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Ben Auker October 16th, 2010 11:50 AM

Starting a New Wedding Viedographer Business Advice Please
Heya Guys.

As you might have gathered from the title, my twin brother and I are looking into starting our own business filimg weddings. I have done some reading up, but i just wanted some advice from people who already know what they are doing, so here i am =D.

Can any of you guys please tell me the following:-

1) What camera is best to use? We will be using two of the same, i am just unsure which cam to go for.

2) Slightly confused about the correct and best way to capture audio. Is a lapel mic best for the vows, or is there a better, even if more expensive way, to get good audio?

3) About editing software, i know final cut is meant to be very good, anyone recoomend this or any others?

Please feel free to give me any advice you think i might need to know :) Thanks for your time people :)


Jay West October 16th, 2010 01:54 PM


"1) What camera is best to use? We will be using two of the same, i am just unsure which cam to go for."

Your question is something that gets debated regularly, but everybody who debates this winds up agreeing that there is no such thing as a "best" choice. The answer is "best for whom" is a different matter. What I find best for me might be insufficient for another wedding videographer and too much for yet another.

That also leads to the fundamental questions of "best for what budget?" and "does your budget have room for things like extra batteries and tripods?"

Budget and other situations bear heavily on the selection of cameras and equipment. For example, we all need to consider how to deal with low-light events. Some wedding venues can be dim and dark (for example, a candlelight service in the evening). For things like first dances at receptions, the lights are often turned down very low for romantic "atmosphere." Some wedding videographers are able to and do work with various kinds of lights. Those of us who do not or are not allowed to use lighting --- in my region, none of the wedding venues allow video lights, and most forbid even flash photography, and all of my customers have said they do not want video lights at their reception --- rely on low light capabilities of our cameras.

Some folks find large sensor DSLR cams are just the ticket for getting good "natural" low light video and readily work with shallow depths of field and work around the limitations of DSLR cameras. The limitations include very limited internal audio capabilities and short clip recording times.) Some folks work with a combination, using a DSLR for the close shots and a prosumer style camcorder (such as a Canon XHA1 or Sony AX2000) for medium shots. Others, myself included, find DSLRs' limitations are too much for what we do and how we do things.

What I've found works best for me for low lighting are Sony cams like the NX5/AX2000. Are there cameras with better low light capabilties? To be sure. There is, for example, the Sony EX1 with its " sensors that have better low-light capabilities than, say, my NX5 and FX1000. However, I needed two cams, not one, and got my two cameras for significantly less money than a single EX1 would have cost me. Would two two EX1 cams have been better? Probably, but I did not have a budget big enough to fund two EX1s. So, my choice was the best one for me with my budget.

That said, I also have to say that a significant percentage of what I've shot in this summer's weddings could be have done equally or almost as well with the little Sony CX550 cams that I use for locked-down/fixed cam "b-roll." While the little CX550 cams are not impressive looking --- which can be a consideration if they are the only cams you show up with at your gig --- they are only 1/3 the price of an AX2000.

So, you may get better advice if you can provide a more detailed question about what your background and existing skills are, and about your budget range. Even telling us what cameras you have been considering would help in giving you better answers to your questions.

2) Slightly confused about the correct and best way to capture audio. Is a lapel mic best for the vows, or is there a better, even if more expensive way, to get good audio?

Check out the audio forum here. There are many discussions of variations on this question. Again, as above, some indication of budget would be helpful in tailoring an answer to your particular situation.

What I can tell you from the little you have given us is this. For vows at wedding ceremonies, you will want a lapel mike whether you run it to (a) a wireless body-pack that transmits to a camera mounted receiver or (b) run it to digital recording unit such as a Zoom H4. My personal preference is to use wireless hooks ups for the officiant and/or groom because feeding it to a camera lets me monitor the sound and also automatically synchs the audio to the video. I am currently using an AT100 and a Sennhesiser G3. I use a couple of different digital recording devices for things like pulling house sound from inconveniently located control panels and for placing on lecterns (with lavaliers) to pick up readers and speakers in echo-prone rooms where the house-sound feed is not good. If I were starting out right now, I'd probably start by looking at units like the Zoom H1 and H4. Searching on them in the audio forum will get you to discussions of the alternatives.

