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Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner

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Vitaly DmitrievShooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Mar 3, 2014 at 1:12:16 pm


I am beginning my second season of shooting wedding videos. While I spent the entire last season shooting on a single camcorder (handheld/tripod), I am deep with my head into DSLR shooting this time around. My plan is to try having the camcorder static on a tripod with the DSLR rig in my hands, and in motion.

My question is whether anyone has had any experience when it comes to handling two cameras on your own. My main concern is that where the DSLR on a rig would be my main camera, I wouldn't always have a chance to move the static camcorder into a new position, since you never know what interesting stuff may happen.

For instance, in the church wedding, I would position my camcorder to continuously record the ceremony from the single position, and will move around with the DSLR rig to get more interesting shots. I could eventually reposition the camcorder couple of times during the more dull parts of the ceremony. However, when the newlyweds move away from the altar to exit the church, I'd like the camcorder to be outside to "greet" them when they come out. This doesn't seem possible for me to find enough time to get it out, and a lot more situations like this come to mind, where handling two cameras becomes seemingly impossible.

If anyone has had experience with such shoots, I would really appreciate some tips, even if the tip is "don't do it". I'd like to know what to expect so I'm not caught off guard when it comes to the actual wedding, and I could put a little more planning into my workflow if someone with such experience could share.

Thanks in advance!

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Mark SuszkoRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Mar 3, 2014 at 7:54:57 pm

First, you never know what's going to be "boring" to various viewers. A shot you might discard because it doesn't seem to mean anything may mean a great deal to the bride's mom for example because it's the last and only shot of great-uncle Joey or something like that.

As far as your 2- camera strategy, you either need an assistant, or, pre-plan when you will move the roving camera back to the rear of the church, and position yourself accordingly, so the master camera locked on the tripod is covering everything.

You know, go-pros and knock-off versions of them are so easily affordable now, you could salt the location with a number of them in key spots, and have tremendous backup coverage.

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Vitaly DmitrievRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Mar 4, 2014 at 7:19:03 am

Thanks for the reply, Mark! Could you suggest the most budget-friendly, yet good enough in quality, go-pro-like camera? This suggestion seems rather interesting, would definitely give more security in getting views from more angles. However, I'm once again afraid that this would be cumbersome to set up and then collect the extra additional cameras on my own, while many of the weddings I do require constant filming.

I've tried yesterday to use my camera backpack's waist straps to secure the tripod with the camcorder to my body, while still leaving two hands free to operate the DSLR rig. It's pretty uncomfortable, but I could move the tripod over to the new location that way while still shooting with the DSLR.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Mar 4, 2014 at 5:59:00 pm

Real Go-Pros and knock-offs are available thru B&H Photo/Video, or on Amazon or Ebay. My friends use a mix of real GoPros and Chinese imitations and generally have no issues going between them. But realize that their lens setup is most useful for wide-angle action and things happening within a few feet.

What I imagine for you would be to plant one or two on the edge/seat back of the church pew, right on the aisle, hidden by some of the usual decorations... with a small, unobtrusive custom clamp arrangement, and to place one above the rear doors of the church entrance, facing the altar, to get extra procession shots. That shot will be least likely to get blocked by people. If there are floor stands for microphones, this may be another place a clamp-on mini cam could go, say, for audience iso shots.

Another idea is to attach the go-pro right next to/on your main camera, on a spare hot or cold shoe, so you are constantly shooting a backup wide cover shot while the main camera is zoomed-in.

Some imagination and pre-palnning will be required to rig these, but with long-running batteries and large capacity cards, you set them going well before the start and recover them after the limo makes it's "getaway" to go to the reception..

Even with all this, I still think you ned to break down and get a friend or assistant to help you. You are creating a single-point-failure situation when you take on too many roles as grip AND shooter.

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Vitaly DmitrievRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Mar 5, 2014 at 3:17:48 pm

Thanks for the great tips on the camera setup. You're right, I will eventually have to get a partner. First will do couple of smaller budget weddings, and see how the single-person option works out with two cameras.

