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


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Old April 20th, 2007, 01:22 PM   #1
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Single Camera wedding

Hi. I got my first wedding booked for August. Since I am a one-man operation I was hoping to get some tips from those of you seasoned professionals who are or were in a similar situation.

I have a Sony VX-2100, a Rode Videomic, an Azden wireless, and assorted support equipment.
I want to do a good job but I am not sure how to be everywhere at once.

Any ideas would be helpful.

Thanks
Jim
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Old April 20th, 2007, 01:54 PM   #2
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Hi Jim -

Borrow or get a second angle/backup camera, hands down. I'd never shoot a one shot event with a single cam running... too much risk. Not to mention ol' Murph and equipment failure...

Even just having a cheapo cam running on a tripod gives you an emergency backup. The second cam can also be set up in front depending on the policies for video at the venue/church... gives you a cutaway, and if set right can give some nice shots of the bride/couple for vows, etc.

THAT said... go to the rehearsal and plan your shots - then expect the whole thing to change by the next day... at least you've run the scenes once, so you've got a fighting chance of improvising! Depending on the situation you may have freedom of movement, or you may be stuck (there's another thread on a two cam shoot that might be helpful to you).

I'd suggest some sort of audio backup as well - either a feed from the house board (don't count too much on this, haven't had a good one YET), or better yet your own mini recording device of choice...

I got very lucky doing a couple weddings years ago for friends just using two cheezy old Digital8 cameras, no extra stuff - it worked out fine surprisingly! BUT, if you're being paid... you discover that there's a bit more to it... having two cameras is a bare minimum in my estimation.

DB>)
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Old April 20th, 2007, 02:20 PM   #3
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Jim,

Sounds like you've got some pretty decent gear, so I'll just add to Dave's comments. You might get a small (Beachtek or Studio One) mixer for the Rode and the Azden, then as an audio back-up, you can use the second camera's built-in mic. It's not the greatest sound, but it's something (as opposed to NOTHING).

As for being everywhere at once, you can't be. If there are 2 things happening at once, you'll have to decide which one gets covered and which one gets left out. As you gain experience, you'll get better at doing this. Travelling as light as possible helps.

Get with the DJ/MC early on, and coordinate everything. A DJ's "heads-up" information can make it look like you were shooting everywhere at once. I like to get friendly with the DJ/MC. I've been known to bring him water, cake, messages, and sometimes a change in the schedule that he wasn't aware of.

Ideally, hire yourself a second shooter. Get a someone who owns his/her own gear and you've also got the second camera angle covered, too.

Whatever you do, try to go with a second camera! Then, as you can afford it, buy back-ups for ALL your equipment. (I say this from personal experience!)
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Old April 20th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #4
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Years ago I used to shoot 1 camera as it was all I could afford. I'm back in the very old VHS/Beta consumer days. Today even with multiple cameras I shot as if I only have 1 camera. Too many bad things can happen if you depend on the 2nd camera especially if unmanned. It could get blocked, moved, the participants aren't where they are supposed to be so you have no shot, it could break and stop running or you could forget to hit the record button. Not to say you shouldn't have a 2nd camera going if you can but in many cases it's a crap shoot as to the footage you might get.
A guy some of us know or know of in the NJ area gets very large amounts of money for doing weddings and shoots with 1 camera almost exclusively. Heres how.
FIRST he uses a monopod just about ALL the time. Big help for holding stabile shots.
So the first place he is at like most of us WHEN POSSIBLE is at the center aisle by the altar to get the processional. When the bride gets handed off move to the side and get some cutaways of family and bridal party on that side-I prefer the brides side first. Go to the rear of the center aisle (as most churches at least around my area pretty much relegate you there anyway) get the readers at the lectern the officiant doing the gospel and homily and the vows. The B&G will probably face each other when they say the vows and exchange rings (99% do so you get a nice 2 or 3 shot) When they do communion (if a Catholic mass ceremony) move to the opposite side (for me it's the grooms side) going down a side aisle, get some family and bridal party cut aways and then move back to the center aisle rear for the presentation of flowers to the Holy Family (Virgin Mary) and the recessional.
OK none of this is carved in stone. It depends on the church or venue, the officiant, the type of service and the physical layout of the venue. It's just a place to start. Go to the venue before the rehearsal and look at it. Start planning out your shot list as if you have no restrictions then go to the rehearsal and find out what you can or can't do and adjust your shot list from there.
Too many time we become so dependent on the 2,3 or 4 cameras that we forget that in most cases the best footage comes from the number 1 camera. Remember you're there to document the day not to direct it (darn sometimes I wish we could-the video would be great everytime). Sometimes stuff happens and you get caught in the middle. Just do the best you can with what you've got but IF possible try to get ahold of a 2nd camera just to CYA but remember don't count on the footage from it cause as soon as you count on it you'll get burned. I believe it's called Murphy's Law!
Good Luck,
Don
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Old April 20th, 2007, 03:52 PM   #5
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One man show