3) About editing software, i know final cut is meant to be very good, anyone recoomend this or any others?

I can certainly recommend Final Cut and others, but it is hard to know what you want in the way of recommendation. Do you already have Final Cut and a Mac and want to know what your options are? Are you looking at buying hardware and software? Are you looking only for Mac or are you considering a PC? Hard to respond without this kind of info.

Danny O'Neill October 16th, 2010 03:21 PM

Hi Ben, welcome to this wonderful world that we all inhabit.

There is no right or wrong way and everyone will have an opinion. It's all about finding a way which works for you and your clients.

1) for us we used to use a pair of sony fx1's. Recently we switched to shooting all in canon dslr's. We did this because we loved the look and the type of clients we attract also enjoy the look. But there are also others who are not into the whole dslr scene.

2) we use a lav mic on the groom, that's our primary source, then we use shotgun mics on the cameras and other audio recorders for readings and the like.

3) we use pc and sony vegas. It's fast, handles any type of file without messing around. It's not one of the most popular though. Personal preference.

It's all about finding a workflow and setup which works for you. We only produce short form edits and have adapted our methods to make the most of this.

Good luck, your goning to enjoy it ;)

Danny O'Neill October 18th, 2010 04:34 AM

We firmly believe the lav mic is the best way to capture the vows, others swear by their onboard mic and will not work any other way.

What applied last month may not be the best and latest thing.

Yes, its true that wedding film is not an easy quick way to make money. There is no way you can turn up with a camera and film and hope thats it. You need redundancy, spare cameras, backup audio. Why only this weekend our wireless had the most bizzare interference with noise coming in and out. So we had to rely on our plan B. But we also know Plan C and D also captured the audio.

We train quite a few people who are totally new to all this. Be them amatures or photographers. We show them what we do and then what we use to do it. We then go through how to use it. Then, time and experience are whats needed.

But that all said. There are people here in the UK who do turn up with a Sony handycam and a Jessops tripod. Edit in Final Cut express and charge 300. They do it all on a wing and a prayer. Here in the UK you need an MCPS licence to film each event and then if you use music on the final edit are required to buy a PPL licence per disk. Some venues ask to see our liability insurance and would turn us away if we couldnt produce it.

Ben, I think the best thing to do is give us a little introduction to yourself, your background and what your goals are. Then you can get some really good advice.

Rob Harlan October 18th, 2010 07:30 AM


Originally Posted by Danny O'Neill (Post 1579391)
Why only this weekend our wireless had the most bizzare interference with noise coming in and out. So we had to rely on our plan B. But we also know Plan C and D also captured the audio

I have experienced this from time to time, mostly in churches and tellingly a couple of times in the same venue. My wireless lav is mains operated which I'm yet not ruling out may be the source of the interference.

Only having the one lav at the moment, my backup is onboard shotgun - not bad at all for smaller venues, but hardly ideal in a large church.

I'm going to invest in an independent audio recorder such as an H4N to try and leave running close to the proceedings, and upgade my lav to a Sennheiser kit (although I'm not yet convinced having a 'more expensive' radio mic will eliminate interference).

What were your 3 backup plans for capturing audio during interference then? 4 of the latest Sennheiser lavs attached to various people/positions would cost around two-and-a-half grand by my reckoning. And do you ever ask/are granted permission to mic the officiant? By the frosty reception videographers/photographers receive in some churches regarding cameras I'm doubting our officials here would be so obliging as American counterparts appear to be...?

