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Robert Benda April 11th, 2013 08:48 AM

8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
We are finishing up our 8th wedding, and after one year of this, we're looking for any feedback. Two of us have been shooting on three Canon T3is but just got our first 5d mark ii after we shot this one.

It's what I call a final rough draft, my last chance for changes, of the 10 minute video. We had some trouble with one SD card going missing (parent interviews and groom getting ready, which I'm sick about); and the other shooter (my wife) has some footage that is way over exposed (which I'm really mad about), but I did my best to fix it (dropped Gamma as much as I could, and some color correction).

Suggestions are welcome. I'll also be doing a 4-5 minute cinematic.


Andrew Maclaurin April 11th, 2013 09:43 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Apart from what you've mentioned i'd say you need to match your cameras before shooting (which shouldn't be too hard as they are all the same). Stop reframing as you shoot, DSLRs don't handle that well.
Unless you have a very steady hand (which i don't think you have) get some support. Be careful with your shutter speeds as it looks like some of the footage is ghosting/stuttering. Turn up the sound when they are saying the vows. if you can't use a tie mic (I can't as it's not done here) then have a couple of recording devices (one on cam and one set up next to a speaker perhaps) and if you can't monitor them have one track recording at a low volume and another higher. Be careful when jumping around chronologically, sometimes it works well and other times it doesn't. It worked really well when you jumped from the dress at home to the dress in the church but then you jumped around and got a bit lost. Practice makes perfect!

Robert Benda April 11th, 2013 10:49 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Thanks, Andrew.

The ghosting seems to only happen once I upload to Vimeo. I watched the render on my hard drive and it's not there.

We do use a tie mic. I had adjusted the levels once, but obviously not well enough. I'll fix it. We use Tascam pocket recorders and external mics on cameras.

We tried matching custom white balance on site, before ceremony, but obviously did a poor job. I thought back and realized I matched the cameras to EACH OTHER, but they were placed in very different locales, making the light different.

Thanks. I really appreciate it. I'm really working hard to get better at editing AND shooting and learning as much as I can. The reframing and steady hand stuff is my wife, mostly. I got her a beautiful Manfrotto fluid head, and even in the footage I used, you can see she went hand held.

Roger Gunkel April 11th, 2013 01:27 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Hi Robert,
Well you have courageously posted your video for constructive criticism, so I assume that is what you are looking for!

Firstly let me say that I am firmly in the full length documentary camp, and rarely shoot with more than one camera. I have also been shooting weddings professionally for 27 years so I have a fair amount of experience. I have said all that, as I have no axe to grind at all but want to make it clear that my comments are based on experience and to try to help.

There have been some examples shown on this forum of outstanding short form wedding work to an extremely high standard, and you should very carefully examine some of these as that is clearly what you are aiming for.

If you are charging for your services, then there it is essential that you are able to at least master the basic mechanics of your cameras, i.e. exposure, aperture, focus etc. Bearing in mind that you said that you use three cameras, and that the footage you have shown is a short form, I am surprised by the amount of poorly exposed shots and the number of out of focus moments on main subjects. You said that your wife had over exposed shots of the Bride's preps, but my wife trained for several years before I would let her near a paid wedding. You must have total confidence in others in your team if you are relying on their footage, plus losing a card with valuable footage on is really not excuseable. I never take a card out of a camera until I get ot home, where it is immediately digitised to hard drive.

There are also a lot of moments with very unstable footage and jerky pans that I found quite troubling. And some colour variations between cameras in the ceremony. I understand from the way that you have put it together, that you are looking at a time shifting approach, but in fact I find it seems a little disjointed with a jumble of inserted shots.

The overall impression to me is a safety in numbers approach with cameras, rather than technical care. To give just a couple of quick random examples, during the bride's preps, there is a very quick shaky pan from the bride to someone else in the room and filling half the frame to their right is a big black tripod. Shortly after that, there is a hand held shot of one of the bridesmaids talking to someone off camera, but she is stamding to the left of the frame looking to the left, which leaves everything in the right half irrelevent. There is no 'looking space' which is very basic stuff.

Frequently the music is too loud for the natural sound and there is not a lot of consistency in the overall sound level of the production particularly the vows, the most important part. There are numerous other things that I could point out, but the point is to be constructive, so here goes.

Firstly I think you should concentrate on more tripod use, even when it seems inconvenient as the improvement in overall stability will take away the amateurish feel of many of the shots. Getting well framed shots quickly at a wedding takes care, so try to be aware how what you see in the viewfinder will look like on the screen. Try to properly white balance all the cameras for continuity and rebalance whenever there are lighting changes. Only use pans if they are relevant to the content and try to avoid getting people between you and your subject during the shot. There is no substitute for good camerawork, so don't rely on post production to make it work, so one camera with a great cameraman will always give better results than four poor cameramen.

