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Ben Creighton October 13th, 2011 10:01 PM

Tips for solo shooters
 
It looks like, at least for a while, I'll need to shoot my weddings solo. And while I have some basic ideas of how I plan to go about it, I can always use the tips from the experts on this board. I mean, I know of course that I'll have to lock down 1 or 2 cameras and run another myself. But beyond the obvious, I am curious about, among other things:

After the ceremony, how do you shut down all your cameras, retrieve your lav mic(s), pack everything up, and get to the reception without missing key moments? (Do you leave the groom mic'ed?) I am a bit paranoid about security/theft, so I can see myself lugging a camera and tripod to the car, unlocking it, putting the stuff away, locking the car, and then having to do that again! I'd be lucky to make it in time for the first dance...

If you have to lock down 2 cams, do you use one wide from the back, and another aimed at... the parents? Or close up on the bride?

Do you couple your lav mic with your handheld cam, so you can monitor sound?

Okay, etc. etc., you see what I am getting at here, no need to ask every question I can think of. I'd just like to get the "ebb and flow" logic, so to speak, from those of you who do, and have done, weddings solo.

Gregory Lee October 13th, 2011 10:56 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Yes, I have to make multiple trips to the car (usually 4-5 trips) to put everything away. If there are photo shoots after the ceremony, it means having to miss some of that to put my equipment away. That way I can get to the reception before they make their entrance.

Joe Thompson October 14th, 2011 02:38 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hi Ben,

As a solo shooter myself, with just one wedding under my belt, I'm not exactly sure If I "qualify" to respond really, but I'll jump in here, seeing as the rest of the world is either asleep, capturing weddings, or out drinking..

Reaching that comfort zone with your clients before their wedding is KEY. You'll be much more relaxed, and so will they. Know the running order in advance, agreeing the coverage in advance, and visiting the venues in advance, will help you avoid "missing key moments".

As a solo shooter, you need to realise that moments will be missed, but seeing as you emphasised "key moments" below, the only way to avoid this entirely is stay as close as possible to the bride, capture their story without gaps, and get back to the venue before them, but watch those speeding tickets enroute:-).

As above, if you keep good comms with your couple leading up to the event, you can determine if they want you there for their photo shoot, or if they'd prefer you back at the reception before them, capturing guest arrivals, and the scenes that they'll miss themselves. (One area where having a second shooter adds further production value.)

The lav mic's must be returned after the ceremony, so perhaps just give the groom a heads up on this, during pre-event planning. Some can be bulky, but other devices can go off with the groom, so just catch him at a good time afterwards. (The last thing you want, is them sneaking off for funny business, after their photo shoot, with your G3 still recording ....that would be a disaster to edit haha)

They is no easy solution regarding gear for a solo shooter. I'm in the process of trying to pack & organise myself better for up coming weddings, and have just got a shootsac for starters. I'm also training a couple of monkeys up from the local zoo, but keep it to one trip if you can. Just make sure you get there an hour beforehand, to set up, and take any shots that you need from the slider etc. Just bring along what you need to tell the story, the bare essentials, and leave the creativity for a few weddings until it becomes second nature. I made that mistake during first wedding.

Lastly, I'd keep your bread and butter camera at the back, possible with a 70 - 200 f/2.8 if you have one. You should possible position Camera B on the grooms side, focusing over the grooms shoulder at the start, to capture processional, but moved back as soon as the exchange is over. The brides face is always more attractive to look at than the grooms, and with a 3rd camera in time, you can cover both sides. Just my opinion.

Best of luck with it Ben. It's all fun and games really!!!!

Don Bloom October 14th, 2011 05:24 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
I've been solo forever. The first thing I can tell you is SLOW DOWN!!!!! While a wedding moves along it isn't lightning and doesn't run at 200mph. Take a breath, slow down.
As for camera placement I can't say. Every church, every venue is different. Every officiant is different. Get to the venue early enough to get your B footage and then figure out where you need and want to place your cameras. Have a game plan in your head but also have a plan B and a plan C. I know some here say, don't talk to the officiant just do your thing. Others give the officiant the courtesey of telling me what I can and can't do. I've been around far too long to get thrown out of a church. I've seen it happen. One guy goes in to the church does what he wants, pisses off the officiant and next week when I go in he takes it out on me. I'm just sayin'.
I never have a handheld camera. No one can run a Catholic full mass ceremony start to finish handheld. Get a tripod. Monitor your lav which means it goes to your A camera. If you don't monirtor how do you know it's working properly. I know some say that if it isn't working right you can't fix it anyway. Well that's not entirely true. You might have forgotten to turn on the receiver, or even plug into the camera. At worst if the mic pak goes out then at least you know.
As for getting my gear after, the photog always does pics at the church after the ceremony and by the time the guests get out of the church (I leave my A camera running and go and get my B/C cameras and my 2nd mic pak which is on the pulpit-I just put the tripods by my bags and leave it until I get to them later) I grab the lav off the groom before they do a walkout of the church (which takes all of 5 seconds) get the walk out then back in for pics. I set up 1 or 2 shots for myself then pack my gear while the photog is still working the groups of family. It takes about 3 minutes to pack up. Maybe I'm faster than most maybe it's my routine, maybe it's just not that hard to do. 2 or 3 tripods to collapse, pack 2 cameras into bags (grab tapes first) pack audio gear in A cam bag (takes the longest since I want to pak the mic paks and lavs carefully about 1 minute total). I still have 1 camera out and am ready to shoot whatever then into the bag when the photog is done and everyone is leaving. I load out to my car and off to the reception. Cocktail time is generally out of the actual room so I have plenty of time to get my B footage, from escort cards to exteriors to menu boards to the uncut cake to details of the tables and lots of people during the pre-party time.
Guys, it really isn't that hard, it's time managament and knowing in your head what you need to shoot. the slower you go the faster you work, IOW, a steady pace keeping your head in the game means fewer if any mistakes. No gear left behind and all the footage you need. When you run at 100 mph with your hair on fire thats when things happen, none of them good. Gears gets lost, shots get missed.
One last thing. I'm 5'6"...165 pounds (give or take a couple) smoke like a chimney, not in the best shape at all (not like when I was 22, in the US Army, jumped out of airplanes and could catch a bullet in my teeth ---I'm kidding about the last thing) and oh yeah, I'm 65! I use soft bags for my cameras, I carry 3 tripods, 3 cameras and generally a set of dolly wheels all at once for ceremonys. I hate making 2 trips. I am also concerned about theft, however, even in Chicago most churches are fairly safe and if they're not then I wouldn't be there anyway. In all my time I have never had anything stolen. Close but....
Relax, take a breath, it's not as hard as we all want to make it out to be. I'm not saying it's not hard but folks, it ain't rocket science.
Just my $.03 worth (adjusted for inflation)

