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


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Old July 2nd, 2007, 07:06 PM   #1
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How do I start a wedding vid business with One Good Cam?

My question is reguarding business aspects of wedding videography.

Here's the deal, I've done two weddings for free, one as 2nd cam op, and about to do one with my GL2 and my panasonic (which is a one chip) as my stationary cam.

After I get back the footage from both of these weddings i'm going to throw together a demo.

Then what? .....

I'm not getting money for these weddings, so I cannot yet invest in a 2nd 3 chip camcorder, which is my biggest worry. I want to put together a website and pricing packages, but .. can I?

I know shooting on one cam is bad, but will people be willing to pay me a decent amont for a two cam with one being a 1 chip camcorder?

Should I even offer the 2nd cam in the price or just try to do it with one camcorder for a few hundred bucks until I get enough to buy the 2nd camcorder and then rack up my prices?

As of now, I have my boyfriend doing 2nd cam for me, but he won't do it for long until I can pay him, or anyone else for that matter.

So I know some of you have started businesses with one cam, and eventually worked your way out. How did you do it?

I thought of marketing the less fortunate (people without much money) for now, so I'm at least getting paid something, and can eventually move forward.. Do you think that is a good idea?

Any help, advice, and tips are appreciated. I just feel like i'm stuck and can't move forward or charge much at all without two pro cams.
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 08:19 PM   #2
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I too started with only one camera. A PDX-10, which is a pretty decent little camcorder. However, as you've already discovered it really is necessary to have a second camera. Since I didn't have the money to go out and buy another camera, I rented.

Check out your local area and see what is available for camera rentals. Then when you book a wedding, charge the client a deposit that covers the cost of the camera rental. This way you have two cameras and don't have to go spend a fortune to buy a second camera right now.
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 08:56 PM   #3
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Good idea, why didn't I think of that earlier?! Okay the problem is, I don't think there is anywhere in my little town that rents 3 chip camcorders. I'm doing a search right now trying to find somewhere in a town nearby but I type it in, and for some reason, they keep giving me rental companies in florida or somewhere far away.

How should I type this in a search?

Generally how much is a 3chip camcorder cost to rent for a day or two?

Will it matter if the camcorder is unmanned..? I'd hate to leave the rental unmanned and have it stolen! So should I leave MINE unmanned? I'd hate to have mine stolen. I only say this because I know i won't always have someone to rely on to be my second videographer.
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 09:59 PM   #4
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One other thought; if the b&g don't mind you moving around during the ceremony, you can shoot it as a music video. This is what we did. I felt like a total distraction, and probably was, but I got shots from every angle of the ceremony because I was not interested in continuity. I also did prep and reception, so I had great footage for the video. Of course it was a free gig, and I literally opened my first FX1 that day:

http://www.legacyhdv.com/shannonvid.htm

A music video is a GREAT marketing tool. It gives couples a sample of your style.
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 10:25 PM   #5
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Years ago we all pretty much used 1 camera because that's all we could afford. Not miniDV but the OLD beta. OUCH! BUT the good news is we learned to shoot what we needed carefully.
Even today when I do my usual 2 cam gig and even sometimes 3 or 4 I also try to shoot as if I have the only camera there.what if the other(s) have a problem-or the shot gets blocked or the battery drops a cell and dies, or the tape snaps or any other of a hundrd different things that can go wrong.
It's not the number of cameras you use (we all get far too dependent on those others) it's the quality of work you do with what you have. I know a guy out east who gets far more money than I do - does 20 to 30 a year (thats all he needs to do at his prices) and uses 1 camera. Now I use the 2nd cam as a cover shot just in case only, UNLESS it's up front and has a really great shot of the B&G but in my area many churches won't let you put a camera on the altar or it's in such a bad spot that you might as well not even use it anyway. Frankly I'm tempted to go back to 1 camera coverage and be done with it. But that's me.
Don't worry about the number of cameras or if 1 is a 1 chip or what, concentrate on learning the craft - think about the shot not the tech side- make sure you get awesome audio and rock solid footage and tell the story of the day whether it's in doco form, jounalistic form or short usic video style-whatever you choose to be your style. Show the B&G GOOD quality work and they won't know or care how many cameras you have or used.
Don't get too hung up on the gear it changes every 6 months now it seems.
Just go forth and make knock-out video ;-)
Don
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 11:46 PM   #6
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Gee,

I must be inadequate or just feel like a very bad videographer after reading this!

I've been videoing weddings professionally for 12 years now in Melbourne Australia and only ever used two cameras ONCE, and that was for a double wedding!

We do about 70 - 80 a year, and all my clients get my raw footage, and usually an edited highlights, depending on the amount they pay.

About 15% go for an unedited package. (just opening and closing credits, and some tightening up of gaps in the church etc).

Most of my work these days comes from recommendations or off my website.

If you only have one good camera, then shoot it as a single camera documentary style and you will get a very good result. Many of my brides really like our style as they see themselves as the stars, not necessarily my editing style.

Cheers Vaughan
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 12:45 AM   #7
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Vaughn, you could do SO much more with a second person. Editing is more of a challenge, but you would be providing a more professional product. If it is working for you, and it sounds like it is, then no worries. We use three, and cannot imagine shooting with any less. We also serve brides with larger budgets.

Where do you position yourself?
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 01:59 AM   #8
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I position myself at the front of the aisle for the bridal entrance then it varies a bit.
If it is in a small church with several rows of seats cut in from the rest of the rows (that is, there is a wider aisle at the front of the church), I'll reserve the first seat in the first full row (usually three rows from the front) on the groom's side so I'll have an uninterrupted view of proceedings, and for the vows I'll have more of the bride's face.

