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Beginner Videographer - Need Advice

Tim_Hughes_TX's picture
Last seen: 2 years 2 days ago
Joined: 02/15/2012 - 5:33pm

Hello all, I am Tim Hughes, this is my first post and I am excited to be entering the videography profession. Now let's get to business.

I just purchased a Canon VIXIA HF M41, an LED light that mounts to it, a shotgun mic that also mounts to the camera, professional tripod, and a tripod dolly.

I have some friends getting married in about one month, by then I will some basic experience. Basically what I am asking is, is this equipment high quality enough to get an amazing wedding video with? I did research and these all seem like very good products to start with. But I do know that most wedding videography is done with more than one camera.

Thanks, looking forward to being a part of this community.


composite1's picture
Last seen: 8 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Hey Tim,

Welcome to the forums. Now as to your question, it's not your camera that will make 'an amazing wedding video'. That will come from you. If you've never shot video seriously before, one month is not going to be enough time to get yourself up to speed.

You've got some gear and with some skill and artistic ability, you could pull off a very good piece of work. If you're starting from scratch, I'd hold off on shooting your friends wedding. Even for experienced shooters, weddings are a dicey business. You are not only recording someone's cherished memory, you are charged with making memorable in that they'd want to watch it over and over.

That means, no poorly lit shots, no shaky camera, no missed events (like the bride entering, exchanging of rings or God forbid 'The Kiss'), no bad sound and no choppy music that cuts in and out because you didn't lay down a music track.

If you're still wanting to go ahead (which I don't recommend at this early date), puh-leeeeeze watch the multitude of free 'how to shoot' videos on the VM site. Pay particular attention to making 'sequences' so you can at least cut the thing properly. BTW, you do have a computer and non-linear editing software which you are familiar with don't you? That or know someone who is experienced with editing? If you have none of the above, stop.

This stuff is much harder than it looks, though it is far from impossible. Shooting video for money takes time to learn and develop skills in addition to gaining an artistic eye. You will not do that in a month. What you can do in a month is after watching those videos I recommended, start shooting. Start small (not for money) with projects where you learn how to create shots for a sequence. Then learn about sequence components like; WS, MS, N, CU and then screen direction. There's lots more but those are the building blocks.

In a month, you can familiarize yourself with those terms and how they relate to what will be seen onscreen. One thing for sure, you'll find out quick whether you really want to learn this stuff or not pdq! If so, start out shooting as a hobby and work your way up. Just like you wouldn't want to jump in the ring with Mike Tyson without any boxing experience, don't try to jump into professional videography the same way. You'll get just as beat down and may well lose your friend because you botched his/her wedding video because you got in over your head. Food for thought.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


Tim_Hughes_TX's picture
Last seen: 2 years 2 days ago
Joined: 02/15/2012 - 5:33pm

Thanks for the advice. Yes I have MacBook pro, and will be doing my editing on the iMovie software, and then upgrade to Final Cut Pro. I will definitely look into the videos you recommended.


vid-e-o-man's picture
Last seen: 9 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 02/06/2010 - 4:20am
Plus Member

Tim, sorry for the blank post. What composite mentioned is certainly true. I am assuming you will probably be shooting this as a favor( don't make this your wedding gift) and the couple knows that you are short on experience. I checked out your videocamera's specs and it should do very good along with the tripod for steady shots (a must for professional video). It appears you cam does well in low light so you may not need led light in the church but might come in handy at the reception when the lights are turned down. Tips for the shoot: try to make the rehearsal, introduce yourself to the minister as videographer and check where you are allowed to be and not be. Use the rehearsal to pick out spots to get the best view to catch the important moments. Wedding day get there early shoot some b-roll (look it up). Catch some before wedding shots of the groom, bride and wedding party with permission of course. Lots of shots of the interior of the church, bouquets, rings, unity candles are very helpful when editing. Pick up a program and study, keep it with you find out what the first important person who will process down the aisle looks like.Find out what music will be playing so you have a heads up when you need to start shooting. Set camera on tripod a little bit before you need to shoot the first person (grandparent?) down the aisle. Start shooting a little early and keep it running to not miss anything or anybody important. Know when the bride is about to come and dolly in position to get her entrance expect people leaning in the way. Before I forget introduce yourself to the photographer as early as possible before the ceremony and try to accomodate each other in position in the church. The two of you should check in with the DJ or hall consultant at the reception for the order of events there. Back to the ceremony, Keep rolling throughout anticipate what and where and who is next. If you are near the front know when you will have to scurry to the back to catch the procession out. If there are pictures after in the church, stick around for a few short shots of the couple together (more b-roll). Reception- more of the same: know what is coming and set up for the shots. Tripod is possible for steadiness but get the important moments. Sorry for the lengthy post but I'm assuming this is new to you. It is a live event so you must be on your toes and be able to improvise on the spot. The more footage you have to work with in post the better video you will be able to produce. Above all shoot, shoot, practice with your equipment and make afew short videos to disc to see how what you shoot becomes on disc. Keep shooting.


Gregory Watts's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 10/25/2010 - 2:31am

I will chime in. Tim if you do not have one, get a two piece suit. One that can move with you and take some punishment. Don't run out and get a silk suit. Walmart carries a medium brown two piece suit that I have literally scurried across floors on. It is a tough suit. Why? Nothing like seeing a nicely dressed couple then off to the side someone in blue jeans and tee. Plus is carries a since of pride and professionalism. If you have not or do not wear ties on a regular basis may want to avoid. A tie is a nice addition but unless you are use to them it will distract you. I wear them nearly daily so I am use to them.