Chris Harding October 14th, 2011 05:39 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Ummm nowdays Don it's probably closer to your dollar's worth !!! When we started you could actually buy something with 2 cents!! Over here our smallest is 5 cents and programmed to be scrapped soon too!!

I shoot solo except when I have groom and bride prep at the same time ..then I have a 2nd shooter (a lady) do the girls for me! The rest is my baby.

For me the number one skill is planning and getting the bride to stick to your schedule!! I arrive at the Church 30 mins (absolute minimum!!!) if I'm also doing the bridal prep...if the bride isn't in her dress when I have to leave then "tough luck" it doesn't get included...I make sure that I tell her ...I want you in your dress by 2pm cos I'm outa here at 2:15pm whether you are finished or not!!!
If I start from the Church, I'm there an hour early!!! Before the big day the bride MUST know your schedule!! Tell her exactly what you will be doing and when so she knows your schedule!!

What I do after the ceremony is leave the fixed cam on the tripod and go straight out and film the couple being congratulated ...the groom's lav is still on his jacket. Once congrats is over, I pull off the lav and transmitter and hand the couple over to the photog for formal photos...this gives me enough time to pack up the camera in the Church, remove the lav and transmitter from the lectern and put it all in the car.

Then it's onto the photoshoot where I'm using just the stedicam and one camera on it!!!

I built myself a neat custom trolley so I can take everything from the car to the Church or car to the Reception in one load...It's basically an aluminium square tube frame on wheels and has two levels...cameras go into custom cutouts in foam on the top ...cases go on the bottom shelf and I have two "U" brackets under the top shelf for tripods and stands!! It really does save me a HUGE amount of time!!!!

Chris

Ben Creighton October 14th, 2011 09:55 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Don, when I said "handheld", I guess I really meant with a monopod. I want to become proficient with my 7D and move about with it. No way I would do that handheld - especially with a non-IS lens. (I am leaning towards the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 for about $700, versus the Canon L series IS for $2,300!) I am on a first name basis with virtually every clergy in this town, so I don't expect to clash with anyone; although I don't plan to limit myself to working only in this town. But for the most part, I get along pretty good with these guys so I don't expect to ruffle any feathers. I'll behave. :)

Chris, I like your thought of "getting the bride to stick to your schedule", although I'm not sure if you meant that tongue-in-cheek or not! My biggest concern is not having someone, preferably a lady, to shoot the bridal prep stuff. I did it by myself successfully once, but that was when the B&G were getting ready in the same hotel, just a few doors away from each other. Anyway, I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it. As I said before, I have a pretty good idea in my head of how I hope to make things flow, but all these tips are invaluable. There's no substitute for experience. I love learning from yours, and I can't wait to get some more under my belt.

Anything else??

Don Bloom October 14th, 2011 10:03 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hey Ben,
Wow, I really butchered my spelling. Sorry. I didn't think you meant handheld and with the DSLR the monopod can work. I agree knowing the clergy helps big time but when you don't know them use their names when talking to a clergy you don't know. It's really a small community of people and many know one another and even if they don't throwing a couple of names out can't hurt.
I agree with Chris about the schedule. If I'm not doing prep I tell the bride when I'll be at the venue and what my plan is for that part of the day and in just about every case they tell me "great, someone with a plan, let's stick to it". Of course it's a wedding and rarely does it go totally as planned but if you're within 5 to 10 minutes of the "timeline" you're golden.
Anyway it seems like you have a game plan so stick to it, try it a couple of times and be ready to make "adjustments" in your game plan and you should be fine.

