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Old August 7th, 2002, 12:05 AM   #1
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Should I be using a video light or not? I need your tricks of the trade...

Hi everyone,
Well, some of you might have read my introduction when I first joined this forum, but I'll just give you a refresher. I have an education in still photography and have just been hired to start a videography wing of an Entertainment company here in Santa Cruz, California. (It's a DJ service and 90% of my business will be weddings)

Ok, with that said, I am finding that shooting moving pictures a whole new challenge over shooting still pictures. Of course, there is the obvious... people moving and stuff, but here's the new problem I'm having.

I am used to being able to control the light. Not totally of course, but if I am taking a photo of a person with the light behind them, I can simply use a fill flash to make up the difference. The subject isn't being too distracted by a quick flash of light that last 1/60 of a second. Video lighting is a whole new issue. If I am filming (or videoing) a person against a light background, should I be using a fill light on the subject or should I adjust the exposure to consider the subject and damn the back ground?

I want a natural look of course, but I don't want harsh shadows and washed out backgrounds. Then again, I don't want to distract my subjects with a video light when they're trying to get married.

Is there a special filter that I can use to trick the camera into thinking that it is indoors when it is really outdoors to try to tone down the contrast? I'm interested in learning some of the tricks of the trade...

Also, I have a Canon GL 1. The light for this camera is a VL 10i. What experiences have you guys had with this light? Is it bright enough to work as a fill light without looking too weird? Also, how is it in darker rooms? Just curious.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 06:37 AM   #2
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Sometimes, just using a reflector to bounce some extra light is all you need. Then, other times, you may actually need a fill light. It depends on your shoot, and how you want it to come out. You should eventually get a light kit either way, if this is going to be more than a passing hobby.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 02:34 PM   #3
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I don't think I'd go for an on-camera light for weddings (though to be honest, I've never shot one). On-camera lights give you that flat, ugly light that you see occasionally on TV. Sort of the same look that you get from a still camera flash in a too dark room. Harsh.

To get really high quality video images, you have to control the light just like you would for stills. You might want to take a look at some of the books on lighting for digital video since this is a pretty complex topic area. Reflectors are a great tool, and may be all you need in some situations. In other spots, some sort of extra lighting may be required. Weddings, of course, come with unique problems since they are busy getting married rather than working to give you a great image.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 03:25 PM   #4
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I do work weddings often. I am a DJ/MC. The company I work for has decided to branch off into wedding videography. Since I have a background with photography and film, (Linerar editing... cutting room floor, hey, your standing on my film! Get the hell out of here!) I was the man for the job!
I have seen several videographers from different companies use all different types of equipment. Everything from those HUGE Sony DV cameras with a fuel injected V8 to the small TRV 900's. (Personally, I avoid Sony equipment if I can avoid it because it doesn't fit me. Sorry Sony guys... Same reason I don't drive a Honda. It doesn't feel like an extension of myself. Both Sony and Honda make EXCELLENT equipment, but hey, not for me... but I digress...)
These videographers often use a video light for the reception when people are dancing. We turn the lights down low for dancing and the poor video guys (now I'm one of them) have to do what they can to make it work.

As far as the ceremony goes... I have never seen a video guy use a light or a reflection panel. The PHOTOGRAPHERS on the other hand get to use all this stuff. That's why I thought I could use the video light to give my subjects a bit of a push to make the light a little more even. Yes, this will take away from the 3D of the image, but this is my logic...

These people are paying A LOT of money to get married in these outdoor settings with the scenery. You see, I live in a beach town and no one gets married in a church. They all get married on the beach or with the ocean in the back ground. I can't sacrifice the background for the brides face or the detail of her dress... At the same time, I NEED to get the brides face AND the detail of her dress. So you see the dilema. If this were a still photo, I could dodge and burn it in the dark room, but I can't do 29.97 of these per second.

I guess I'll just do some experimentation. Thanks for the input and I'll let you know what I come up with. The reflection panel might be perfect... If I could only keep it out of site.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 06:15 PM   #5
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There is a Photoshop trick I learned for fixing too dark images, and have even had moderate success with it in Premiere.

