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


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Old February 9th, 2007, 07:14 PM   #1
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Newbie Questions - Yes, I've serarched the forums

I have a few very basic questions. I've searched the forums but after 15 minutes could find anything that specifically answered these questions. I've never done weddings but have experience in somy indy films and training videos.

1. How do you sync up multiple cameras and independent audio sources? I'm not asking from a software perspective but more on some general tips. For example, I read one post that said to sync up multiple cameras you should fire a flash so you have a common event. Well, what happens when you change tapes?

2. To further question #1, it would seem easy to keep sync if you just recorded everything and never turned the camera(s) off record. But that seems unrealistic. What's the best way to record an event? Should I just record 100% of everything (thus keeping the sync) and slice it up in post?

3. Are two cameras enough for weddings? I read a lot of posts from people who actually use a single camera or one manned camera and one stationary. My video experience has been in very controlled situations that were well scripted and preditable. I knew what shots (and angles) I wanted before going into the shoot. However, I still often had three or four cameras shooting various angles. With something as unpredictable as a wedding, I can't imagine having less than three maned cameras at a minimum!

I know my thinking is about #3 is skewed and I must become more creative and less structured. While I've never done a wedding before, my initial thought for laying out camera coverage at a ceremony would be a manned main camera to catch candid reactions of the audience, one stationary camera focused on the couple, one stationary camera at the rear of the church (maybe a balcony) shooting wide-angle, and a final manned camera for zoom work on the couple an officent.

Audio is a whole other animal. I think I'd start mic-ing the chruch a week prior to the event!

Should I be thinking of another line of work?? I'm not asking this tongue-in-cheek. I'd really think I could do an exceptional job with wedding work - but I don't want the ratio of crew to attendees to be 1:2!
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Old February 9th, 2007, 08:25 PM   #2
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Well in no particular order ;

For the ceremony once you start recording (usually about the time the mothers start coming down the aisle) NEVER I say again NEVER shut the camera off until the end of the processional (parents coming down the aisle)
You can't edit what you don't have so it's better to have it and not need it-you can cut it out later.

For the number of cameras when I started 23 years ago I used 1 camera as that was all I could afford-today I generally use 2 although I've done 3 4 5 and even 6 camera weddings (not by myself) Personally I find 2 to work for me whether I'm by myself or not.
As for syncing audio I run 2 wireless to my main camera (a full size with 2 rear XLRs) and simply switch back and forth almost like a mixer. One mic is on the groom and the other on the lectern for the readers or officiant. This way no matter where they stand I have a source relatively close and switch to that reciever. I do this because I'm also running a hypercaroid (usually) on the front input for general room noise. Now as to the sync I find a peak in the wave forms and sync to that-simply sliding the track around a bit until I hit the mark. Then of course I double check the vid frame to make sure all is together.

Back to the number of cameras-while 3 or 4 or 6 or 10 cameras might capture everything that goes on, and I've said for years that a wedding is like a breaking news event-you never know what you're getting into or what may happen and when it does it can happen real fast-BUT too many can be a distraction to the B&G so you have to balance it out. Again for myself I find that 2 cameras works fine sometimes the 2nd cam is manned sometimes not depends on the package but I always shoot as if the other camera(s) don't exsist-we sometime become too dependant on the "other" cameras and forget to shoot it right with the camera we're using-meaning what if the other camera craps out on you or it gets bumped and the shot isn't framed right or the officiant won't allow a manned camera where you want to have it or any other number of things that can and do happen.
Personally worry less about how many cams to use and make sure that the ones you DO use you get top quality shots with content that is important and meaningful.
Good luck

Don
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Old February 9th, 2007, 08:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
1. How do you sync up multiple cameras and independent audio sources? I'm not asking from a software perspective but more on some general tips. For example
If not from a software perspective, why else would you need to know? Really, synching up video/audio from seperate sources is not that difficult. At a wedding there are "standout" cues such as a phtographer's flash, a cough or even an intentional hand clap. You can also align tracks in your NLE visually by simply looking at the waveforms.

