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Old April 15th, 2007, 11:31 AM   #1
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Camera Placement at Ceremony

We are new at filming weddings. We have done a couple for free to gain experience. Our first "official" wedding is coming up soon and we are still unsure as to the best camera placement to get all the appropriate shots at the ceremony - bride's entrance, groom's expression when he first sees her, etc.

We use 2 cameras - where is the best placement? One of us is usually in the front getting the bride, but when everyone stands when she comes in, the shot is partially blocked. We have the other camera in the back or balcony, but have been usually just getting a wider shot with this one and haven't tried to zoom in on the groom's face when she it entering.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 03:20 PM   #2
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Here goes. It all depends! Hows that for an answer. Look I;ve been doing weddings for over 20 years and there are some venues and officuiants that won't let you near the altar even for just the processional, others could give a rip where you are even on the altar (around here VERY RARE).
My best advise is to confer with the officiant not the church lady but the actual officiant BEFORE the wedding (rehearsal or even before) and find out thier rules. I know some oflks here say "just do it what are they going to do-stop the wedding?" YES I have seen it happen with STILL PHOTOGS and I saw it as a guest at a wedding for a videographer. They don't play around here in Chi-town. There's one church in downtown that even a well known TV station shooting a TV about weddings couldn't shoot from the main floor.
Never assume anything and remember I MIGHT BE THE GUY COMING IN TO SHOOT AFTER YOU PO THE PRIEST! ;-O
seriously though ASK the officiant before the wedding what the rules are-they might seem petty but once they get to know you they will respect you more for asking and might allow you latitude they don't allow others.
So how about that. A long no specific answer but really this is one you can't give a specific answer too. To many variables.

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Old April 15th, 2007, 03:33 PM   #3
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...a very good response by Don.

Churches in general have very "specific" rules on where you can and can't be.....and I ALWAYS follow these rules, and NEVER break them. When the client is booking me for their wedding, we discuss these issues if they are having a church wedding. I simply tell them that I must adhere to the church rules and will get the best possible footage considering where I am ALLOWED to be, it's as simple as that.

With that said, chances are the church where you are shooting will most likely have specific areas you can shoot from, this will narrow down your shot(locations). It's rare around here in So Cal that the church allows the photographer/videographer to have free movement where ever they wish.....I am yet to see this.

Best of luck- Joe
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Old April 15th, 2007, 04:20 PM   #4
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Hi Al,

I agree with both Joe and Don about finding out about, and following, the Church rules.

Once you know the rules, get in there ASAP with the B & G, for some checking out the available positions and shoot some quick footage form those positions. Then go over the footage with the B & G to see what they would most want. This way they also know what your limits of catch will be.

Once you agree, then set up your equipment to maximize your quality of Video and Audio from what positions you've come up with. Do all this as far ahead as possible. This will reduce the "surprises" that both you and the B & G will encounter.

Has worked nicely for me, anyway.

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Old April 15th, 2007, 05:18 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone for the responses. This upcoming ceremony is at a country club and we do have great flexibility on where we can be. What I'm trying to figure out is when the bride comes in, should I be up front and get as much as I can of her until the people standing block my shot or should I be in the main processional aisle on the side and get an unobstructed view of her and pan as she goes by me. After that, then walk around back to get to the front to then start filming from there. I plan to be on a monopod.

Also, for the 2nd camera, we need to get the groom's expression. Should that camera be on the floor up front, on the side, or in the back. We plan to have this camera on a tripod with my wife running it.

Thanks for any input!!
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Old April 15th, 2007, 05:45 PM   #6
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Be creative and give the bride and groom helmet cams.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 06:08 PM   #7
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Novice Advice

Hi Al,

I have only done a few weddings myself, an dwith each one I learn alot, but here is my two cents- and this is what works for me:

I set up rear cam on tripod nice wide shot (position slightly left or right of aisle)

I also use a monopod, I like the idea of being able to move around if needed. i am usually up front, already positioned on Groom's side and film them coming up the aisle. From there I usually am filming from the Groom's side, so that I'm facing Bride. I can slowly zoom in on her when reading vows. Try to remember to stay out of the rear cameras view when possible. Work on a couple of signals/head nods between you and your wife- so she can tell you if your position is good. It's ok to walk slowly into rear camera view when you are going for a closeup, just back up out of the shot slowly too, or use zoom.

I've even raised the monopod up in air by bracing it against my leg. This gave me a nice shot when Bride and Groom turned and walked down aisle after the ceremony.

Just remember, using a monopod can get tedious, watch the shakiness when standing there for a while. If you do move around during the ceremony (perhaps switching sides to face Groom during his vows if you want) I make sure that sometime during the ceremony I do a slow pan of the audience. That way I use THAT footage in editing phase to use whenever I had moved . Unless you want to use the rear cam footage, but it may show you moving from one side to the next, and it would be distracting.
\Best of Luck!
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Old April 15th, 2007, 07:15 PM   #8
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Hi Al -
If you've got two camera people, life is easier - go to the rehearsal if you can, plan your shots that way - it's worth it even if you AREN'T new to doing this...

I also recommend a "safety" camera on a tripod for cutaway if you happen to lose both cams at a critical moment - but if one isn't an option, here's where I'd be:

FC=front cam, RC=Rear cam

pre service - RC wide for audience, FC at ready off to one side to catch processional - pan and zoom as needed.

RC zoom in on grooms party/groom as processional ends, catch Bride entry reactions. FC rotate to center aisle, go LOW and shoot up making bride look 10 feet tall (unless of course she IS...), catch her coming up the aisle as long as you can - you can slo mo this in post for effect and to time compensate - pull back as she arrives, catch the hand off if possible from a good angle (who gives this...).

