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    The Wedding Brick Wall
    #1
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    Has anyone figured out how to do wedding videos?

    Among all conceivable motion-picture undertakings, they are to me Mount Everest. To some that may be surprising, because they pay little and are easy to break into. But the hardest jobs often pay the least (this could be its own thread).

    But my point is, while any fool can get hired to shoot a wedding, a wedding is the hardest type of video to do well.

    • Live. No second takes.
    • Event. The experience of the guests is primary. The recording is secondary. If your recording interferes with the guests' enjoyment, you have failed.
    • Ritual. Weddings are tied to ritual. This is a whole other thread, but rituals have pros and cons. One con is pacing. A ritual is both sacred and long. Since sacred, you feel guilty cutting the least microsecond. Since long, how is it not boring to watch unless you cut it violently?
    • Light. The lighting in churches and receptions suck, often on purpose. Modern churches are well lit (but lack character). Old churches have character but are lit for liturgy (candlelight). Reception lighting is restaurant lighting, more or less. That is to say, soft and dim. Flattering for guests, villainous for video.
    • Sound. Ceremonies and receptions have multiple audio sources (officiant, groom, bride, readers, musicians, speeches), and none of them want to have lavs on for the whole day.

    More as a mental exercise than a practical problem, I have wondered what the magic formula is. How could I do a wedding video that meets all of these criteria:

    • Thorough and coherent. An unedited single take of the whole day would meet this but fail the rest.
    • Meaningful and interesting. Well paced. Not boring.
    • Natural, realistic. Not artificial, foreign, or strange. Watching the video should feel like being there. It can be distilled, in the way that orange essence still smells like an orange. But it should not feel different. Many "slick" wedding videos fail this test. They are fast-paced and beautiful. But they look like every other slick wedding video. They have lost the idiosyncrasies of this couple's day.
    • Discreet. Ideally you are invisible.
    • Affordable. The ultimate democratizer. Rich and poor have weddings. Can rich and poor (or at least middle class) afford a decent wedding video?


    This is the conundrum. I can think of ways of fulfilling some of these goals but not all at the same time. For example, I could hire four other expert cameramen, bring lots of lights, and edit the video into 10 minutes. It would be beautiful and well-paced but not thorough, coherent, discreet, or affordable. Or I could show up with just myself and a camera. I could be discreet and affordable, but how can I capture everything (from one angle at a time) and still keep it interesting?

    Such is the Brick Wall of Wedding Videos, the art form upon which I and many others have slammed against and been shattered.


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    With the other thread thread that Dan started, I’m now wondering, what percentage of people getting married actually do have video done. I can’t recall a wedding I’ve been to in recent memory that actually had video. Even the six figure one was only stills.


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    Its a hard one?

    Personally agree with Eric or whoever said it that photos wise the one shot of the couple smiling down the barrel really the only shot that matters.

    Ive done some weddings and know there about 5 places you can get that one shot.

    Basically church door, or pose it later.

    --

    I guess you have to agree with the client - a taster or the full thing.

    The full thing is a pain; getting everyone wired for sound - a taster to quick cuts to music is easy.

    Some personal notes..

    Weddings are important to the couple - make it important to you or dont do it. To be half assed is not fair on the couple.

    The videos that will last capture emotion, not the £5000 shoes going on with a 1.2.

    forget jibs and track and drones.. get in the right place using the shoulder.. get tears and smiles THIS is what matters.

    You gotta have 'chops' - to read the people and get ahead of them. Use your camera like part of your body - you gotta be super slick if using a DSLR or cinema camera to ba able to change ND or swap lense without thought while managing audio.

    You have to smoothly switch from 1.2 art to asking mum how proud she is (more important)
    This is a cry for an ENG cam but if you are slick with an FS7 you can do it.

    If you don't have 'chops' then you are not old/experienced enough for wedding a/b cam op. You cannot be the numpty trying to attach your slider to your Sony A7 while uncle jim is cleaning up on his iPhone. YOu must not get beaten by an iPhone wealder.

    You should also hoover up all the iPhone footage for the edit!

