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


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Old March 3rd, 2007, 09:24 AM   #1
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Starting up with $10K budget - How would you spend?

I plan to jump into the Wedding Videography biz with a $10K investment. I have some ideas on how to spend but would appreciate any feedback. Here's what I'm thinking

Cameras
XH-A1 $3400
HV20 $1100

Tripod
Bogen 503 $500

Audio
??? $1500??

Software
Vegas (upgrade) $200
Magic Bullet $140

Stabilizer
Glidecam 4000 $400

My focus is on equipment but what other major investment areas should I be looking at? I have a decent NLE setup that will work for now. I know I'll need a good website built but have no idea on cost. Also, am I going out on a limb with one main camera? For my intitial gigs I'll be sticking to the basics so I can't see the justification for a second A1 right away but then what about equipment failure? Any thoughts?
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 10:20 AM   #2
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You might want to budget for extra batteries and a good initial supply of tapes. A monopod could come in handy.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 11:20 AM   #3
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If I were starting out I wouldn't be going HD, as it is an extra cost that is not going to be a big incentive in the entry level market. Unless you plan on jumping in and starting your prices in the higher end, I would start with some great Sd cams, which will also be more flexible for dark receptions. While they are on their way out, you could buy almost 3 VX2000 cams for the price of the XHA1 and resell them next year for a marginal loss. Three cams of that quality would do a better job, for a beginner, than the two cams you mentioned, in my opinion. Getting the smaller cams would also allow you to go down to the glidecam 2000 which you can use handheld. If you go with the XHA1 and the 4000, I would not plan on doing much handheld work with it. At the very least, add a knockoff arm brace from ebay for $50. I have one and it works well. For tripods, I would look to pick up some used 501 heads with sticks. should be able to get a pair plus a cheap tripod for the price you have budgeted. For audio, best route, in my opinion, would be a couple Sennheiser EWG2 wireless systems with a couple irivers on the side. Should run $12-1350 and would be a very good setup that you wouldn't need to upgrade. I wouldn't get an entry level audio setup as it will bring the whole production down and will be thrown out when you upgrade.

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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:43 PM   #4
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$10k to spend

Thanks for the suggestions Patrick. By the way - magnificent work. How many mics did you use for the vow sequence in the Hunter Highlight? It sounded great. I agree 100% on the importance of audio.


Art
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:48 PM   #5
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Hi Art,

For the Hunter highlights, only two mics were used, one on the officiant and the other on the groom. There was another ont he podium and one for a singing trio but those didn't fit into the highlights. I have been really happy with the Senn mics (which is what I used in that clip).
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 01:08 PM   #6
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The best investment I've made is by far my macbook pro. I use it CONSTANTLY. I edit on it, and present a montages on it at events and weddings.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 01:15 PM   #7
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The best investment I've made is by far my macbook pro. I use it CONSTANTLY. I edit on it, and present a montages on it at events and weddings. Might be something you wanna look into...
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 03:25 PM   #8
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"Starting up with $10K budget - How would you spend? "

Part of it...

1. An Attorney
2. An Accountant
3. A business plan

Jeff
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 04:05 PM   #9
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If you decide to go the SD route, an often overlooked camera, worthy of consideration, is JVC's GY-DV300U. At today's going used prices (in very good condition for around $1000, or sometimes less), I'm not sure there's a better value in it's class (very comparable to a VX2000, PD150, XL1S, etc., for picture quality). The DV300U has XLR audio and considerable control over image acquisition (including blackstretch).
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 04:44 PM   #10
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Here's my take:

Audio: Senn G2 wireless system- $500
Digital recording device- $200

Tripod: exactly what you have


Software: Vegas, and you could get by without the magic bullets for your first year.

Stabilizer: None. You need to focus on basics and shots if your just starting out. Go a year without it and then you'll be ready to look into using one. It's really a fluff item, not an essential item. Makes great shots if used right, but not totally neccesary for great wedding work.

