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    Guide to shooting weddings (not really dvx related, sorry)
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    lOwEr CaSe Member ryan brown's Avatar
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    So... I've gotten more than a few questions regarding wedding shoots, and I figured it's about time to share what I've come up with. Here are some "guidline's" I wrote last week to give out to my guys in order to make things easier on me in post, and also to improve our business. It's kinda long, and I don't know if it fits on these forums or not, but here goe's.

    How to Shoot a Ceremony
    :

    Arrive at the location 1 1/2 hours prior to the scheduled ceremony start time.

    Survey the ceremony area, and talk to the coordinator to see where we can and cannot set up tripods/camera's etc.

    Find the bride, and spend 10-20 minutes shooting her getting ready, while camera B is with the groom. Close ups are essential here, but they must be steady.

    Get a few shots of the ceremony area, some artsy shots, and get an establishing shot of the entire location. (outside shooting the church)

    Set up gear and tripods, and do audio tests with the lavier mics.

    20-30 minutes prior to the start, find the groom AND the officiant, and mic them up.

    Get into positions, check audio, and prepare for ceremony. (once you begin recording, do not pause for any reason (no timecode breaks) and follow these rules:



    1. When there's two cameramen, always line one of them up, on a tripod, shooting down the center of the aisle, with cameraman B shooting from the side angle towards the bride.

    2. During the ceremony, do not shoot ANYTHING other than the bride's, groom's, and officiant's faces. This means no artsy shots, no shooting the hands of the bride and groom, no shooting closeups of the rings, no shooting the unity candle, etc. If I want to add in artsy shots, I can do that in post with footage shot before and after the ceremony. The only exception to this rule is when there is another person giving a reading... then of course shoot the person talking.

    3. When the officiant is talking, try to get all three of the people involved (bride, groom, officiant) in the shot. We don't want to just have a close up of the bride for 15 minutes, and not see what the officiant is saying.

    4. Once you find the shot you like, KEEP IT. I have plenty of other shots and camera angles to cut to if I think it gets boring. Find your shot, and for the most part, don't touch the camera throughout most of the ceremony, and only zoom in a bit during the vows and rings (or whenever the bride and groom are speaking directly to each other) Example:

    The bride, groom, and officiant are all in the frame, with just enough room around them to compensate for "T.V. safe" (approximatelly half an inch of space around them). The camera is untouched until someone gets up to talk, then we follow the speaker. Once the speaker is finished reading, we go back to our original shot (shot A). The officiant does his thing, then we zoom in (slowly) just as the vows are beginning. Now we want a semi close shot of just the bride and the groom during the vows and rings. Once the officiant starts speaking again, we zoom back out to shot A.

    5. Never assume someone else has the shot. Unless you make visual eye contact with the other shooter and let him know you need to move, shoot like you are the only cameraman. This means even, steady, camera movements throughout the entire ceremony. The "zoom" function on these camera's have a variable speed for a reason... so you don't have a zoom that is way too fast and cannot be used in the final result. ALWAYS ZOOM AND PAN AS SLOWLY AND STEADILY AS POSSIBLE WHILE STILL GETTING THE SHOT.

    6. If you're zoomed in so far that the camera is shaking or hard to manuvier steadily, zoom out. Just shoot the entire scene... the closeups are of no use when they're not steady.

    7. WATCH YOUR AUDIO LEVELS CONSTANTLY!! It's still the most common mistake, along with steady camera movements. We all need to teach ourselves this until it's second nature. We should check our levels every minute or two, and when we change scenes or an event changes, it NEEDS to register, and we should compensate accordingly.

    8. White balance with the other camera(s) where the ceremony takes place before it begins... and also do this again before the reception takes place.

    9. Always be on a tripod or monopod. Just because you think you're steady and the tiny 3 inch viewfinder looks steady, does not mean that you really are. Handheld rarely works, and when it does, it take's a lot of practice and concentration. The ONLY exception to this rule is if something unexpected happens, and you don't have a tripod ready. Then concentrate and get the shot instead of running around looking for your tripod and missing an important part of the wedding.


    Summary:

    White balance prior to the start of the ceremony.
    One cameraman shooting down the aisle, and one shooting towards the bride.
    Find your shot, make sure it's well framed with all the important people in it, and do not move the camera.
    Watch audio levels.
    No fast zooms or shaky camera (tripod only)...If the shot is not steady, it is worthless.





    How to Shoot a Reception

    1. Most importantly: Get all the necessarry shots, without pressing the pause button at all during an important scene (first dance, toasts, cake cutting, garter/bouquet, etc.), and give a few seconds of recording prior, and after, the scene. This means that if the first dance has begun, do not pause the camera for any reason until they are finished dancing. Even if you don't have a good position and need to move, keep the camera recording while you move, even if it's pointed at the ground while you're doing this. When their is a break in timecode (pause of recording), it sets the two camera's out of sync, and it's a lot of work syncing them up all the time.

    2. When someone is speaking, we NEED to see them in the shot. Do not wonder the camera during a scene, and make sure to include every important member in the shot. This means that during the toasts, we want to have the speaker, the bride, and the groom in the shot if possible. We don't want a wondering camera looking at the audience, or the bridal party, or anything else. If it's not possible to have all three important people in frame, we stay on the speaker, not the bride and groom. Video is not interesting, and quite frankly, annoying, when someone is speaking and we can't see them.