Richard Wakefield October 18th, 2010 07:35 AM

A warm welcome to you Ben....wow, that could be interesting having twins filming a wedding - that could confuse the hell out of the photographers :)

Danny - OMG, so weird you say that! i LITERALLY this minute have taken a minute out from editing, after being completely baffled with a wireless mic audio fault! for 5 seconds during the vows it makes harsh crackling noises (poss. interference?). thankfully, the first time i've ever had it to be fair... Thank god I had the H4n AND shotgun mics recording too, phew!

guys + gals, make sure you cover your backs all the time! technology is out to test you!!

Danny O'Neill October 18th, 2010 09:05 AM

The wireless thing was weird. I've had interference before and you can sort it by moving the wireless, holding the aerial, standing on one leg but this was unlike normal interference. It sounds like rain. At first I thought it was rain as it was a wet day but the sound comes in slowly for 5 seconds then fades out. At regular intervals it fades in and fades out. No amount of wiggling or moving affected it which is weird for interference.

Our backups are an audio recorder on the lecturn for readings in church. Shotgun up front and another H4N hidden.

Jay West October 18th, 2010 11:08 AM

I rather suspect that Ben and his brother are new enough to this subject that they may not yet have the vocabulary to ask the pointed questions that: (a) would help them search for the right threads to collect the opinions and/or (b) ask the more pointed questions here that would get them useful answers.

So, Ben, if you are new to this stuff, and you are still reading, you will get more useful and less curmudgeonly responses if you pose the question this way: "My twin brother and I are considering event videography work and are looking for recommendations on getting started with equipment. We plan on doing two camera shoots of weddings and think we need to look at upgraded editing software for mutli-camera editing. Our current computer equipment is _________________ (Mac/PC specs). We also would like suggestions for either a wireless lavalier and/or recording devices or maybe both. We've looked through other threads and know that there is a lot we could buy if we had the money, but our start-up funds are limited. Bearing in mind that we are just starting to learn the ropes and have a budget of __________________, we are asking for some suggestions for what we could buy in the way of 2 cameras, editing software, and mikes or audio recorders. We are (or are not) interested in suggestions for used equipment (and would/would not like some suggestions for where to look besides the DVinfo Classifieds.)"

Chris Harding October 18th, 2010 05:01 PM

Hi Guys

Good ideas already on this thread!! However it's probably also a good idea for Ben to put his cards on the table regarding the all important budget. It's no good suggesting a pair of Sony EX3 cams (at around $14,000 a piece here) when their budget is much lower.

Give a rough idea of how much your budget can stand to begin with. That way people can suggest cameras and gear that you can actually afford and as already mentioned, remember you need almost double of everything!! Wedding ceremonies don't pause while your only camera battery is re-charging!!)

Bear in mind that you will also need tripods, camera lighting, reception lighting, wireless mics/recorders and plenty more just to shoot a wedding. You do need to allow for other gear in your budget apart from cameras!!


Roger Shealy October 18th, 2010 07:57 PM


Just to get the debate started, I'll throw in a few suggestions on the low end of things that I believe would allow you to produce a very good product at a reasonable cost. Consider two high end consumer cams and one DSLR. Consider a small camera like the Panasonic TM700 (about $1,000 each with extra batteries and memory cards) and a Canon t2i DSLR with Tamron 17-50mm VCII f2.8 lens ($1,800 with extra batteries, case,and several 32GB class 6 SD cards) or take a look at the Panasonic GH2 when it gets released next month. You can place one of the TM700's in the safe "catch it all" unmanned position in the balcony or choir loft, and have your brother man the other TM700 to catch tighter shots and follow the action. You can run the DSLR for high impact shots with shallow DOF to splice into the TM700's continuous footage. Some would prefer the excellent low light Sony CX550 in lieu of the TM700 for weddings. The CX550 is better in low light (big positive for reception areas...), but they are not quite as good in good light, and don't have the manual audio and focus ring of the TM700. You could convince me either way, but I'm biased toward manual controls for video and audio. I hear the TM700 does pretty good in low light except in 60P mode.