Cameras: Exactly what you have.

I'm a firm believer that your not investing wisely if you put your money into new SD equipment at this point (used SD gear is fine). HD is here. By this Christmas you'll see ads for blue ray and hddvd stand alone players for the consumer market. Burners are out, and the PS3 is in stores. Buying HD will give you a camera for the next 5 to 7 years. Buying SD will provide you with a camera for the next year, maybe two. Then after two years you'll be selling the sd cameras to buy hd cameras, which you could have done in the first place.

Also, owning the hd camera you can still shoot in sd. You don't have to shoot, edit, and deliver in hd just because you have the camera. But by next year you'll want that option and the sooner you become familiar with the hd workflow the better you'll be at it when you need it.

HD cameras are more than affordable. New SD gear is cheaper, yes, but when the SD gear first came out it was being sold for the price of the new HD gear. There's just no good reason to buy new SD gear right now when the business is moving to HD. Even without shooting in hd a 16x9 sd image looks better to clients than a 4x3 image.

As to multiple cameras you're much better off with just one main camera and a small backup camera to start out in this business. No offense Patrick, but setting up three cameras for a beginner is a recipe for disaster. When someone starts out they need to focus on being comfortable with their camera and being in the right place at the right time so that they don't miss any key moments. Going around and setting up three cameras single handedly at your first few weddings will insure that you miss something. The small HV20 or HV10 would be easy enough to just set up, push record, and go get the shots your really need.

One camera shoots are possible and can look great when edited into a short form.

The digital recording device I mentioned would be an iriver or similar recorder with a lav mic. Something simple that you can set and forget. Maybe to start you would even want to use just to wireless on the groom so that you have time to work on your shots.

You really don't want to be overloaded with duties in your first few weddings. Get the hang of it, then add in equipment that will improve the production.

Jeff had some good advice on his three items.

If you can, make some calls to local wedding videographers in your area and see if you can get out on a shoot with them. Learn from them and spend some time with your camera on their shoots. Your first year will probably be slow so you'll have free weekends you can get out and learn from people who's been doing it for a while.

Ben
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 06:01 PM   #11
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Thanks Ben - I may be overzealous with my plans but I see all the best work out there and I aspire to deliver that ....now. So I want HD and flying cameras and all the tools to make the best product possible. With that said, my real passion is in editing and I am going down this path upon suggestions from friends who liked some of my projects - mostly family stuff, graduation videos, youth trips, etc. where I took someone else's footage and made the most of it. My original thought for my business was to team up with a videographer willing to do the camera work and I would edit. In my brief research of the industry though I don't see this as the common business model, probably because of economics but perhaps also because the creative process requires control of both filming and editing. Any thoughts on this?
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 08:04 PM   #12
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Working together in wedding video? Yes it works. No, it's not the same as a one man operation.

I travel so much for my full time job that I have to use camera men/women for most every wedding I do so I'm familiar with only handling on side of the production process. I only handle a small number of weddings a year but I never work alone on a production. I always have other people shooting the material and I handle the editing. I like working together to try and bring together a great product. Here's my take of the major points for a team effort and a solo production:

Good points of a team effort:

The person with the most talent can focus on that area bringing the overall production level up. Just because you're a great camera operator doesn't mean your a great editor. And vise versa. You might have incredible skills editing footage but be weak when it comes to running camera. Working with someone who can compliment your weak areas will help to bring up the entire production level.

You get to work with people who share a similar interest in what your doing and care about it as much as you do (if you find the right people that is). You have someone to watch your back when your down and help you out.

You push your work into areas you wouldn't have gone alone because you have the second person sharing input.

If you have a good team then you can make a solid income from a team approach.

Bad points of a team effort:

You have to communicate. Much easier said than done. You need to be on the same page before the shoot takes place so that each person knows how the material will need to be shot and who is covering what.