Thank you very much for the advice. The wedding isn't until August so I have time to prepare. Yes a second cam would be great. I have no one to help - at least no one I know would be interested. Perhaps a second camera will present itself by then.

Since this is my first wedding I just want to make sure I cover all the bases - get all the useable footage I can. I am married and watched my tape and have been to a few weddings so I have a basic idea of what to do. I've also seen some excellent examples and plan on buying training material to help me get started.

Any more help is greatly appreciated.

Jim
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Old April 20th, 2007, 04:26 PM   #6
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One cam shoots is all I used to do. With a VX2100 as well. Sometimes I really miss those days as they were always challenging and kept you on your toes.

Before you shoot, you really need to think of how you're going to edit *first*.

I'd recommend doing a short ceremony edit. In other words, if the whole thing takes 30 minutes in real time, plan on chopping it down to 12 or so. Take portions of the minister's dialog and timeshift it throughout the clip. Don't worry if it doesn't seem to coincide with what's happening at the moment... it'll all flow together. Forget using the original music - lay down a soft instrumental track throughout the whole piece.

With one camera you will be able to get everything except when you need to circle around to the rear center aisle as you'll have your back to most everything for about 45 seconds or so. To offset this gap in the footage do the following:

1.) Before the ceremony, get some slow panning guest shots of guests already seated and looking to the front. Closeups too.

2.) Use other filler footage like chuch windows, flowers, statues, etc.

Insert this footage during those lags and overlay it with some of the minister's dialog.

Try to record everything from up front (side) until it's time for the vows then circle around to the rear if you have the time. A single camera off to one side will only get one person's face. In situations like this, I always thought it best to at least get both people from the center.

Know the cue for when the vows are about to take place -learn it at the rehearsal.

As suggested, it would be nice to have even a single-chipper set to wide in the rear just in case. Borrow one from a relative. You might not use any of the footage but then again, you might have to.

P.S. Throw the Shotgun mic in the trash or leave it at home. If you use it on that VX you're cutting off all chances of getting ambient sound with the cam's internal mic which is much better for this kind of stuff.
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Old April 20th, 2007, 04:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bucciferro View Post
Hi. I got my first wedding booked for August. Since I am a one-man operation I was hoping to get some tips from those of you seasoned professionals who are or were in a similar situation.

I have a Sony VX-2100, a Rode Videomic, an Azden wireless, and assorted support equipment.
I want to do a good job but I am not sure how to be everywhere at once.

Any ideas would be helpful.

Thanks
Jim
That's the beauty of getting multiple point of views. I still film single camera weddings and other than my recent purchase of a VX2100, have been using TRV-840 D8's and use the on-camera mics. Others may cringe at that, but my cameras produced great looking video (except in low light) and it also matters what you do in post prouduction. I edit in FCP (used to use FCE, and even my first for pay wedding in iMovie) output the final product in DVDSP (and the early one's in iDVD). I always show potential clients my previous work and they love it (so they know what I'm capable of producing with the hardware I have) and they love their final product. I don't do this for a living (ie. to pay the mortgage, kids braces, food on the table, ect..), but do own my own video company where it's a one man show, me. I also just got a MicroMemo for recording audio to my iPod and that is a nice addition for the audio.

