Tips for wedding videography?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by TheBeastman13, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. TheBeastman13 macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2012
    My friend just hired me as videographer her wedding next fall. While I did record my dad's wedding a few years ago, and I'm a film student, I'm still at novice at all this. Coupled with the fact that I just bought my first DSLR, a Nikon d7100 (for school and personal projects), I can use all the help I can get. So... What pointers can you all offer me, especially in the way of shooting on a D7100?


  2. matteusclement macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
    I have done a couple weddings. Not my favorite thing.

    1. You need a 2nd shooter. You can cover all the shots if you sprint like a maniac but you'll crush the vibe of the wedding.

    2. the bride coming up the isle is the money shot. next would be the kiss. For the kiss, you will need a zoom lens.

    3. if you can get a wireless mic, mic the priest.

    4. don't shoot any of the speeches. No one cares about that stuff.

    5. a 2nd shooter would also allow you to cover the "getting ready part" for both groom and bride. If you only have yourself, film the bride and party.

    That's it from me, a rookie.
  3. TheBeastman13 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2012
    I do have a second camera, a small handheld Sanyo Xacti, I could mount on a tripod for some angles, but it'll most likely be me by myself. Although, the bride will be a "second shooter" because she will have a GoPro Hero attached to the bouquet.

    As for audio, I have the crappy built-in stereo microphone on the DSLR, but I also have a Zoom H4n digital recorder. By this time next year I may be able to afford a mic to attach to the Zoom H4n. Any recommendation for a lavalier set-up? I was thinking a Sennheiser shotgun mic to attach to the Zoom and my DSLR.
  4. filmweaver macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2008

    Two cameras would be perfect, take shots from each during the same timeline. Keep both cameras running in sync to keep the sound tracks on time.
    For sound I use a Roland EDIROL R-09HR, it is about three years old so they may have a newer model out now. You can record the entire wedding on MP3 then place the sound track in the timeline. Syncing two cameras with sound file will be the challenge but once you master it, it will be great. You can switch between two angles for a great story telling video, watch a movie or sitcom on TV or DVD and see what the pro's do. Good Luck.
  5. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    If it's definitely just going to be you alone, then it's best you get the layout of the venue down early so that you're not trying to figure things out on the fly. You should definitely use that second camera and lock it down on some sort of wide shot so that you will have something to cut between. However matching color/quality between the two cameras could prove difficult. Also, what's the ceremony going to be like? Short? Long? Church? Outdoor? Using a DSLR is going to provide challenges on its own, such as recording time limits, stable footage, etc.

    I would think about a lavalier (possibly attached to the groom) as well as a shotgun on the camera, both running into your H4n. Again, a lot of this depends on the venue, but more often than not the officiant/priest/etc. won't be mic'ed up and you'll be positioned too far away to just rely on whatever you've got on the camera.

    That sounds both cool and nauseating.
  6. notjustjay, Aug 29, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013

    notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Rats, I had a whole post full of tips and then I accidentally knocked the cursor focus out of the text window, hit backspace, and Internet Explorer lost the whole thing. Grrrr. Here we go again...

    OK, so I'm not a pro either, I do this stuff for fun. That said, I've been asked to help out with video for a few weddings. First thing is to sit down with the couple and hammer out exact expectations. Hopefully your friend is aware that you are not a pro (and thus are not charging the price of a pro) and their expectations will be tempered thusly. This is the part that makes me uncomfortable about doing free/cheap wedding shoots for friends -- I feel like if I goof up, it will be on my head forever. If you feel any way uncomfortable or unsure, say so up front. Hopefully, as has been the case for me, the couple is understanding.

    Definitely check out the venue in advance so you know exactly how you will apply any advice you are given. Also ask the couple if they have any specific requests. One wedding I was asked to set the camera on a tripod sitting at stage right, with me standing behind it to move it around. I felt ridiculous standing there in full view of the audience only a few feet away from the groomsmen. But hey, they wanted it. Got a good shot of the couple coming down the aisle at least!

