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


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Old December 18th, 2006, 11:30 PM   #1
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Merlin vs Glidecam vs... uhh... your arms for a stable wedding shoot.

Here's a question: I have rarely seen many people talk here about using a Merlin for any of their steadycam work on a wedding shoot. Has anyone used it more than once? Is it worth the money?

I've been looking at the glidecam 4000 and a few other stabilizers, but I am specifically looking for one that works with the wedding market, i.e. won't kill you if you use it for a relatively long period of time. I'll be moving to Utah soon and hope to break into the market there, so I especially would value any comments from fellow videographers in the crazy and brilliant Utah market.

Equipment: GL2 (perhaps looking to upgrade to the new XH-A1), Rhode Videomic, and the beafy batteries: BP-945. I really don't like to use any lights at all, so the whole set up is fairly light.

Thanks.

-Devin
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Old December 19th, 2006, 05:48 AM   #2
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":Merlin vs Glidecam vs... uhh... your arms for a stable wedding shoot. "

AAAAAAHAHAHAHA damn thas funny... its amazing how the truth is often the strangest sounding thing..

to be honest, id be focusing on the cam gear and tripod monopods before considering anything along these stabiliser lines.

From what iev seen within teh event market, these devices are great and offer a better alternative to luggin a tripod around. Im sure youve also seen copious amounts of footage shot with these devices and although the look is not new, it is rare to see good footage with these on a wedding...

I would recomend a uinit with a vest consdierng the longform nature of the work.. something like a magiqcam or glidecam with vest.

Personally i dont use them. I feel that the "raw" kinda feel handheld shots give you, often give that feeling of truth to what your shooting.
In todays market and with shows like CSI and the like, theres nothign wrong with a bit of shake, so long as the story isnt ruined by it.
Its all relative to the style of video u want to produce.. if u MUST have everythign perfect, then go for it, if not, invest in otehr elements to help the storytelling
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Old December 19th, 2006, 06:57 AM   #3
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I'll plug my fig rig at this point. I'm much more happier that I went with my fig rig instead of a device that is more linear. Although, I did have a rather liquored dude ask me not to 'ZAP' him when I came to his table the other day. And yes, I left it on the video.


I'm not from Utah, but I do know it's somewhere west of me. :} I would do some online searching of wedding services around the area you plan to go. You'll get an idea of what your niche will need to be.

May the schwartz be with you.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 09:54 AM   #4
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Hi Devin,

I use a Merlin, but I agree with Peter that at this point it looks as tho for now investing in some basic equipment, like UHF wireless audio, would put your funds to better use. Flying video might look neat, but not hearing the couple repeat the vows is what the viewers will remember.

I disagree w/Peter where he writes, "..these devices .... offer a better alternative to luggin a tripod around..." That may be true for body mounted stabilizers that you can wear for several hours, but the hand-held Merlin doesn't replace a tripod. You still need a decent tripod and an even better head. Particularly for weddings, IMO investing is a good tripod head would take priority over buying any stabilizer.

Using the Merlin is a learned skill. Unless you have some extraordinary talent, donít expect to be proficient until youíve practiced with it daily for several weeks.

There are quite a few Merlin discussions in the Stabilizers forum. Hereís one in particular that might help answer other questions you might have: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=64062 It started in March and is up to about 5 pages now.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 10:31 AM   #5
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yeah sorry tom, i shoud have been specific.. i was refering to the Vested units, not the handhelds (re tripod replacement)
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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:15 AM   #6
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DVMulti Rig

I shoot a lot of weddings, which usually winds up being 8-10 hours of shooting for each event, and actually, have to agree with avoiding using glidecams and the such for wedding work. You will get much more use out of tripods, monopods, or other support type devices.

Which brings me to mentioning one of those support devices here.
Someone mentioned a Fig Rig, which does work great for handheld shooting.

I will take this a step further though, by mentioning the DVMulti Rig, which is a swiss army knife of sorts for shooting video.

You can literally shoot, Shoulder style, Fig Rig or Fig Rig support style, low profile, high profile, handheld, or handheld with support, and more. All of this all day long FATIGUE FREE.
Even better, the MultiRig can stay attached to yur camera, and folds up to fit right in your bag still attached to your camera.

