What do you think is the best tripod location in a church?
I was wondering if any one had any input on their favorite tripod location in a church for a single camera shoot. The center isle has worked well for me, but I have also seen good results from the side. The hardest part about the center isle is getting in position in a timely fashion after shooting the procession hand held ....by this I mean getting the camera mounted in time before the religious person starts the ceremony. If you set up the tripod on the side you get over to it a little bit quicker.
I usually pick Groom's side, center aisle, about the fifth row from the front. I didn't do handheld of the procession in, I shot from right there on the aisle, with the same POV as a guest would have.
Shooting from Groom's side favors the bride's face when they turn towards each other for vows and ring exchange.
I do handheld before the ceremony, but carefully braced and well composed. I will get the seating of the Parents and etc. handheld maybe, from the front somewhere, plus some subtle cut-away material for possible later edit use, if the situation allows. Then I get into my pew and stay put.
I Don't go off my sticks until the procession out is done.
Thanks Mark for the feedback. When you say that you are in the pew, is your whole tripod in the pew , out of the isle or is some of the tripod still in the isle?
None of it protrudes into the aisle. I was not one of those paparazzi type like some still photogs that precede the bride all the way up to the font, walking backwards and flashing all the way. That's disrespectful and looks unprofessional, IMO.
But I do have my sticks as close to the edge as possible. You can do some tricks with the positioning of the tripod legs to give you the room you need. One is to put one or two legs over the top of the pew into the seat in front. Assuming nobody sits right in front of you.
I make sure the tripod is there and visible way before anybody else comes in, and if they still choose to sit right behind me, it's their problem. But I don't normally stand for the whole thing, I can either lower the head once people are seated, or adjust the viewfinder so I can watch from seated position. Since I have the focus manually pre-set, I just have to watch for framing. I also attend the rehearsals, usually with the camera, not to shoot, but to get everyone familiar with what I look like and where I'm planning to be, and to get square with the officiant and their house rules. Anybody that doesn't take this extra step is going to suffer problems on the actual wedding day, I guarantee.
Mark >> I also attend the rehearsals ... Anybody that doesn't take this extra step is going to suffer problems on the actual wedding day, I guarantee.
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I feel that this is stated too specifically. Anyone who doesn't PREPARE for the wedding is going to have problems, yes. But there are many ways of going about this.
Attending the rehearsal is one way, yes, but having an in-depth meeting with the bride (with diagrams and drawings of the location) and checking with the church by phone are also suitable alternatives in many cases.
Out of roughly 200 weddings I've shot I've only attended 2 or 3 rehersals. I haven't had a problem yet. Your advice is good in the sense that preperation and planning is critical, but there are many different ways to accomplish that.
(Caveat: I always shoot with 2 or 3 cameras. I see that you guys are both talking about single-camera shoots. So for all I know, attending the rehersal IS critical for single-camera shoots. I'm just offering up my own experiences, I fully admit that it may not apply to people using different setups.)
Yes, particularly for a single-camera shoot, you HAVE to come to scout out the rehearsal, so you can check the angles you want to shoot and see what the staging of the participants in the altar area is going to be like, where you can plant mics or get additional audio off the PA system, etc. Zero hour on the Big Day is too late to find out the third groomsman is going to be blocking your only shot of the vows, that the church wireless is on your same frequency, or that the minister has a rule about where you can and cannot be. Everyone is going to see and get used to the fact of where you intend to plant the camera, so bring at least your sticks with you and plant them where you want to be shooting, and see if everyone is okay with that. The atmosphere at the rehersal is relaxed and open; if you have issues or questions, people can work it out... but on the Big Day, emotions run rampant, nobody will know anything, nobody will be available when needed, nobody will have the time to find something out or do some last-minute errand, all brain cells of everybody involved will be tied up with the event itself, and if you wind up needing some special help then, well you are SOL. When you shoot single-camera, you can't rely on a lot of cutaway to save you if things go wrong. So to keep Murphy off the guest list, better go to the practice, is what I advise. You don't have to stay all night, an hour or less will do it.
You have a chance at the rehearsal to clear up any hidden "gotchas" about position, lighting, house rules, etc. and at that point you have the best chance of getting something changed if it is going to be a problem. You'll also get to see and I.D. most of the key members of the wedding party, including the grandparents, etc. and the lady that is paying you, usually the MOTB. And while you're right that you can work things out with a minister or etc over the phone, there is no substitute for in-person relating and discussion. People can picture things wrong in their minds while talking on the phone. Descriptions can be imprecise regarding light levels, access to AC power and PA system, distances, access doors, etc. Better to really scout it at the rehearsal, I say.
One of the reasons I no longer do weddings is the emotional toll on me, the worry and triple-checking and backup planning to make sure I didn't mess up was very draining, as if it was my own wedding, every time. Like they say in news, "the barn only burns down one time", so you have to get it right the first time, every time. What some think is being over-prepared is me just giving the job the attention to detail it deserves, to give the results the client and I expect. It is that kind of effort that distinguishes a single-camera job by a pro from Uncle Charley and his home movies.
