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Thread: First experience...

  1. #1

    Default First experience...

    Hi all,

    I just had my first Wedding Shoot this past weekend. It was a freebie thing for a good friend, and more of a "testing the waters" venture for me. As it was just me doing the shooting, I had many a sleepless night leading up to the actual day, as my mind wrestled with how I was going to make it work. I finally decided that I simply could NOT just do a single camera shoot. So I borrowed acouple cameras from freinds and family to compliment my own. I set one up in the rear right of the church, on a broad overview of the whole auditorium. Then I set up another at the rear on the opposite side , with a tighter on the stage shot. Thirdly I set up another on the stage for a loose OTS shot at the bride. And finally, I had my own GL2 for handheld shots. It all made sense a and worked in my head, and at the end of the day, some things went great, some thing went better than I had hoped, and other things just plain fell apart. So I thought I'd share the pros and cons of my experience, and a couple things I have learned a s a result. Unfortunately most of what I learned, I learned through error. Its unfortunate that the errors were made at the expense of their video memories, but as it was a free learning shoot, hopefully they will forgive me.

    Ok, the PROS: 1). Use more than one camera. The multicam setup was fantastic. I have more than enough coverage and angles from the 4 cameras to provide enough options in editting to keep it interesting, and cover my movements, and zooms on the handheld, so I am thrilled with that. Having the other cameras going allowed me to move around and get other shots that simply would not have been possible with only one camera. I highly recommend more than one for this sort of thing. 2). Attend the Rehearsal. Attending the rehearsal was an incredible benefit. Because of it, I was able to plan and anticipate where I should be for the shots I would need, and if I hadn't known ahead of time the basic schedule of events and flow of the ceremony, that would not have been possible.

    The CONS: 1). The unforeseen. Doing a single person shoot (me alone as cameraman) does not allow you to control or keep tabs on the other cameras. Fortunately no one messed with my other cameras, but the ceremony was supposed to take an hour in total. The MiniDV tapes allowed to record for 1 hour, which is tight. During the ceremony one of the Bridesmaids fainted and whacked her head on the wall, knocking herself out cold. She was out for a good 5-6 minutes, which delayed the ceremony by that many minutes. Needless to say, my rear cameras ran out of tape before the very end of the ceremony. Fortunately for me they ran out at the moment the bride and groom had just finished walking down the isle to leave, so I only missed the bridesmaids and groomsmen leaving, but hopefully my handheld will be useable for that part. 2). Relying on other people. As I was shooting alone for a friend, their were other friends there. One of them was handling the sound. He assured me he was going to record it ALL for me, so I wouldn't have to worry about wireless mics and all. This was fantastic and a big help for me, however, when he said he was going to record it ALL, I assumed that meant he was going to record it ALL. In fact the only thing he recorded was the ceremony, and NOT the reception. So most of my footage from the reception will have to run off crummy oncamera sound. Very unfortunate. 3). Personal Human Error. Yep, me. Despite my best intentions, I am still prone to mistakes. My experience with video is largley in a more sporadic environment, where I am hitting record and pause constantly as the shots start and stop. When the ceremony started, I hit record and mentally said to myself, "Stay away from the record/pause button from here on". I went on with the ceremony. As the bridesmaids are coming up the isle I am looking through the viewfinder thinking what a great shot I was getting, when my GL2 displayed it's Auto Shut Down notice. This notice happens only when the camera has been in pause mode for several minutes. And you guessed it, I had hit the button in the heat of the moment thinking I had to "get" this shot, but in reality had turned the camera off into pause mode. Fortunately because of the shut down message, I was able to correct it before the bride came up the isle! Thanks goodness for the multiple cameras, which will help in editting. Note to self: USE THE RECORD BUTTON-LOCK during shoots. 4). Bring lots of tape. No, I mean LOTS of tape. I brought what I thought was MORE than enough tape with me, at much personal expense as I was doing this for free, and still managed to run out of tape before the end of the reception. I missed the cake cutting and bride and groom exit as a result. From now on, I will budget for and bring more than enough, and THEN SOME.

    Well, that was my experience for my first shoot. Unfortunately the negatives outweighed the positives, but the learning experince from it was invaluable. But I thought I'd share it with you, and hopefully be able to help someone else learn from my first experience too.

  2. #2
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    Thank you VERY VERY much for telling us your experience. It's a lesson to everyone who thinks that weddings are an easy way to earn money, or for those who think that they can be a pro wedding videographer just because they've "done" a few weddings.

    I think you have just the right attitude to be a good wedding operator, it's just unfortunate that you've made a few (basic) mistakes on a commercial job. Your planning was certainly on the right track and (hopefully) having multi-camcorders has gone some way to saving your bacon.

    Don't give up and please keep in touch.

  3. #3
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    They're not easy, are they?

