Need advice for filming a wedding

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    • #37365

      In a week, I’m going to film a wedding. I’ve never done this before, so I could really use some tips. I’m just an amateur and I’m doing this for a friend, but I AM getting paid and want this to come out great. I’ll be using two Canon HF100’s to shoot and Vegas Pro to edit. My main concern is the shoot. I plan on setting up one camera on a tripod for the ceremony and roaming free with the backup. No huge concern there. What scares me is the reception. Where do I go? What do I do? Where do I stand when they walk in? How much should I film? What should I not miss? Do I go to every table and try to get people to wish the new couple good luck? I guess it’s not so much my skill in shooting I am worried about as it is my knowledge of weddings. I have only been to a few. The other thing is the lighting. I imagine this is going to be a difficult obstacle since the reception will be in the evening and lighting will most likely be poor once inside. So that’s mostly it. What do I do? Please let me know! Thanks!

    • #165581

      1) do not spend a dime of thier money, till you got the job done, and done right. If you aren’t 100% confident, (don’t let on, they don’t need to worry, but be honest about your experiance level), but in your contract, be prepared to give a full refund.

      2) ask lots of questions, goto the rehearsal. check out the venus. find out what you’re dealing with, then deal with any problems that you find out about.

      3) know your equipment. if you’ll need to raise the ambient light, or add video lights, best to know in advance.

    • #165582

      get to the reception hall, shoot some b roll of the crowd waiting for the bridal party to come in. Stand in a good line of sight to capture bridal party coming in. I recommend that you go to the bathroom before going to the reception, you need to be available at moments notice. Shoot a lot, try to remember to start shooting and wait a few seconds before stopping the shot to make sure you don’t cut something off. When shooting guests for well wishes to the bride and groom, work a table at a time. Don’t be pushy, but get in position to get good shots. Standing behind the bride and groom as they cut the cake is not ideal. If you have some help with you, have one camera on the best man for the toast, while the other is on the bride and groom for reaction shots (if they are not close by) I sometimes have a camera on a tripod up high at the dance floor so I have some b roll or wide shots to mix in with any dance footage. I use additional light very sparingly when needed. Try not to disrupt the ambiance of the mood. This is the bride’s day, she has expectations and you should not interfere with them. Best of luck with the shoot.


    • #165583

      Thanks. Let me be clear, though. The bride is a friend. She asked me to do this because she didn’t want to pay a lot of money. She was merely looking to get the day captured on film. I offered to bring my own camcorder as a backup and also edit the video for her. She wasn’t expecting me to do so much. This is just a great opportunity to get some experience. I’m not worried about money, she’s not worried about the finished edited product. I just want to make my first experience as good as it can get. Also, if anyone has any wedding clips hosted somewhere that I could take a peek at, I would love to see an example. Thanks

    • #165584

      Three bits of advice:

      1. Here’s a problem I’ve encountered at weddings – Photographers.

      If one sets up right where you’ve got the video camera, you’ll be picking up

      their camera noise and clicks as they go about their business.

      Try to get as far away from them as possible especially if you use the camera mike.

      2. Invest in a wireless system so you can mike the groom and get good audio.

      3. Lighting at the reception/dance is a usually a problem.

      Either bring your own lighting, turn up the house lighting or explain to the bride why

      the video might be dark when the lights aren’t on.

      Note – since this is a friend and this is your first wedding, I’d do it for free.

      You can then use this as a basis for getting other business.

    • #165585

      Yes, lighting is a concern for me. Bringing my own lighting is not an option, I just don’t have the equipment yet. She expects this to be an amateur job, but I have also thoroughly explained that it will look dark. The only upside is that the camcorder performs well in low light.

    • #165586

      A fairly quick and easy (and relatively cheap) way to make the end result look better is to get some nice assets to use to “sweeten” the final edit.

      A great place to look is Digital Juice – They have ThemeKits (you can get five for $100 now – normally $50 each) that have wonderful HD and SD animations, transitional wipes, overlays, video clip art (Motion Design Elements), layered PSD files (for the DVD and case) – all matched to a theme (they have several wedding themed ones).

      I would also highly recommend getting some nice royalty free music – (DJ has this as well but there are other sources as well).Some folks only want copyrighted music but RF gives you two things – You stay legal (more important to some than others) and 2) It gives your production something relatively unique and some music that the viewers may not have heard before.

    • #165587

      Thought of another question- would it make sense to scope out the reception hall before the wedding? I plan on going days before to get some extra footage and also to become familiar with the place, but what about the day of? I don’t know if that would give me any insight as to lighting, setup, etc….