That's in no way meant to be a knock on how you pre-paln or how you choose to do your multicam work. But I would opine that a multicam job by it's nature gives you a little more insurance of getting the thing done, just because you've got more angles to play with. Me, if I stop rolling, I have to "edit-in-camera" and always plan my start-stop choices, composition, and timing so the original tape will view just fine without any editing needed.
>>But I would opine that a multicam job by it's nature gives you a little more insurance.
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Based on your comments here I would say that it gives me a LOT more insurance! This sounds a lot tougher than what I go through.
Thanks for the thoughts. The reason I brought it up is that I know this forum is read by both single and multi-cam shooters. I wanted to explore that difference for everyone else's sake, and I appreciate reading more about your own perspective.
I don't do weddings anymore either but I agree with both of you.. I only did one single camera wedding (and I did indeed attend the rehearsal - fortunately) but I still find that attending the rehearsal when doing a 3 cam shoot is still important (as is having the in depth discussions with the bride and groom..) But like you said, a 2 or 3 camera shoot does come with a lot more insurance.
I have found a number of times that a grooms man is like 7 feet tall and is positioned in line of my main camera or something else - stuff that isn't likely to come up in a meeting with the bride or groom. Also, I frequently see plans change during the rehearsal to the point where it requires a change of camera position or similar.. I think if you ask a wedding planner I'm guessing that a lot of them will tell you that the rehearsal isn't just to make sure that the wedding party know's what to do but to make sure that all of the logistics they've planned work out as well.
But I have found that after you've done a numbe of weddings you pretty much know the drill - and there's not much need to stay for the entire rehearsal - I used to be able to get in and out in about 15 minutes (so long because I didn't want to be disrespectful and come in and out like a whirling derbish if you know what I mean.) Oh, and heck, I know that my being present at the rehearsal made the bride feel a tiny bit more comfortable with me on their actual day..
The basic principles you've been talking about can (and should) be applied to pretty much any kind of event - though rehearsals don't exactly happen for a sporting event or whatever.. Do a location scout and you'll be that much more prepared! (Oh, and I keep a small database on the locations I've worked at.. Basically just notes about any facility rules or special circumstances encountered... nothing fancy.)
I haven't shot a wedding in a while, myself, but I can share what has worked well for me in the past. Keep in mind, however that I usually edit the ceremony a LOT - like down to 5-10 minutes, so that gives me a bit more flexibility to move around. Also, of equal importance to how I marketed myself was the quality of the video AND being discreet!
I almost always shot single camera, although I did from time to time put a stationary camera somewhere for a wide shot - usually in the balcony/choir loft. i would shoot the processional handheld, then go to my tripod which was on the side - whichever side gave me a better shot of the BRIDE during the ceremony. I'd stay on the side for the early part of the ceremony, until the vows, when I would move, tripod and all (a dolly helps this move be more unobtrusive and faster) to the center isle (it is a good idea to get permission from both the priest/rabbi/etc AND photographer before the ceremont starts - or at least give them a heads up that this is what you're doing - always good to keep a healthy working relationship with the photographer!) where I would stay for the vows and rings. I would then go back to my side location (you can use the other side now for variety now if you wish and it is practical) for the remainder of the ceremony, then go handheld for the kiss/recessional at the end (also something to tell the photog). Note I used a full-size shoulder cam for this - helps a LOT for handheld work, and is much better in low light (had a Sony DSR-300/400).
I never had a single complaint of the quality of the coverage and was able to book many "hi-end" NYC events using this technique. It also helped me in the edit that I didn't have a ridiculous amount of footage to go through.
For a Jewish ceremony I found there was often more flexibility - for whatever reason rabbis don't seem to mind as much. I'd often park myself either under or just behind the chuppah (sp - sorry) to get the couple's face the whole time (they usually have their backs to the audience and face the rabbi for the majority). And would move around if I saw a better angle or something changed. I never went to rehearsals (unless I was hired to shoot it) and never had a problem. The vast majority of wedding ceremonies are VERY similar - especially church weddings.
Good luck - there's really no right or wrong way, just find something that works for you and, more importantly, your clients.
Thanks all for the feedback. I am going to attempt Mark's technique this Friday. Get the tripod set up nice and early in the pew and stay stationary . I like this technique because it has sometimes been quite challenging for me shooting the ceremony in churches. I do not shoot with a shoulder mount and I'm generally on and off the tripod . The idea that it is possible to remain stationary for the length of the ceremony sounds good to me.
BTW Mark, I think you suggested the use of the iRiver devices on this site, I just wanted to say THANKYOU!
They are simply magical devices. The sound quality is excellent and syncing up in FCP has worked mint. I use a shotgun mic in combination with iRivers and I have found no need to use a UHF wireless mic system.
What iriver product are you using, when I was at B&H photo last month they told me that iRiver no longer makes an mp3 player with a mic input.
I ended up going with a sony digital audio recorder.