Noa Put October 14th, 2011 10:29 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Like Don said; "slow down" :) it's very easy to make mistakes when you operate alone under pressure, in my country there is no prep time when you go to church, you unload your stuff and arrive in the church at the same time that the couple is waiting outside, ready to enter.
I always ask them to wait for me as I have to mic the groom before he enters, In church I always use my main camera on a tripod, a second unmanned camera on a tripod, a zoom h1, h4 and a iriver.

First thing I do is set up my main camera and point that one to the church entrance and let it record, then I start setting up the second tripod/camera (a small sony xr520 and a light tripod) which I place beside my main camera and point that one to the priest and let that one record, in that way I can always monitor what that camera "sees".

Then I place a zoom h1 on the altar, I attached a iriver with clipon mic (using a verlcro tape) to the reading chair (don't know the right name for it but it's the place (beside the altar) where the priest and guests read.)
And when there are people singing I use my zoom h4 with a mini tripod.

The reason why I point my main camera towards the entrance is if I don't manage to get everything ready in time I at least have the groom entering the church.

For me the church is the most stressfull part of the day but I always take my time to double check that everything is recording, even if they "forget" about me and just enter the church while I'm still stetting up, I need to be 100% sure at start that everything is set up right because once teh ceremony starts I"m not able to do that anymore.

After that I switch to dslr's for the reception, one dslr stays permanent on a blackbird steadicam and one dslr is on a tripod. In that way I can quickly switch between wideangle or close shots (I have a 14mm and a 85mm for that)

Preparation in the morning depends if I use a regular camera or dslr, if it starts real early at the hairdresser I use a dslr for fancy shots but if it starts at their parents place I just take the regular cam, because the groom sees his bride there for the first time I don't like taking the risk of missing that shot with a dslr when light conditions are though. The groom always arrives at the front door, rings the bell and the bride gets out, if you have sun and shade where they stand it's virtually impossible to get the exposure right in realtime with a dslr.

I avoid mixing dslr and "regular" camera as much a possible because the look is too different, that's why I do the church completely with a regular cam and from reception on completely with a dslr, th edifferent parts of the day will have a different look but that doesn't show that much as when you would mix constantly.

And if you operate 2 camera's, ALWAYS operate your main camera as if it was your only one, the second unmanned camera could have a wrong frame or you might bump into it or whatever, I just turn it to the priest and leave it alone so I have a safety.

When the chruch ceremony is over I take the xr520 from it's tripod and put it in a small bag the size of that camera which is attached to my belt, I never leave it behind when I follow the couple outside, I also take the h1 and h4 which I place in my pocket. All the rest I leave inside and pick that up after the couple has left the church. I have the most valuable gear with me so theft risk is minimal.

Ben Creighton October 14th, 2011 10:51 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
There are so many good tips and thoughts here, now I have a question which merits starting another thread, rather than go off topic here!

As far as using a DSLR on a tripod; I believe the 7D is limited to 12 minutes of continuous recording so you certainly can't use that camera as a lock down.

Of course every church is different, but most have an upstairs seating area or choir loft. Do you guys like the footage you get from a locked down camera at that high angle? Do you zoom in to just get, say, the wedding party, as opposed to a full wide view? Am I annoying the crap out of you with all these questions? ;)

I plan to run 3 cameras, 1 or 2 lav mics and at least 1 zoom h4. Remind me to make a checklist so I don't leave anything behind!

Long Truong October 14th, 2011 01:16 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
What style of wedding coverage are you going for? This will give a fair idea of how you will most likely operate your cameras.

I personally make short form cinematic wedding films a so I normally need to move around alot to get many short clips from different angles as opposed to the traditional documentary style which generally involves filming longer continuous clips and fewer filming angles.

When I shoot preps, I have my 7D on monopod and basically move around a lot. I shoot short 2-4 seconds clips and move around to get wide, medium tight shots and try to capture the same action from many different angles. In post, when I put the clips together, it will seem like there were many cameras shooting the same action from different position but it's basically just me changing position between each shot.

If I have no assistant, I will have to make sure that the bride and groom don't get ready at the same time to give myself enough time to cover both sides. For example, I would be at the groom's house in the morning to cover his preps (putting on tux, shoes, ties, etc.) and then go to the bride's house to capture the rest (makeup, hair, dress, etc.)

During the ceremony, if I'm shooting solo, I will have 3 cameras on 3 tripods.

Camera A will be locked down in the aisle with a 70-200mm 2.8 and will be my main camera for pretty much the entire ceremony.

Camera B and C will be on each sides at pretty much the same distance to cover the bride and groom's reactions during the vows.

If it's a long ceremony with a lot of readings, I will also bring a set of different lenses with me and change it on camera B or C once in a while to get creative and capture wider shots that will include the crowd as well.

When shooting solo, I basically keep all 3 cameras rolling and run around to check on them to make sure they're running properly. I would also stop and start the recording between readings to make sure the clips aren't too long. When I need to stop one camera, I will make sure that the 2 others are running so I don't lose any coverage.

Don Bloom October 14th, 2011 05:48 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
The balconey can be a very nice dramatic shot be it wide or medium. Gotta use some descretion on that. As for moving around there are a lot of churchs here in my area where you simply can't do that and frankly it's been my experience that if you are center aisle with your A camera and stay on the action (B&G-reader at pulpit-B&G and officiant when doing vows) you really can't miss. You've got all the important parties in the shot. However, if you have a 2nd and even a 3rd operator and have the ability to move around and still have the proper coverage why not. For me, I'm old school so I tend to keep middle aisle on the B&G with my 2nd, 3rd cams giving me cover shots. Placement depends on the church and officiant.