    If you get a chance, try to talk to the photographer(s) so they know where you are recording from and where you might be moving. Nothing more annoying than setting up your camera only to discover the photographer plans to stand right in front of you.

    I second the idea of a locked down camera somewhere near the back of the room (a balcony maybe?) to get a good wide-angle shot covering the entire wedding party and maybe the first few rows of the audience. You can keep cutting back to this shot and use it as a backup audio track, an audience ambience track (applause, hymn singing, etc.), as well as a reference point to sync up any other cameras or recorders that you pull audio from.

    If the venue is providing mics for the minister, any speeches, etc., see if you can talk to their sound guy and ask about getting an audio feed straight from their board. It doesn't have to literally be a cable from their mixer to your camera or recorder. A lot of churches are set up to record their sermons and post the audio online. Maybe they can give you a recording on a USB drive after the service. Otherwise, set up your Zoom recorder somewhere nearby the minister and bride and groom. You can sync the recorded audio from it to your video track later, using your locked-down shot as a reference.

    The bouquet-cam sounds cute, but don't overuse it. Sounds like something that could be fun in a 3-minute "wedding day highlights" music video though.

    I think the bottom line is to prepare yourself in advance, have your plan all set up and bring everything you need, but be flexible and plan for a few contingencies (what if the spot you chose isn't available? what if the photographer insists on standing in front of your camera? what if one of the guests does? where else can you set up? do you have extra memory cards? batteries? extension cords? duct tape?) Weddings are stressful days and anything you can do to minimize that will help both you and others around you. Have fun! Best of luck to you and to the happy couple.
  7. TheBeastman13 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2012
    Thanks for the tips so far, guys. It's looking like an outdoor wedding at this place next August:

    Should be an interesting location!
  8. lyonj69 macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2013
    Los Angeles, California
    When I was getting married eleven years ago, we did not budget for a professional videographer. We had great food and drinks, a wonderful venue, and lots of other wedding expenses, but we did not budget video into the mix. Today, we miss it. We miss hearing our voices and seeing the emotion on our faces from our wedding day. Video is the ONLY way to capture those things.
  9. 666423 Guest


    Feb 6, 2012
    The Jasmine Plantation! That's not to far from me - and it's a very popular venue.

    - I can only give pointers from a photographers prospective but if there's a photographer there, put forth an effort to to coordinate with them. Esp for the ceremony so that you can avoid being in each other's shots.

    - If you're working with more than one camera, sync the times and dates.

    - Bring back up equipment. I'd suggest renting if you need to.

    - The bouquet cam sounds interesting, but I wouldn't rely on it. If it gets any usable footage it's likely to be unflattering considering the angle. It's always unflattering to shoot from below.

    - I second notjustjay's suggestion about backup batteries, and extra memory cards. Depending on your camera, you may go through them quickly.

    - Lens cloths!

    - I don't know the Plantation's (doubt they have it - but worth double checking) policy but some venue's require liability insurance if you're going to be considered a vendor. May not apply to you though if it's a non paid gig.

    Good luck! :)
  10. eRondeau macrumors 65816


    Mar 3, 2004
    Canada's South Coast
    1) Use a tripod for EVERY shot. Don't even think about going handheld.

    2) Get a wireless mic for the officiant to wear. Don't even think about relying on the camera mic.

    3) If you have access to a GoPro, set it up in the balcony to cover the "wide shots" and just leave it running.

    4) See #1.
  11. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    That's not very realistic. But minimizing handheld shots is a good idea.
  12. coldsweat macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2009
    Grimsby, UK
    First thing to do is find out exactly what the bride wants........

    If she wants a traditional 1-2 hour 'documentary' of her wedding day to music - use a REAL VIDEO CAMERA, a tripod for ceremony & speeches & first dance, hand hold for the rest of the day & shoot lots and lots of 5-10 second clips (don't forget to shoot guests as well as the B+G) to make a montage of each section of the day to music.

