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.