    I think two decent ops can get coverage - generally starting one with bride and other with groom.

    If there is spare cash bring in further ops with the drones and jib to flesh it out.

    Ultimately, care, get emotion and be good enough to care and get emoton.

    --
    Ive done loads of stills weddings, and operated on big ones, and shot this (https://vimeo.com/52802266) for a mate On an Nex5 with one lens and no fee.


    Im getting close by being confident with my (simple) kit and getting ahead, even though Im 6'5 and chunky with the right chops I can get close without being noticed.
    Last edited by morgan_moore; 12-03-2019 at 09:41 AM.


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    The big wedding i shot the director said 'we only really need you as muscle for the speeches' (ha ha - the hardest bit - thanks)



    Your mind must work like this..

    Ill mike the groom - he will take his jacket off and walk away from the lav and fook the sound.
    Ill put a zoom on the head table - someone will be chinking their cuttlery and fook the sound
    Ill take a feed from the desk - it will be feedback hell due to poor mic technique by the speakers and desk op (and fook the sound)

    Obviously I did all 3 and had my cam mic pointing at the PA.

    The next big wedding I operated I think I saved the film with my 50-300 and proper sticks which I pre placed in the church (groom side seeing the bride) I could go from a med to a tight on the ring exchange - the other ops were on Gh5/and handheld gimbals - not enough for proper coverage.


    +
    Last edited by morgan_moore; 12-03-2019 at 09:45 AM.


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    Feel free to email me any questions, but my quick take after 10 years:
    1. Communicate with bride and groom all expectations
    2. Be prepared- even if solo have a B and C cam
    3. Grt good audio through cavalier mics and external recorders connected to speakers
    4. Almost no one ever cares about what camera you're using. We've shot 1080, 4K, and 6K- it is more for marketing.
    5. Tell the story of their day, meaning, every video might be different
    6. Deliver multiple videos and price accordingly (2 minute trailers 15 minute film, 2 hour raw edit).
    7. Be professional and kind


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    I think it's really the ceremony in particular that befuddles me. The reception is easy to shoot with one camera and edit into something entertaining.

    But I can't figure out how to cover the ceremony well with fewer than 3 cameras, if you want a video of the full ceremony, with nothing edited out --- except maybe dead spots like the reader walking to podium. Just one camera and it's boring. Two cameras, and something's missing. I want at least three angles: one in the back, one up front on the left, and one up front on the right.

    But hiring two other camera operators, for a total of three cameras, is expensive and a pain.

    Now if the couple just wanted a 10-minute highlights video of the ceremony, that's easier to do with one camera. But I would feel weird cutting out so much in order to accomplish that.


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    I would say the minimum proper coverage is

    a wide at the back (can be static and abandoned) at 6 oclock (B+G at midday, 12, the alter.)

    and two operators with zooms at 10 and 2 (funky) or 9 and 3 (safe)

    Generally the groom shooter (B) gets his 'best man straightens grooms tie' shot and the races to the church in time to set the static 6oclock and tripod up at 10 (and place the sticks for A (or spare sticks) 2 oclock ready for the entrance where , the a operator with bride, A, follows her in (leaving a gap so he/she doesnt get seen in the entrance shot) and makes his/her way to 2 oclock. A will have shot some back view of going up the aile covering B who may not hold focus for the whole aisle walk.

    B would also rig any lavs on the alter or on the Rev.

    As I said my 50-300 is probably the best zoom for S35 at 2oclock it can get a full of the couple at the alter, and also bash in for a ring swap or teary bride and teary mum and a great great gran sings a hymn - its only that generation that belt out hymns

    B is the tech guy, A is the bride charmer.

    B will also aquire audio of bells

    B may have done all the rigging (and charming the Rev) early in the morning before meeting the groom.

    C and D may have jibbed the car exit to the front door. Which A got too.
    Last edited by morgan_moore; 12-03-2019 at 03:57 PM.


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    Thanks. That's certainly one way to do it, and if you have just two operators, I think it puts them to good use, having them both up front.