Take a look at it here:
http://www.dvmultirig.com/

and a quick review here:
http://www.lafcpug.org/reviews/review_multirig.html

I don't work for, or have any affiliation to DVTecs or their products. But I am a firm beleiver in the quility and innovation of their products.
BTW, I also own and still use the DVRig Pro from time to time.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:34 AM   #7
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I have used both the DVrig pro, the figrig, glidecam 2000/4000 and Magiqcam which is a body mounted stabilizer. For the style I'm going for and the look I want, I was very unhappy with both the figrig and DVrigpro, so much so that neither of them lasted long. I'm sure they work for some people but they will produce a much more raw style than a glidecam or other stabilizer that is similar. The glidecam 2000 would definitely be your winner for price alone, as compared to the merlin. If your looking at spending that much on a merlin though, I would go with at least a glidecam and smooth shooter arm (I believe that is what it is called). If yor using the device for more of the creative shots and montage pieces such as preps, highlights, photo-session etc- a glidecam is the perfect fit. If your looking to film the ceremony and other longer events, I would stick to a tripod and if you really don't want to do that, get the dvrig pro.

You can also visit the stabilizer portion of this forum to find detailed reviews of the merlin.

Hope that helps.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 12:37 PM   #8
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"If your looking to film the ceremony and other longer events, I would stick to a tripod and if you really don't want to do that, get the dvrig pro."

Just so you know, I would recommend the DVMulti Rig before a DVRig Pro. This is because it's so flexible and configurable, incuding DVRig style shooting (as well as being less expensive).
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Old December 19th, 2006, 12:41 PM   #9
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I get what you saying Michael, I was lumping the multirig and the dvrig pro together as the same type of unit, while I understand they are not. In the end, I wouldn't recommend either for wedding work, unless your going for that specific raw style- which I believe is more of a minority among higher end wedding video is it not?
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Old December 19th, 2006, 12:47 PM   #10
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Ok, I'll throw my other two cents in. I think it would be prudent to point out that there are many aspects to a wedding in which you might want to use a variety of methods. I shoot ceremonies from a tripod. I get in the middle of the dance with either hand held or my fig rig. We get in the limo with the fig rig. It depends. I think people's strengths have a lot to do with it.

That being said, your style of shooting will have a lot to do with what you get. If you want super steady, then a vest and/or steadycam might be a good thing, if you need mobility.

I like my fig rig because it's a tight unit, but use other methods, depending on what I'm doing.

I think any type of discussion like this needs to be more specific, one tool won't cover the whole wedding, or will it? (that was rhetorical)

I think and most would agree, as tired as your are after these things, I'd love to have the option to use someone elses arms everyonce in a while. :}
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau
I get what you saying Michael, I was lumping the multirig and the dvrig pro together as the same type of unit, while I understand they are not. In the end, I wouldn't recommend either for wedding work, unless your going for that specific raw style- which I believe is more of a minority among higher end wedding video is it not?
There is no replacing moving camera techniques like those employed by the Merlin or Glidecam. But even high end event shooters still will shoot stationary properly framed shots and use the moving camera techniques for dramatic effect.

I shoot and edit what I call Documatic style, a mixture of Documentary and Cinematic Style.
I do employ many moving camera techniques as well as stationary point and shoot footage.
But, I can get moving camera shots either hendheld or (because of the added freedom of configurations) with my DVMulti Rig. I'm not saying it will be of the ultra flowing quality of a glidecam on a Smoothshooter or a Merlin. But it can be quite good with proper footwork and balance. My clients routinely ask me if I shoot handheld or on a tripod because the footage is so stable.

I can see why you would lump the DVRig Pro and DVMulti Rig in the same catagory, as they are to an extent. But with the DVMulti you have much more freedom of movement to shoot with. And as such, you can get many more creative shots than you can with the DVRig Pro.

The DVRig Pro is like a pickup truck (load it up and shoot) for more point and shoot filming.
Where as the Multi Rig is more like a sportscar (shoot anyway and anywhere you like) for a variety of stationary as well as creative shooting.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #12
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The fig rig or DVMulti Rig are the most versatile units and will get the most use in the course of a day. Not exclusive use, but the most use. If you are set on floating shots the glidecam/steadycam will do those much better but at the price of long set up times and very limited use during the day.

No rig will replace a tripod, but they can complement one for the times that you need to shoot "off the shoulder" with a smaller camera or you shoot for a specific planned shot for the highlights.