Lance Watts October 16th, 2011 12:34 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
I usually shoot solo and it's not uncommon for me to shoot for more than 12 hours. I like to cover everything from prep to the end of the reception. During the ceremony, I shoot with 3 7D's and 1 60D. Everything is on a tripod during the ceremony. At the reception, I'm usually only using two of the 7D's.

My advice is to get in shape. You're going to be moving around alot and, if you're properly equipped, you're going to be carrying around alot of stuff.

It's also very helpful to require the couple (or wedding planner) to provide you with a very detailed itinerary of the entire wedding day, so you can anticipate where you'll need to be at any given time.

If possible, familiarize yourself with the venues before the wedding day, making mental notes of where to place lights and cameras.

Also, make fast friends with the wedding planner, photographer, DJ, even the caterer. These people are your lifeline and they need to understand the importance of letting you know what's happening next and keeping you abreast of any schedule changes.

Finally, don't be afraid to gently manipulate certain aspects of the reception. For example, during the toasts I like to have one camera on the couple and another on the person toasting. I put both cameras on tripods and then use a third camera for crowd reaction shots and alternate angles. The problem, of course, is that toasters like to wander and they rarely have good microphone technique. My solution is to bring my own microphone stand with a small lav mic attached to it. I then take the DJ's wireless handheld and place it in the mic stand. I then TAPE IT DOWN so it can't be removed. This forces the toaster to remain in the same position and I don't have to worry about following them around the room. Plus, my small lav mic picks up perfect audio and I don't have to screw with a field mic or (god forbid) pulling a feed from the DJ's board.

Shooting solo can be tricky, but it's not impossible. And if you're well prepared, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to capture all the big moments, and most of the little one, too.

Michael Simons October 16th, 2011 12:09 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ben Creighton (Post 1688659)
There are so many good tips and thoughts here, now I have a question which merits starting another thread, rather than go off topic here!

As far as using a DSLR on a tripod; I believe the 7D is limited to 12 minutes of continuous recording so you certainly can't use that camera as a lock down.

Of course every church is different, but most have an upstairs seating area or choir loft. Do you guys like the footage you get from a locked down camera at that high angle? Do you zoom in to just get, say, the wedding party, as opposed to a full wide view? Am I annoying the crap out of you with all these questions? ;)

I plan to run 3 cameras, 1 or 2 lav mics and at least 1 zoom h4. Remind me to make a checklist so I don't leave anything behind!

Ben, I shoot the ceremony with 3 cams. During communion, I start breaking down 1 or 2 of the cams and even load that gear into my car. I'll even move my car from the parking lot to behind the limo during communion. I'm back in the church before communion is over and now most of my gear is packed away. During the receiving line, I'll grab the mic from the groom. The photographer usually does some family photos at the church and I'm sitting in my car eating a protein bar.

Thomas E. Smith October 16th, 2011 04:58 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
I was just about to make a thread about this topic, but this one answered most of my questions. :)

Waldemar Winkler October 16th, 2011 05:45 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
I shoot with four cameras, if I have an assistant. Three, if I do not have an assistant. The most complicated shoot is the ceremony. After that, I use only one camera or two.

Most of the weddings I shoot are outdoors. Alone, I manage two on tripods with a mobile camera (currently DSLR) for quick takes as I move between static cameras to adjust angle and focus. Basically, one camera is always wide, the other is closer. The third camera hanging from a neck strap is for the quick takes that may or may not be useful. Knowing the event sequence of the ceremony is paramount! Without this knowledge, moving from one camera to another is frightening!
Ultimately, you must capture the event from as many angles as you can. If you plan the shoot, step by step, you can not only know how to proceed, but also define a backup procedure if what you thought would happen takes a decidedly different direction.

Audio is a bit more complicated, but far more important:

I use four wireless microphones during receptions. I'd use H1's tomorrow, but I have too much invested in wireless gear to switch. Wireless Mic 1 (WM1) is pinned to the Groom with a Shure 837 Omni-Directional Mic attached to the transmitter. WM2 is with the Officiant. WM3 is a condenser drum mic attached to a VHF transmitter. I like drum mics because they can manage ungodly sound pressure levels and make vocal levels very even. It is on a mic floor stand and is dedicated for family/friend commentary during the ceremony. WM4 is usually reserved for musicians, but in their absense, is available for any other assigned task. I have two receivers for each wireless microphone. Signals from WM1 and WM2 go to Camera 1. Signals from WM3 & WM4 go to Camera 2. Camera 3 gets a shotgun mic, which is primarily to record a reference signal for syncing in post, but also captures ambient audio that may be useful in post. All four audio signals are also routed through an audio mixer to a two channel recording device as additional backup.

IF a DJ or Church PA is being used, I attach an iRiver (excellent old MP3 audio recorder) to the system's REC out RCA ports or, clip to a hall loudspeaker. The primary reason for this recording device is back-up.