In Photoshop, you take your dark picture, and make a copy of it on the layer above. Then, adjust the tranparency to screen on the top layer, and by adjusting the transparancy and brightness, you bring out the details in the layer beneath. I know it sounds funky, but give it a try sometime.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 07:45 PM   #6
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The last wedding I went to I paid special attention to the videographer. At this wedding there was obviously a lot of planning and scouting before hand to get everything coordinated. I should note he was part of a "wedding" team and he had 3 assistants each with a headset for constant communication. Very professional and well executed.

He always had his artificial lights on the action and because of this, those extremely bright lights became unobtrusive because they gave people a better view of the "action".

Pre-ceremony the lights were on the altar and the aisle closest to the altar. He and his crew took lots of coverage B shots in both the artificial and natural lighting.

During the ceremony, the lighting was placed on the action - first when the bride walked in and down the aisle, then they were turned away from the audience towards the altar lighting the whole "show". Once again relatively unobtrusive because those lights not only helped their video but helped people see the action.

After the ceremony, the lights were kept on the altar for all the picture taking and posing. He was also able to take some artsy shots as well, I thought he was completely nuts when he started doing this swooping maneuver, where he held the camera hight then swooped low and up the bride's train to her face but it came out nice in the final video. During that time another set of lights was moved to the entrance of the church for the rice throwing ceremony.

During the reception, the videographer setup the lights in a static spot for doing interviews and at the entrance of the reception hall to get people coming in.

Another set of lights was set on the main tables, the previous lights were later to moved to the dance floor. Once again relatively unobtrusive they only turned them on when taking video or whenever there was action - speeches, dancing etc.

They also used an onboard video light on one camera to do interviews with the guests at their tables, they used the same setup for taking the "walk-around" where the bride and groom go to each table for pictures. This required a 2-person crew one camera man and one to do the interviewing.

All the time one of the crew had a video cam taking constant B shot coverage in whatever light was possible, and when there was no action going on, the main camera was switched over for B coverage as well - though they did use the same tape for efficiency I guess.

I'll have to pay closer attention next time to see if there were any special filters being used.

I do remember that the final video was heavily processed, it had a very warm glow about everything as well as the requisite gauze look in certain spots ...
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Old August 8th, 2002, 12:37 AM   #7
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I work for a mid size DJ company and we do lots of weddings. One of our packages includes a full blown light show with lasers, Vortechs, sunrays, vertigo, strobes and other effect lighting units. Now what really can roughen the light sow is when some photographer, or Cinematographer comes in with bright lights and over powers our set. It will roughen the light show for the guest’s. So if you are using lights try to keep them below 150W. I no 250W is a nice amount for a low LUX (lit) room but it just seems to over do it.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 01:28 AM   #8
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For those times when you HAVE to use an onboard light, you might consider the Frezzi Mini-Fill with dimmer switch. The dimmer switch gives you much more control, allowing you to adjust the fill to suit the setting and to mix with the available light. There's a filter for the light sold as an accessory that will also balance the ouput for daylight, so that it can be mixed with sunlight and maintain the right color balance.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 02:13 AM   #9
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For the indoor, low light reception, I don't use a light. Instead, I keep the shutter down, tripod, no panning/tilting. But with slow shutter speeds, you can get real creative: zooming in/out, panning - then zooming in to the subject/s, shooting downwards (from up high), and upwards (from very low). Like the other member says, you just got to be creative - and keep the footage interesting - vary it!
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Old August 8th, 2002, 01:52 PM   #10
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I've said it before... and I'll say it again... YOU GUYS RULE! These stories are exactly what I was looking for. Wow mikeysbistro, that sounds like quite the production. We're trying to offer a mid to low ranged price point for now. After all the weddings I have done as a DJ, only about 20% have videographers (if that) Our premise is to work for less, but get more work. Eventually, within a few years I expect, videography will be taken more seriously and I'll be ready for the high end stuff. plus I'll have a great reputation. (10 years ago, not having live music at your wedding was tacky. Now, it's the other way around and DJ's are prefered) I am going to gamble that video (DV that is) will be as important to young couples as photography. For now, if I make 50% of what those photo guys make, I'll consider myself lucky.
First step, reflection panels. Then aux lights. I like the idea of a variable adjustment on the lamp. Also, I don't have to worry about upsetting any DJ's because we work for the same company!
Thanks again you guys. Hopefully I can answer your questions soon... once I get more experience of course.
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