I will never do a wedding, I will never do a wedding….Guess what i just did?
One of the most commonly heard pieces of advice whilst going through college and university was study something else….but next to that i was told never to do weddings. It was a fairly common consensus that the stress, pressure and overall hassle of a wedding wasn’t worth while.
Beep goes the email (hey some peoples email goes beep) and it was a message asking if i would be available to film a wedding at the chapel within Edinburgh Castle. I quickly ignored all previous advice and decided to do it. After a few weeks of discussions it was confirmed. The basic idea for the wedding was to record the pre ceremony arrivals, the ceremony itself, post wedding lunch and all the evening bits and bobs including speeches, cake cutting etc. Knowing that it was going to be a full on full day planning was going to be key. Getting the right equipment was key as using my normal 550D for the full day wouldn’t quite give the flexibility needed especially considering the tiny but beautiful chapel at the castle. I was able to get my hands on my old favourite Sony PMW 350 which would go on to prove a great help. I knew that i could get good coverage of a decent quality on my own but thought that it was a good idea to take on a second pair of hands just to ensure that nothing was missed.
The day of the wedding started with the best piece of luck, SUNSHINE! actual sunshine in November. Myself and my assistant Melanie headed up to the castle with an hour in hand before the first of the arrivals. The start set up was fairly standard, myself on the PMW and i would take up a position outside the chapel to record guests and the couple arriving. At the same time Melanie on a Canon 600D would get cutaways of the castle as well as the arrival of the cars. Things went well through the arrivals but with there less space than expected in the chapel it meant that i would have to go handheld for the ceremony. We could only have one camera inside so while i recorded the ceremony Melanie would continue to get cutaways. The PMW is used as a ENG camera so it is built well for off the shoulder use however 20 minutes of constant recording did take its strain on me. Pain aside i managed to get everything and to a good standard although the chapel was dark the camera coped very well in challenging light. Next was the staged photos at the castle and this seemed to go without a hitch as i worked in conjunction with the photographer this meant we could agree a compromise so that both of us could get what we needed. Melanie recorded the haggis lunch in the castle tea room as she was able to put the Canons size and manoeuvrability to good use although once again the room was a little darker than you would hope.
The venue for the afternoon and evening presented similar challenges to those of the castle in that it was tight for space and a bit on the dark side. We had been told not to use lights so it meant using the gain on the PMW as well as upping the ISO on the Canon. As you will know its a fine balancing act between getting enough light without sacrificing quality. From the couple arriving to the end of the speeches everything seemed to flow well and it was at that point that myself and Melanie had a short break to watch the days footage whilst the guests sat down for dinner. The evening was a short but important one as all we had left to get was the cake cutting and the first dance as well as a “special surprise” which i will tell you now was a samba band. All went well but keeping up with the pace between events without missing anything was the tricky part however both myself and Melanie moved quickly and precisely. Everything in the bag there was just enough time to enjoy a piece of the buffet and reflect on the days filming.
Having been portrayed as such a negative experience i was slightly sceptical of the wedding. For me it was a fun and rewarding experience and i know we did get lucky with certain aspects but it was nowhere near the negative experience i had been scared into thinking. The reasons people give for not doing them are exactly the reasons i love working in video. Pressure of this kind is why i do this! Be it wedding, gig, sporting event or any other place a camera is needed i will keep doing it.
Strange Brew Gig…..DSLR and Live Music Can Work…..Kind Of
Having not learnt the lesson from my last venture of recording live video for a gig. I found my self back in a position with my Canon 550D pointing at a stage as a band walked on to perform. How did i get back here?
This gig was a favour to a friend of Elliot who just happens to be lead singer of a rather amazing rock band. The Eastgate Theatre down in Peebles was once again the venue for the show. Elliot had been very keen for a more positive result this time around so decided to tackle the gig from three angles. The initial plan was to have one main central camera (a Sony Z1) and two DSLRs roaming on either side of the stage. We hit a few snags with the Z1 no longer available and in the same day the loss of our third camera operator, things looked bleak. As quickly as things had gone wrong they seemed to get better with a past favour being paid back by a camera operator fried who had just purchased the new 5D and a new zoom lens. This meant we no longer had the freedom afforded to us by the Z1 but the band only asked us to record a few songs so this meant as long as we had one static it would still allow two roaming cameras to go for the hero shots.The band themselves where very accommodating giving us free roam of the stage, allowing us to dictate a fair part of there lights and also helping out with the sound recording equipment.
During the gig i roamed around the side of the stage with my camera on a shoulder rig which gave me enough stability without sacrificing my movement. From the start of the gig i felt the shots i was able to get worked well and at the interval myself and Steve the 5D camera operator compared footage and felt positive about the set up and execution so far. The second half went well and apart from slight shoulder pain from operating the rig for a long period of time i felt great and extremely happy with how the gig had gone.
After seeing all the footage since, all angles got great shots and most importantly all useable and great coverage for an edit. The lesson i took from this is that getting coverage and being selective allow for a lot more freedom as long as there is some method of gaining a constant recording (we used a static 550D in the centre). So i am no longer afraid to tackle gigs in fact BRING IT ON!