    I'm uneasy, though, leaving the back camera static. I know it is common practice, and use the front cameras for most of a wedding video. But I've always thought the view was nicest from the back. After all the ceremony staged for that point of view. The architecture of the building, the placement of the officiant, couple, attendants, readers, musicians, flowers, candles --- they're all arranged to look nice and symmetrical from that angle. If the camera that captures that angle is static, it would suffice, but it seems to me like a bit of a waste. I would want to zoom in on the officiant for his homily, zoom in on the reader for the reading, zoom in on the musicians for the music, and even zoom in on the bride and groom for the vows. The back camera has a nice clear shot of their hands.


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    Senior Member jamedia.uk's Avatar
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    I find weddings easy. I attend as a guest :-)
    For most of the reasons above I don't do weddings.
    However.....
    The two most important things for weddings have not been mentioned yet.
    1 Good public liability insurance. If some one eg groom trips over your kit breaks a leg and can't go on the pre booked & paid for honeymoon etc....

    2 Professional indemnity insurance. When the bride says your pictures/video is S$*^ and refuses to pay. More to the point you did not follow the shot list (not the one you had but the revised one she swears you were given) and you did not get the shot of her with Great Aunt Flossie who has now flown back home to the other side of the world. You need to get her back for the shot if you want to get paid.

    Incidentally those are the two main reasons I don't do Weddings. (even though I have the insurance) just one bad wedding and it can leave you well out of pocket and thanks to Social Media your business and career in ruins. And there will be some phone footage proving you were drinking etc Yes I know you were only moving the cans/bottles out of the way of your expensive kit but the can/bottle is in your hand and social media does he rest.

    I find war reporting safer.....


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    Quote Originally Posted by combatentropy View Post
    Has anyone figured out how to do wedding videos?

    Among all conceivable motion-picture undertakings, they are to me Mount Everest. To some that may be surprising, because they pay little and are easy to break into. But the hardest jobs often pay the least (this could be its own thread).

    But my point is, while any fool can get hired to shoot a wedding, a wedding is the hardest type of video to do well.

    • Live. No second takes.
    • Event. The experience of the guests is primary. The recording is secondary. If your recording interferes with the guests' enjoyment, you have failed.
    • Ritual. Weddings are tied to ritual. This is a whole other thread, but rituals have pros and cons. One con is pacing. A ritual is both sacred and long. Since sacred, you feel guilty cutting the least microsecond. Since long, how is it not boring to watch unless you cut it violently?
    • Light. The lighting in churches and receptions suck, often on purpose. Modern churches are well lit (but lack character). Old churches have character but are lit for liturgy (candlelight). Reception lighting is restaurant lighting, more or less. That is to say, soft and dim. Flattering for guests, villainous for video.
    • Sound. Ceremonies and receptions have multiple audio sources (officiant, groom, bride, readers, musicians, speeches), and none of them want to have lavs on for the whole day.

    More as a mental exercise than a practical problem, I have wondered what the magic formula is. How could I do a wedding video that meets all of these criteria:

    • Thorough and coherent. An unedited single take of the whole day would meet this but fail the rest.
    • Meaningful and interesting. Well paced. Not boring.
    • Natural, realistic. Not artificial, foreign, or strange. Watching the video should feel like being there. It can be distilled, in the way that orange essence still smells like an orange. But it should not feel different. Many "slick" wedding videos fail this test. They are fast-paced and beautiful. But they look like every other slick wedding video. They have lost the idiosyncrasies of this couple's day.
    • Discreet. Ideally you are invisible.
    • Affordable. The ultimate democratizer. Rich and poor have weddings. Can rich and poor (or at least middle class) afford a decent wedding video?


    This is the conundrum. I can think of ways of fulfilling some of these goals but not all at the same time. For example, I could hire four other expert cameramen, bring lots of lights, and edit the video into 10 minutes. It would be beautiful and well-paced but not thorough, coherent, discreet, or affordable. Or I could show up with just myself and a camera. I could be discreet and affordable, but how can I capture everything (from one angle at a time) and still keep it interesting?