One thing you mentioned earlier regards the framerate of cameras. The thing is that I'm shooting 1080p 24p on the DSLR (no higher framerates on this resolution), and the camcorder only has the 1080p 60p option. When conformed to 24p (without the slow motion, i.e. will have to drop frames), and I'm using Premiere, would that result in a different fluidity of motion compared to the 24p footage from my DSLR? Heard that the outcome video may be jerky. Have you dealt with that before?


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Stu DwyerRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Apr 9, 2014 at 12:26:24 am

HI there. I thought I'd chime in on this topic.
I'm a wedding videographer in Melbourne, Australia and I film approx 70 weddings a year by myself.

I set up my 'b' cam on the groom from the side, and capture his reaction during the bride's arrival down the aisle and split the screen in post - my brides love this feature to be able to see their husband's reaction.
This can be tricky as the b cam is unmanned and I occasionally loose this shot when the groom unexpectantly moves, or a bloody tall person stands right in front of my camera. But 9/10 times I can get it.

So to counter this, I always put my b cam up as high as physically possible, I always look for a position with the least chance of it being impared by the guests, and I speak to the groom and priest to find out where they will be standing during the arrival.

Once the arrival is over, I then usually set up a front and centre shot down the aisle as quickly as possible and dart over to the b cam to re-frame the shot. If its a Catholic service, sometimes I'll have both cameras on the side until the vows start. - one camera on the couple and one on the speaker.

During the vows I will zoom in tight with my side angle to get the face of bride, and if I have the space and time I'll get a third camera around my neck and race around to the other side to get the close up on the groom's face. - all the while I've got the front and centre shot covering me.

Once the signing is over, I turn off my b cam and prepare to be mobile with my front and centre shot to exit the church. That way I can back down the aisle during their exit and not have to stress about coming in to turn off my b cam strait away.

Lately where possible I've been putting my GoPro up to get a wide cut-away angle during the ceremony too. - above the gazebo, or just a side shot of the whole scene. - it covers your ass in case both of your camera angles are out of position for a moment.

Yes it would be easier to work with an assistant, but we are offering a competitive price and paying an assistant would eat into our profits too much for what we're charging.

Good luck!

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Bob SlenkerRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Apr 15, 2014 at 11:56:39 pm

Myself and 2 cams is how I do all my weddings. One static in back...maybe hooked up with an audio feed from the house's board and myself manning a cam up front rocking wireless mic receivers.
I generally only do weddings for friends and don't charge a whole lot of money and certainly aren't interesting in splitting it with anyone.
The key is attending the rehearsal and seeing where the best positions are to set up. Ask tons of questions of the wedding coordinator and participants if possible.

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Vitaly DmitrievRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Apr 16, 2014 at 6:51:13 am

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your tips! I'm going to do three cameras on the next wedding: Panasonic camcorder (static), GoPro (static), DSLR (on a rig). I'm using Zoom H4N for my main sound pickup, usually placing it next to the altar. Unfortunately most weddings here in Slovakia don't have a soundboard to plug in, so I have to pick up a live sound, or sometimes place a camcorder closer to the speaker to pick up a backup sound source.

Regarding your point on rehearsals, it's a great recommendation. However, most of the weddings here don't have a rehearsal stage, yet I am nevertheless trying to attend, or at least get the detailed info, from the preliminary meetings in church/venue and/or the place of celebration. This helps a lot as you've said.

I'm gonna use GoPro for two purposes this time around: 1) for the static wide shot of the ceremony 2) for the steadicam shots during b-roll (I got a cheap smoothshop steadicam from eBay for my Panasonic camcorder couple of years ago, and never managed to balance it perfectly, but with a particular GoPro setup it's as steady as I could ever imagine a steadicam to be :)

Once again thanks for your contribution to the topic!

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Paul CoreyRe: Shooting a wedding with two cameras without a partner
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:54:21 am

I shoot two cameras for the ceremony, intro, frist dance and anything I think is important at the wedding. I put my backup camera in the back up high and wide. I tried a Go Pro but the low ligh at the reception did not look so good. It looked good for the outside ceremony. When I used the Go Pro I used 3 cameras that day. My main camera, backup canera and the Go Pro. I used my nephew and now my daughter to help me for the day. Paid them $10.00 per hour. Where I live that is good for a 16 year old.

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