At the editing stage, avoid cutting to a totally different shot part way through a zoom and definitely don't jump cut loud upfront running audio to a totally different audio sound, it can be very harsh and irritating. Time shift editing is extremely difficult to apply well to a wedding and needs great insight, story telling and skill. Although you aspire to that style, it is so easy to end up with a mess of jumbled up shots with no cohesive direction, so I would concentrate on smoothness and stability first, coupled with good visual flow. Use music to illustrate and add to the mood rather than dominating it, allowing the day to shine through.

Sorry if I have sounded a bit brutal and it is of course just my opinion, but the most important point of all is that if your client is happy, then everything else can be inmproved with experience. :-)

Roger

Noa Put April 11th, 2013 02:49 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Robert Benda (Post 1790032)
Two of us have been shooting on three Canon T3is but just got our first 5d mark ii after we shot this one.

Hope you don't mind me being honest, I"d sell the 5d and two t3i's, keep one t3i for eye candy shots where you can benefit from it's shallow dof and you might use it for anything stationary, like speeches where nobody moves and when the lights are low. Then get 2 high end handicams instead, they are much more forgiving then your dslr's, even in full auto they"ll get your exposure and focus right, your color will be like you see it and if necessary use aids like touch focus or use a manual exposure control through a small lens ring or turning knob (depending on the brand you buy). They will provide you with very stable handheld footage, some are almost equally sensitive in lowlight compared to your dslr with a fast lens and they hardly show any grain in low light and the zoom can be butter smooth.

Then you can focus on content and let the camera's do the rest. In general the footage in the trailer you showed looked quite bad at times in terms of color, exposure and focus and if you plan to keep holding on to dslr's (which require much more experience then a regular "video" camera to get it right) I would spend all the free time you have to get the basics right because the way it looks now will hurt your business more then it will do you any good.

Just that you know, I use high end handicams as well and they give me great results as a solo shooter.

Roger Gunkel April 11th, 2013 04:17 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Good points Noa and I agree with them all. DSLRs might be the current fashion for movie making, but forget the image and go for a good finished product. DSLRs are not the easiest to use for even experienced videographers, whereas good quality video cams may not look as exciting, but will give you the ability to learn your craft while being much easier to get good results with.

Another advantage with video cams is that you have a good quality built in digital sound recorder which you can use with or without external mics.

As with Noa, nearly all my wedding work is done that way.

Roger

Kelly Huffaker April 11th, 2013 07:32 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
There appears to be a massive amount of shaky footage. As others have stated, DSLR's are not a good tool for handheld footage. Invest in some monopods. It does a world of difference.

Stephen J. Williams April 11th, 2013 08:19 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Hey Robert.

I couldn't watch most of the video due to my internet connection.

I have the same arsenal when it comes to camera bodies (2 T3i's and one 5d). Personally I love them, but it takes practice. One thing I like about the 5d is it's ability to shoot at a high iso (at least vs the t3i's). Don't be afraid to shoot with a higher iso and and close down your aperture, that will make focusing a little more forgiving.

I do NOT trust my second shooter, and he's pretty good.... I always like to personally cover bride and groom prep. Since the timing doesn't work out, I usually schedule a time to start with the groom (early in the morning). I always tell them they can take off the suit as soon as I leave, I don't care.... Just as long as I get my shots for the story. The nice thing about that is I can setup lights, and really build the scene the way I want it. After shooting the groom I catch up with the bride.
When it comes to the second shooter and I shooting together (such as ceremony). I dictate all the camera settings, I stay in constant contact via a headset and walkie talkie.. I tell him exactly what the shot composition will be and camera settings.

Best of luck,
Steve

Robert Benda April 11th, 2013 08:38 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Thank you for the criticism so far, especially you, Roger. YES, I do want it. This is about improving, not stroking my ego.

I think I'm going to print these out for re-reading. Your notes, Roger, including the 3 camera approach being about safety, are spot on.

I re-watch this with fresh eyes and your notes and realize the mistakes, even in editing. I have put together a long form, straight forward video (about 1 hour) that doesn't screw around. I see this one and suddenly hate the time shifting, though I may use it in the shorter, five minuter.

Our pricing has been very low, so far, only a few hundred dollars for the work and selling ourselves as NOT true professionals, not yet. Our tag is 'better than your uncle'.

THANK YOU.

Andrew Maclaurin April 12th, 2013 12:44 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
I think noa has got it spot on when he suggests using real video cameras. I'd probably start by leaving your wife with a videocamera in auto shooting the wide stuff so she can start learning about framing. When she has mastered that she should try mastering exposure and focus. If she can get a good quality wide safety shot this means you concentrate on the close ups and details with your dslr. Maybe you could sell your 5d and a ts3 and buy a canon xa10/20?

Peter Riding April 12th, 2013 02:35 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrew Maclaurin (Post 1790152)
I think noa has got it spot on when he suggests using real video cameras. I'd probably start by leaving your wife with a videocamera in auto shooting the wide stuff so she can start learning about framing. When she has mastered that she should try mastering exposure and focus. If she can get a good quality wide safety shot this means you concentrate on the close ups and details with your dslr. Maybe you could sell your 5d and a ts3 and buy a canon xa10/20?