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2. To further question #1, it would seem easy to keep sync if you just recorded everything and never turned the camera(s) off record.
During a wedding ceremony, yes. Other parts of the day though you should try and shoot to edit as best as possible.

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But that seems unrealistic. What's the best way to record an event? Should I just record 100% of everything (thus keeping the sync) and slice it up in post?
Again, I think you're worrying too much about synching audio up in post. It's not that difficult.

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3. Are two cameras enough for weddings? I can't imagine having less than three maned cameras at a minimum!
I started out with 1, then 2 and now use 3. I've had some really nice edits with all three scenarios so I don't think there's a magic number. It really depends. Obviously, the more angles you have the easier it is to edit and just speaking for myself, I wouldn't do this with any less than 3 cameras any more.

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a manned main camera to catch candid reactions of the audience, one stationary camera focused on the couple, one stationary camera at the rear of the church (maybe a balcony) shooting wide-angle, and a final manned camera for zoom work on the couple an officent.
That's 4 cameras. You can do all of this with 3 (even 2). It depends on how "locked down" you might be at the ceremony and of course timing is critical. Guest shots for example can be taken by camera #1 briefly while camera #2 is shooting a reader at a podium. Another trick is to take some of this footage before the ceremony even begins and insert them later.

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Should I be thinking of another line of work?? I'm not asking this tongue-in-cheek. I'd really think I could do an exceptional job with wedding work - but I don't want the ratio of crew to attendees to be 1:2!
I'd say you have plenty of camera skills but are just uneasy about doing a live event like this. Most weddings are alike (or share many of the same rituals). Just think of the many you've attended as a guest and their similarities. And a ceremony rehearsal is not just for the wedding party. If you're serious, why don't you consider doing a couple of freebies for the experience?
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Old February 9th, 2007, 09:15 PM   #4
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Ready, Aim, ...

Hi William,

It's great to get out the worry beads when we get into all the details of filming a wedding but as others say, fortunately none of your questions will be issues. Someone in another forum recently asked a question about anxiety as a rookie - here's my extract if it helps any:

A successful wedding video is the culmination of numerous disciplines which can be quite daunting for anyone, rookie or a seasoned veteran. While videographer job skills and knowledge are paramount, we know there's a ton of "other stuff", not all of which is in our direct control. But hopefully you're very well organized with all the requisite equipment and activity/process checklists, appropriate backup gear and backup plans to address various possibilities.

My worry isn't so much the blown-out shot, forgetting to start recording, tranceiver interference, getting all the critical shots - hopefully we should be prepared for these situations. For me, my concern is being prepared for the hundreds of seeming "minor" details: fresh batteries, clean lens, pre-numbered tapes, validate video, clean video tape heads, extra lens, audio, mics, transceivers, recorders, earbuds, lighting, diffusion, filters, dimmers, reflectors, tripods, cabling, power, chargers, extra cables, lens cleaner, camera, audio gear, connectors-adapters, lighting, emergency kit, schedule/maps/addresses/contact info (esp. names of B&G parents and wedding party)/phone & cell numbers, copy of contract T&Cs, extra shoes, food and water, gaffer bag, biz cards/brochures, PDA and cell phone w/charged battery. Then there's those sinking feelings were we don't religiously follow a process like, "where the %^&* did I put tape #3 ?" After doing that once or having a camera stolen, it makes one a believer of immediately taking them out of a camera and putting them in your fanny pack never leaving you!

So my advice would be to develop appropriate lists - what's in each bag, what bags are needed, what to validate the day before the shoot, day of shoot, activities at shoot, contacts, etc. And have as many congingency plans as you can tolerate.

When we're ready to step up to the bat, it's actually a rush to see it all come together. And being an all-in-one producer, it can be particularly fun knowing how your video and audio will fit into a final product based on your editing.

Have fun, Michael
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Old February 10th, 2007, 11:27 AM   #5
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Thanks for the help...

Thanks everyone for all the help. I like the idea of doing a few freebies (such as Rick suggested) but how best to book these? Where can I find willing couples? I realize I need to have a few weddings under my belt so I can get a demo reel together.

