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-   -   Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/wedding-event-videography-techniques/513154-wedding-video-camera-placements-number-cameras.html)

Matt Thomas January 4th, 2013 04:53 PM

Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
Hi guys,

Shooting a Wedding video later in the month, it's the first one I've shot myself and my friend's second. We have 3 Z7s available to use to shoot it and I was wondering about placements for the actual ceremony.

My instincts would be to have 4 cameras/positions, 1 wider static, 1 on the bride, 1 on the groom and 1 on the vicar, it would be good to have extra ones of guests, but with lacking equipment and people to operate the cameras, I feel those 4 would be the key elements to focus on. I'm not too sure where I would put a camera that focused on the vicar. I'm guessing the wide would most likely go at the back as ideally I'd like it to go behind the vicar, quite high up, so you get the guests faces not just the backs of their heads, but I don't think there'd be anywhere to set it up.

Also, as we only have 3 Z7s, if we did do 4 cameras the only ones we have ourselves are my 550D and Sony HC3 and her 600D, so I wouldn't be sure which to use. The Sony HC3 is HDV so might match the Z7s better but is only 1080i rather then Z7s which can be 1080p 25p, so wasn't sure if that would be an issue. I know we could use 1080i on the Z7s but I'd rather shoot progressive.

Anyway, if anyone as any advice on camera positions etc, I'll be extremely grateful,


Adrian Tan January 4th, 2013 05:17 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
Here's one possible plan, amongst many (a huge amount depends on the layout of the church, details of the ceremony, etc).

-- Basic play: two 45-degree cams, one straight-on wide cam (unmanned), as you've suggested. Don't have the 45-degree cams stuck to the spot, but let them move around to get reaction shots of audience, cutaways, etc.
-- Stick with three cameras, so that you don't confuse yourselves, and don't have to worry about matching cameras in post.
-- On entry: have your friend operate the groom-favouring camera to get a first look. Worry about being masked when people stand up for the bride. Set one unmanned camera from back of church, on a high tripod, framed for entire bridal party, vicar and readers. Crouch down at the front with your third camera on a monopod, on the groom's side (so you're not crossing the line), pointed up the aisle towards the church door, to get the bride's look as she approaches the groom, then scamper out of the way at the last moment. (This is something I often do, but I know other people don't like it. If it's possible for you to position your camera amongst the pews, a row or two from the front, or even behind the vicar, you could probably capture bride's first look from those positions as well).
-- During ceremony: reposition your crouching camera to be the bride-favouring close-up camera.
-- Hopefully you and your friend will have the freedom to move your 45-degree cameras around a little. You don't have to stay stuck on bride and groom for the duration. Can move towards front of church and turn around to get cutaways of mother of bride crying. Can get shots or of musicians or details around the chuch, etc. As long as that wide you've got rolling is reliable. When someone goes up to do a reading, make eye contact with your friend and work out who's going to take the shot, and use one of your 45-degree cams for a midshot. The vicar can be covered in a similar fashion if he steps up to a lectern to deliver a sermon or whatever.
-- Rings -- might be hard for you to get a clear close-up of rings. That's one of the trade-offs for this setup.
-- On signing the registry: could be a mess. Use one camera to get static, safe, wide-shot, continuous coverage. Use one of the other cameras to get close-ups (of hands writing, of faces), and reaction shots from the rest of the bridal party, the guests, etc. The camera at back of church you could just leave there, since it might be tricky to move it around.
-- On exit: Camera at the back of church will hopefully cover aisle. Position one camera outside the church, to get that iconic shot where they throw rice. Position last camera... your choice. Could be at initial 45 degree angle, getting mid shot of last few announcements before they start walking "Could everyone stand and welcome the new Mr and Mrs...", then letting them walk out of frame, to be picked up by the back-of-church camera.

By the way, don't forget to worry about sound! Lapel mic (radio or plugged into small recorder) on the groom, and, if possible, one on the celebrant is pretty standard, plus any other recorders and mics you can strategically place to get good sound.