Lastly, because I insist on all three cameras being permanently attached to tripods during the ceremony, I have an additional shotgun mic attached to a DSLR. This camera is for quick shots from mobile angles that may or may not make the cut. The audio is primarily for syncing.

Great. The event is recorded. Now it has to go to post. Which is where the fun begins.

I edit the video in four passes. Pass one is devoted to selecting the video clips I want to use. Pass 2 is color correction. Pass 3 is devoted to audio, which almost always means sending selected audio clips to an external audio application for adjustment. This is my least favorite editing process. Much easier now because of the method I have described. Pass 4 is adding audio special effects and titles.

I hope this information is useful.

Michael Simons October 16th, 2011 07:33 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ben Creighton (Post 1688659)
There are so many good tips and thoughts here, now I have a question which merits starting another thread, rather than go off topic here!

As far as using a DSLR on a tripod; I believe the 7D is limited to 12 minutes of continuous recording so you certainly can't use that camera as a lock down.

Of course every church is different, but most have an upstairs seating area or choir loft. Do you guys like the footage you get from a locked down camera at that high angle? Do you zoom in to just get, say, the wedding party, as opposed to a full wide view? Am I annoying the crap out of you with all these questions? ;)

I plan to run 3 cameras, 1 or 2 lav mics and at least 1 zoom h4. Remind me to make a checklist so I don't leave anything behind!

Ben, keep in mind the people giving you advice here have lots of experience. I've been shooting weddings for 19 years and when I first started, I wasn't running 3 cameras at once. I'd shoot the ceremony with one camera, center aisle. It was only after a lot of years and experience that I could operate 3 cams during the ceremony.

Ben Creighton October 16th, 2011 08:51 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Waldemar Winkler
I hope this information is useful

Wow, all these tips are very useful. Waldemar, I found your post to be especially helpful in that it seems to mirror my train of thought a great deal, in terms of how I envision going about setting up a ceremony shoot. It proves I am not just being overcautious by planning to use 4 or more audio sources! I also enjoyed your explanation of your 4 phase post workflow. Very helpful indeed.

Lance, how do you get past the 12 minute limit with your 7D's on a tripod during the ceremony? Do you move around and monitor each camera during the service?


Again, ALL of these tips are extremely helpful - not the least of which, the one previous to this one, from Michael. Don't worry, your point is well taken. I'll crawl before I walk, and before I run. I'll probably start with 2 cameras, and grow from there as I gain experience. You guys are definitely making it easier for me!

Don Bloom October 17th, 2011 05:06 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Ben,
you've gotten some great advice from some very experienced wedding shooters here so let me add one last bit of "experience" which is this. Shoot as if there is only 1 camera running. Why? You never know what camera 2 or 3 has. they might be blocked, you might have a battery die, you might have forgotten to turn it on, bad card (used to be bad tape but now...) It has happened to me, it has probably happened to everyone and if it hasn't it will if you do this long enough. Not saying not to be creative but pretend all you
ve got is the camera that's in your hands. How would you shoot the job? Back when I started that's all you had because you couldn't afford another one, not to mention the size of the cameras and recorders then. Anyway have fun in your venture into the wacky world of weddings!

Michael Simons October 17th, 2011 05:50 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Lance, how do you get past the 12 minute limit with your 7D's on a tripod during the ceremony? Do you move around and monitor each camera during the service?



Ben, I'll jump in. The 12 minute limit is really a non-issue when it comes to church weddings. There are so many moments where nothing is happening during a Catholic mass that it's easy to stop/start the camera. It's the outdoor/indoor 15 minute ceremonies where everthing is continuous that can make it a little more difficult but overall it's still not a problem.

Michael Simons October 17th, 2011 05:53 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ben Creighton (Post 1689183)
Wow, all these tips are very useful. Waldemar, I found your post to be especially helpful in that it seems to mirror my train of thought a great deal, in terms of how I envision going about setting up a ceremony shoot. It proves I am not just being overcautious by planning to use 4 or more audio sources! I also enjoyed your explanation of your 4 phase post workflow. Very helpful indeed.

Lance, how do you get past the 12 minute limit with your 7D's on a tripod during the ceremony? Do you move around and monitor each camera during the service?


Again, ALL of these tips are extremely helpful - not the least of which, the one previous to this one, from Michael. Don't worry, your point is well taken. I'll crawl before I walk, and before I run. I'll probably start with 2 cameras, and grow from there as I gain experience. You guys are definitely making it easier for me!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael Simons (Post 1689265)
Lance, how do you get past the 12 minute limit with your 7D's on a tripod during the ceremony? Do you move around and monitor each camera during the service?



Ben, I'll jump in. The 12 minute limit is really a non-issue when it comes to church weddings. There are so many moments where nothing is happening during a Catholic mass that it's easy to stop/start the camera. It's the outdoor/indoor 15 minute ceremonies where everthing is continuous that can make it a little more difficult but overall it's still not a problem.

Ha...as I said that my priest from this past weekend spoke for 18 minutes straight and I had to start/stop the camera around 12 minutes. I had another camera rolling so it wasn't a problem. I doubt the Bride will watch his 18 minute sermon anyway. He rambled and rambled.

Chris Harding October 17th, 2011 07:10 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hey Don

I think these guys are shooting on DSLR's only so they HAVE to rely on 2 cameras at least so when one is reset, the other covers the shot. I would say with DSLR's the guys tend to shoot multicamera ..I know Jeff used to run 4 x GH2's at weddings.