If there are speakers, have the RC zoom in for those - know in advance so you don't have a lot of distracting zooming in post - cut to other cam.

IF you've got latitude to get FC behind the altar (hiding behind floral arrangements if you wnat to be inconspicuous - I've hidden an unmanned camera that way for a front angle when I can't be there myself!), shoot from groom side to get Bride - it's her day.

If there is a candle lighting/communion, see if you can move to a good angle to get those shots. Stealthily get back out before the first kiss, get a good angle to get a tight zoom for that - RC should also be in close just in case.

FC get to the rear of the center aisle if possible, catch the presentation "Mr.&Mrs." - RC should be zooomed out just a bit to catch crowd reaction. FC now has the challenge of either zooming in and then back out to catch the B&G exiting, OR even better (co-ordinate if there is a photog - he's going to want the same shots - you are now best buddies) get part way up the aisle, and back out in front of the B&G (don't trip) to reduce the zooming you might need to do. Catch them as they go out the exit doors - it's usually a great shot with huge smiles!

Hope this gives you a rough script/storyboard. I again encourage attending the rehearsal if possible - you could fill in any blanks in the storyline that way, even do a "mini-script" for camera moves!

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Old April 15th, 2007, 09:12 PM   #9
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For a country club type ceremony (read anywhere but SOME churches and I try in most to do this) I'm in front on the brides side up by the altar in the center aisle. I get the bride coming down the aisle from back to front and as for the grooms reaction I either have a 2nd or 3rd camera person in back to get that type of thing OR (I'm a bit goofy sometimes) if my camera is on a tripod and dolly which in most cases it is I use another camera to cover the groom. I only use it for that shot and perhaps a couple of other cutaways but mostly for that. The bride is walking down th eaisle my main camera has that and my small camera (generally a 1 chipper that seems to cut in nicely and is SMALL and easy to carry in 1 hand is my cutaway cam. For the 15 or 20 seconds of footage of the groom as she comes down the aisle it works fine.
Of course you can do it the way I always have in the past when I shot 1 camera weddings. Get a reaction shot of the groom when the FG and RB come down the aisle then pan back over to the area where the bride will be and in about 3 seconds she'll be there. (hopefully).
Either way works!

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Old April 16th, 2007, 07:36 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Al Kozak View Post
... We use 2 cameras - where is the best placement? ... Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

For me, the most ideal placement is one camera center, back. The second camera front right, towards the corner (stage left). These postions vary depending on lots of factors, from church restrictions, to floral arrangements, etc. But like as said above, ALWAYS respect the rules. You want to be allowed back in the future, and the videographer that comes in next week doesn't really want to have to hunt you down and shoot you. He/she has edits to do and doesn't have time for the prison term!

This past Saturday, I was restricted to the rear balcony, period! To really make it fun, the staircase to said balcony was 2 stories tall, and it was a tight spiral, built almost 200 years ago with an access door on the scale of a medium sized closet door. But, I guess looking at the day overall, I was the luckiest. The photographer wasn't even allowed inside the church! She had to shoot thru a back window!

I guess I'm just saying to look for your ideal positions, then work it out from there. Co-ordinate with your other shooter(s) so that someone always has a good, steady shot.

Most of all, have fun while you do it. If it ever stops being fun, it's time to quit!
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Old April 16th, 2007, 08:30 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the great advise!! Looking forward to putting it all to good use this Saturday!
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Old April 17th, 2007, 09:59 AM   #12
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I did a wedding two weekends ago at an Episcopal church.
The best thing I did for the shoot, was meet and greet the church coordinator, who in turn gave me a warm-pass the officiate. Rules were tight, no flash photography, and no photo or video near the front, sides or in the isle.

As I introduced myself, and the intent of providing the Bride and Groom with memorable moments, he warmed up to me stating "I normally never do this, but for you I will make an exception". He allowed me to shoot from the side of the platform within a small closet, and to make sure the door was only cracked open as necessary to get the frontal bride/groom footage.

It's a good thing the closet had another exit to the hallway :-)

During the photo shoot before I speeded-off to the reception venue, I took the opportunity to thank the officiate for his latitude and stated I was looking forward to our next wedding.

Without this face-time it would have only been rear balcony capture.

In summary: meet and greet showing enthusiasm for the couples day, and who knows what exceptions will be made.
MotionOne Studios
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Old April 17th, 2007, 12:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Al Kozak View Post
We use 2 cameras - where is the best placement?
You'll get very subjective answers to this. Here's mine:

---- CAM #1 ----

Is manned on the groom's far side of the aisle to capture the bride's facial expressions. Get as close as you can and make sure you are able to film past the Best Man's shoulder. (Warn the Best Man beforehand about this). You should be able to get everything from this angle except the bride, flower girl & ring bearers entrance because the crowd is standing (or the talent is too short).

---- CAM #2 ----

During the processional: Get down on one knee on the bride's side and do this handheld. The photographer can shoot over your shoulder if he/she wants. Stay down so Cam #1 doesn't get you.

After the bride is handed off to the groom: Stand up and move to the far wall - record the B&G standing there looking stupid as they wait for the minister to tell them what to do next.

When the B&G start walking to the platform/altar, circle around to the rear of the church along the way grabbing your tripod which you left laying down in the back so it isn't in any of your footage and move up to center aisle. Park yourself about 1/3 of the way up or even closer if you can get away with it. Of course whoever is manning Cam #1 is on their own until you're set up so they need to be on the ball. You should be in position in about 45 seconds or so.
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