If I can't sit down I'll stand (or kneel) in the aisle for the vows, usually with the photographer beside me. I work with a monopod so I'm quite flexible.
For the readings and homily I'm usually at the side/front of the church.

Often in a bigger church after the homily when the priest gets the bride and groom the come to the altar for their vows, I'll slide in the front row where the groomsmen were sitting, and do the vows from there.

P.S. thank you for your private email Dana, I've sent you a reply.

Vaughan
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 04:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenna Klingensmith View Post
So should I leave MINE unmanned? I'd hate to have mine stolen.
That will be one of your worries, ever heared the sound of a camera smashing against the ground because one of the guests or child fell over one of the legs of the tripod?
I work alone as well but have to admit that working with more camera's is allways a better option and can provide you with a better safetynet and more camera angles if you have limited time to shoot.
You only have to be prepared better if you go solo, I allways have a backup cam armed and ready in my backpack that I have on me all the time. The worst thing that can happen during a shoot is that you get a "cleaning tape" message in your viewfinder when you hit the rec button. Then you have 2 choices, you can use a tape cleaner or you can use your back up cam. Switching to my back up cam is faster in my case.
Working alone is therefore not a negative thing, you only have to think and work as if you were with 2 camera operators meaning very good preperation.
Also allways travel light, make sure that everything you need can be carried with you, I have a special vest with a lot of pockets, a manfrotto tripod which I can attach on me with a strap and as I mentioned before a backpack with a 2nd cam.
You have to be able to move quickly and be sure you have all your equipment with you, especially at the end of the ceremonie when the couple goes outside the church. NEVER leave your equipment behind because before you know it will be gone.
So just hire a decent camera to start with and calculate it in your price and buy a decent camera as soon as you can afford it, or just take a lone and buy one to start your business.
Anyway, wish you good luck with your business.
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 06:58 AM   #10
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Rental in my area for a PD150/170 is $150.
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 11:11 AM   #11
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I think my Bride is expecting nothing but a music video style video, but I wanted to give her more, at the beginning when I told her I had no way of getting the audio she was like "oh thats fine just put music on top of it"

Dana, do you still charge full price for a wedding music video? Or do you add extras to the cd to make it worth more? I like the concept of a music video, and although continuity isn't as important, i watched the video and it didn't seem like there was any continuity problems, it flowed smoothy.

On the subject of rental, so rental companies have insurance on their camareas in case it gets broken? Or do I put down a huge security deposit? Or do they make me pay in full? I'm assuming they have insurance, because obviously if I can't BUY a second cam and opt for renting, i wouldn't be able to pay for it if it got broken anyways, lol. Just a thought, please tell me they do have insurance so I'll have one less worry. I like to keep my camera attached to me, so I wouldn't want to leave mine unmanned and most likely the rental would go stationary in the back.

I should put a sign on the 2nd cam saying "be careful, don't trip, if you do, you can't try to sue me, because I have this warning sign!" lol.. just like mcdonalds marks their coffee cups "very hot!" so they don't get sued. lol. i don't know why i even brought that up? lol.
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 11:45 AM   #12
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Jenna, I would want to sue *them* -- or at least get an apology. If I was playing football in the parking lot and smashed someone's window, I would feel obligated to pay for their window.

I started out with music videos only, and did five for free. It built me a portfolio, but every one of them wanted a whole lot more than the music video. Brides who don't hire videographers experience regret from the lost memories. If you were there, they will want everything they can get from you. Be prepared.

I flew back from vacation early to film a freebie for one of these brides, who was marrying at a resort that I wanted referrals from. I filmed the wedding and provided her three-camera, continuous ceremony coverage for free. I had only promised her that. I had also filmed before and after the wedding, but couldn't really use it. Because I did not edit and provide for her the additional footage she called the resort and complained that I had 'hijacked' her wedding and that she had 'hired' me and I was unprofessional. She called my home incessantly, leaving nasty messages for my wife to hear. Then more recently she threatened to sue me and report me to the Better Business Bureau. Because we didn't have our LLC ready, I finally abliged her and met her to give her the extra footage. She rolled up in a nice BMW and took the DVD, and I silently prayed for her new husband. She never paid me a dime, and I will never get a referral from the resort. (BTW, I swear she has mafia connections as well from who showed up at the wedding.)
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 12:38 PM   #13
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On the subject of rentals, yes you are responsible for the camera if you damage or lose it. Just like any other rental, be it a car or what not. Some rental places offer insurance, just like cars incase of accidental damage.

Find a local rental place in your area and call to find out more details.
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 12:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
Years ago we all pretty much used 1 camera because that's all we could afford. Not miniDV but the OLD beta. OUCH! Don

What's Beta? Is that a hand crank video camera? :)
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 02:13 PM   #15
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Heh, close Steven. I had a "grip" crank it for me ;-)

To all others, I admit that shooting with 2 or 3 cameras offers the opportunity to use some better angles but I don't agree it makes one more professional. After 24 years and over 1100 weddings I like to think I'm as professional as they get and produce a professional product, but that's not the point. Too many people depend on the 2nd or 3rd camera when they should be depending on the primary camera. Again, if the others crap out for whatever reason you've still got the weidding. Maybe not as creative but it's still there, solid as a rock and all the events of the ceremony covered.
As far as people tripping on a camera again in all the years I've NEVER had that happen. The 2nd camera is either on the altar OR in the balconey depending on the church and officiant. The few times it's been on the floor level I try to put it in a place next to a column or corner where I know noone would be sitting, standing or walking without having a real purpose to go into that area.
Jenna as for renting if you don't have insurance most companies can sell it to you for the duration of the rental. Without it IF something were to happen to the gear you are responsible.

Don
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