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


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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:40 PM   #1
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Big Camera or Little Cameras

I've been shooting weddings in Utah for the past year and a half with a DVX100A. I've really enjoyed it and thus far I've only needed the one camera (nature of the beast in Utah, ask if you want details). Well, last night I turned on my well-cared for cam and it started making a funky grinding noise. As near as I can isolate it, the noise seems to be coming from the image stabilizer inside. It's not very loud, but it's there and it gets picked up by the onboard mic. I don't use the onboard mic for much, but from what I've read this sound is a precursor to a lens assembly failure which costs over $1,000 to fix.

With that said, I'm wondering if I should move along and get some new cameras. Though it is a smaller cam, the Canon HV20 is rather appealing, as it will shoot 1080p in 24p. I really like the look of 24p, and if I could afford it I'd get an HVX200. Budget being where it is, I'm considering getting two HV20's. The reason I am considering this is because I'd be able to offer HD videos in 24p. Another major factor is that I now work for a conference center that hosts quite a few weddings and I'm beginning to pull in some more business from that and I need a second cam.

My major concern is this: do clients look down on smaller form-factor cameras? I have never had anyone doubt that my DVX is professional (or at least much more expensive than Uncle Bob's video camera) when I get it out to film. However, the HV20 is much smaller. I've looked at the imagery and I think it is great. But there is also my professional image that I have to maintain. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. I did search the forum before posting, but I didn't find anything that seemed helpful. If anyone knows of other threads that discuss this please just point me that way and I'd be happy to read them. Thanks again.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 02:14 PM   #2
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Hi Mike -

There have been a few people posting their rigs in the HV20 forum - poke around there a bit. I posted my bracket setup without all the other add-ons on the HC7 forum here. Comment I got on that this weekend at a shoot was "wow, that looks very 'Star Trek'". I believe this indicated the rig looked sufficiently high tech to pass muster <wink>.

One thing you could consider is using your dying DXV as a "dummy" camera - IOW, for any dummy that thinks you can't get great video from the small camera, point to that one... put it on an old tripod, point it in the right direction and then use the smaller cams to get the shot! Worst case, if it still runs, use it for cutaway footage until it dies. I've mixed in a bit of SD footage with passable results, but wouldn't recommend it unless absolutely needed...

Properly outfitted with a WA lens that you probably will use in most cases, a outboard mic of some sort (or WL receiver), maybe an external light and all of this on a bracket or stabilizer rig, and most people won't have much to say - it "looks" the part.

I myself like that the smaller cameras are more discreet, much easier to handhold for longer periods, and are a bit cheaper, so you can have a couple - more cams running = more potentially great footage to use!

I'm experimenting with an HV20 - still have some reservations with the camera, but for the price it's not bad. I'll still go with the Sony HC7 for the LANC and better build quality, but the HV20 has it's place - if you want the 24p and have the edit workflow figured out (it's coming...), the HV20 is an amazing cam for the money. Plan on spending a few bucks to "accessorize" and you should be able to pass it off as a "pro" camera.

Be aware that the zoom and focus controls on the little cams leave a lot to be desired if that's an important part of your shooting technique, other than that, once you learn the controls, they are farily versatile!

DB>)
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Old May 15th, 2007, 02:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Hi Mike -
One thing you could consider is using your dying DXV as a "dummy" camera - IOW, for any dummy that thinks you can't get great video from the small camera, point to that one... put it on an old tripod, point it in the right direction and then use the smaller cams to get the shot! Worst case, if it still runs, use it for cutaway footage until it dies. I've mixed in a bit of SD footage with passable results, but wouldn't recommend it unless absolutely needed...

DB>)
Thanks for your thoughts Dave. I appreciate it. This part up above (using the DVX as a dummy) was something I'd been considering as well. Especially on events where I need to record sound through XLR jacks, I can still use the DVX as a good "audio deck". The small cams just don't have the same audio capabilities as the larger ones, so that would still be nice. Any other thoughts?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 02:42 PM   #4
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I've been happy with the HV20 in combo with several XH-A1s. I don't think it makes a big difference when used with the bigger cams as I often through the HV20 very highup or in odd positions, so the small size really makes sense. If I was shooting with just a couple Hv20s, I do think I would get a completely different response from the couple and the guests. I do find that you get less respect, in general, from the guests when your using smaller cams. When I have the steadicam, people are very friendly and try to stay out of the way but with a small hand held cam, they often don't mind standing right in front of us.