Agreed. I've had my two 5DII's since June 2009 and by now I've pretty much decided that dSLRs should not be let within 100 miles of weddings except in specific sets of circumstances such as shooting the 1st dance in very low light where you cannot use any supplementary lighting or get the venue to up the ambient lighting enough. The risk of fouling up or getting subpar footage is just too great at these one-off unscripted events because of the constant battle to get these square plugs into round holes.

I suspect that the current craze among videographers for highlights and shifting springs from their having in truth missed a bunch of important stuff which would otherwise make a full documentary style video very mediocre.

Yes I have a load of fast lenses including the 50mm f1.2L and the 70-200 f2.8 IS so I can do shallow depth of field. But so what? Why would I want that at a wedding? Why would the bride not want to see the reaction of her guests in the background in the same frame as she makes her vows? Why would she prefer her eyelashes in focus and her nose out of the depth of field :- )

A high quality still image will often do a far better job of an establishing shot of say the venue exterior or a a slider shot of table decorations, maybe adding some pan or zoom if attractive.

The smallest prosumer video cams such as the Panasonic TM900 have a fabulous performance in full auto including down to quite low light but they can be convoluted when you want to use manual functions. The new Panasonic AC90 is more a big brother. It works great on full auto but the important manual functions are intuitive and easy to access. Its also very affordable. And it looks the part :- )

Pete

Roger Gunkel April 12th, 2013 04:22 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
@Peter- what a breath of fresh air your post is.:-) As with Noa's post, I totally agree with everything that you say. I was beginning to think that I was in a minority regarding the general unsuitability of DSLRs for wedding videography.

I also agree that many short form videos come from lack of enough good quality footage to show a long form. A video camera with a wide range of manual controls and efficient auto is perfect for the requirements of wedding filming. Shallow dof in still photography is great for romantic shots where the immediate subject is the focus of the shot, but video is a totally different game where many layers in a scene are important to convey the whole story.

I feel that many videographers move over from the photographic side and are very comfortable with DSLRs and the style of photography that they are used to. It is natural to want to develop that style into a moving record of the wedding, and that frequently means extending the photographic style of posing into stylised and prepared videography. Just as a photo album captures the highlights of the day, then so does that style of videography extend the photo album into a cinematic moving album. That of course also influences others coming into the market who attempt to emulate styles and equipment that they have seen.

There is of course a market for that, but in my opinion, it totally misses the point of wedding videography and the vital differences between the two. A wedding is not a collection of actors waiting for direction and romance/emotion to be added, it is all there already! A good videographer is one who can see and capture that atmosphere and emotion without the need to interfere and direct it. It is also important to see that much of that emotion is not just the couple, but the reaction of other family and friends to the day and the couple. While one emotional moment is happening, that triggers off other reactions, all of which can be captured by the knowledgeable and observant videographer. It's less about setting up cameras to capture the action and more about experience telling you what is likely to happen and to be there ready for it.

There are many things happening at a wedding that many videographers just don't see, or feel is boring and mundane, but they are missing out on opportunities to really show the depth of detail and planning that is all pulled together for a few hours on this one emotional day.

So Robert if you are still reading this, I applaud your strength of character in seeking advice, and your approach to starting at the bottom and working up. Don't be too influenced by the styles and equipment of others, concentrate on the wedding itself and what you would like to show, but more importantly what the client wants. Don't try to stage things, look for the good shots and learn to recognise them when you see them.

Roger

Andrew Maclaurin April 12th, 2013 05:35 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
"The new Panasonic AC90 is more a big brother. It works great on full auto but the important manual functions are intuitive and easy to access. Its also very affordable. And it looks the part :- )"

This is an interesting camera but I have yet to see any quality footage that has been filmed with it in wedding conditions (lowlight, very bright light with white dress etc). Can it really cope with low light situations? or does everything need to be bathed in LED light? I'm yet to be convinced it good enough although I would love to see it succeed. The price and features are great.

I have shot a few almost full length (30-40mins) doc style weddings alone with only my canon 7D and whilst it's great in certain situations it's a pain in the a**e in others. It's not all about huge shallow DOF, because that would be tedious to film and watch. The DSLRs definitely have a lovely image when used well with the background just ever so slightly knocked out of focus. Personally I'd like to mix the 2 and as a solo shooter this can be difficult. Without a doubt a video camera is better for key moments in the ceremony but you can use a DSLR if that's what you have. Just don't use crazy DOF! It used to be easier using my old trusty PD170 but the look I can can get with a DSLR is better. Now I'm planning to mix a canon XA10/20 or a Panny AC90 with the DSLR. We'll see how that goes!
As far as markets for different types of videos go, there are as many markets as there are weddings. Ideally they are all different and hence their video requirements are different too.