I agree with all the above, and yes you need a minimum of 3 cameras to do a wedding. And you also have to count on loosing data, you may not but you should plan for it, thus you create a backup plan. Using 1 camera is like going on a 400 mile drive with half a tank of gas. You MIGHT make it with a lot of coasting.

The short of the above post is called a shot list, but it also needs to be based on the itinerary, and for the most part wedding follow a set pattern, but the unexpected WILL happen. In one I shot two of the most aggravating things happened. At the reception the groom broke out his guitar and the DJ suddenly felt he needed to control this song the groom was doing for the bride, so I palmed my camera and took to the floor between the bride and groom, the scene came out beautiful, but it called for some serious rethinking and I was not prepared for it. The second thing was lighting, the dance floor was suppose to be lit up, but for some reason (again the DJ who thought he was some kind of control freak, in reality he was just that) turned out ALL the lights and left on a single string of xmas type lights, even the photographer opted to leave because it turned into a lighting nightmare, it was totally a nightmare and there was about 500 people trying to move around.

Yes DO NOT charge for it, or make it a wedding gift, a favor, or better yet, ask to do it as a learning experience so nothing is expected to what they will find out about. And as noted above, you noted above you were using iMovie. I am going out on a limb and guessing this is a free program similar to Movie Maker, if so I strongly suggest NOT editing your first project that you intend to promote yourself on free editing software. Spend some money on the editing. A good editor and take bad video and make it awesome. The magic happens in editing. Weddings are perhaps the hardest subject you can ever shoot. This is something that you will be forever be judged against if you mess it up. I was doing a wedding and had 3 cameras, thankfully, and I had one set up to capture the kiss from the best possible angle, and that camera failed. What is surprising, it did capture the kiss, I did check the video before going into editing, it was lost in transition form the camera to computer. Now I am a certified computer tech and I never could recover it or figure out what happened, I even had another tech with a great deal more knowledge of file recovery then me look at the drives, it was just not there. We never figured it out. So COUNT on loosing data, have more than on camera. I did get the kiss on the other two however.

None of this is to scare you away form doing this. but shooting, editing and producing is not an out of the box into the can job. I got my feet wet in 1983 with the movie Rumble Fish, then onto another that fell off due to budget issues. My biggest problem was getting the monies to buy equipment, I took two years of schooling in photography, and watched at the feet of Francies Ford Coppola. i went through a long dry spell, (teen years) then got back on the wagon, I needed refresher courses, again money, then started buying what I needed.

Some tips, watch the following movies with then without sound.
"The Outsiders-The Complete Novel" this is not the version released in theaters this was released in 2010 0r 2009 and is the entire movie as it was shot before the studio cut it up.

"Empire of the Sun"

"The Bodyguard" Matt Dillion

(I have a nice list but my mind is going blank)

But why watch with and without sound?

Your looking for the impact that music and sound effects can have. Even in a wedding, the music is extremely important. Get into the thinking of dubbing the music. Also camera angles, Francis would use two cameras on the same scene, same angle, same shot, but focused on different subjects (scene in The Outsiders with Johnny in foreground and Pony at fountain), he would then splice both together into one frame, so the background is in entire focus as is the foreground, gives the viewer a very weird effect, very useful.

And I also agree, 1 month is not enough time to even learn the feel of the camera in hand. None of this is to discourage you, but no one would swim across the English Channel after his first swim lesson. There is more to videography then meets the eye. PUN intended.

 "A Photo Captures but a Moment in Time: Video Captures a Lifetime in a Moment"


Steve Fenstermacher's picture
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: 04/06/2010 - 3:03am
Plus Member

Advice from an amateur wedding guy: borrow at least one other camera to record the ceremony from a wide shot - front or rear - to catch the things you cannot get in position for.  That camera should be fixed and also capturing the audio from a sound board or a wireless mic placed in front of a speaker so that you can get a complete video and sound track of the entire ceremony (this makes good B-roll material, too).  If this camera cannot input audio from a Line-In source then purchase a quality digital recorder (Zoom or Roland or Tascam) that can tap into a sound source.

And remember, even thought it is free, the couple expects to have their video in a few weeks, even though a part-time effort can take much longer than that to edit and produce a nice video. 


Tim_Hughes_TX's picture
Last seen: 2 years 2 days ago
Joined: 02/15/2012 - 5:33pm

Wow, I appreciate it. I am second guessing even doing the project, although I did find out that is it actually two months away, not a huge difference I know, but maybe I will meet someone who is a little more experienced and can talk them into shooting the wedding and let me shadow them. I will keep everyone posted, once again thank you all.


vid-e-o-man's picture
Last seen: 9 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 02/06/2010 - 4:20am
Plus Member

 Tim, I certainly agree that more than one videocamera is much better. If you could borrow another hd cam and tripod, place this in a position that you have scouted hopefully at the rehearsal. Start it rolling just before starting to shoot with the other to catch a better view of one of the Bride & Groom while on the alter while your other cam that you are actively shooting has a view to the other, both cams on tripods and rolling during the ceremony. Keep yourself out of the shot as much as possible. It is possible to shoot with one cam, takes lots of planning, but very difficult to get every shot. Two cameras much better especially if you can find someone to frame the shot on the other cam. Good luck. Keep shooting, shooting, shooting.