One camera wedding shoot

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    • #42775

      Hey there, I’m a somewhat experienced freelance videographer, and I’m going to be shooting my first wedding at the end of october. My friend got me the job, and it’s my first wedding. I’m just shooting it, and he’ll edit it, but I will be the only guy with a video camera (there will be 2 still photographers). From what I’ve seen, most people have 2 camera people.

      So basically, I’m trying to think about coverage. I know during the ceremony, I’ll be focusing on the happy couple, but are there any good ways to cover the altar AND the audience? I’m trying to think about cut aways, but I’m not sure what the best way to do it is. Anyone done a wedding with just one camera? Any tips or suggestions?

    • #179232

      First let me say I am NOT a wedding videographer – I am a serious hobbyist that does video at work occasionally and volunteers doing stuff for NPO’s (quite a few lately).

      I have done one wedding for a friend who wasn’t going to have video if I didn’t do it and while I shot it with one camera, I was able to get tapes from another guest (I didn’t use them however). It came out fine but I spent about 8 hours with the B&G (mostly the bride) that day shadowing them as they prepared, then another 6 or so at the ceremony and reception plus another couple of hours doing a post wedding interview a couple of months later. All told, I had about eight hours of videotape which I edited down to about 1.75 hours of final product (about 1.5 hours of my video plus photos and other stuff for the remainder).

      I also did my own wedding (had two friends with our camcorders plus one on a tripod for the ceremony). It’s like the cobbler’s children, however, and I am not done cutting that 1.5 years out.

      Ok – To my point – Is the one camera shoot possible? – Yes – Would it have been better with two or more cameras? – Definitely!

      Just make sure you get all the requisite shots and remember to shoot to edit (get lots of footage). Also, see if you or the editor can make arrangements with one or both of the photogs to allow you to use their work in the video – It can add a lot and don’t forget to use the "Ken Burns" effect as well as other things the NLE can help with (read nice effects like rotoscoping, filters, etc…).

      Also, there are some great assets you can get (links below) to help make the final product much more professional looking.

      Good Luck.

    • #179233

      Please, please, please, do the bride a favor. Go down to a pawn shop, your local craigslist page, or some other used merchandise outlet, and buy at least one, but preferably 2 camcorders. Shoot the wedding with these cameras, and if you couldn’t afford to keep them, re-sell them immediately after you get the footage onto your PC.

      Weddings make up the vast majority of my work, and let me tell you, a one camera wedding shoot will be a huge challenge and a pain in the butt to edit. It might not seem like a terrible idea ahead of time, but over and over, you’ll start moving to reposition the camera, and the minister will make a priceless comment that the whole room laughs to, right while your camera is pointed straight at your shoes.

      The other alternative is to put your single camera on a tripod, and hold more or less the same shot the entire time. Again, this sounds fine before hand, but watching the video will be something like a visual dose of Valium. Great for putting the bride and groom to sleep on those lazy summer nights, but not something they’ll watch and remember with fondness.

      If you can get a second camera, I highly suggest setting it up at the back of the room on a medium-wide shot of the stage. This can be your "CYA" shot that you can always cut to while you’re repositioning yourself. If you can get a third camera, train it on a medium shot of the groom so you can see his face, and you can get bride shots along with the other shots you’re going to naturally get from your camera. It might be worth offering a friend $20 to come along and make sure that the camera follows the groom if he moves (and he will!).

      Now, if you can’t beg, borrow, or steal enough to get at least a second camera, you’re going to need to be really creative with your shots. You’re going to need to get some b roll shots to cut to while you reposition your camera. Before the wedding, get some shots of decorations, the crowd (if you can find a group docile enough to "fake" being a shot from the ceremony), and if you can, get some shots of the musicians/singers rehearsing. If you’re really good, you might be able to get the Bride and groom to let you take some shots of them standing on the stage after the ceremony, pretending to be in the wedding, but I don’t like doing that, because everyone will know that those shots are faked.

      Ultimately, the best answer I can give you is to get more cameras. Even a crappy camera is better than none at all. If you go to a local pawn shop on Friday, some will have a 48 or 72 hour return policy less some restocking fee, so if you were clever enough, you could record all your footage, transfer it onto the computers, and return it to get most of your money, but again, that’s a questionable practice, so do it at your own risk. But if it’s possible, you just really need to get another camera or two.

      Sorry if that’s not what you were looking for. I do hope it helps though!

    • #179234

      You can probably swing renting a 2nd camera from someone for as little as $25. I’d do this instead of buying a camera, using it, then returning it two days later after the footage has been captured. Another option would be to see if a video major at the local college would be interested in getting internship experience as long as they have their own camera or can use one that the school owns. These programs are starving for real-world experience so an offer like this would probably fly.