Anyway Robert, you can see the general consensus is to try a video camera! Good luck!

Robert Benda April 12th, 2013 12:02 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Still reading, Roger. I"m very glad you all could take the time to offer up your expertise.

I'm starting to consider this going forward: selling the two T3is and upgrading to camcorders (Panasonic AC90 or Canon XA10 both price around $1800-$2000) which price about right for what we hoped to spend next time. The Mark ii will be good for low light dances and still photos.

Style is a trickier part for us. We've focused on documentary style for a bit, now, and are hanging around a lot through out the day, apart from the ceremony. All in an effort to find a few stray, unpredictable moments. I really think anything cinematic is apart from the main video and is mostly for them sharing online with friends.

We're going out again tomorrow. I've got these notes printed out for the two hour drive to the wedding.

Evan Bourcier April 12th, 2013 04:01 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
I'm going to be the guy that plays devil's advocate and says that I actually think DSLRs can be quite well suited to weddings, and often I find that's why the highest paid guys are using. Granted, there are a giant pile of problems to overcome, but in general the IQ far outweighs the difficulties. I also think that long form is more of a cultural/stylistic thing than a standard (short form is just people who can't shoot enough footage for long form is a ridiculous thing to say).

As far as the video, I dont think there's much I can say that hasnt been said, other than find your style, find your niche, and get really good at it.

This is all t3i footage:

Thanks,
Evan

Roger Gunkel April 12th, 2013 04:24 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Evan, that's a great trailer and you have undoubted shooting and editing skills, but it ain't a wedding video it's a trailer!

Nobody is disputing that with the right skills, experience and multi cameras and equipment, one can make beautiful video with focus pulls, smooth glider shots,steady cams etc. The point here though is that Robert wants advice based on what he has shown and where he is now, particularly with experience and handling of basics including equipment.

It is more about what is practical and achievable now, rather than what is possible in the future once experience and confidence is there.

Roger

Noa Put April 12th, 2013 04:31 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Quote:

I'm going to be the guy that plays devil's advocate and says that I actually think DSLRs can be quite well suited to weddings
Ofcourse you are right Evan but that was not the point me and others where trying to make, Robert shoots video together with his wife, which is good as dslr's do benefit from a 2 person shoot, but you both should have the same expertise, which dslr's do require, and it's just that what is missing. You should have good experience using videocamera's first before even thinking of getting into dslr's. Even experienced photog's that think to make a sidestep to video for extra income are often in for a big surprise as well when they see it actually is a totally different world, just the fact that I can press a photobutton doesn't make me a instant wedding photographer either.
With the use of "regular" large dof videocamera's you can let less experienced persons shoot greater video in run and gun situations, when I see those totally blown highlights I know that if Roberts wife would have had a small handicam that I also use, the footage would have turned out great.

Kren Barnes April 12th, 2013 04:42 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Hi Robert,

Just like everything else, practice makes perfect. I do not see why you should get rid of your current gear albeit you really need to practice and learn shooting with them. Im not gonna start a DSLR vs. Videocam discussion, there are always pros and cons to both sides.

I would hold off on selling your old gear and buying new ones, this will not solve your problem. Learning to work with the tools you have now will. All you really need to do is learn the basics and keep practicing...I haven't seen what you did on the previous 7 weddings but by this time you should have figured out some basic techniques on shooting and editing. With all the great wedding videos around, you can easily pick up things and learn.

What i noticed that you need to improve on:

Steadiness, smooth movements and more steadiness - please use a tripod, monopod, slider or a glidecam to steady your shots...there is a certain style to shooting handheld or with a monopod but that takes a lot of practice to perfect, that walking from behind the couple shot is not good.

Learn to use the 4 major DSLR components properly - Aperture, ISO, shutter speed and white balance. remember its Aperture first b4 ISO and donít even fiddle around with the shutter speed unless your going for a special shot. Make sure that all cams have the same settings before heading out to shoot.

Color grading - i saw a lot of "pumpkin orange" people

Lighting- don't be afraid to light up a scene if need be. We shoot with really fast lenses(1.4 and 1.8) and still use lights.

Not a fan of zooming in and out and reframing shots on the fly...I do it but it doesn't make the edit.

Hope to see your future work! Good luck, keep it simple and most of all have fun!


Kren

Noa Put April 12th, 2013 05:01 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Quote:

I would hold off on selling your old gear and buying new ones, this will not solve your problem.
It will solve his problem on very short notice, like I said about those totally blown shots of the bride which would have looked ok with a regular videocamera.

He (or his wife) has to make the choice to either spend a lot of time getting the basics right with his dslr's or spend a little bit of time getting better results much quicker with semi-automatic videocamera's. I just think that brides can not be a testsubject during the time you are trying to find out how to get it right. It's better to start of right quickly and then slowly change to dslr's, sliders, steadicam and so on but if you just use a handicam and a simple tripod you can get great results.