    3. Tripods are our friends, and all important shots should be caught on one. The exception to this is dancing. When everyone is on the dance floor, it's OK to go handheld sometime's. Also, when there is not enough room, like in the cake cutting a lot, concentrate and go handheld. But when in handheld, ALWAYS CONCENTRATE ON STAYING STEADY.

    4. WATCH YOUR AUDIO LEVELS CONSTANTLY!! It's much more difficult during a reception than it is a ceremony to attain good audio because the environment is constantly changing (dancing's loud, toast's are quiet, people are yelling near the camera, etc.) You need to check them and adjust every few minutes.

    5. No artsy shots during an important scene. During the first dance, cake cutting, toasts, etc, do not try and make a "cool" looking shot. Every once in awhile it works, but for the most part, it does not, and this is because of the movement and shaky camera involved in achieving the "cool" shot. Intimacy is important, and you can always achieve this with slow zooms to a close up shot of the bride and groom (on a tripod, of course). Along with this, during cake cuttings, we want to see the bride and groom's face, not just a closeup of their hands cutting a cake. Always try and get EVERYTHING in the shot.

    6. ALWAYS ZOOM AND PAN AS SLOWLY AND STEADILY AS POSSIBLE WHILE STILL GETTING THE SHOT. It works out better a lot of the time if we stand back and just shoot a wide shot. Zooming in and out causes a lot of footage that needs to be cut out. Example:

    The DJ is announcing the bridal party, and they are all walking through a door into the reception area. Don't attempt to zoom in on everyone's faces while they're walking in, then zoom back out, then back in when the next couple is walking in. Just set your camera on a tripod, and shoot a wide angle. This works great with two cameras, because one can set up close to the door, and one a bit further away... then I have the closer shots desired, and the wide shot, so I can cut back and forth in editing.

    Summary:

    Record ALL of the important scenes without pausing, starting early and ending late.
    When someone is speaking to the crowd, they must be in the shot at all times.
    Use a tripod or monopod as often as possible.
    Watch audio levels.
    No fast zooms or shaky camera. Stand back and get the shot.

    Have a good shoot.







    Hope this helps out a bit, guys.

    -brown
    Last edited by ryan brown; 07-12-2006 at 01:27 PM.


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    lOwEr CaSe Member ryan brown's Avatar
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    This might want to be in another section of the forums... just wasn't sure where to put it.


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    Senior Member bpotter's Avatar
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    Thanks! I just e-mailed myself a copy of this.


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    Senior Member j's Avatar
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    That's good stuff.


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    #5
    Wish I were banned. Drew Ott's Avatar
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    Good tips and thank you for your trouble, even though I'm not shooting any weddings.
    "You'd better cure all those personal problems that might be holding back something you want to say." -John Cassavetes


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    Senior Member Chayse_Irvin's Avatar
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    Sweet.
    CHAYSE IRVIN
    DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
    WWW.CHAYSEIRVIN.COM


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    Member CeSu Pro's Avatar
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    Okay, so,... i know this is an old thread... but i wanna dig it back out. I am thinking about getting into the wedding videography market. and was wondering if you wouldn't mind giving a little more info. about how big is your "team" and do you do stills as well? or do you leave that to another crew. We're thinking about doing everything, video, stills, website, etc. also, is everyone on your team pretty much "equals" do you split the profits evenly? or do you have ppl that just shoot, and don't get as much as the people that put it all together? just kinda curious how you run things..... thanks


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    lOwEr CaSe Member ryan brown's Avatar
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    1. "Team" consists of me as the "director" and one other shooter with me. I have 4-5 shooters that I call upon when needed, but usually only need one, except for double/triple bookings.

    2. We do not do stills. That's another business entirely, and the bride/groom always have a still photographer of their choice. I have a few that I've worked well with on various shoots, and I recommend them if asked (and vice versa)

    3. I do not split profits equally. As for myself, I get $350 for directing an event ($350 to any director). My second shooter (with his own gear) gets $250 day rate, and if I provide the gear, I'll give them $150-$200 depending on who and the quality of work.

    I'm the lead editor, and I handle *most* projects myself at my house. This last season, and the current season we've gotten a LOT more business, so when needed I'll pass off a wedding to another editor (not my shooters) and pay as follows:

    $150 per edited ceremony
    $150 per edited reception
    $100 per montage (usually only one per package, but sometimes they order 2)
    and they just bring me a hard drive and I make final cuts and author here at the house.

    This is also the same price's I pay myself for editing. The rest goes to the company and new gear.

    -brown


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    Thanks, your guideline is really helpful, I've been asked to do a wedding this summer and this article of yours is a godsend

    I have a question for you. Do you shoot the majority of the wedding ceremony 60i or 24p or do you shoot mostly 24p and just shoot 60i the parts you plan on doing slo-mo? Thanks again.

    Zenish


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    Nice to see this thread revived.

    RC, props to you for putting this together. It's excellent. I was wondering if you might comment on your post work flow. What do you edit with? How do you manage the process? Typical lenghts, time-to-edit, etc.

    ( *sigh* too bad there isn't a wedding shooters section on the board.)


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