Nigel Barker January 4th, 2013 09:13 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
It's much easier to match up footage when they are all from the same model camera so I would use just the 3X Z7. Assuming that the vicar is OK with your camera positions (not a given so go to the rehearsal to show what a good guy you are) then one locked off on bride's side facing the groom plus one operated on the groom's side facing the bride plus another roaming camera at the back should cover all you need. The vicar won't like the operator at the front moving about much except for moments like when when he & the couple go & sign the register or go off to the altar for some prayers. The operator at the back can probably move about a bit more shooting cutaways of the congregation.

It's superficially appealing to have as many cameras as possible but it becomes a nightmare in post to match up footage from a load of different cameras & it just increases the work if you are cutting between a bunch of different cameras.

Don Bloom January 4th, 2013 09:27 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
Your camera placement might be limited to whatever the officiant says it is. Don't get locked into one way of thinking. Perhaps if possible you could stop by the venue beforehand to see what the ideal placements would be then ask someone affiliated with the venue to find out what they allow.
It's a silly thing to mention but remember, it's their house, their rules. I've seen photographers get scolded and yes, ask to leave a church during a ceremony because he couldn't help himself and play by their rules.

D.J. Ammons January 4th, 2013 10:12 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
We generally use 3 cameras and one is a shoulder held (via spiderbrace) at the front (operator usually on right side front row. The second is a center cam on tripod or crane depending on the venue. This one is also is a manned camera utilizing tilt, pan, and zoom as needed during the ceremony. Our third cam is a stationary one that is also a center cam but fixed on a wide shot. It serves as our emergency B roll camera in editing if both of the other cameras shots are not good. That third fixed cam on the wide shot has saved our butts more than once!

Dave Partington January 5th, 2013 01:51 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras

Three cameras is usually plenty for churches in Yorkshire ;)

1) Unattended in the choir stalls looking back at the couple
2) At the back of the isle (manned), you'll be able to see the vicar and the couple and choose what you want to shoot
3A) A side camera (manned) at the front (a little behind the couple) will give you an alternative shot of the vicar 'and' give you options for readings and if you're lucky you'll see the bride's face during the vows / rings. The positioning of this camera varies from church to church and some churches there is simply no room for it.

3B) As an alternative to the side camera, a high/wide camera from the back to give you editing options while you focus / zoom in / out for the readings.


Occasionally we find a church that can benefit from a 4th (or even 5th) camera, and some churches there are options for only two (front unattended and one at the back of the isle) and a couple we've been in that you get to squeeze a couple of cameras right next to each other in the isle, one wide and one to play with and zero other options ;)

So, there is no hard and fast rule, but there are certainly some recipes we follow depending on the church layout.

Dan Burnap January 6th, 2013 01:26 AM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
I'm considering buying a light \ mic stand and sticking a new GoPro Hero 3 on top, checking the angle via the smartphone app and letting it film the congregation unmanned. The reasons for this are:

Apart from the standing up and sitting down the guests dont really do anything. The footage although wont match brilliantly with the main cams footage is a good cut away, backup which you can insert pretty much anywhere.

Set it up early enough and you could do a nice timelapse of guests filling up the church.

A three metre light stand has a small enough profile, can be put to one side and wont be obstructed by any guest standing in front of it.

Paul Mailath January 6th, 2013 05:50 AM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras

Originally Posted by Adrian Tan (Post 1771210)
that iconic shot where they throw rice. .

I don't know what churches you shoot in but rice/confetti/anything is banned in most of the churches I work at - Greek being the exception

Chris Harding January 6th, 2013 06:08 AM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
Hi Dan

I either put a Hero on the top balcony or on a 3m stand beside my aisle camera...No-one can block that or walk in front of it and it's nice to cut away to the Hero when the readers walk up to the lectern to strut their stuff and then cut back to your aisle cam for the actual reading....It's saved my bacon many times.

I just use 3 cams...the Hero up high and then my main cam on the right hand side of the aisle (to favour the bride's face) and the second on my shoulder to shoot cutaways, wides and any action away from the main camera which is usually quite tight on the couple..the main cam carries all the audio too.


Peter Riding January 6th, 2013 12:20 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
I reckon the ideal is 3 actual cams plus a GoPro if there is somewhere suitable to place it (placing a GoPro is by no means easy at every wedding even though you'd think it would be).