    If she wants the current 'fashion' of a 5 minute highlights of the day, use your SLR & plan every shot - watch some clips on youtube & write down how many shots are required at each point of the day (You'll be suprised at how few are needed!) & don't forget that to make it look like a pro wedding video - you'll need the now obligatory camera slider and wide angle lens!

    Good Luck!
  13. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Get a MOVI... :)
    All kidding aside, I hate wedding projects period.
    It takes a special kind of person to deal with all that.
    Even if you pre-planned and set the shot angles in stone with your client you cant factor in the "gotchas!!".
    I would honestly get a second hand (even as an eyes and ears) and not necessarily a shooter.

    Good luck.
  14. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    I've filmed a few weddings.

    Definitely get a mic on the priest.

    I've always filmed solo. I use two cameras. One sits on a tripod to get the wide angle shot, and I discretely move around to get close ups.

    I use a tripod for both cameras, but the one I'm moving I normally collapse and use as a mono pod, only using it as a tripod if I'm going to be in one location for a while.

    BRING EXTRA BATTERIES AND MEDIA! Since the wide shot is running continuously, it may run out of memory / tape. Have something to swap out with.

    As for batteries, I filmed an outdoor wedding once with no access to any electrical. I brought a portable battery power pack (like the ones you'd take camping) and carried it around in a gym bag. I had my cameras plugged into that most of the time. If you're inside, have bring an extension cord so you can tap into an outlet if need be.

    Make sure to get the brides dance with her father. They all love that.

    Record the speeches! I know most people don't care about them, editing them will be a drag, and it will add extra length to the video, but the bride will want to hear them. I know this, as I had another videographer film my own wedding and they cut off both the best man's and father of the brides speech. My wife was not happy.

    A nice work around for the length of the video with speeches is to make a "directors cut" version. Basically, one version that is extra long with everything that the bride wants, and then one version that is short and peppy that they will actually show to friends family when they come over.

    And no, I'm not a pro, so this is just my advice.
  15. TheBeastman13 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2012
    How long are the ceremonies? I don't go to many weddings, and I know my Nikon 7100 has a cap at 20 minutes per take on 1080p full HD. My Sanyo Xacti has a cap in that range, too.
  16. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    20 min is considered fairly short for a ceremony. You'll probably need to find a point where you can quickly stop and resume recording in order to start a new clip. But that could be problematic if both cameras have a similar limit.
  17. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    It depends on the wedding, but usually longer than 20 minutes. You might want to borrow / rent a camcorder to cover the longer wide angle shots. Have it hooked up to the wireless mic to record all of the audio. Use your Nikon to get the close ups of people's faces.
  18. linuxcooldude, Sep 10, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013

    linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

    Mar 1, 2010
    Things rarely go according to plan in a wedding. A lot of times the wedding party stands up to take their own pictures getting in front of a videographer & photographer and blocking your view. Meaning the photographer may be forced to block your view when his view is blocked by someone else. Thats why its so important to use at least two cameras so during the edit you can switch to another camera view if it gets blocked.

    I rarely find a photographer stationary very long and while they may momentarily block your view occasionally its not something a quick fix in post edit by switching to another camera shot or jumping to another scene.

    I would not discount this idea. Obviously the bouquet cam is not going to be the focal point of the whole wedding. But it can give a unique perspective from the bride and grooms point of view that can make it quite special. I've seen some done and it turned out quite well.

    I'd rather mic the groom rather then the priest for several reasons.

    1) Some priests use their own mics that run into the PA system and may not want to wear two systems.

    2) Some just don't like to wear them. I've meet some cranky priests.

    3) It more important to hear what the bride and groom say, rather then the priest if he walks back to the podium and miss what the wedding couple just said. They often say some funny statement that makes the wedding video more memorable.

