P&C’s Wedding Recap

Every time I shoot, I learn. Last Saturday was no exception.

Saturday’s wedding was a ceremony + reception basic package, which for me means no full-day coverage, and no artistic short – just the ceremony and reception. I did it solo, as my darling wife Kate was busy and couldn’t assist me. It went well, and I got some good footage.

Well, that was easy. See you guys next week!

What? an actual recap? I guess so. Let’s try doing it like this:

– Ceremony scheduled for 3pm, I showed up at 1pm. It’s good to have plenty of time to case the joint, pick camera angles, and in this case, talk to the sound guy. I was overjoyed to discover that they were using the church’s sound guy and full sound system, complete with a very comprehensive microphone setup. For once, the guy knew what he was doing (an almost unheard of rarity) and was able to hand me a CD at the end of the ceremony with all the audio. I still ran from his system to my Zoom H4n (review coming soon) as a backup. Finally, I got some shots of the outside of the church, and guests arriving – I’ve opened ceremony videos to the groom walking his grandma down the aisle before, and its boring. Establishing shots are a must.

– The church had a relatively open layout, so I was able to set up both GH2s and the HMC150. I put wheels under the two GH2s. The one with the long lens went at the back of the church and the one with the short lens went near the front, stage left, in a side aisle. The HMC150 went across from that, stage right. Because of the open layout, I decided not to stick with a single shot on any of the cameras, and instead discretely walked from camera to camera at opportune moments, reframing as necessary. During the processional I manned the front-of-stage GH2 to follow the wedding party down the aisle. One difficulty I had was capturing the bride walking down the aisle – due to everyone standing up. This is something I’ve dealt with in the past with mixed success. The best solution is to get a camera up near the officiant at the front, but given the need for me to move between three cameras, I couldn’t do that this time. Instead, I relied on a wide shot from the HMC150, which was elevated enough that it could shoot over the crowd. Though I made it work, it wasn’t really ideal. I much prefer to have a second shooter with me to do ceremonies.

– The HMC150 does not have the image quality that the GH2 does. This sample clip shows this nicely. They are uncorrected, straight from the cameras. The GH2 is sharper, has better dynamic range, and does the skin tones better. I’d love to be able to replace the HM150 with a third camera (ideally something like an AF100 – but hopefully actually its replacement, which I anticipate will be announced next week).

– The reception venue was unbelievably narrow! There was barely a foot and a half between tables. People and chairs were constantly in my way, all evening. When this happens, a long lens, and a good tripod are your friend. I set up my GH2 quite a distance from the headtable, yet still got great shots.

– The Olympus 12mm F2 lens is great on a Glidecam. The field of view is really in the sweet spot where you can easily frame your shots without cutting people off in awkward places, but without getting a lot of distortion and fish-eye effect. I ran it the whole time on C-AF, and loved the results. It’s the only lens I’ve used so far where I could use C-AF with full confidence, but it made all the difference. When using my Olympus short zoom (reviews of my lenses will be coming soon too) which has abysmal auto focus and I use in full manual only, I find myself fiddling with the focus constantly and ruining my shots jerking the glidecam around, or getting slightly out of focus shots. This lens got me there, and for that I love it. And its sharp wide-open! At F2, the challenging lighting at the reception was no sweat. Check out this really short clip (I walked into a chair one frame later, throwing the shot wild, but recovered quickly, and anyway, that’s what the B-cam shot is for).

– And here is a clip demonstrating the auto-focus.

– The reception venue had no shades, and so most every shot has a giant slice of over exposed sunlight cutting through it. I try to expose for highlights, but sometimes things get too extreme, and you have to let things blow out. Don’t sweat it too much. I’ve been watching a lot of Monk lately on Netflix, and I notice blown-out highlights all the time. It’s not ideal, but if it can’t be helped, expose for skin tones. It’s my number-one job to make people look good in their videos.

Want to know more, have questions for me? What kind of specifics would you like me to talk about for future weddings? Remember, I’m going to recap every wedding I do, so I’m sure I’ll have lots to talk about – next time maybe I’ll try to retell more of the story of the wedding day – show you how I frame them up in my head and tell the story.

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