Filming First Wedding - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by VanMac, May 20, 2006.

  1. VanMac macrumors 6502a

    VanMac

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    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Rampaging Tokyo
    #1
    Hello All.

    I will be filming my first wedding for my neice next weekend. They cant afford a professional, so they asked me if I would do it for them.

    I have a Canon Elura miniDV camera. It is almost 7 years old, but still works OK (although I need to buy some new batteries).

    So, I dont really do this sort of thing, but I am happy to help them out. I told them not to expect too much as I'm not a pro or anything, and they are fine with that. They just want to capture the event on film so they have it for the future.

    I will worry about editing questions later (I may just dump it to VHS right away so they have a copy).

    What I would appreciate is any filming advice. Anything at all. Prep work, setup stuff, shooting angles, position, whatever. Anything you can think of. I would like to do as best a job as possible with my limited experience and equipment.

    Oh, I do have a mediocre tripod I bought for my camera. The swivel is kinda 'rough', but it is steadier then my hand I imagine.

    Thanks in advance,
     
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Mar 16, 2004
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    Andover, MA
    #2
    Just out of curiosity, are there any more relatives or friends with camcorders? If so, it might not be a bad idea to set as many as you can get (well, up to 2 or 3) in different static areas (one from the balcony if there is one, one from the side "ahead" of the alter so as to see their faces, etc.).

    They could be aimed and focused, then started and kept running the entire time. You might not be able to splice the footage initially, but it would be a nice thing to have and really just requires some volunteered cameras (and, hopefully, tripods).

    Wireless microphones or other audio recorders are nice, but I realize you're doing this on a budget and simply figured there might be others with cameras that could be lent out for an hour or so.
     
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    Oct 11, 2004
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    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #3
    Rent or borrow a second camera, set it up on a tripod focussed on where the couple will be performing the ceremony, and let it run the whole time. That way, you get a 2nd POV for editing, and also if somthing goes wrong with your primary camera you at least have some kind of footage.

    (heh - jsw of the fleet fingers beats me to the scoop)

    A simple audio recorder of any kind up at the front may help. Camcorder audio is not particularly reliable. Even though you'd have to wild-sync the audio from the recorder, it may come in very handy, especially for little things like the vows.
     
  4. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    #4
    If you are forced to use just one camera, try getting several shots before the ceremony starts. Get shots of people walking in, the family sitting, then when the bride and groom walk in, make sure your rolling then, and just keep the camera on them the entire time and make sure you are close enough to hear them. Good Luck
     
  5. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    Los Angeles
    #5
    First of all, read anything you find helpful here, e.g., articles on this page, even though its written for professionals. I subscribe to their magazine and know they have good articles. I've been asked twice to be still photographer at weddings, despite being only an amateur. I guess my price (free) was right. But doing video is harder, so you were smart to ask for tips.

    Are you filming just the ceremony or a reception too?

    The tripod is good for the ceremony. You might use one vantage point for people walking up the aisle and then relocate for the ceremony.

    One tip I remember is to find out ahead of time who the main participants are. You know the bride and groom, that's easy, but you know YOUR side of the family better than the groom's side. Find out who his relatives are so you can be sure to include plenty of footage of them. At a minimum, you want some scenes including each of them. Don't be shy, ask ahead of time who's important to include and make sure you'll know which people they are. If there's a sit-down meal, get a copy of the table map so you know who is at which table.

    You can't always be invisible (a fly on the wall) to get the best shots, so speak up when necessary if you need somebody to move out of the way or help you with something.

    Short one-on-one interviews with guests are a common habit of wedding videographers these days. Walk up to somebody, ask if they have some words for the bride and groom, ignore their answer, turn the camera on them, and they'll say something. Some will be better than others, and I personally dislike when the photographer does that to me before I think of something to say, but the bride and groom will like those interviews.

    If you set up a tripod somewhere with a nice background and invite people over to be interviewed, they might come out looking a little nicer, but it can be tough to talk people into coming over.

    Then again, some people love to talk on camera. Politely interrupt them and say "thanks" when you need to move on to the next person.
     
  6. VanMac thread starter macrumors 6502a

    VanMac

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Rampaging Tokyo
    #6
    Great Stuff

    Thanks for all the quick replies :)

    Not sure if I have access to another camera, but I will look into that. Secondary voice recorder is also an interesting idea, but I would have to source one.

    My wife is going to the rehersal(I cant make it), so she will be asking the couple all sorts of questions around what to film, when it is happening, where I can setup, etc. Hopefully that will help. I will be doing ceremony and certain aspects of the reception.

    Great ideas of filming people coming in, and interviewing some of the guests.

    Thanks for all the great tips. Keep-em coming if any more come to mind.