It's all how you look at it I guess, but my customers have been very happy with the work I've done for them and the quality of their video. Produce a quality product, and it doesn't matter what you use to film it. The VX2100 has been a welcome addition to my productions.

I offer two camera coverage as well and now that I have three cameras will add that option, but still do film one camera weddings, so don't get discouraged. Each situation is unique, so what doesn't work for others may work for you.

Grant
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Old April 20th, 2007, 07:40 PM   #8
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Thanks again for the great advice.
I also will definitely get a monopod - it seems indispensible for this kind of event.

I have a question. I will most likely mic the groom. If I have the mic plugged into the camera then I lose the on camera mic - or shotgun. Does anyone know of a good mini pin mic mixer?
I have the CAM3 mic mixer but it makes the signal weaker than without it. Is there a better option for mini pin mics?

Thanks
Jim
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 12:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bucciferro View Post
I have a question. I will most likely mic the groom. If I have the mic plugged into the camera then I lose the on camera mic - or shotgun. Does anyone know of a good mini pin mic mixer?
I have the CAM3 mic mixer but it makes the signal weaker than without it. Is there a better option for mini pin mics?
After all this you say you will "most likely" mic the groom? :)

And I wouldn't give you 2 cents for mixing audio at a live event. Running another audio source over the groom's feed is asking for disaster IMO.

Place the wireless mic on the groom and forget using the onboard audio on the VX. You'll want to monitor this anyway. You can "unplug" the mini-jack from the camera if you want when there's no dialog just to get ambient sound with the onboard mic but I wouldn't recommend it because you'll be using the wireless to pick up the minister as well.

I'm assuming you don't want to buy an XLR adapter for that VX ($150) which would give you the ability to record 2 seperate audio sources but that's what I do. Groom on one channel, whatever else I want on the other. (usually another wireless from the church's sound system)

And we keep coming back to that 2nd camera, even a crappy single chipper. These things might not give you much usable footage but there's your second audio source (at least for ambient sound). During my "interesting" days, I used one that had pixel burnout just for this purpose. Then it served as my tape deck.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 09:05 AM   #10
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The groom

Hey Rick,
Yes, yes. I will mic the groom. I suppose I will have to go out and buy some more sound equipment. I only have a Rode Videomic and the Azden WMS-Pro wireless kit. I'll probably get the Beachtex DX4, but then I'll need adapters for the mics.

I have a iRiver IFP 790. I was going to experiment with attaching a wireless to the groom and attaching its receiver to the 790. Since the 790 has a mic and a line input it should be fairly straight forward.

What do you use for wired and wireless mics?

As for the crappy DV camera I have a Sony HC20 that I could put on a tripod and place out of the way. Another VX would be better, of course.

Thanks
Jim
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 10:49 AM   #11
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I have a iRiver IFP 790. I was going to experiment with attaching a wireless to the groom and attaching its receiver to the 790. Since the 790 has a mic and a line input it should be fairly straight forward.
I would still just feed that Azden from the groom direct to the VX and put the iRiver on the minister (or podium). I think you're too worried about keeping that mic jack on the VX free when the dialog on the altar is what you really need to get here.

And I certainly hope you don't intend on using that RODE at the ceremony. Again, it's useless. (I know because I own one). Unless you're literally standing between the couple it won't pick up any usable dialog. And it's not designed for ambient sound because of the tight pattern. The only times I've used mine is:

1.) during the formal photo shoot (folks sometimes say something you'd like to keep)

2.) Cutting of the cake (same reason).

