The geekiest thing I’m doing right now is editing a wedding video for my friend Stuart.
I’m very glad I did this wedding as a gift – ie, not getting paid. If I were to get paid, there’s a lot of things I would do differently. Here is what I have learned:
- At least two of the same kind of camera, preferably of a resolution higher than the final product.
- You want better than the final resolution for stabilization – any software needs to loose some pixels in order to stabilize.
- Hint: film at 1080p, render at 720. Unless you are Über with your camera moving Skills.
- Cameras that do well in low light – the dancing at the reception, for example.
- Two GOOD tripods, which extend at least above head-level high. OR, a Balcony.
- When everybody is standing, it will be challenging to get the right folks in the video. I had one tall tripod that didn’t move well, and one short tripod that did move but was no more than head high.
- The $55 tripod at Target is not it. While moving, it jars and shakes – that’s where an actual video tripod is worth the $. Next time.
- One audio recorder to keep somewhere in the altar area. In my case, it went in a flower pot.
- As many extra little cameras as you can afford – to cover the angles when none of your other cameras has a shot. I had a GoPro near the altar area in front of the entire congregation, on the floor.
- A gray-scale/color card. These can get expensive – but you can cheat and print your own. It doesn’t need to be perfect, its mostly to color balance between different cameras.
- An assistant to run the other camera is REALLY nice.
- Enough battery power for N+2 hours on each camera.
- I planned poorly for mine – I came prepared for 5, but it turned out to be 8.
- Enough time to charge all batteries. You may not get it onsite.
- Enough card space for N+2 hours on each camera.
- A pair of silent black shoes, and a black outfit, to not draw attention to one’s self. I used these guys.
- Ask the question: Where will the congregation be limited to? If I had asked this, I would have know about additional places I could have put camera #2 that would have not been affected by standing folks.
- Film the entire rehearsal like you were doing the real service. It helps you know where to be and where to point at any given time. I changed my plan about 3 times during the rehearsal.
- Get B-Roll video of the performers performing – mostly their fingers (since they will not be wearing the same stuff during the real thing)
- You need a reception rehearsal as well – or at least ask the questions:
- Where will the bride and groom enter from?
- Where will the cake be cut?
- Where will the toast be delivered from? (I assumed the table, but it was from the singer’s microphones)
- What’s the general order of events?
- Where is the dancing going to be?
Post Rehearsal Checklist
- Re-charge all batteries.
- Offload and clear all memory cards.
- Final plan on where the cameras will be. Remember the 180 rule.
- Place all the cameras, tripods, etc, in position.
- Get some audio without anybody else there – to establish baseline noise (to be used later in noise reduction)
- I used AGC (automatic gain control) on my recorder, but it would be better to have that turned off if you want high quality audio – however, that also needs practice. My fear was that I’d have the gain turned too low, so I went with AGC turned On. That makes noise reduction harder.
- More B-roll. By this time, all the flowers, etc will be in place.
- 5 minutes before action time, turn everything on.
- Use a checklist. Yes, I DID turn on the audio recorder. Yes, I DID turn on the GoPro.
During the Wedding
- If you have an assistant, one camera should be fixed on a subject at any point in time. This is where the stationary Go-Pro or wide-angle cameras really help – you can always fall back on them even if everything else is moving.
- If you are a solo act, this works out – I would adjust one camera, pad over to the next (in my silent shoes), adjust it, then back to the first, etc.
- Slow slow SLOW sweeps.
- This is where the good tripod really helps.
- Do NOT zoom in all the way. This is where recording at a resolution higher than the result is helpful – gives image stabilization room to play. This is where having the grid turned on helps – keep most of it inside the center grid. (But, if you are recording at the final resolution, obviously, don’t do that)
After the Wedding
- Record the entire receiving line.
- From an angle where you can see the guest’s faces.
- These are the people who are important to the Bride and Groom.
During the Reception
- You probably will not get to eat a full meal. Plan accordingly.
- Why: Some of the footage you will want is people getting served food. That cuts into eating time.
- Then, while eating, the toasting will probably begin. Or, people will demand they couple kiss, and you’ll want to be ready for that.
- This does not exclude Cake. Cake can be eaten easily.
- Friendly kids and throw away cameras make for great video. 10 years later, its whatever the kids did, that gets watched, not the boring grown-up stuff. I was blessed with two volunteers.
That’s probably about it, on lessons learned. Don’t worry – while it sounds like I had a train wreck; au contraire, I’m 90% proud of what I’m able to produce – I have good editing skills. The editing part is a separate post.