    • #165588

      If you want to see some truly great wedding video – look here:

    • #165589

      ok, here’s something to test out if you have time before your event…

      get a white paper chinese lantern (paper with wire frame about the sixe of a basketball, collapses flat)….

      attach it to a high power flashlight…..the 12 volt rechargable type halogen bulb…

      time it to find out how long it goes….before the battery dies…

      if you got a wide angle lens and you’re working in close to your couple….

      that is all the light you’ll need for the first dance.

      I got two white, freestanding torchiere halogen lamps, (bounced light off the ceiling) for a couple bucks each at yardsales, one at each end of the head table. get them to your couple BEFORE they set up the hall and let them decorate the lamps with whatever ribbons/bows, or flowers they want. (I’m painting some wicker vases, white and cutting the bottoms out to mount them to the lamps so they can be used as flower holders). You can turn them up for speeches and dim them for the dances….

      for me that’s $25.00 in lighting that covers the whole reception/speeches.

    • #165590

      Great suggetions so far. Thanks. Another thing I’m wondering is how and when to approach guests at the reception, and what to ask. That may be the most frightening thing.

    • #165591

      I plan on setting up one camera on a tripod for the ceremony and roaming free with the backup.

      I will suggest one thing here. Make sure that the church allows you to “Roam Free”. I have never been allowed to do this, asside from once in 30 weddings. I would suggest talking to the preacher before hand or you will get a rude awakening.

      I usually use 3 cameras, but if I am in a pinch and am down to two,I will usually get a Wide Shot from the back with one camera, and I will man the 2nd camera up front (if the church allows) so that I can geta close-up of the special moments during the ceremony (ie: Ring, vows, candles, etc).

      I know you are amatuer,and I know you don’t have the equipmentor money for wireless mics, but what I would suggest is to go buya digital voice recorder (with USB port) from Best Buy or something (I use Olympus WS-100 as it records to WMA at CD quality). You could probably find one for around $50-$60. Then goto Radio Shack and get a lapel mic which will run you about $15. Before the ceremony, hook the lapel mic to the groom and have him put the Recorder in his pocket (and make sure you press record). When the ceremony is over, just take it off him and download the audio files to your computer (thru the USB port).

      The camera mic IS NOT going to be strong enough to capture ANYTHING that they are saying. And when you give them the video, and they can clearly hear their vows, it will make your final video feel that much more professional.Sound is always my main problem to work around when filming.

      What scares me is the reception. Where do I go? What do I do? Where do I stand when they walk in? How much should I film? What should I not miss?

      Don’t be too worried about the reception. That’s the easy part. I feel that once the ceremony is over the hard work is done.

      My suggestion would be to make sure you have a tripod. (Here’s a good trick; you can use the tripod as a steady-cam).
      Make sure you get the pickup shots of the venue, Cake, Food, Flower arrangments, and gift table.

      You remember that Voice recorder I told you to buy? Mount that close to one of the speakers for the sound. I usually mount mine about 2 feet from the speaker (with my WS-100 mic set on Hi). This will get everything you need, audio-wise.

      Do I go to every table and try to get people to wish the new couple good luck?

      I will warn you about this. 98% of the time, as soon as people see you going up to the guests to try to get them to make comments to the camera, they will avoid you like the plague. FACT! I would suggest that you only take comments, if they come up to you otherwise, you WILL be avoided. I have gotten to the point that I changed my contract to say that we don’t approach guests because we don’t wish to make the guests uncomfortable at the party. And if they don’t come up to us, then there will be no comments on the final video. (Although we do offer a Kiosk for them to make private comments).

      I guess it’s not so much my skill in shooting I am worried about as it is my knowledge of weddings.

      Simple: Here is a quick outline of 95% of the weddings I’ve ever filmed or seen (the other 5% were weird exotic ceremonies but yours probably won’t fall in this category).

      Ceremony (Check your white balance… learn how to use it cause you will need it.)

      1. Grandmother/Mothers March
      2. Wedding party processional
      3. Bridal processional (be aware that everyone will stand, so find a good position so there is no camera shake while you try to adjust).
      4. Preacher talks.
      5. Vows
      6. Rings
      7. Unity Candles (not all weddings)
      8. Kiss the bride
      9. Recessional (including Bride/groom, Party, & Grandmothers/Parents)

      Reception (Again with the white balance).

      1. Get your pick-up shots. More than you think you need.
      2. Bridal party introductions
      3. Firstdance (usually they walk in and go directly to the dance floor)
      4. Bride & Father dance
      5. Groom & Mother dance
      6. Cake cutting and ceremonial arm-cross toast for pictures (Sometimes this takes place after they eat, but many times it is at the beginning. You just need to ask the bride)
      7. Toasts (if any are usually after the cake) (If you already have the Digital recorder in place, it will pick up the speeches from the speakers).
      8. Eating
      9. Dancing
      10. Bouquet & garter Tosses
      11. Maybe more dancing
      12. Probably the exit to the car. (You may was to take a portable light or something just in case it is dark. Visit the venue and find out).