Otherwise, it was a useless purchase for weddings. It's fine for a stationary camera during a close up interview because that's what it is designed for but it will pick up every movement of your camera and you'll hear an audible thump each time you touch the pan handle. (crappy shockmount)

Quote:
What do you use for wired and wireless mics?
I use the Sennheiser G2 wireless system. At the reception the only external mic I have is an e604 drum mic placed on a mic stand in front of a DJ's speaker. I feed this to a wireless and put a "Y" splitter on the transmitter with an iRiver attached for a backup.

And don't underestimate the audio circuitry of these "crap" cams. Churches are designed for echo and acoustics so they can get some great sound.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 11:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jim Bucciferro View Post
Hey Rick,
Yes, yes. I will mic the groom. I suppose I will have to go out and buy some more sound equipment. I only have a Rode Videomic and the Azden WMS-Pro wireless kit. I'll probably get the Beachtex DX4, but then I'll need adapters for the mics.

I have a iRiver IFP 790. I was going to experiment with attaching a wireless to the groom and attaching its receiver to the 790. Since the 790 has a mic and a line input it should be fairly straight forward.

What do you use for wired and wireless mics?

As for the crappy DV camera I have a Sony HC20 that I could put on a tripod and place out of the way. Another VX would be better, of course.

Thanks
Jim
Jim,

For what it's worth, here's what I do...

First, to let you know where I'm coming from, I've tried many combinations of wired and wireless, location mixed and unmixed audio.

The best combination (for me) is a groom's wireless to the main camera (so I can monitor the sound) and the second camera's 'on-camera' mic. This seems to (again, for me) give the best combination of good pastor/groom/bride audio that can be post-mixed with the ambient from cam 2. It's proven to be a reliable, quick, (set-up/tear-down) light weight, and compact way of doing things. Now, just so you know, from time to time I'll have weddings that NEED the extra mic or two, so I always have the gear handy (usually in the truck) to do a mixed audio feed to my main camera. But camera 2 ALWAYS gets the ambient sound. If the video footage from your cam 2 is 'crappy', that's ok. As I've said elsewhere, something is better than nothing! (But upgrade as soon as you can afford to.)

Since you mentioned that you have the iRiver, I've used these and they work best for me as a back-up system. Typically, I'll put it on the pastor. If it's a Catholic mass, he'll be moving around a lot and you'll really NEED the iRiver on him.

Good Luck!

Mark
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Old April 24th, 2007, 05:02 AM   #13
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Thanks guys. This is great advice. I am definitely learning a lot.
I've been testing the Azden WMS-Pro wireless mics and I am not impressed with the sound - it's very low unless I place the mics almost near my mouth.

I've been looking at the Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 (EW100ENG) wireless mic system. How do these mics perform in comparison to the Azden mics?

Jim
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Old April 24th, 2007, 06:35 AM   #14
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Depends on which Azden you compare. Again, I've been using the 500UDR (2 systems) for about 5 years with 100% reliability-I know folks that use the Senn with the same perfomance. You have to compare apples to apples and organges to organges. The low end Azden which is what the WMS-Pro is will not stand up to the Sennheisers or the higher end Azdens, or the AT 101s.
If you like the features of the the Sennheiser then by all menas get that-if you do saty with Azden make sure it's at least the 500U although from what I understand the new 300 series is a nice setup.
Don
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Old April 24th, 2007, 12:24 PM   #15
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I've been looking at the Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 (EW100ENG) wireless mic system. How do these mics perform in comparison to the Azden mics?
I've never used anything else besides the Senn G2's so I can't compare. I think it's safe to say these are the most common units in use for weddings though. (It sure seems like it). I have 2 units and neither has ever failed to deliver crisp, clean sound. Another nice thing about them is they have a frequency scanner built in to find a clean, unused channel. They'll run over 8 hours on inexpensive AA batteries too - another plus when you change them out for every shoot like I do.

Keep in mind that the FCC is supposed to be revamping the UHF frequencies in 2009 (I think) so there's talk of these things being obsolete but I don't agree with that completely. At least that change won't happen overnight anyway.
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