?
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 08:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Weeks
What do you mean by "flat angles"?

I think he is talking about shooting faces at 45 degrees (slightly to the side as opposed to straight on -- to add some modeling), placing objects in the foreground (make sure to manual focus on the important subject) which can give your shots some depth...
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Old December 16th, 2006, 01:47 PM   #9
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I am new to this

I thought it looked great. I have watched 100rds and i think that any couple would be happy to get that video. Hope I can make my xl1s's do the same job. I am using a pc with vegas. Sure liked the start of video to
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Old December 21st, 2006, 10:59 AM   #10
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I liked it.

I'm new to the industry too, so perhaps my opinion is not warrented yet.
However the only thing that caught my attention, was that some of the footage was placed in the timeline out of sequence with the timeline of the actual shoot.
I don't know if that's an anal suggestion or not. However, I found that it distracted me from enjoying the video... I know, perhaps I need to see a shrink.
Other than that, I liked it, and think it was well done, the bride would think so too.
I am also having a war in my head about wether to use a tripod or not for the ceremony... I have not made up my mind yet. I like to know that persons reasons for wanting "no" tripod vrs. using one... But, that might actually be a topic for another section on this forum.
Have fun.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 12:00 PM   #11
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Nice job

Hi Nick,

You're doing great for such a short time in the business and only a handful of weddings so far. It's clear you want to be a professional and are working hard at your craft. Not to rehash some of the comments by other posters, I agree with your assessment that you still have room for improvement on the composition - not something to easily cover in this forum. Yes, you can improve on technical camera shots, angles, etc., but I'm referring more to how composition integrates the theme of the video itself. Okay, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, so take a look at Randy Stubbs excerpt from his training video here (series one):

http://www.randystubbs.com/preview1.htm

Again, terrific work at this point in your career!

Michael
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Old January 12th, 2007, 02:12 PM   #12
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Thanks a lot for the nice comments! I have been working on my demo clips for my DVD recently, and I'm trying to make some more artistry of my existing shots just by using some simple editing effects... so far its looking really good. I still have no clients booked for this year just yet, but I'm taking this "free" time to help grow my name. I may post the demos on here when I get finished, probably in a month or so.

What clips were out of sequence? Are you referring to the little short "flashes" in the faster beats of the music? I kinda put a few clips of what happened before and what's to come. Other than that I don't know what else would be out of order. It should have been rehearsal > rehearsal dinner > pictures > ceremony > reception

Thanks for the link Michael, it was helpful.
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Old January 13th, 2007, 02:16 AM   #13
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More on Camera Shots

Rehi Nick,

By the way, John Cooksey's "ADVANCED BROADCAST CAMERA TECHNIQUES 1 & 2" is the definitive tutorial on camera shots - see these and I guarantee you'll forever look at camera shoots from a new perspective:

http://www.elitevideo.com/index.asp?...PROD&ProdID=26

In response to sequencing your video itself, you aren't necessarily bound by a certain format. For instance, when you begin to move from a photo-journalistic chronological format to story-telling, you'll connect events that don't happen at a certain time or place. As an example, during the father-daughter dance you might dissolve to a black-white shot of the father give-away at the altar, then cut further back to the morning with the father taking to his daughter at home, and maybe add some words from the daughter's interview or love story some time earlier. Many popular movies use this approach - begin by finding a common perspective and build on the theme over a period of time, distance, perspective, etc.

Good luck, Michael
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