Buy 2 Sennheiser G3 wireless sets with lavs and hot shoe mounts & Case ($2,000 for dual kit) http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/643148-REG/Sennheiser_EW_100_G3_Series.html#features . This will give you incredible flexibility to use the handheld, or use the transmitter cube for boom mic's later if you get a pole and a shotgun mic. You can run each of these into the TM700's for your audio; just make sure you keep the TM700's running for uninterrupted audio. Also consider a couple Zoom H1's to plant around, a steal at $99 each http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/699403-REG/Zoom_H1_H1_Ultra_Portable_Digital_Audio.html
Consider 4 small LED lights to accentuate low light environments without totally blinding the audience I have purchased several of these and they are great and last for 1 hour on a charge. You and your brother can each use one and have a spare charged for back-up. You can also use these for impromptu interviews. One or two on pointed from the side of the subject, and one behind the subject for back lighting. Not very sophisticated, but it works and is very portable. Purchase 2 Lowpro backpacks to put your gear in http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/531351-REG/Lowepro_LP35185_PEU.html
Now the hard part, tripods. Don't skimp on your main tripod. I recommend an excellent tripod for your main, active TM700, something like the new Vinten Vision Blue with mid spreader ($1,300) coming out next month. You need one really good tripod. This is in many ways more important than the camera. I'm going to recommend a cheap Velbon 607 for the static camera and for emergency active use. It's cheap and does amazingly smooth pans and tilts for cameras under 5 lbs (although significant bounce back at end of pans). Consider the Monfrotto 561B monopod for your DSLR http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/618351-REG/Manfrotto_561BHDV_561BHDV_Video_Monopod_with.html I use this frequently with mine and its extremely fast and helps you set-up and get the shots almost as fast as freehand without all the shakes.

This is about as inexpensive a package as I can imagine for new gear to produce solid work and it will set you back about $7,000 for camera gear. If you don't have software, I'm partial to Vegas Pro. I hear Vegas 10 is great, or you may want to look at CS5, especially if you are inclined to learn AfterEffects, Photoshop, and Soundbooth. Might as well add a new PC and big screen to the mix at around $3,000. You're going to need some horsepower and disc space to be efficient at this. Be sure and get an i7 and a "CUDA" graphics card to support CS5 or Vegas graphic acceleration engines. This puts you in around $10,000 total. From here things get quite expensive to move higher up the sophistication ladder. It takes a lot more money and talent to make the product significantly better.

Next things to add would be a Merlin steady cam (with or without vest, depending on budget) and a second high end tripod. Want to spend more? Upgrade from TM700's to pro-sumer cameras, which there are many, many to choose from, which will run you around $2,500 - $4,500 per camera. Also add a glide rail for tripod ($500 - $1,200). As you can see, you can double your expense in a heartbeat to add a little extra capability.

John Wiley October 19th, 2010 08:01 PM

Ben, as you can see there are as many opinions here about gear as there are people.

Thats because the gear is only ever as good as the person operating it, so it all comes down to operator preference eg: onboard sound or external audio recorders? Mac or PC? Tape-based or card-based camcorders? Cinematic style or documentary style? Full lenght or highlights only?

So, understanding that the driver is more important than the gear, my advice would be to get as much practice with all the equipment & software as possible. Beg, borrow & hire cameras to see which ones you like, download trials of all the software (FCP, Premiere Pro, Vegas, Media Composer, Edius Neo), and most importantly shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot anything that might give you the practice you need for filming weddings - your nephews christening, your mother-in-laws 50th birthday party, etc so you can get experience with the gear and practice editing. Then offer to shoot friends or family members weddings for free, or even ask another videographer if you can tag along for some of his weddings.

Once you've got some practice and played with plenty of different gear, you can get a better idea of what style of video's you'll be producing, what kind of gear/systems you prefer using, what software you like, etc. When you combine all that extra information, then we'll be able to really give you good advice about what cameras might suit you best.