However for us "others" yes, I always refer to my two cameras as my "main camera" (it runs all the audio as well) and my "B Cam" just shoots cutaways and wides...I always concentrate on the main camera and shoot the ceremony as if a second camera doesn't exist....if I miss a few cutaways I still have a good wedding!! I'm also watching the main cam tally lights all the time and monitoring audio...only then will I walk around a bit and shoot cutaways for a minute but then it's back to the main camera again to make sure the important bits are being recorded and all is well. That's actually very wise advice and it comes from someone with a huge number of shoots under his belt too!!

Chris

Michael Simons October 20th, 2011 07:23 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Harding (Post 1689291)
Hey Don

I think these guys are shooting on DSLR's only so they HAVE to rely on 2 cameras at least so when one is reset, the other covers the shot. I would say with DSLR's the guys tend to shoot multicamera ..I know Jeff used to run 4 x GH2's at weddings.

However for us "others" yes, I always refer to my two cameras as my "main camera" (it runs all the audio as well) and my "B Cam" just shoots cutaways and wides...I always concentrate on the main camera and shoot the ceremony as if a second camera doesn't exist....if I miss a few cutaways I still have a good wedding!! I'm also watching the main cam tally lights all the time and monitoring audio...only then will I walk around a bit and shoot cutaways for a minute but then it's back to the main camera again to make sure the important bits are being recorded and all is well. That's actually very wise advice and it comes from someone with a huge number of shoots under his belt too!!

Chris

Chris, I don't feel DSLR users HAVE to rely on 2 camera's as I mentioned the 12 minute limit is really a non-issue. I shoot a church ceremony the same with with DSLRs as I did with my conventional video camera's. I have one on a tripod and the other roaming for cutaway/creative shots. I only use 3 cams for the vows/rings exchange.

Chris Harding October 20th, 2011 05:46 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Thanks for the info Michael!

I thought because of the record limit you might have to have a camera to "cover" the other while you reset it and continue but I guess you can simply do that with a cutaway. I think unless it was a balcony camera just running wide all the time and unattended, I would stress too much with more than two cameras running. I take my hat off to you guys that run multiple cameras like 3 and 4 and do it all on your own.

However I do remember talking to a a guy in St Augustine in Florida who (in those days) ran 6 x Canon Video Camera in the Church .... he has no assistants and was getting on in years too (like Don and myself) but the results were always excellent!!

Chris

Michael Simons October 21st, 2011 05:42 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Harding (Post 1690398)
Thanks for the info Michael!

I thought because of the record limit you might have to have a camera to "cover" the other while you reset it and continue but I guess you can simply do that with a cutaway. I think unless it was a balcony camera just running wide all the time and unattended, I would stress too much with more than two cameras running. I take my hat off to you guys that run multiple cameras like 3 and 4 and do it all on your own.

However I do remember talking to a a guy in St Augustine in Florida who (in those days) ran 6 x Canon Video Camera in the Church .... he has no assistants and was getting on in years too (like Don and myself) but the results were always excellent!!

Chris

Chris, the 12 limit record time is really a non-issue because there are so many moments where you can start/stop a camera during a ceremony. Nothing really happens that's longer than 12 minutes.

Chris Harding October 22nd, 2011 01:17 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hey Michael

Very true!! With long-winded ceremonies even though I have the main cam running for 45 minutes the bride doesn't want every prayer ...as long as you get the readings, vows, and rings that's all you really need and I doubt whether any of those would be 12 minutes +++

I did have a speech at last nights wedding that was getting close!! The MOG did an 8 minute 45 second one!!! I assume that you could also easily do a reset when the speaker says something and everyone claps and cheers for 15 seconds at least!!

I still think you guys are good!!! Running 3 DSLR's and managing them means you have to be really on the ball!!!

Chris

Ryan Wallis October 25th, 2011 05:09 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
This is a great thread for me as well. Sorry to hijack Ben but keen to get some feedback on my situation if you dont mind?

My wife is a wedding photographer and I'm starting to shoot weddings with her for some of her clients soon. My issue is camera numbers!

I have a Canon XF100 and there is a Canon 5D MK2 on the way...but for now I just have a simple Gopro as a second camera, which is a great camera but obviously limited.So after reading all these comments about 3 and 4 camera shoots I'm starting to get worried that I should go and get myself a half decent B camera? Or with some careful planning will I be able to get away with what I have?

My intention is to create an end product that is a short 15-20 min films, not a detailed doco of the day but a good reflection of the day from getting ready to first dance...so I plan to be selective with my shots anyway...

Cheers

Nigel Barker October 25th, 2011 11:00 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ryan Wallis (Post 1691358)
I have a Canon XF100 and there is a Canon 5D MK2 on the way...but for now I just have a simple Gopro as a second camera, which is a great camera but obviously limited.So after reading all these comments about 3 and 4 camera shoots I'm starting to get worried that I should go and get myself a half decent B camera? Or with some careful planning will I be able to get away with what I have?

A locked off XF100 plus a roaming 5DII for the beauty shots is a good combination. Shooting with a DSLR with a short form edit as the finished product encourages a different style of shooting. You cannot emulate a multi-camera documentary style so don't bother with considering more cameras.

