Wedding for a Friend
"videotaping a wedding" thread in rec.video.production
From: "Paul Tauger" (tauger.paulNO at SPAMusa.net)
I have been asked by friends to video tape a wedding for a friend. I am
nothing more than a well-equipped dilletante (read: advanced amateur) whose
only experience at this sort of thing is running a 2-camera shoot for a
Before getting a lot of flames about "leave it to the pros," I have no
option here and, apparently, neither do my friends. Considering I've given
lots of legal advice in this ng, . . . I'd appreciate some straight answers
to a couple of questions:
1. I'm planning to use 2, and possibly 3, cameras for the ceremony. Am I
better off switching live, or doing the whole thing iso and trying to match
everything up in the edit (I'm inclined to switch live -- it worked quite
well at the performance last year, after I got the hang of it). I have a
WJ-AVE5 which does quite nicely (anticipating some responses, I use a pair
of passive switchers to permit switching more than 2 video sources). I
figure one camera for the minister, the other for the couple with a third
giving me a wide view of everyone.
2. When I did the 2-camera shoot last year, I had my camera people on belt
pack intercoms, and was able to direct the shoot (as well as call shots -- I
have no tally light capability). However, for the performance, there were a
lot of unexpected things happening. For the wedding ceremony, I know what
will happen when, and there won't be a lot of movement. Do I still need the
intercom system, or can I get by with telling each camera person "always
assume you're live"?
3. For my own wedding, I stuck a camcorder in the back and had the judge
wear a wireless lapel mike. The video was nothing much, but the sound came
out very well, and picked up my wife and my vows. Is this a sufficient
microphone set-up, or should I mike all participants? Is there any point in
miking the audience (I did this for the performance to pick up audience
reactions -- I don't know if this is necessary for a wedding). Again, I
have a couple of good audio mixers, lots of good mikes -- the equipment
isn't an issue.
4. Though my friends said they only need the ceremony taped, I'm planning
to shoot some stuff at the reception, too, since it's relatively easy. For
the wedding itself, I'm using an AG-456 and an AG-455 recording to an S-VHS
deck (and I'll probably run backup tapes in the cameras). For the
reception, I'd rather use a miniDV camcorder (I've got a TRV-20 -- not as
good as a 3-chipper, but not too bad). Will the difference be particularly
Any other advice would be appreciated. Both my friends and I know that the
end product will not compare to something that the pros in this ng could
produce. Their choice, though, is either "amateur movies" with someone's
hand-held camcorder, me with decent cameras and tripods, or nothing.
Back to Wedding Suggestions.
From: Anthony Stephens (tony23 at pe.net)
Have one camera behind the minister on the groom's side facing the bride. This
is HER day, no matter what your friends may be telling you. You want to be sure
you have good footage of the bride. Also, you want to have really good footage
of the vows and the ring exchange.
Personally, I would record and then edit. Live switching may not allow for some
of the potential hazards.
When I shoot with 2 cameras, I have one groom-side on the bride (as mentioned)
and one in the back. Three cameras, I would have the third bride-side facing the
groom. The one at the back can give close-ups of the minister as well as your
> For the wedding ceremony, I know what will happen when, and there won't be
> a lot of movement.
Ever been to a wedding?
> Do I still need the intercom system, or can I get by with telling each camera
> person "always assume you're live"?
You certainly can't have the camera people talking back to you.
The problem is that you need to be able to deal with a number of unanticipated
events, such as members of the bridal party standing in front of the camera
right as the vows are being said. What you really need are intelligent, reliable
I use one mic on the groom - a wireless. Never had a problem with that
> 4. Though my friends said they only need the ceremony taped, I'm planning
> to shoot some stuff at the reception, too, since it's relatively easy. For
> the wedding itself, I'm using an AG-456 and an AG-455 recording to an S-VHS
> deck (and I'll probably run backup tapes in the cameras). For the
> reception, I'd rather use a miniDV camcorder (I've got a TRV-20 -- not as
> good as a 3-chipper, but not too bad). Will the difference be particularly
Not too horrible, since you are chenging environments. I've intercut SVHS and DV
before (1 of each at a ceremony - an edit for someone else, BTW) and it didn't
look TOO bad. But it was noticable. I don't think you'll have a problem the way
you are describing, though.
From: "Steve Sakellarios" (goldthrd at bellsouth.net)
Not to be flip, but if you think your question is long, an adequate answer
would be a whole lot longer. You want to be as unobtrustive as possible for
the ceremony--some churches, having been pissed off by over-ambitious and
over-active videographers, will even limit you to the balcony or only allow
an unmanned camera up front. In the weddings I've shot (I used to do a lot
and haven't for a few years), I used one camera in the front shooting
diagonally across toward where the bride will be standing (you generally
need to be on "stage-left", or on your right as you face the front), and one
in the back (rear/side, toward the same side as the other camera) or balcony
(in the middle) for a wide shot. The wide shot, in the back, is facing
toward the front, the front camera is facing toward the back, because the
couple spend half the ceremony facing one way, half the other. Try not to be
backlit against church windows. Try not to be blocked by groomsmen who may
line up in front of your camera--same goes for being blocked by foliage.
Don't be afraid to ask "where will this be" or "where will people be
standing" and have someone show you. (Some videographers actually place
marks where people can stand and not be blocking the shot, but I think
people resent it and usually ignore the marks in the "heat of battle"
anyway.) The back camera stays wide to medium, *except* for closeups of the
critical portions like vow and ring exchange, the kiss, etc. Both cameras
need to go in for tight shots of those, in case one misses it. As for the
front camera, get lots of tight shots. Concentrate on the bride, she's the
"show". If you think you're shooting a tight shot, zoom in more. You'll be
glad you did.
I always used a wireless mic on the groom and backed it up with a good mic
on the floor somewhere, maybe in a plant or even underneath what the couple
kneels on (thought that position can get hit by dress folds, etc.) Make sure
you are using fresh, out of the package batteries for your wireless and that
you test it.
Get there in plenty of time, set it up in plenty of time, get on a friendly
basis with the wedding coordinator, the house sound person, the minister,
and anyone else in charge.
Audio is the most difficult part and the most important part. Use the best
wireless you can afford, and again, test it, with the house equipment
The reception is a whole other ballgame. You might think it'd be easy but it
isn't, not if you're getting paid not to miss anything. I believe Hal Landen
of Video University has a tutorial somewhere in his site about weddings,
I'd suggest checking that out.
From: PJ (alienblast at email.com)
Okay, some advice from a person that has been a member of several
Keep it simple. this day is about the wedding. nothing you do should
distract anyone from what is going on at the altar. ask yourself if you
really need to be live switching and do you need the three other people.
Is there any reason why you can't simply turn on two of the cameras and
let them go. if you must have someone on a camera, perhaps to pan as the
bride walks up and joins the groom, then okay. but make sure that the
camera and person will not be in the way.
As for microphones. again, keep it simple. most ministers are used to be
body mic'd these days. so that's not a problem. but putting a mike on
the bride could be interesting, since wedding dresses don't have a place
for the transmitter. a couple of microphones on stands set discreetly
to the sides might be better.
And on the issue of nothing happening. you've never had to deal with a
four year old flower girl that sits down in the middle of the aisle and
throws a temper tantrum. Or a bride that tripped on her dress or . . .
(get the picture).