The "Rigs" provide a completely different look than the "cams" and it's a production choice for which is going to see more use in your production. I personally need a "rig" shoot much more than a "cam" shot. I also appreciate the faster setup time, ease of use, and versatility with the rigs.

Ben
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Davis
Ok, I'll throw my other two cents in. I think it would be prudent to point out that there are many aspects to a wedding in which you might want to use a variety of methods. I shoot ceremonies from a tripod. I get in the middle of the dance with either hand held or my fig rig. We get in the limo with the fig rig. It depends. I think people's strengths have a lot to do with it.

That being said, your style of shooting will have a lot to do with what you get. If you want super steady, then a vest and/or steadycam might be a good thing, if you need mobility.

I like my fig rig because it's a tight unit, but use other methods, depending on what I'm doing.

I think any type of discussion like this needs to be more specific, one tool won't cover the whole wedding, or will it? (that was rhetorical)

I think and most would agree, as tired as your are after these things, I'd love to have the option to use someone elses arms everyonce in a while. :}
Steven that is a great point. As you are exactly right, that the tools do dictate your shooting style and there is no one tool that can be used for everything.
This is why I prefer the Multi Rig so much.
As it allows me to shoot in so many different configurations and styles, from shooting processionals handheld down the isle, then when bride is handed off place my unit on a preset tripod for lockdown ceremony footage.

Get very compact like shoting in a limo or car as you do as they leave the church or reception.

Or I can fully load up my rig (lights, mic, and wireless) for a reception shoot and shoot in from a tripod or handheld for dance footage.

I have enough equiptment to bring along on a shoot as it is and as such try to keep my setup that I bring as compact as possible (audio: wireless, digital recorders, mic stand and video: cameras, tripods, multirig).

A smooth shooter is just too large a setup for a one man outfit like myself to add to my setup. Which is why I settled for the versatility the Multi Rig.

Everyone has their own style of shooting and the Multi just happens to suit my shooting syle.
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Last edited by Michael Liebergot; December 19th, 2006 at 01:55 PM.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Lynn
The fig rig or DVMulti Rig are the most versatile units and will get the most use in the course of a day. Not exclusive use, but the most use. If you are set on floating shots the glidecam/steadycam will do those much better but at the price of long set up times and very limited use during the day.

No rig will replace a tripod, but they can complement one for the times that you need to shoot "off the shoulder" with a smaller camera or you shoot for a specific planned shot for the highlights.

The "Rigs" provide a completely different look than the "cams" and it's a production choice for which is going to see more use in your production. I personally need a "rig" shoot much more than a "cam" shot. I also appreciate the faster setup time, ease of use, and versatility with the rigs.

Ben
Ben, Thank you, I couldn't have said it any better.

I tend to be long winded and wordy when trying to amke a point, in case you couldn't tell.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #15
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A lot of good replies here. I have a Glidecam Full Rig w/ vest, arm, sled.....and rarely use it on wedding shoots. I hear about some who have used stabilizers and full rigs all day long.....I see no point in that.....and what I do see is way over-use off the stabilzer. There is a time and place for it but all day is overkill to say the least.

If I were going to invest in some gear and had the money for a full rig.....but did not own the best audio gear......I would opt to buy a lectrosonics true diversity set up.....YOU will not be disapointed! and having the best audio gear is way more important than having an "extra" like a stabilzer.

IMHO....stabilzer shots do not seperate quality wedding videographers from average one's......I've seen much better final vids with no use of stabilizers over one's who have used stabilzers, so that says something about the producer.

If you are going to use a stabilzer whether it be handheld or full rig(vest, etc.)....."plan" when you anticipate to use it......random use of stabilzers is not the way to go.
Make sure there is room to use it......one can easily get distracted by watching the monitor and not being aware of what is around you. Its real easy to knock into soemthing like a table with a 4 foot vase full of water and flowers.

Outdoor photo sessions are a great time to use a stabilizer of you cover the photo shoots.

and if you want advice on the use of stabilizers....how to train, etc etc. post something in the stabilizer forum within dvinfo. Charles Papert who is a professional "Steadicam OP" in Hollywood and works on the biggest shows. movies.....and Mikko and a few others are extremely current and they really know there stuff. Im not downplaying the guys in the wedding forums but these stabilizer users tend not to be "pros". I think you'll get much better replies from the stabilzer forum area.

good luck.
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