    Any thoughts on zooming and panning, etc. How much of a closeup for vows, etc. I'm assuming the less I muck with the camera the better, but what do I know ....
     
  7. xsedrinam macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

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    Oct 21, 2004
    #7
    All good links and advice in here. Some more reading up on lighting and LUX capabilities would be helpful, since a good percentage of weddings are best shot with lower lighting. Here's another good 10 point link on shooting weddings with video.
     
  8. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    Los Angeles
    #8
    An occasional zoom is pleasant, too much is distracting. Your instinct to zoom in during the exchange of vows is a good idea. Perhaps you should zoom in only close enough to get the bride and groom together, rather than zoom in to just one of them and have to pan back and forth.

    Let the emcee, DJ, best man, or others who might make introductions or toasts know your role there, and that they should let you know and/or wait for you before starting one of the "scenes" you'll need to capture (introduction as man and wife, first toast, first dance, tossing bouquet, etc.) That way you won't have to rush over and end up missing the first few words when they start.
     
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Andover, MA
    #9
    As an additional comment, I think you'll find that, when recording, your perception of a slow zoom or slow pan is not what the eventual audience will see. You should almost always zoom and pan slower (and, as the good Doctor mentioned, less frequently) than you "feel" like doing while recording.
     
  10. octoberdeath macrumors regular

    octoberdeath

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    Feb 22, 2005
    #10
    to try and add to whats been said... its always a good idea in my mind to record the audio if possible from the soundboard. i use a sony minidisc player/recoder. it works pretty well with all the sound that is being pushed through the board. here are a couple that you could take a look at. you might want to check ebay as well if your really interested. i use a cord that goes from one of the mic outputs to the line in on the minidisc player. i don't know if you would want to use this or not but i figured i let you know about it.
     
  11. cwright macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 5, 2004
    Location:
    Missouri
    #11
    I always try to man the camera on the alter near the bride and groom, but on the opposite side of them from the audience. This lets me get a great shot of their faces during the ceremony (since they always have their backs turned to the audience), and I can follow the bride as she walks down the aisle. This camera angle plus a wide shot in the back (it can be tough to find a place to stand up front where you aren't seen in the wide shot) makes for a great combination to edit later. Of course, not all ministers will allow you to stand up there, but I much prefer it. I do mostly Baptist weddings, which are more lenient. I've yet to have a Catholic or Lutheran minister allow me to stand on the alter.

    Other than that, do your best to get ahold of a wireless mic. Just one is fine–put it on the groom and it will pick up the audio from the bride, groom, and minister. Find out before hand if there are any other readings or musical numbers during the ceremony that will need to be mic'ed separately. On occasion, you may be able to tap into the church's soundboard, but you can't always count on them having an audio system. And, after dealing with so many incompetent sound guys, its easier just to record the audio yourself. Remember, great video isn't worth anything without good sound!

    Good luck :)
     
  12. VanMac thread starter macrumors 6502a

    VanMac

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    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Rampaging Tokyo
    #12
    Thanks. I'm hoping to get up there on stage for filming, and will find out this week if I can.

    So, for wireless mic, any suggestions. I cant be buying any high end equipment. Also, I dont think my camera supports a mic input, so something would have to be recording the sound. Are there any cheap voice recorders that come with lapel mics, or anyting else that would work well?

    Thanks all for the wonderful advice. Greatly appreciated
     
  13. Raid macrumors 68020

    Raid

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    Toronto
    #13
    As a guy who's going to get married in about 50 days <pause for slight panic attack>... so much to do!...

    K I'm better now :)
    We're also trying to save $2000 or so by not getting a proffessional videographer so I've had plenty of discussions about this too. I can tell you that the advice about multiple cameras is spot on, and good audio is key. Now depending on where this couple is getting married you might be able to hook into an existing audio system. Many churches, banquet halls, and hotels will have mic's and audio equipment already there. They might not be for the express purpose of recording weddings, but they could help a lot and you'd be suprised how many places (even churches) have wireless mics.

    One more thing before I go, while you want to get good shots of the couple, use the zoom feature instead of getting too close. At one wedding I was at the videographer showed up in almost every shot of the wedding ceremony...the bride was not impressed! :eek:
    Honestly I can see why good videographers can charge so much, they have to balance good shooting and good audio all while trying to be invisible as possible.

    Good luck; it's a tough job, and if your friends are anything like my fiancee and I I'm sure they appreciate the effort!
     
  14. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    Oct 21, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #14
    My quick suggestion:

    Use a tripod.
    Avoid lots of panning and zooming.
    If you have to pan and zoom, do it very, very, very slowly.
     