    The bride perhaps? Its better to shoot speeches even if you don't put it in the wedding video. You can put it in later if the bride requests it when she finds it missing.
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    #1. Audio is really hard to get "right". And poor audio is the first thing everyone will notice. The video can by noisy and poorly framed but if the audio sounds bad the whole thing will seem amateurish. How to get good audio? Basically use decent microphones and get them as close to the person speaking as you can, preferable directly on the person.

    You can use an iPod Touch as a recorder if you buy the correct mic for it. or use those Zoom H1 that sell for $99 each and plug a lavalier mic into one. Or just set up one Zoom H1 as a ambient microphone. They are EASY to hide on plants the flowers. Get the mics close. And use as many of them as you can.

    #2. Use as many cameras as you can. If you don't have people to help simply set up a camera on a TALL tripod and let it run. Place a 20 pound sand bag on each tripod leg (60 total) and hope no one walks into the tripod and knocks it over. Make it taller then most people so shots aren't blocked if some one walks in front. Some camcorders are so small you can hide them. Place one up front so you get the bride face on as she walks in. but REMEMBER "continuity of motion" you can't cut between shots of the same bride walking right to left and then left to right. So all camera need to be onthe same side of the venue. Those $200 camcorders produce decent footage and are small enough to mount on a spring clamp. Batteries last about 1 hour. Yu need lots of footage so you can cut later. Remember about continueity

    3# Final Cut Pro X is very good about syncing sound, it looks at the actual waveform and matchs to way-better than one frame. Use the camera's internal mics for sync (not not audio)

    4# record the band or DJ with a zoom or the like. Get as much of this "free" music as you can. During the ceremony too. yu can use this music under everything, even the getting ready shots. Get lots of high quality music recording. Ambient sounds at the reception too. Just "noise" and it does not need to be insync with video. You'll use it in post.
  20. Chad3eleven macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Dont shoot the speeches? That is the most insane statement.

    Shoot it all. The BRIDE and GROOM will apprecitete it.. Afterall they are the clients.
  21. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Definitely second the backup audio strategy (multiple backups if possible). I just helped at a wedding this weekend. My job was to man the mixer. The guy doing video had asked if he could get a copy of the sound from the board, but we were scrambling to get the system set up and didn't get to turning on the recorder mode until partway through the service, so he'll be missing the first few minutes. He was pretty easygoing about it (none of us were paid, we're all friends of the bride and groom doing various favours) but if he had been a pro, he would have been left high and dry without his own backup audio.
  22. Theydonboi macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2011
    I was a Best Man fairly recently. I'm very glad the speeches weren't filmed. In my head, I delivered mine very well and think it went down a storm with the audience. If it had been filmed, I'd watch it and be able to pick holes in it. I'd expect the Groom would feel the same way about his speech.

    As soon as that kind of thing is filmed, it opens it up to a critical sensibilities.
  23. Paratel, Sep 11, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013

    Paratel macrumors 6502


    Jan 26, 2005
    Somewhere in the US
    And just remember, no pressure but you WILL NOT get a second chance at videoing so make sure you get all the shots you need and make sure you get the vows. I would always mic the groom with a lavalier (omni-directional)
    Def have one static wide shot to use as your "bail-out" shot when your main is no good. Remember, slow and methodical pans and zooms. NO FAST jerks or movements. I would always star up in the front with my main in order to get everyone coming down the isle. be sure and be high enough ans when the bride comes in, everyone will be standing. Once they start to walk up to give their vows, I would move to a better position. Good Luck and make sure you hit the record button!!!
  24. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    Who cares about "critical sensibilities?" I'm sure the bride would feel very different about the groom's speech being filmed. After all, it's for her. Not his ego.

    By no means am I a professional wedding videographer, but I've done a good handful of them for friends or for some supplemental income. I've never heard of anyone not wanting the speeches filmed. In fact, if I had to make bullet points of things most important to shoot, it would go:

    Ceremony - whole thing

    Bridal Party, Bride Groom reception entrances

    First Dance


    Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dances

    Bouquet/Garter (if they do it)


    The rest is just B-roll.

    So just shoot everything you can. You never know what you'll be able to use in the edit.

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