The other person/people will inevitably let you down. We're only human so at some point that other person will let you down, and you'll do the same to them. They might screw up a shot that you know you could have had done perfect. But that's life, move on and let them go for it next time. Chances are they nail it the next time. Look for the positive in what they do and judge their value from that. Of course you had to get through that first time when it wasn't so good...


Good points of a solo effort:

You know exactly how you want to edit so you can get specific shots during the shoot. You also have the only input on the editing so it can go any direction that you want at any time.

You don't have to share profits so if you do well then it all goes to you.

The equipment is all yours.

You become well rounded because you handle all areas of the production and not just one. You get good with the camera, and you get good at editing.

Bad points of a solo effort:

You have to pay for all that gear by yourself. You not only need the editor, but all the camera production gear as well.

When you screw up, you only have yourself to blame. And if you didn't have another camera rolling that day of then you're really out of luck.

You ideas may be great, but you really have to push yourself to stay on top because it's only your ideas and not someone else assisting with the creative process. Remember the old saying "two heads are better than one"?


Those are some of the major points of each method. If you find you're weak in shooting, but strong in editing, then what about hiring a freelance camera operator for the wedding? You can show up with them and shoot the material that you know you want for the edit and you let them cover the main events. I think that would be a much wiser decision than a full partner. Hire someone for a set price to cover that event and you handle the rest. It's still a team on the production day, but you still run your business.

In my time I've found that working with a team is more challenging, but more rewarding in the end. It's hard work trying to convey to the camera operator exactly what you need for the edit, but once they have it the production works great. And the more you work together the better your get because you gain confidence with each production.

I thinks it's a good idea to find a camera person and handle only the editing if that's your strong point right now. And even if you work as an editor, learn the camera side. Not only will it help you as an editor, but you may find that you actually have more talent running camera than you do editing. It's important to continue doing both even if your main focus is on one.

Just be careful if you're thinking about a full partnership. Partnerships are very, very hard to make work and only a slim few suceed. If you find yourself hiring the same camera operator for several years then look at the issue again and talk about forming a partnership. I recommend working together with people as much as possible to make the best production you can.

Ben
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 08:18 PM   #13
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I agree with Ben on his points of SOLO vs. Patnership.

First I have been doing weddings for a very long time and although much if not most of my work is solo I partner with a friend of mine and shoot a good number for him-some I edit some I don't- I also partner with Ben-I shoot-he editsand produces. We've done a couple of large high end productions together and it's nice just being a camera operator and letting someone call the shots AND someone else to edit.
Both ways have their pros and cons.
I like working by myself and I also like working with a partner on jobs - the work is the same just different:-)
BTW since you've got 10K to invest I would be more than happy to help you spend it- ask Ben I spend his money all the time (it's easier to spend someone elses than your own)
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Old March 4th, 2007, 09:18 AM   #14
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Thanks for the insight -any recommendations on locating a camera operator? I was thinking of a post on Craigslist or perhaps hitting up the film dept at the local university ( Rutgers).
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Old March 4th, 2007, 10:31 AM   #15
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I think I would post right here in the Helping Hands section on DvInfo. I know there are talented people out there who can help with acquiring material.

What level of quality do you want? You'll pay according to the level you get. You can hire a college kid with no experience and save some money. But you have to teach them the skills they need and that means you'll have to be a good camera operator yourself. And it will probably take them several jobs before they get you material you really get excited about. Or you can hire a seasoned professional and you'll get footage you can work with every time. But you'll pay for it.

For me, an entry level camera op would be worth $150 a day. A seasoned pro would be worth quite a bit more. But remember, if you hire the beginner, you'll probably have to supply a lot of the gear they use. That's a lot of money you have to spend on equipment. You pay more for a fully equipped person but you don't have to supply any equipment which saves you quite a bit in equipment purchases. And to be honest with you, the extra cost is worth the piece of mind knowing that they'll get you the footage you want for your edit.

Ben
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