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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old June 12th, 2013, 01:16 AM   #16
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia
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Re: What the Pros do...before...

Hey Byron, just one or two more things.

About order in which to do things when you arrive at ceremony and reception venue...

I'm sure everyone has their own method, but mine is basically:
-- talk to priest about where you're allowed to stand (not always necessary, if you're rushed...). At reception, talk to venue staff to work out where the crew table is and where you can put equipment, talk to DJ about getting a feed if he isn't madly setting up, and talk to MC about what time exactly the bridal party introductions happen, and what will happen when they enter (which door do they come in from; do they line up or go to their seats; do they start dancing or cut the cake straightaway, etc).
-- set cameras, based on information priest/MC tells you
-- set sound. This is an involved 30-minute process for me, but other guys on this board do it in under 5 minutes.
-- get establishing shots and candid shots of guests
-- bridal party arrival shots.

Reasoning is:
-- if I have the cameras in place, and run out of time to set audio, then at least I can record the thing, and either use on-camera sound if I'm desperate, or even setup audio during the ceremony, so that at least some of it has good sound.
-- getting good sound is more important than getting detail shots, which you can live without in your video, and which you can get a lot of during the ceremony itself
-- couples do like seeing arrival shots, but frankly you can do without them in the video if you have to, and you can also fake them (get a shot of the cars by themselves outside the church after the ceremony, or even re-enact bride getting out of car if you have to).

I do vary the order a lot, just depending. For instance, maybe there's no priest/DJ/MC around when you arrive. Or maybe you spot interesting things happening as you're setting up sound.

The other thing I wanted to say is to not let yourself be worried by anything I've written. Don't feel you have to memorize my shotlist and stick to it, for instance. Everyone does things their own way. Just have your camera on, and follow the action, and you'll be fine.

Keeping it simple is also good, I think -- I agree with Noa when he says one or two cameras max if you're not used to this. More cameras (or more gear in general) = more confusion. Keeping audio simple = lavaliere on groom, and plug into church/venue system if available, but otherwise relying on on-camera sound. You can make your setup more complex as time goes on, if you need to. "Acceptable" wedding audio is subjective; I know some guys on this board very much disagree with me here, but plenty of videographers I know rely on on-camera sound for the most part (for priest sound, for instance, and sometimes for reception toasts), and their businesses have been going fine for years.

If you're not used to weddings, the most difficult thing, I think, is simply knowing what's going to happen next and being ready for it. Things like everyone standing up when the bride enters, and blocking your view. Or knowing when to reposition cameras for the recessional. It's a hard thing to prepare for just by reading a forum. Like I said, just have that camera rolling, and follow the action, and I think you'll be fine. If in doubt, enlist the help of photographers or family members, particularly for things like Indian weddings where there might be lots of unfamiliar rituals -- tell them you're new to this, and ask them to help you with what's going to happen next and where you should be.

Edit: -- At receptions, one thing I've found is that couples love to see the room fully set up before the guests "spoil it". This is one important reason to arrive early at receptions. So, depending on how late I get there, I may prioritise getting these shots over setting up sound, since you still have a bit of time up your sleeve to set up sound after guests arrive but before bridal party make their entrance. Cake shots also can usually wait till after the introductions if you're pressed for time. Just means you'll likely have people in the background (hopefully B&G rather than randoms).

Last edited by Adrian Tan; June 12th, 2013 at 05:28 AM.
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Old June 13th, 2013, 08:21 PM   #17
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Luckey, OH
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Re: What the Pros do...before...

Thanks again! Really good information. I see wisdom in having the cameras ready first at weddings. I am used to getting the audio up first, so that's a change. I have been shooting events for awhile: commercials, educational stuff, plays, musicals, graduations, etc. With theatre, as long as you have good audio, you can fade in the video a second or two late and no one notices. Only happened to me once, but in the video it just looks like the lights fading in. However, I am just branching into weddings. I have my first one in two weeks. Well, technically not my first...I have setup a few stationary cams for a couple weddings for friends when I was either in the wedding or running the sound/lights. This one will be my first where I am actually able to compose the shots during the wedding. I am charging next to nothing as it is for a friend and I am inexperienced in this area (and I need some samples for future clients). Though they aren't paying much, I want to do it right. Handling multiple cameras should not be an issue for me. I have used up to four during a play. You nailed it when you said "knowing what's going to happen next and being ready" will be the issue. I am trying to glean as much information as I can before to be as prepared as possible. Thanks again!
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Old August 19th, 2013, 12:23 PM   #18
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Re: What the Pros do...before...

Well, I finished my first wedding and the highlight video for it. It was completed thanks to the help of this forum, and more specifically those of you who took the time to help me in this particular thread. I really appreciate all of your advice and I would like you to see what I did with it. If you are willing, I would love feed back to improve. I would like suggestions on any part of the process, but I think there is one area that I definitely need to fix before this coming weekend when I have my next wedding. I could not see it at the time, but there is a whole lot of flicker from the lights on the dance floor. What can I do to prevent this in the future?!? It really bothers me. If there is a way to fix this in post (I have the adobe suite), let me know as well. Again, thank you SO much for your help.

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Old August 19th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #19
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Re: What the Pros do...before...

About a year ago, I started keeping a shared google doc with each client. (I have a template and customize it for each new booking). On it, I have them enter all pertinent info, song selections from my song sites (like songfreedom), addresses, phone numbers, and a short questionnaire regarding the particulars of their wedding (short ceremony, vs. mass, etc., etc.). I've found that google doc invaluable. The client and I can be talking on the phone and we're both typing into it and making changes in real time. I'll often even refer to it on my phone on the day of the wedding and certainly during the editing process!

Other than that, I'm a bit more like Don in that I'm very detail oriented but keep those logistics in my head (the order of packing things, charging batters, etc.) (There isn't a detailed checklist -- at least not written out -- beyond the google doc that the B&G see).
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