    Such is the Brick Wall of Wedding Videos, the art form upon which I and many others have slammed against and been shattered.
    Agree with all your points except the one I highlighted. The guests are being provided free food, drink and entertainment. YOU on the other hand are a hired professional to GET the shots, the client is paying for you. It's your job. That means unfortunately, you have to jump into the fire, push your way around. There are people getting in front of you shooting video on cell phones, snapping photos, push your way to the front always, be as polite as possible but don't miss the fuggin shots because you were timid. Sorry to say, this includes the ceremony as well, even a Catholic one. The priest may sternly demand you take a low profile, you nod and agree, but when footage rolls, you do what you have to. You may never see him again until the next one at his Parish, by then all forgotten. When shooting the guests, they could be waiting for dinner. Say something to them like, "This is video, would you like to congratulate Chris and Mackie?" They will warm to the question, you egg them on with nods and hand gestures, "Awe, nice! Keep going, keep going! What do you think of the bride?" Finally give them props and go to the next table. The other guests are observing and now queued up for you. It works! "Say a few words to Chris and Mackie..c'mon." They will.

    Now, for the detail of how you shoot it; 2 cameras, both need to have good low-light, 2 quick disconnect plates, 3 tripods. One can be a monopod if it has a fluid video head and sturdy feet. The disconnect plates stay on the cameras for the duration of the activities. One camera a wide angle 4k so you can crop in if needed. Always make sure one camera position is stable, footage rolling, then you can leave it and go to the other and move it around and recompose as necessary. Once stable, go back to the first one. You go back and forth checking the other. That way, whenever you are adjusting, focusing, recomposing; the other camera is recording a stable shot. Keep both of them rolling, and start them early. It's easy to get caught off guard, you see a picture on the screen and think you are recording but it's not. Make sure you see the tally light.

    One person can do most, but not everything. I've shot weddings solo, but most are with a partner. You coordinate as a team. Before I move from a position and at other times too, I look for my partner. Does he have the angle covered? Am I staying out of his shot? He does the same. You can work out hand signals but at the least, pass glances that he knows you are watching him and he is watching for your movements. After the ceremony one of you follows the photographers and the wedding party to get those shots while the other films the activities of the guests around bars, tables, etc.

    For lights, more important are cameras great in low light with fast lenses. You can't use lights in churches, that's available light, and there is plenty if you have the aforementioned cameras and lenses. Receptions you have enough lighting there too until the point they switch off the house lights as they sometimes do. Best to be selfish here. If you put up light stands the couple will invariably move away from them, you'll never know exactly where they will be on the floor at any point but you can be assured that luck will have them move out of the light. Instead you need a powerful, dimmable, 3200K on-camera light. You're pushing your way to the front anyway, remember? Don't blind them with it, dim it where you get what you need and not more. Stay within that lighting distance, focus manually to that distance and they will always be in focus and not hunting.

    This last point you won't like, telling you like it is, giving you wisdom from the pros you can take or leave, but everyone who ever argued this point with me wonders why they didn't get more gigs after the first one, and there is a new one every week; don't use auto focus, and don't use a camera with a 30 minute recording limit, even when you have the latest, greatest DPAF. Don't use auto anything. Shoot log and have a couple white balance presets for daylight and tungsten. The auto focus you do need is the ring on the lens barrel with your two fingers on it. Don't mess up somebody's wedding video over this point. Shoot like a pro and save the auto focus for your friends and family and travel. Weddings, as you've already seen present more challenges than are apparent. Good luck.

    For the audio, you only need to lav mic the groom or the officiant, and only for the ceremony. But, you do need to always plug into every house PA, the church, every dj soundboard, put a mic in front of every group of acoustic musicians. For that you need two or more Zoom or Tascam, plus xlr cables, 1/4 inch cables, rca cables and rechargeable batteries, minimum.

    As for meaningful and interesting, capture everything, including b-roll, tables, flowers, cards and letters, seating cards, gifts, Everything. Save the cuts for the edit table.

    Now I'm going to read the other replies, but I think I'm done here.


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