      If you can’t get another camera, do like he said above:

      Shoot as many cutaways before the wedding as possible. people sitting still looking towards the altar, flowers on the altar, flowers on the pews, candles, stained glass windows, wall murals, etc. Shoot absolutely everything you can find that will remind the B&G of the surroundings at the wedding.

      Then, pick the best spot for shooting the ceremony and STAY THERE! Shoot the whole thing as if you know you are the only camera so every move counts. Every messed up pan, zoom or shake will result in an edit point. After you shoot the ceremony, think about how many times you screwed up and make sure you have enough cutaways to cover it.

      I found that shooting from the center balcony or center aisle from the back (just off to either side) was the best position to cover the entire wedding with one camera….although I had a few very nice one camera weddings that I shot from the altar. Regardless, it’s important that the B&G understand that there will be some limitations going in so that they don’t have a 2 or 3 camera production in mind when your buddy delivers the tape.

      Good luck!


    • #179235

      Thanks for the responses everyone. You’ve been really helpful. Both me and my friend are videographers, so we both have cameras. And you all are right, I shoud use a second camera. Also, we’ll definitely have access to the photos, we both know the two potographers. I’ll probably have a medium shot on the B&G with a camera on a tripod in the back. That way I can try to cover reaction shots from the crowd, and there will always be a nice clean shot for editing purposes. As for the visual style, I’m going to have a fig rig during the ceremony, and I’ll try to get some nice flowing shots (for b-roll also). It’s a good idea to hang with the bride during the day to capture some of the pre-wedding stuff and edit it into the package. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do that.

      Thanks everyone. If you have any other advice, let me know.

    • #179236

      Hi again.

      I heard the words "fig rig" and I thought I’d chip in my two cents on this issue.

      Last year, my A/V supplier got the Bogen fig rig in stock. Having used one before for a documentary shoot, i was intrigued and asked if we could use it for an upcoming ceremony, to try it out. He told me that he’d heard it wasn’t the best for live events, but he let me take it out anyway.

      So we took the fig rig with us to the rehearsal that weekend, and got some shots. At first, it was awesome. We got some really neat "fly-through" shots of scenery, decorations, etc. Yeah, it looked like an oversized steering wheel, but we loved it!

      Then, when they decided to actually start rehearsing, the love affair soon ended. The biggest problem with the fig rig is that it adds not only a lot of weight to your gear, but it also adds a lot of awkwardness. The only way for it to really be useful is if you hold it out from your body. Not bad for shorter shoots, but if you’ve got a decent camera, a big battery, and the fully loaded rig, you’re looking at ten pounds or better. As an experiment, go get two five pound weights. Now, with one in each hand, hold your hands in front of you, about 2/3 extended their full reach. Easy? Well, pretend you’re going to have a long-winded officiant at your wedding, and you have to hold those weights out in front of you for a full 90 minutes. Unless you’re exceptionally muscled, I can guarantee you that by the end of 90 minutes holding those weights out there, if you haven’t given up, you’ll be shaking like a leaf, and all of that shaking gets transferred to your camera.

      My wife started the rehearsal using the fig rig. She’s pretty strong, but after 30 minutes, she had to switch cameras with me. I made it about 45, and then I was toast. That night at the hotel, both of our arms felt like jell-o. The next day, we didn’t even bother to bring it with us.

      In my opinion, the best bet will be to use your fig rig to get some neat shots before the ceremony, but at the actual ceremony itself, switch to a tripod, monopod, or even a steadycam setup. Heck, I would much sooner go fully hand held before I brought a fig rig on.

      Of course, this is just my opinion. Do with it as you please. But again, if it were me, fig rig would be for the b-roll, not the ceremony itself. It’s just too heavy and demanding for the long haul.

    • #179237

      Thanks On a Roll. I’ve used a fig rig before, and I can definitely see what you’re saying. The fig rig makes sense for a few shots before the ceremony, but I guess it does seem like a hassle to cart it around for an extended period of time. Thanks.

    • #179238

      Thanks. Like I said, it’s just my opinion, but one that I formed from experience.

      Here’s a list of methods to support your camera, going from the most stable methods to the least stable in a long haul production, such as a wedding:

      -Steadycam-type rigs
      -shoulder mounted
      -"Two handed" method. (Supporting the camera with both arms, close to the body.)
      -Fig Rigs

      Ideally, I try to stay as close to the top of that list as I can.

      Anyway, good luck with your wedding. I really hope all goes well for you. Be sure to let us know how it goes!

    • #179239

      The secret of shooting a wedding is not knowing what to shoot but what not to miss.
      If you feel confident, just do one camera. Adding the second one may save your back, but creates extra work for the editor.

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