On another note, any suggestions on gear (I know there are hundreds of posts but I have a specific question here.) I currently own a Sony FX1 and a Panasonic DVC30. Since the DVC30 is SD, the only format I will be able to offer is SD. Here's the question...for a backup (third) camera I can pick up another DVC30 for about $1k. Or I can pick up a new Sony FX1 for about $2.5k (but then I may still need an HD backup camera) .

The problem is I'll be buying either on credit so I have to be careful. Do you think HD is "the" standard of the near future (say 1-2 years) or will SD be around for a while.

How much more ($$) can you command for HD work? It may be smartest for me to wait until I have an HD request and rent an extra camera or two. Any idea of an average day-rate for something like an FX1 (I live in Ohio)?

Sorry to be such a pain but with all the experience and willingness of members here to help, I'd be a fool not to take advantage of it. Thanks in advance....
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Old February 10th, 2007, 11:38 AM   #6
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Well, I don't know about the area you live and work in but here in my area I truely belive that SD will be around for a while yet perhaps 2 maybe 3 years.
WHY? No real delivery system for HD or BluRay products to the AVERAGE consumer yet ...YET, cost to the videographer for gear, cost to the consumer for gear to watch and frankly, in the last 1 1/2 years of buzz about HD I've had only 2 people ask in a very general sort of way about it.
Now I have a couple of guys I know around here that offer HD but they have told me that perhaps they each have had 1 or 2 clients specifically want their weddings done in HD.
So as much as I might THINK about going to HD for now honestly FOR ME it's not a good business decision-maybe for others it might be I can't say but I would check out the market a bit before I make a decision that can affect your business for a very long time.

Don
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Old February 10th, 2007, 12:01 PM   #7
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Just as a general business practice, some issues to think about when buying a lot of gear.

How long to amortize?

How long to recoup?

How much of resale value is retained?

Do some research, and talk to an accountant about these issues.

I bought my XL2 back at the end of 2004, and everyone wailed when the XLH1 came out. In point of fact, ONE of the projects I shot with the XL2 more than paid for the cost, the expense has been amortized in my taxes, and I can turn around and reasonably get two grand for it WHEN/IF I decide to go HD.

And I haven't made that decision YET.

I'm not saying don't go to HDV now... I'm saying look at your business model carefully. If you're product is destined for big screen or broadcast/cable... then yeah, I'd look at an HDV workflow... definately. If your product is destined for web/dvd delivery on a small screen... then I'd think twice about making the investment NOW... Like I said, SD is still alive and will be for at least a couple of years, during which time the HD format wars, and the HDV workflow will continue to develop and be refined.

As for me, I'm not in a hurry. I did get a call last night from a producer who asked if I could shoot in HDV. I said I didn't OWN an HDV camera, and she said, "No problem, we'll rent." So there's always THAT option as well. But YOUR mileage may vary.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 03:04 PM   #8
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I like the idea of doing a few freebies (such as Rick suggested) but how best to book these? Where can I find willing couples?
Wherever there are brides. I don't know about your local area but if it's customary to publish engagement blurbs in a local newspaper you can get all the contact information you need from these. Bridal registries and bridal shops are a good source too. Just be quick to point out you're not selling anything.

Quote:
Or I can pick up a new Sony FX1 for about $2.5k (but then I may still need an HD backup camera)
I shoot in SD but I know a lot of people using the Sony HDR-HC5/7 series. You can pick one up for about $1k but I don't think it has jacks for an external mic or headphone which is ok for a backup or balcony cam. Not sure about the low-light capabilities though. I think DVi's own Glen Elliott here has just bought the HC7 so maybe he can chime in.

Don't forget to allow for audio gear as well. And no, I don't mean a shotgun mic either. :)

Quote:
Do you think HD is "the" standard of the near future (say 1-2 years) or will SD be around for a while.
Ain't touchin' this one. :)

But I will say since you've already got an FX1 this question is moot. You really need to continue with your current HD investment if only for the widescreen capabilities.

Quote:
It may be smartest for me to wait until I have an HD request and rent an extra camera or two.
You would be surprised at how many early HD adopters came to this conclusion after they invested heavily. :)

HD cams can rent for about $300 per day. Depends on what kind you get and of course where you're at.
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