This what I do with little handicam's: (only steadicam and very shallow dof shots are from a t2i but all tripod and slidershots are sony cx730's.)

and if you think you can't do weddings with them, here's another: (same here, only steadicam is dslr, all the rest is handicam footage) during the church recording all 3 handicams used where in full auto, try doing that with a dslr and get those results...and look at the vows/ring exchange shot, that's handheld...
password: noa15

Greg Clark April 12th, 2013 05:11 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Lack of zebra, color varieties, and mic on the groom says sell those DSLR's and Purchase a Panasonic, Canon or Sony Videocamera (2)

Evan Bourcier April 13th, 2013 08:32 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel (Post 1790256)
Evan, that's a great trailer and you have undoubted shooting and editing skills, but it ain't a wedding video it's a trailer!

Roger

Well for firsties it's a reel haha, but my full length videos are around 15 minutes, and I find that that's the exact length my target client wants. I think invalidating the existence of that as a real product is ridiculous, it's like a feature guy going to a commercial DP and saying their work isn't a real video, it's just a 60 second spot. Different beasts, both equally valid.

Just a quick note to Noa: I wasn't saying you were invalidating DSLRs, but a couple people mentioned that " DSLRs should not be let within 100 miles of weddings " which is ridiculous.

EDIT: Also: Most of the shots I saw that were clipping really bad werent actually overexposed, they were just clipped. Way too high a DR to bother shooting in. If you look at other skin tones/dresses they're not overexposed. My biggest problem with the whole thing was just wayyyyy too much contrast and too little stabilization, as well as not knowing when NOT to shoot (EG: super harshly lit clipped shots).

Just my 0.2, I dunno that a handicam would deal with clipping any better. I would say you definitely want to practice manual exposure like crazy though. And shoot flat.

Noa Put April 13th, 2013 08:55 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Quote:

Most of the shots I saw that were clipping really bad werent actually overexposed, they were just clipped. Way too high a DR to bother shooting in.
So you are saying that this could not be prevented? To me that looks like a serious overexposure, has nothing to do with DR or any limitation the t3I might have, I never have an image that looks like that on my t2i unless I overexpose. Also the concerning shots where indoor, why should one not bother to shoot in those circumstances?

Roger Gunkel April 13th, 2013 11:00 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Evan, I think you are being unnecessarily defensive! I am quite aware that your video was a showreel, and my point was that it was not really relevant to the original point of the OP asking for advice on his own work. Neither did I dismiss the short form as irrelevant. As you correctly say, there are potential clients that want just a short form which I am sure you are very competent at producing.

However, I know from my own experience that there are plenty of short form producers that would not be able to produce enough length of continuous quality footage to produce a full length documentary style. That is not because they are incompetent, but because different types of shooting are required. Certainly covering a 60 minute Catholic service in it's entirety with a single DSLR would present a problem. Most DSLR videographers that I have seen, consider it essential to have 2 or 3 cameras present plus additional off board sound recording. Add to that the type of stylised footage that short form tends to need, would make it difficult to capture that style with continuous fixed position shooting.

The current popularity for using DSLR cameras for wedding video is because of the creative and artistic possibilities offered. In my opinion, that is at the expense of the greater ease and speed of capturing a wedding using a video camera, and the opportunity of capturing many depths of a scene which are sometimes vital. DSLRs make for a much higher work, and equipment load with far more chance of getting things wrong as we see in Robert's example. Again in my opinion, the DSLR is best used as another tool in the armoury to offer artistic and creative possibilities, rather than the only or main tool.

Again you are correct in saying that short/long form is also culturally influenced, with most UK wedding clients preferring the long form. I delivered a wedding this week, and the B&G were in tears at times as they watched every second of the 40 min church service, laughing at their slips and at people not singing the hymns etc. The whole video was 95 minutes long and they were disappointed when it was all over and decided to watch it again!

You probably get a similar response from your short form, so it's whatever floats your boat :-)

Let's get back to helping Robert move forward, and as Noa said, experimenting on Brides is not the best way. My advice would be to concentrate on a good stable nicely framed wedding, shot from the easier platform of a video camera, and maybe use one of the DSLRs alongside rather than independently, to gain experience of more artistic shots that can be dropped into the edit, rather than relying on it. Keep the edit to a linear flow and concentrate on a smooth visual flow that tells the story of the day. Whether you make that long or short form, documentary or cinematic is your choice, but initially concentrate on the basics.

Look forward to you next example Robert,

Roger

Peter Riding April 13th, 2013 02:54 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Andrew M, I'm not one to endlessly test equipment to destruction, pixel peeping footage of cats in coal cellars or gretag macbeth color charts propped against grocery packaging etc so I won't be uploading comparison files. Just too many variables. And its boring!!!

But I did shoot a first wedding ceremony where the AC90 was included a few days ago.