Vaughan Wood October 30th, 2011 09:30 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Wow, you guys scare me! I must be doing something wrong!

I've been doing weddings solo for 15 years now, and used to do over 100 per year, but I'm over 61 now so I just take recommendations and do about 30.

I have always used one camera on a monopod for ceremonies and end of reception circles, and tripod for reception, and heldheld for bride and groom homes and photoshoot.

I reckon my brides would have killed me off by now if I hadn't filmed their family photos, or all their congratulations! (I often get asked for photos off my videos as I often captured them being kissed by their grandparents etc. which the photographers rarely seem to capture).

I use a Panasonic HMC 150 (it's the lightest camera I have), and use a Senheiser shotgun and lapel mic. for the groom.

In the past I have used a H2 for the Church readings, and had so much trouble with wobbling lecturnes and noise, it really wasn't worth the trouble, the captured sound from the Senheiser and a bit of computer work can cover the general church feel, and the lapel mic for the vows.

We seem to have so much trouble with roving photgraphers in Australia that to me half the time, other cameras wouldn't get a shot from the sides, and for me, it is a lot less stressful just concentrating on my job with one camera.

Even though I always try to get to the church at least twenty minutes before the ceremony, there are the odd times when I don't even get the lapel on the groom before the bride rolls up, and I have missed her arrival! Setting up two or three other cameras would seem to be a nightmare.

All my brides get my unedited footage, and have the option of adding to that with a 10 minute edit, 1/2hour edit, or full edit of the footage as well. Although here in Aus, with the average mortgage now over $300,000, Basic no-edit jobs are far more popular, or the 10 minute highlight package.

I sent out my latest wedding last Thursday, and this morning the bride rang me to thank me and said how fantastic the footage was, she'd watched the long version 10 times so far, and her husband kept watching their bridal waltz over and over again!

Seems MY way is out of vogue these days, but I guess at my age, I'll just keep doing what works for me!

Cheers all,

Vaughan

Chris Harding October 30th, 2011 10:10 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hi Vaughan

Nope!! you are doing it RIGHT!!! I use the same method except I have a cam spare only at the ceremony and speeches to shoot a few cutaways during the proceedings ...other than that I only use one camera!! Like you my brides are always delighted and why??? I would say that we more than likely tend to shoot more for content than anything else as we have the experience!! (I'm 65!!)
The bride really couldn't care less whether you have one, two or ten cameras and she also doesn't care whether it's Panasonic, Sony, JVC or Canon...in fact you could get away with a handicam IF you give her what she wants....clean footage, in focus with accurate colour.

Alas, most videographers tend to get way too technical with multi-camera shoots and fancy techniques most, if not all go totally un-appreciated by the bride anyway who simply wants to see how pretty her bridal party looked and hear her vows again!!!

I'm a great believer in the KISS method so I use just enough gear to keep things simple and end up with footage the bride loves....easier on me and quicker to edit too!! Nope I'm not into DVR's hidden in the flowers either...I stick a radio lav on the groom and in Churches a second one on the readings lectern!! During speeches I use just one tiny AKG boundary mic on the lectern and they all work well!!

Keep doing what you are doing ...I certainly will!!

Chris

Vaughan Wood October 31st, 2011 12:12 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hi Chris,

Good to hear you use a similar method.

Maybe we should start a new trend.!!!!

THE OLD FOGY'S WEDDING METHOD CLUB.

Put up a new website! AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIAN STATE!

ONE CAMERA WEDDINGS! GOOD! SIMPLE! CLEAR and (hopefull) IN FOCUS!

Ah well, had my fun for the day!

Now if only you could tell me the winner of the Melbourne Cup!

(Which is tomorrow, for all you others, it's the horse race that stops the nation!)

Cheers,

Vaughan

Ian Dart October 31st, 2011 01:40 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
have to agree with vaughan (hi mate ..long time no see)

as a shooter and survivor of 400+ weddings over 10 years i never used more than 1 camera

i couldnt conceive of putting up extra cameras and sound gear....where would you find the time
to set it all up and take it down.
the more complicated you make it, the more chance something stuffs up.

if the client wanted two cameras they had to pay for an extra operator.

cheers

Peter Rush October 31st, 2011 04:48 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
some good tips here :)

I keep it simple - 1 camera apart from ceremony (second unmanned camera from the back capturing wide) and speeches (second unmanned camera shooting out from top table to get guest reactions)

Olympus digital recorder in groom's pocket and another on the lecturn for readings - a zoom near the action as a backup. Digital recorders and boundary mics secreted on top table - all works for me

Working alone suits me and keeps the price down for my clients - I have had awsome feedback and never a complaint

Pete

Ben Creighton October 31st, 2011 12:43 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
You guys are encouraging me to change my thinking somewhat. I have had visions of locking down 2 cameras, roaming with another, using the DSLR now and then for the appropriate 'glamour' shots, etc. etc. But I agree that most (if not all) brides would be unappreciative and unaware of all the extra effort to get various angles, cutaways, etc. They just want to see the basics, I guess. So, KISS is an attractive motto!
Are you guys also NOT using sliders or stabilizers then?