Chip Thome October 23rd, 2010 01:08 PM

Depending on the forum board you are on, asking which is the best software to use could be akin to starting a barroom brawl, people are so passionate about their choices. :-)

Starting out now, you most likely are going to be shooting HD. To edit that takes horsepower and the latest versions of any of the software programs/suites that are out there. Some people have done transcoding to SD and edited with their existing set ups. Starting out, you might as well jump in and learn it all with as current of a workflow and software as is available. It makes no sense to learn old technology, in order to save a few dollars.

Final Cut has a lot of fans on this board and others. A Mac with a decent size monitor that will handle it all and do it fast, and the full Final Cut suite is the most expensive of the options you have available.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Production Premium and an i7 quad core with decent monitor will be substantially less.

IMO, you should look at the suites, as they have programs that are integrated and designed to work together. Up front your concern is probably just editing. As you push yourself and your desire for quality and creativity you will see where the suites and the options they offer you will come into play. I don't know if Final Cut offers it's programs as separate stand alone products. I own and do know that Adobe does. But buying Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop separately is not at all cost effective.

Sony Vegas too has a lot of fans, and that too will need the latest in PC computer to get the full benefit from it.

From my experience and that of others I have know, go with the Pro versions of whatever product you select. I do have a friend who has edited some very nice work in Adobe Premiere Elements, but the workflow is very different than the Pro version, and if you are learning a new software, you might as well learn the Pro, as you are going to end up there one day anyway.

Adobe and Sony offer downloadable trial versions with most of their capabilities enabled, to allow you a chance to get a feel for what you might be buying.

Whichever one you select, training in it is just as important. I have used Lynda.com and highly suggest their monthly $25. membership to get you up to speed. I know they cover Adobe products thoroughly, and believe they do Final Cut as well. I am not sure about Vegas, but a search of their site should be able to tell you that. If you purchase Adobe, Adobe gives a "premium" when you register. One their premiums is a month at Lynda.com, I suggest taking that over the others.

Chris Harding October 24th, 2010 06:43 AM

Hi Chip

Just a point about NLE software and transcoding is that you also have to take into account that you are running a business. I still transcode from Hd to SD before I edit. Technically the HD rendered to SD should give a better DVD but I have yet to see any significant difference between an AVCHD 1080 source file, a 50mbs HDV source file and a DV-AVI (transcoded from 1080) each written for authoring to a DVD as an MPEG2. I have watched samples as well as asked others to watch samples of all 3 and NO-ONE has accurately said that one is consistently better than the other.

Now when running a wedding business you do need to ask yourself if it makes sense to spend an hour and a bit rendering all your wedding clips or 2 days when the result is likely to be the same??? I just look at it from an economic point of view and to be able to render a 20 minute ceremony clip in around 12 mins as opposed to nearly 3 hours on my DuoCore 2,2GHz machine means my 'puter is freed up to make me money !! I would start having serious work backlogs if I worked with HD files all the time when my clients (both commercial and wedding ) only want DVD media!!


Richard Wakefield October 24th, 2010 07:01 AM

I absolutely know what you're trying to say Chris, and it of course makes a lot of good sense....

but for arguments sake, def. consider that working in HD means you have the option to make DVD AND Blu-Ray AND HD Vimeo clips. Certainly I feel that for me, having gorgeously crisp HD Vimeo clips, makes my site + blog look very professional. And at the end of the day, the online clips get me my bookings (I don't do fayres, mags, ads etc). So in other words, putting slightly more time and effort into HD, really can help sell you.

But yes, I agree, def. make sure you have a system that can cope with editing in HD, without slowing your workflow. There's no way I could edit what I edit now on my old system, i'd be tearing my hair out with render waits!

Chris Harding October 24th, 2010 04:54 PM

Hi Richard

Sorry I neglected to say that my first task is to copy the original AVCHD footage to my drive...!!! From there I will. of course, use them without any transcoding for online 1280x720 samples and also they are ready and available if the client does want a BD disk either immediately or later on!!

We unfortunately have a situation here where few, if any, brides even know what a BluRay player is and the rush for users to buy players has been dismal to say the least!! I think in the last two full seasons I have had just one enquiry about their wedding on HD media!! Absolutely shoot in HD always!!


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