It was a demanding scenario. The venue a cramped dark interior barge permanently moored on a hotels riverbank. Challenging areas of backlighting through windows. Mixed lighting by virtue of tungsten ones close the the couples faces.

I placed the AC90 where I might otherwise have a TM900. One thing I like very much about the TM900 family is its automatic backlight compensation feature. This works great for when you have a bright window behind your subject – it always seems to get it right and can even cope with changes in backlighting midshoot if the sun is going in and out of clouds thereby changing the exposure. But with the TM900 you have to switch this feature on every time you start up – its cannot be made sticky; however it doesn't seem to hurt to switch it on even if its not actually needed.

The AC90 has a similar feature of course. However it did appear to cope with the backlighting better without needing to trigger the compensation. A number of physical buttons (in addition to the touch screen) can be assigned to features such as switching on this compensation and I have done that. You can actually toggle it on and off mid-clip.

The auto focus was fast and accurate but those who prefer manual do have a get out of jail free card in the “push AF” feature – again a physical button. This means that if you are working on manual and get in a mess or something quick and unscripted happens you press that button and it jumps to autofocus – maybe saving the day :- )

One of the two rocker switches that can control zoom – in addition to a lens ring – can have its speed of zooming set to off / slow / medium / fast. The slow option is very usable should you wish to do a gradual zoom in or out.

Its considerably larger than consumer sized cams of course but not so large that it cannot sit on a discreet lightstand instead of a hunking great tripod, and it shouldn't restrict your movement in a tight area or cause a distraction.

Thats just a few preliminary observations on it.

It can't compete with a 5DII in very low light but its still good, and for the rest of the day may ensure that you get the shots that the dSLR shooter misses whilst they are f**ting around juggling their accessories.

Incidentally I covered this wedding using 4 video cams in addition to my main job which was shooting the stills. This shot from another wedding shows the interior of the barge from the rear. All the “action” takes place on the raised platform at the front:

Ref 006-3183-03_wdlr Ashton Lamont Photography, Copyright

It is not practical to move around once the ceremony is underway because it is so cramped up there. I stood to the front right (as seen from the back) with the AC90 and two 5DII's (for stills). On this occasion I also had a TM900 at the rear to the right framing the couple from behind. Another TM900 was attached to a wall light fitting at the front top left using a friction arm. And a Gopro was attached the rails that you see adjacent to the steps. The front two cams caught the bride and the groom, the gopro caught the guests, and the rear cam got the establishing footage.

I suggest you could not begin to get that level of coverage using dSLRs that must be babysat among their other “features”. And the cramped conditions are not at all untypical of UK venues, added to which there may be restrictions on operator movement and equipment placement.

So often the sample reels offered by dSLR users feature what are almost ideal shooting conditions – plenty of light, lots of space, clients willing to participate in what are clearly setup shots on what is supposed to be their wedding day.

Got to say also that there seems to be a tendency to call “cinematic” dSLR artistic, with the implication that longform documentary is not so. In my opinion neither are artistic and nor should they be. I'm going to pick on Evan now – sorry Evan :- ) But that reel is not artistic. Its just a procession of shots of detail. Easily half of its length is occupied by dress shoes tables etc. There is no emotion except that supplied by the music. Sorry again !!! Its not meant to be cruel or personal but just an observation that that is the nature of these reels.

Clients are easily influenced by what they are offered. This is not surprising as they don't get married all that often and do look to their photographers and videographers for guidance on what they ought to do. Its also a fact that people buy what they are shown in this business. This means that just because you see enthusiasm from your clients at the outset it does NOT mean that what you are offering has real staying power and the ability to gain you referrals years into the future.

To distil all that for the OP: its a hard life so make it a little easier on yourself by using the right tools for the job. Unless you are in a niche market you are probably using the wrong tools at present. If you stick to dSLRs and / or big kit you are very much limiting the numbers of weddings at which its even practical to shoot. In general be very wary of what may be short term trends and advice from some apparent experts (not within this thread) who may not even have many weddings under their belts let alone be earning a fulltime living at it.

Pete

Chris Harding April 14th, 2013 06:44 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Hi Guys

I don't want to start another DSLR/Video war as we have already had plenty of those with heated discussions so that's simply history. Surely the bottom line here is to cover the wedding for the bride correctly and completely? All the other comments are 100% correct and if you cannot provide stable footage with your DSLR's then by all means use a camcorder for the base coverage and your DSLR's for the eye-candy (like that expression from Noa!!) Remember it's the person that's behind the camera that counts, not the camera and brides really couldn't care less if you have a DSLR or video camera to do the job. I also use a GoPro at weddings to get a different angle on the wedding ceremony and yes, sometimes the footage is awesome and sometimes it really sucks!! Rather stick to something that gives you a solid backup of the wedding from start to end that you can rely on and then go for the little bits and pieces that makes your video special. That way if you totally mess up on the eye candy stuff you at least have your base footage to fall back on ... if the eye candy shots are fantastic then use them all or just some but make sure you have the so-called "boring" footage to cover your back.