Don Bloom October 31st, 2011 02:51 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
It's been my experience that especially for the ceremony and especially if a solo shooter most brides at least in my area want solid, stable, well composed properly exposed footage. Not saying that if you have 2 or 3 or more cam operators that someone shouldn't try to get some creative angles and such but as a solo operator I don't want to leave my A camera alone to try to get that kind of footage at least not during the ceremony. I use 2 to 3 cameras and sometimes do have a 2nd shooter but even in that scenario I want solid stable footage and I can't get it if I'm all over the place not to mention in many of the Catholic churches I shoot in the preists' get a little upset with a lot of moving around. the photogs are doing enough of that and frankly if I'm set up center aisle 1/2 back I get everything I need since most of the action is centered on the altar. I can cover the readers and preist at the pulpit for the vows the couple faces each other so I get profiles and if I've got a camera up front manned or not I get them when they face forward before and after the vows. For the unity canlde I can still get a good shot by giving the B&G a little advance advice. Don't stand with your back to the guests cause they can't see either. Stand a little off to each side of the canlde table so they and I can see you and the lighting of the candle.
Otherwise it is what it is and when they view the DVD they (the B&G) are pretty much seeing it as the guests' saw it. It's worked for me for 28 years and about 2000 weddings (give or take a few) without any complaints so I'll just keep doing what I'm doing unless the situation changes.

Chris Harding October 31st, 2011 06:37 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Listening to the voices of experience is probably not a bad way to go. Guys like Don, Vaughan and Ian between them have done many thousands of weddings!! It might look cool settting up 4 Canon 5D's all over the Church but sometimes it's better to stick with tried and true methods.

Ben?? I don't use a slider personally as my cams are really too heavy for that sort of setup but I do use a Stedicam BUT only at photoshoots ... it;s just too much work using it for other parts of the wedding..you get magic footage of things like bridal arrival, first dance and much more but it really does eat into your time schedule!!!

Chris

Ryan Wallis October 31st, 2011 06:54 PM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
This thread continues to be fascinating and very interesting for me as a new videographer. I have shot 2 or 3 weddings in the past for friends on a casual basis with a simple handycam. It went well and they were happy enought, although their expectations werent high. Audio was more of an issue than footage.

Anyway, I shot my first wedding in a long while last weekend with just my Canon XF100 and my GoPro as a simple locked off shot wherever I could and thought I needed it. I had 2 Zoom H1's, one with a laper mic and the other on a mini tripod. The results are great and I'm very happy. With 4 methods of audio recording the GoPro picked up the best during a windy outdoor ceremony...

I will be getting a 5d Mk2 when the mk3 comes out so I'd been considering getting a decent B cam but frankly after my results of last weekend and reading all this I might just spend the money on a better tripod and a stabilzer!

Chris Harding November 1st, 2011 12:43 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hey Ryan

Us old guys are pretty familiar with weddings and at most, things happen pretty fast and there is seldom any time to "fiddle" with settings. I personally don't use a DSLR simply becuase there is no time to set focus, set aperture and shutter and still get the shot. For ceremonies you would be better off using the XF 100 ..if you really want to get creative then get a DSLR for the photoshoot where you have time to peak your creative talent and get awesome shots ... that rarely happens at a ceremony and if you happen to get a soft focus issue you can't do a reshoot!!! That's why they call weddings "run 'n gun" !!

When things get really hectic and everthing is happening around you are once, at least I can snap my cam into full auto and concentrate on the content. For me I would use a DSLR as a Cam C so if you blow focus or exposure it's not a big deal and you can just keep the nice shots!! Ask Jeff Harper about losing focus during critical times and you will see why he still uses DSLR's (3 of them now) for extra cameras but always has his new Canon as the failsafe!!

Chris

Peter Rush November 1st, 2011 02:28 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
I'm interested to know how many of you have an unmanned camera at the front, capturing the B&G as they face the officiant and then man the main camera from the back (I'm assuming bang in the middle of the isle)

I tend to do it the other way - man the camera at the front and have a second running either centre isle - this gives me the option of getting shots of the conrgegation which i wouldn't get from being at the back

Pete

Don Bloom November 1st, 2011 05:20 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Peter,
I try to have a camera up front be it manned with a 2nd shooter or unmanned but it all depends on the venue and officiant. If in a church more than likely I can have a camera up front but not a cameraman so I concentrate on the B&G when setting the shot which of course is done pre-ceremony. Again, I also shoot like that camera doesn't exsist. Who knows what can happen.

Chris Harding November 1st, 2011 05:47 AM

Re: Tips for solo shooters
 
Hey Peter

We have trained our priests over here and all services have the couple facing each other so the guests and cameras never see the back of their heads...in the old days we had to shoot reverse angle from behind and to the side of the altar if we wanted to see faces at all!!! Nowdays my main camera is probably 3 rows back on the right side of the aisle and I get a clear shoot of the entire vows and rings as well as the readings!!

Funnily enough I'm doing a Ukrainian Catholic wedding this weekend and they still do it the old way!! The couple face the altar all the time so my main cam for once will be behind and to the right...an unmanned cam in the aisle would really be pointless with this kind of service!! I'm using a second shooter too as when the gospel/homily is read the priest stands up behind the altar at a lectern and faces the guests and, of course faces the couple too as their backs are still to the guests.

Chris


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