I would also consider the clients expectations when seeing those smaller cams. If it were me, I would be concerned when seeing consumer cams come out, and would therefore be more likely to find flaws in the final product or ask for minor changes. On the other hand, if you look and work professionally and with 'pro' equipment, you often set up their expectations in the opposite way and they will focus more on all the things they love about the final product.

One last note, the Hv20 is an amazing buy I think, but I would not feel anywhere close to comfortable using it for a wedding. The controls are very hard to operate and it has far too few options for my taste. A great backup cam though.

Patrick
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Old May 15th, 2007, 04:15 PM   #5
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One last note, the Hv20 is an amazing buy I think, but I would not feel anywhere close to comfortable using it for a wedding. The controls are very hard to operate and it has far too few options for my taste. A great backup cam though.

Patrick
Thanks for the thoughts Patrick. The small form-factor does lend itself more to a "secondary" or "backup" cam. That's one thing I'm concerned about (obviously). One other thing, which you mentioned above, was the controls. Coming off a DVX where you have manual control over almost anything critical it would be difficult to make the switch. I used a friend's GL-2 once and it bugged me to death. The exposure and focus controls were most annoying (exposure more than focus, to be fair). Thank you for your honest assessment. I really appreciate it. I may just have to get a DVX100B to go along with my dying 100A.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 04:36 PM   #6
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Hi again Mike -

The HV20 would probably drive you crazy control wise - ANY small camera is going to be a bit fiddly - there's simply nowhere to put manual controls, so anything is going to be in a nested menu, buried somewhere, or run by a kludgy wheel/button/joystick... that's not to say I don't find the Sony HC7 and the touchscreen interface fast and effective for what I need to do - the HV20 is not nearly as effective for me, but I've had several Sony touchscreen cams and have pretty well figured out how to use them effectively. I'm trying to log some time with the HV20 to see if I can get comfortable with it - it's been awkward to my hands, but time will tell.

Looks do matter to some degree, and depending on your market and fees, you may need the big cam to "justify" your prices. and the HV20 definitely does not look OR feel expensive - quite the opposite actually.

The HC7 LOOKS like an expensive minaturized high tech device... the HV20 looks like any run of the mill $300 BobCam... and to me feels like one too. The video, well it's pretty nice, and in the end if you can produce great output, it really shouldn't matter WHAT you shoot with...

There certainly is that issue of "impression", and if you are charging high $, impressions do count - you'll have to evaluate your market. Of course if a couple HV20's allow you to stealth your way into "higher end"/HD "markets", and you can get a "real" camera for "show" on the proceeds...

I worked my way up to a higher end cam, but am finding the local markets wont' support the "big gun", and am going back to small cams - I can get the little ones to do what I want... hard to justify lugging a big rig around.

DB>)
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Old May 16th, 2007, 12:03 PM   #7
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Thanks again for your thoughts Dave. I've got an older Sony TRV19 that is touchscreen controlled as well, and so I'm familiar with Sony's controls. Not too bad, but I like the manual control of the DVX. You get what you pay for I guess.

Right now I am in a really low paying market. Most people think they can either "do it themselves" or they just don't make a video a priority. So I could probably get away with a small camera, I'm just not sure if that's what I want to do. I'll probably see how long the DVX lasts and then move from there. The images I'm seeing from the HV20 are rather awesome. I'm surprised at such good quality out of a small cam.

If you don't mind my asking, Dave, how much does your average wedding package go for? Just trying to gauge your market against mine.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 01:43 PM   #8
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I know this might be a little late on a response, but the "gear" makes all the difference with the guests at the wedding/reception also. Try to nudge your way around in a group with Uncle Bob's handycam and see how many staredowns you get from Aunt Erma. But then make your way through the same crowd with a Smooth Shooter and a VX2100 flying and you will be treated differetly. They will be more like "Whoa, I need to get of the tracks before the train runs me over."
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