Chris

Andrew Maclaurin April 15th, 2013 01:34 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Peter R,
"I'm not one to endlessly test equipment to destruction, pixel peeping footage of cats in coal cellars or gretag macbeth color charts propped against grocery packaging etc so I won't be uploading comparison files. Just too many variables. And its boring!!!"
Lol, I agree! I'd prefer to see the results of a camera working in a real life situation like an actual wedding, concert, etc.
Anyway, did you feel the AC90 was good enough to shot a wedding? I'm very much torn between a XA10 and the AC90. I like the features on the AC90 but as I said, I have yet to see any really good footage. Whilst the XA10 looks a bit fiddley, I think it has a lovely image from what I can see.

Chris Harding April 15th, 2013 05:41 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Hi Andrew

I nearly bought AC-90's but decided the new Sony EA-50 was the camera to beat! The one thing that really put me off the AC-90 was the fact that you only have manual levels on the XLR channels which is fine for ceremonies but once you are at the reception with audio varying from 30db to 120db, manual control just doesn't work and would be a nightmare!! Weird, they provide auto level on the internal mics but left it off the XLR channels completely

Chris

Andrew Maclaurin April 15th, 2013 07:14 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Chris, that's not really a problem for me as I usually record manually on 2 different channels, one recording low and the other which I monitor. I've never had any great problems using this technique. Did you try the ac90?

Greg Clark April 15th, 2013 07:17 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
This post has morphed from Robert's gutsy presentation for the critics to devour into Dslr vs Video to which Videocamera to purchase.
Robert I also have my wife as a second shooter. Thank goodness I don't use DSLR or she would have quit years ago.
I join the others that recommend a Videocamera but not a short zoom like the AC-90. A Panasonic AC130\160 would be my choice for greater coverage possibilities and marital bliss.

Peter Riding April 16th, 2013 02:42 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Greg, I think morphing is OK in this case because the most appropriate choice of equipment in relation to the OP's level of experience and aims is a key element. Good point about the wife's viewpoint; we can't expect 2nd shooters to have the same dedication as ourselves :- )

Andrew, the AC90 is new to me but I have used several TM900's on scores of weddings over the past 2 years and the results have been terrific in all but the lowest of lighting - don't ask me for a gain setting or an f-stop as my brain works in a stills mode not a video mode :- ) The AC90 being in effect a big brother of the TM900 / X920 series, an X920 with knobs on so to speak, I don't expect to be disappointed. Next wedding outing is not till 27th.

Chris, the issue over the levels is not a concern to me because I always use external recorders except in emergencies, but I think your observation may be wrong. I need to check in more depth but I'm pretty sure that if you go for 2 channel mode and have the mic going into the 2nd XLR you can get auto levels on it.

There are two manuals - one more or less a quick start and the other more detailed. I couldn't find these online for PAL when I was researching but obviously I got them on disc with my purchase. If anyone is interested I've put them on my site briefly here:

http://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/manual...al-part-01.pdf

http://www.ashtonlamont.co.uk/manual...al-part-02.pdf

I also researched the EA50 following Chris's advice but decided against it mainly because of its larger form factor - compact unintrusive equipment being part of my USP. It was tempting though with its touch screen auto focus selection point - could be highly attractive for those of us working with several cameras alone. Oh and its ability to take other manufacturers lenses all be it with an expensive adapter and some loss of functionality. Its shallower depth of field capability is actually a negative for me.

Pete

Robert Benda April 16th, 2013 08:52 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
I don't mind the debate over DSLR or not, though we'll keep using at least one, simply because the 5d Mark ii is pretty decent in low light and we do a pics/backdrop add-on.

I feel the next couple of weddings will reveal what we should do, if we need different cameras. We just filmed again Saturday, after we both read through this forum. I haven't started editing yet, though, as I've been making changes to the video I posted originally. I think I've done the best I can with the material available, which is by far our worst work. It was the first time we tried to do custom white balance and it was a disaster. This time we put that back on auto, and what I did see, was much better.

For my wife and myself, I gathered all in one place the material I've been studying... articles and videos on how-to shoot a wedding, tell a story, and use the camera properly. We've got six weeks to study and practice before season really kicks in.

Roger Gunkel April 16th, 2013 09:09 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Robert, I think it is great that you are being so open minded about it. You are doing exactly the right thing, taking in the differing points of view and experimenting yourself with different ways of working. As you gain more experience and read and learn more, you will find what suits you and your wife and gives you the best results.

Good luck with your progress and keep everyone up to date with how it is going.

Roger

Robert Benda April 16th, 2013 10:01 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Thanks, Roger.

For me it's all about being able to do something well. If I can do it well, then I want to do it great.

There are two kinds of ways to learn: 1) watch or listen to someone who is great at their job, and you can see what you never knew was possible; OR 2 (which happened Saturday) see someone who is so bad, you are reminded of what not to do.