      So this is your quick and dirty way to shoot a wedding and the order. Hope this helps.

    • #165592

      huge help Brandon! Thanks for the input

    • #165593

      Then goto Radio Shack and get a lapel mic which will run you about $15. Before the ceremony, hook the lapel mic to the groom and have him put the Recorder in his pocket (and make sure you press record).

      I don’t see a lapel mic online at radioshack, is there one you could suggest?

    • #165594

      Then goto Radio Shack and get a lapel mic which will run you about $15. Before the ceremony, hook the lapel mic to the groom and have him put the Recorder in his pocket (and make sure you press record).

      I don’t see a lapel mic online at radioshack, is there one you could suggest?

      How about this combo?

    • #165595

      I have been to a couple different Radio Shacks and I know that they have them in the stores. I have had to keep upping my numbers (for backup as well as my number of recording devices).

      I would recommend just going in and telling the sales guy, “I need a lapel mic with 1/8 inch pin.” The ones I have are mono, (1 black stripe) but I think they may have stereo as well (2 black stripes) but I am not positive. The monos work perfect for me, I just duplicate it on the timeline during editing and it comes out fine.

      He should be able to stear you right to it.

      FYI: It is just the radio shack brand.

      I in no way endorse/work for/ or support radio shack, but I know that they are one of only a small number of stores that carry the lapel mics (without having to order them online and wait). Many also sell the Olympus WS-100.


      If the WS-100 is to expensive, go to Best Buy/Circuit City/Radio Shack and look for one that has a USB port (otherwise you won’t be able to transfer it to your PC). And make sure it records to MP3 or WMA.The hiest quality should be around 44.1 kHz or more.

    • #165596

      thanks again

    • #165597

      I did well for the voice recorder… I’m borrowing an olympus ds-30for the weekend

    • #165598

      The 2 links that you show will not be a good idea. The mic is a computer mic not a lapel mic. The VN-4100 does not have an editable audio form. AND it is only 16 kHz. It should be at or near 44.1 kHz (CD quality). MP3 or WMV. Either of these 2 formats.

      Here are some links.

      Lapel Mic I was talking about:

      Digital Recorder: The next model up from mine. It actually separates into 2 peices and has the USB attached. It is recognized as a Mass storage device.

    • #165599

      How did it go after all? Give us a feedback please.

      Shoot-It-Yourself Wedding Video Guide

    • #165600

      Well, I’ve been waiting to post my feedback because I’m a little superstitious. I didn’t want to call this a success prematurely. So, after advice and research, I made a decision on some very key points. First, I was able to borrow the audio recorder. I purchased the lapel mic from radio shack to hook this up. I also decided on no extra lighting. The biggest influence there was after watching my friend’s videos in which no lighting was used. It was not intrusive, but still gave great results. I also decided to not approach people for comments in the reception. I think this really allowed me to capture what the night was all about without interfering.

      In preparation for the big event, I requested to be present at the rehearsal. I left work early, I arrived early for the rehearsal. Upon my arrival, I approached the photographer as she exited her car and asked, very confidently, if she was here for the same wedding I was. She was not. I hung my head in shame, feeling very stupid…. I shook that off and got some great shots outside… a very beautiful day. So then I waited for people to show up. Meanwhile, the photographer is out and about so I give up on getting more shots. Finally, we are set for rehearsal. It could not have been any shorter, I tried to find good points to set up. Ultimately, I failed. Two major oversights here… 1) They were getting married outside under a gazebo. Almost every angle was blocked. 2) There was a wedding coming in right after their rehearsal. The rehearsal was so rushed that I had no time to prepare for the big day. And that leads me to the next day….

      I showed up an hour and a half early for the wedding. I wanted as much time as possible to prepare. So I walk down and see some people are already there. I suspect the worst, and my suspicions are confirmed. These people are here for a wedding BEFORE the one I am there for (I now don’t feel so stupid for getting photographers mixed up). So I have to wait again! And I wait, and wait, and wait. Eventually, their ceremony is over, but the wedding party is still out getting pictures taken. I was about to lose my mind. Meanwhile, my friend (the bride) shows up in her limo. She sees another wedding going on: NOT COOL. So with only minutes to spare and the previous wedding party still out, I set up my tripod as fast as I could. I set up far back with a straight shot into the gazebo, zoomed in. That was my steady shot. I set myself up on the left side, where no one was seated. Unfortunately, as the wedding party started walking down, the photographer’s assistant decided he should stick his backside in all of my shots. This became even more aggravating as he walked in front of, and in exact pace as, the flower girl. I almost wanted to tell everyone to start over. And what was worse, the phrase “you may now be seated” was never uttered. So any backup shot was nearly useless as I fumbled to gain a better shot of the bride and groom.