    I would suggest that you used too many unmanned camers on the day. Without going into too much detail, I'll briely explain why I would say this:
    • Given that you borrow the cameras from friends, it's unlikly that they were the same and they were the not of the same quality of your camera. This therefore suggests the following
      a) There is a risk therefore that you'll be unfamiliar with the cameras and the manual settings may be out of reach. Certainly you will not have time to make the necessary final adjustmenst for each camera and the resulting pictures could well be dramatically different in terms. This will be both due to the image quality, and the settings used.
      b) Mixing quality of video results in a lot more post production work. You will have to adjust the balance and contrast, together with the white balance to ensure the images match. It would be advisable to colour grade all of the video once you've got a similar match to give the final impression that all angles are actually shot in the same building! This would be mitigated by using the same cameras throughout, although you will no doubt find that adjustments will still be necessary to compensate for the differing 'ambient' lights.
      c) If you damage a mate's camera they won't be a mate any longer. Did you have insurance (more on that).
    • Having an unmanned multicam setup is begging for your gear to be nicked. Yes, this does happend and you'll need insurance. It's reasonably cheap, but you will need to factor this into your pricing. It WILL affect your pricing though, and may impinge on your bottom line of you don't do many weddings. Don't even think of doing a wedding without as you may well find yourself personally liable for thousands of pounds worth of damages, without even contemplating getting your expensive gear stolen. You'll easily have between 6-10k worth of equipment on the day and this will grow with time.
    • Locking off cameras is fine for a few cutaways, but what happens when someone stands up infront of it? You'll need someone there to discreetly move it (or them), or you may well find that another manned camera picks up the perfect shot you missed. You need eyes like hawks to catch the moments ordinary people miss. And you're not there to be ordinary, you're there to be PERFECT. You'll know what I mean when you catch these moments. It's also good to get close ups of the guests now and again, which you can't do with an unmanned camera.

  4. #4
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    I can only echo what the other respondents have said. I think weddings are extremely had work and much respect goes to those that get them right. Having only participated in one to date, my feeling is that I would avoid them like the plague. As Clint Eastwood once said, "A man has to know his limitations".

    I think your post is a salient lesson to those who think weddings are a cheap ticket to riches. Thanks for posting.

  5. #5

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    Thanks for all the responses, and encouragement. I am glad my positng has helped to bring out some issues. There is definitely no question in my own mind anymore about how difficult wedding videography can be, but by no means has it discouraged me from pursuing excellence in it. Neither has it turned me away from it altogether. Yes, my first experience was more difficult and different than I expected, but with all that it taught me, it has simply made me want to do better next time, and apply that newfound knowledge appropriately, so that any endeavors in the future will be 10 times better. Who knows, maybe perfection will be attained some day! Or at least if I can attain to the level of quality, excellence and skill that many of you here have already mastered, I'll be happy.

    To all of you who do this sort of thing regularly and even full time, and do it well, my hat is off to you. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you, a respect born from experience now. But my hope is to pursue your excellence and example. So I hope you will be patient with me as I continue to post and ask questions, and further my knowledge, experience and skills. Some of my questions may seem banal and simple, and I'm sure my inexperience will make itself plain, but you have to start somewhere, right?

    I appreciate this place and your help, encouragement, input and advice. Thanks for welcoming me, and as I begin to edit the footage (the footage I do have) in the coming weeks, I will be posting questions and looking for input. Your help and guidance is much appreciated. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Keep the questions coming...

    With regards to the "Digitsl Director" moderators. None of us is a "master of all" but , between us, we've got most things covered.

    The tone of your posts (thanks for the compliments BTW) and the effoert you've put into thinking about what's happened, really tells me you're more than capable of doing ace wedding videos. Your "disaster" is an experience which money can't buy and (rest assured) all of us have cocked-up on that level at some time or other.

    "Anyone can make a mistake, but it's a bloody fool who makes the same mistake twice."
    Last edited by Marc Peters; 01-11-2007 at 10:55 AM.

  7. #7
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    Top post - much respect to you for sharing your expiriences and showing for real the work involved in weddings - I am not organised / brave enough to give it a go.

    I hope you got a good shot of the faint !

  8. #8
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    People have often asked my brother and I why dont we do wedding projects and it always omes down to the same thing - Its too much trouble. I admire anyone who embarks on them in video or stills but I have found that its usually people who specialise in them that do the best jobs. Marc is a good example. is projects are consistently good but it comes from his experience at doing them.

    Personally its all too much trouble. I cant be arsed having to deal with a client who is worrying too much and the inevitble stereotypes like Aunie Mable who cannot understand the concept of not acting up to the camera.

    The only way i would agree to one would be if there was a very large budget but most people just dont have that.

  9. #9
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    I would only do one if I was allowed to direct the whole thing, including shouting at people and insisting on multiple takes, multiple camera angles and action shot faints.

  10. #10

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    Ha ha LOL!! I completely agree Mark! Especially about the shouting at people! I also had this one 6 year old brat who insisted on walking in front of my camera and making faces, or just walking in close so that some part of his big noggin was blocking something in my shot. I wanted to,.. well,.. I won't go there,..

    And YES, I did get the faint on tape. The camera in the back right corner had a full shot of the entire auditorium, and she goes down like a felled tree.

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