The photographers we worked with were grumpy, curt, and made no effort to hide the fact. Just before the 1st sight, I was chatting up the groom, trying to prime him, asking leading questions 'are you nervous, excited?' and generally asking about his fiance. I got through 30 seconds and 2 questions before photographer turned to him and said, "You getting tired of 20 questions?" Grrrr. Look, lady, I'm just trying to get a better reaction here.

Later, when the photographers found out the 1st dance was at 8:30, they remarked, "well, they only have us til 8:30. I guess we'll have to stay til 9 and charge them extra."

It was just their whole attitude that rubbed us the wrong way and reminded me that, almost as much as anything, we have to at least pretend we're enjoying ourselves and care how things go. I just wanted to tell the photogs, 'Don't be that guy.'

Greg Clark April 16th, 2013 10:22 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Bravo Robert. Many photographers must go to school to learn to be reactionary toward videographers.

Al Gardner April 16th, 2013 12:20 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
[QUOTE=Noa Put;1790263]It will solve his problem on very short notice, like I said about those totally blown shots of the bride which would have looked ok with a regular videocamera.

Noa,
Nice work and even smarter business model. The business model is more what this conversation should be about.

I know a guy who uses six 5D's . 4 manned and 2 unmanned. He charges $2500 bucks for this. That's a awful business model.

Some people no doubt do amazing work with dslr's and some get paid accordingly. Sadly most do not.

The poster could learn a lot from your model.

Al

Andrew Maclaurin April 17th, 2013 09:40 AM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Peter, have you bought the AC90? If so what are your first impressions on the images it produces?

Al, you are correct about having the right business model (unless you are a hobbyist). I'm sure we could all make great videos if we could hire a whole lot of top class cameramen with their equipment but we wouldn't make much money! I am looking for the most cost effective camera for my needs. I would like my camera to make me as big a profit as possible.

Peter Riding April 17th, 2013 12:43 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Andrew, yes I bought one earlier this month and following a day of intensive manual studying and playing used it the following day on a wedding - that was not a risky strategy as I have other cams to fall back on.

I've described a few 1st impressions earlier in this thread in the post about that wedding.

Also its easier to hand hold than I was expecting courtesy of its form factor and built in image stabilisation. I have a cage and a shoulder rig but am hoping to get away with a monopod at most - unless I need to put a light on it at some point.

These removable straps work great with it:

Op/Tech Pro Camera Strap with Pro Loop Connectors

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I use them a lot on other gear such as the cage and shoulder rig, lightstands, big battery rigs,(for powering flashguns) and of course stills cameras.You can get extra connectors so that you don't have multiple complete straps:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

All part of my cunning plans which enable me to work quickly and efficiently alone :- )

A digression: Barry Green's highly recommended book on the AC90 that has been free to USA AC90 buyers, I was able to order it on amazon dot com even though I'm in the amazon dot co dot uk area, and shipping was only £5.41 from US to UK.

Pete

Johnny McMullen April 17th, 2013 02:35 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Pete how do you find matching the tm900 and the ac90? I have just recently purchased the ac90 and have to say that I am impressed so far!! I now just need a second cam for cut aways and back up, does the tm900 cut well?

Peter Riding April 17th, 2013 02:53 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
Johnny, I haven't edited that wedding yet, and its not a particularly good example as each of the 4 cams I was running had radically different viewpoints due to the variations in the type of mixed lighting, the dynamic range to deal with etc that you get in a dark interior that features small bright windows and a mix of daylight and concentrated tungsten.

But I have got as far as creating the multicam track for editing in Vegas Pro and it doesn't seem to be presenting any special challenges. Straight out the camera the AC90 may have slightly over-exposed and the white balance may have a slight magenta caste but both these are easily corrected and are more likely down to the unique position it was in than any bias. This was not a test so it wasn't practical to place two or more cams together on a rail to shoot the same subject under the same conditions.

The TM900 is an excellent 2nd cam. It was superceded by the X900 and that by the X920. The TM900 has a good reputation and pre-owned ones can command a high price. I'd be inclined to get an X900 and avoid paying the heavy premium for the new X920. I think the only downside with the X900 is that the card slot is underneath so you have to remove it from a head to change cards - but that should not be an issue with £25 32GB 45mb/s Sandisk class 10 cards from Amazon anyway :- )

They all can shoot at 1920x1080 progressive 50fps so you don't get any clip mixing silliness in post.

3 cams makes for an easier shoot than 2 cams. Counter-intuitive I know but it works.

Pete

Johnny McMullen April 18th, 2013 03:20 PM

Re: 8 weddings and one year later - feedback wanted
 
yeah I have been eyeing up the x900 and its within budget however the small form factor and lack of manual controls of the small handicams are putting me off slightly..How do you find using them at weddings? Is there anyway to mount a mic/light?

Ideally I would love another ac90 but two expensive hits in one year would be too much..:-)


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