  15. cwright macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    Missouri
    #15
    I use the Sennheiser G2 wireless kit and it works great. Never had any problems. It's a bit on the expensive side though – I paid $600 for the wireless transmitter and receiver, plus an extra XLR plug-on transmitter. You can get the basic kit without the extra transmitter for $500. In your case, I would just rent one. They usually cost $50 per day, which isnt too bad since you only need it for one day.

    As far as recording goes, I would be surprised if your camera doesnt have a mic input. If it doesnt though, look into buying (or borrowing) one of the iRiver MP3 players. They support line in recording, and are quite popular among wedding videographers. In fact, if you have one, you dont even need a wireless mic system. You can get a relatively cheap wired lav mic ($30–$100) and have it plugged into the iRiver that stays in the grooms pocket. The only problem I have with this is that you cannot monitor the audio during the ceremony, and if something goes wrong, you won't know about it.
     
  16. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    Mar 7, 2005
    #16
    I was surpised too, but alot of the consumer level camcorders are sans mic inputs. That said, I finally found one for a last minute replacement and get to the wedding and there is not a headphone jack...this was a Sony HC-30. Took it back and swapped it for a TVR-22 that had both jacks.
     
  17. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

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    #17
    If the wedding is at a church, they may have mics and a soundboard. Use your iBook to record straight from the board. I'm sure there is free audio recording software out there. Quicktime Pro is well worth the cost at $30 and it will record an audio track for you. You could probably check out the church a day or two before.

    Radio Shack is closing the majority of thier retail stores in the US and their inventory is 20 to 70% off. You could probably pick up a wireless mic for super cheap and run the audio to your iBook.
     
  18. Lebowski macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #18
    not to be a stickler....


    but you dont "film" with a miniDV.

    Film is shot, well, on film (24fps)

    Video is shot, on video (29.97fps)



    some people get very annoyed when film is referred to as video and vice versa. they are very different beasts.
     
  19. gallagb macrumors 6502

    gallagb

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    Location:
    IN
    #19
    for the audio
    ask if the church can record the ceremony for you
    most churches can
    and most can put it on CD for you

    (@ least worth asking)
    then you can @ least have the audio on a seperate track & all setup when u pop it in to iMovie or whatever u are using

    the only tough part then is lining up the words w/ moving lips
     
  20. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    #20
    "Film" sounds cooler than "Videotape".
     
  21. cwright macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 5, 2004
    Location:
    Missouri
    #21
    If you do this, make sure to test it first. I tried once before I got my wireless mic, and the CD recording they gave me was unreadable. Make sure they record the service into an AIFF file on CD, or at least some other readable file. I know that some soundboard audio recorders use a proprietary format for some reason–so be careful.

    As far as syncing the audio with the video, it's not all that hard. Just place a marker on the audio track, and then again on the video track in the same place (for example, hit the marker key immediately at the end of a certain word. you should be able to do this on your video track as well if you have your on-camera mic recording as a backup, although it will be quieter). Once you've done this, see how close you got the first time, and then just nudge the audio track back and forth, one frame at a time, until it syncs up perfectly. You'll get the hang of it and be able to do it pretty quickly eventually.

    By the way, I use markers to do this in Final Cut Pro. I'm not sure how you would do this in iMovie.
     
  22. VanMac thread starter macrumors 6502a

    VanMac

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    May 26, 2005
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    Rampaging Tokyo
    #22
    But :rolleyes:

    Interesting.
    So, if I 'video' on a mid-range prosumer camera that shoots 24p, what am I doing?

    How about a real high end rig that is blasting high definition content direct to disk arrays, what would that be?

    Is 'film' the media or the action or the frames per second?

    Obviously I'm new to this hobby, so just asking so I use the correct terminology.
     
  23. MacFan782040 macrumors 6502a

    MacFan782040

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    #23
    You'd be taping no matter if it's 24 of 30. Even the high-end digital cameras used to shoot shows like "24" is not "filmed". They are "taped".
     
  24. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #24
    A lot of great suggestions already posted.

    One item that you might consider is a checklist of shots (people/angles/etc.) that you want. It is easy to forget what you have already taken vice what you still want to take. I find a 3x5 card works well for a checklist.

    Another idea would be to practice shooting during the rehersal. Then review your tape before the ceremony to give yourself some great feedback that you can use to adjust your shots. This can really highlight lighting issues that you will have to take into account. Also, you might even adjust portions of the ceremony to get the important shots.

    And as a few have already said, pan slowly. Avoid any suddent movements. Keep the zooming to a minimum.

    A tripod can be your friend or enemy. The key is to get comfortable with the equipment and it's settings so you can do it blindly/automacally. That way you can focus on what you want to do vice the steps to do it.
     

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