This ensures that you can cover the bride plus the groom plus have a wide angle / scene setter, and cut to the GoPro for extra effect. You should be able to operate one of the 3 main cams at any time to accomplish appropriate reframing / change to vicar / change to readers / change to guest shots etc. Meanwhile the other two cams are locked down either temporarily or permanently depending on the venue regulations regarding movement and the practicality of you moving positions without causing distractions or ruining the stills compositions.

However in practice churches seldom meet ideal shooting conditions even with the most cooperative of celebrants because of their physical features and layouts.

For example this forward area has no suitable position from which to capture the brides face and no chance of shooting from within or oblique to the altar area (were that even desirable):


In these conditions the small cams that work well in low light such as the ridiculously cheap Panny X900 can be a godsend as can place or clamp them anywhere. Look on the stone shelf above the left fellows head in this photo to see one in action:


I also had a GoPro on a lightstand just off centre right above the guest in the white tie.

A second cam was placed right at the back of the church for this view:


The third cam was positioned at the front in line with but several yards away from the left of the assembly in front of the altar (see 1st photo of altar area) from which I could shoot the grooms face if indeed he ever looked sideways rather than forwards, and also get the readers and cutaways to the guests:



These are stills rather than frame grabs but you get the idea.

Its a case in point where even with a very co-operative celebrant and an enthusiastic couple you can only do what you can do.

I would be very reluctant to mount locked off cams on substantial tripods as they soon wreck the ambience of the event, going some way to being why wedding videography s not nearly as popular as it ought to be. Try using single column lightstands with heads instead the new small cams usually have very effective IS built in so a little vibration is a non-issue. Or use magic arms and clamps.

At this wedding it was completely impossible to shoot from ahead of the couple (this shot with a Canon 15mm fisheye:


I had a GoPro on a lightstand immediately left of the camera position, a clamped cam on the rails behind the vicar, a locked off cam on a lightstand at the rear, and the main cam with me for this:



A civil ceremony showing two cams at the front. Its not obvious but there is a string quartet front left so no room for anything there other than a lightstand with a small cam on it behind their seats. Main cam on this occasion is front right. 3rd cam was locked off at the rear after the processional:



I shoot alone. Imagine what its like if a photog and a videog are fighting for positions front right! Horrendous for the ambience.

One last one. Again impossible to get ahead of the couple or shoot through the railings:


But a small black cam you can just see clamped to the wooden structure top right captured the couples faces, ring exchange etc beautifully:


Its always worth it to get along to the rehearsal if its an unfamiliar venue or if you think you may not have much prep time on the day. You can then think it through and try stuff out without feeling any pressure.


Adrian Tan January 6th, 2013 03:46 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras

Originally Posted by Paul Mailath (Post 1771445)
I don't know what churches you shoot in but rice/confetti/anything is banned in most of the churches I work at - Greek being the exception

Come to think of it -- you're right. Only seen rice once. Confetti never.

But rose buds -- quite a few times. Bubbles -- more often.

Jim Snow January 6th, 2013 09:41 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
A general comment to keep in mind when you consider camera placement. When you look at an empty venue, don't forget that a number of apparantly good camera positions will be blocked at the ceremony by attendants, flowers and other decoration as well as guests. You can determine many of these if you are able to attend the rehersal.

Matt Thomas January 7th, 2013 05:20 AM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
Thanks guys, you've given me sound good things to think about.

We will be going to the rehearsal, so will get a chance to have a look before the day.

Peter Rush January 7th, 2013 10:14 AM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras

Originally Posted by Peter Riding (Post 1771478)
In these conditions the small cams that work well in low light such as the ridiculously cheap Panny X900 can be a godsend as can place or clamp them anywhere.

Peter, tell me about the X900 - I'm looking for a little cam to put on a light stand as well as my GoPro but don't really want to spend more than 700-1000 as I already have 2 main cameras. How wide is the lens angle and just how good in low light is it compared to say the TM900?


Nigel Barker January 7th, 2013 12:51 PM

Re: Wedding Video Camera Placements and Number of Cameras
Even more intriguing for a locked off unattended camera is the X800 which has the same optics & sensor but is just 499 while the X900 is 699. The zoom lens on both is a 30-360mm full frame equivalent

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