      In hindsight, I could have set up one camera on the right side of the gazebo, while I stayed on the left. Or, I could have at least made my timing a little better. What I actually did, was run around the gazebo, and, due to my lack of wedding experience, I missed a close shot of the groom saying “I do.” Thank God people were seated by then so that my backup shot was decent. After that small fiasco, I recovered and got great close up shots… On to the reception.

      The reception was at the same location so I was able to be in two places at once, I kept running back outside to set the tripod up in different locations. Worked out great. Inside, I was getting some great shots. The introductions came out great too. In fact, most of the reception was smooth. I nearly missed the best man’s toast. I was just unaware it was coming, and could not battle my way through a crowded room. The camera I had set up on a tripod inside was often blocked, and on one occasion, MOVED INTENTIONALLY. I was not happy when I saw that playback. Ultimately, this was a success, and all of the shots worked. I left that night fairly confident. I was excited and relieved after a day well done.

      I should also mention that the DJ and photographer were incredibly helpfull. I don’t mean to put the blame of the mistakes on them. I defintely had many mistakes due to my own error or things out of my control. So, enough of my excuses, let’s get to my mistakes.The next day, I started watching the video, and editing. Right off the bat, I realized this would be more difficult than I had perceived. I matched up the two videos plus the audio file for the ceremony. Mistake #1: The audio sampled slightly off from the video, resulting in an echo. Of course, my being a complete noob, I painstakingly MADE IT match up instead of converting first. Fortunately, the result was a perfect match. I was very happy to have this separate audio file as it made the ceremony flow perfectly. I experienced the same problem when laying over mp3 files to match up with the songs being played during the reception. I overcame this as well as I think I could. Next problem, the sounds of the camcorder’s internal mic was EXCELLENT, but picked up interference from the DJ’s equipment. So disappointing. This made for more painstaking attempts at getting the audio right. It was impossible to fix because in many parts, the audio from the camcorder was more usable than that of the audio recorder. With some ingenuity, I made this work as best I could. Mistake #2: I was in my shots. I may be too hard on myself here though because the photographer was absolutely impossible to avoid, whereas I was nearly invisible.

      Finally, there was my own creative touch to the video. I am actually really happy about trying to stay invisible. I think I was the least intrusive I could be, but still managed to capture their big day. I definitely learned a lot. So much, that I could probably write 10 times more than what I have already. There were definitely lessons to be made every step of the way, but at the same time, I pulled it off! I saw the bride today. She’s back from her honeymoon, back from work. I handed her a few dvd’s and plenty of video files. Tonight, I got home and read an e-mail from her. It made me feel really good. “It was awesome… We can’t wait to show it to everybody. You did an excellent job. We are very impressed andTHANKFUL.” I prepared for this for weeks, filmed for a day, edited for nearly two weeks, and am still working on rendering the highest quality drafts. I don’t think it’s anywhere near perfect, but I am very proud of it. What really seals the deal is that they are happy with it. I’m not one to get all mushy, but that is really cool. Thanks to everyone who posted here. I read all of these posts with attention to detail. Had I not posted here, I do not think the positive feeling I am experiencing right now would be nearly this great. Thanks again!


    • #165601

      I was wondering…

      At the reception, did you put all of the dancing in and try to synch the audio up?

      What I usually do is go through and cut and crop and chop and completely mangle (just kidding) the dancing scenes (not the 1st dance and bride/father and Groom/mother dance). I basically go through each song and edit out all of the boring or unusable stuff and overlay that on top of a nice chunk of the music they were dancing to. 9 times out of 10, the audio synchs with the dancing perfectly. I unually looks like I just switched camera angles instead of taking a clip from a different part of the dance.

      Once I’ve done that for each song, I put it into a montage of the entire dancing sequence.

      So I turn 2 hours of dancing footage into a 10 minute clip of the highlights and good stuff.

      Allof my client really like that I do this instead of just drop the entire 2 hours on the disc.

    • #165602

      I was wondering… At the reception, did you put all of the dancing in and try to synch the audio up?

      I edited a lot trying to filter out anything boring, but I included all formal dances in full length. I matched up both video files along with the mp3. I faded out of the audio from the video and into the mp3. This made it sound much nicer and also helped me avoid any of that interference. For the video, I kept my still shot down as the foundation and split the moving shots in order to go back to the still shots whenever the effect would look nice (or when someone stands in front of the tripod!) I messed around with it a lot too. At the end of the dance, I did my best to fade the mp3 back out as we went back to the audio from the camcorder so you can hear everyone clap and get back to the DJ’s introductions. That was about it, just the few formal dances. Other than that, the dancing was edited a lot. That part was pretty easy because I remembered what parts I thought were good throughout the night so I just skipped right to that. A montage sounds like a good idea. I suppose if I ever give this another shot, I could add one.

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