Tuesday, 15 March 2011

wedding video

I helped a friend film their wedding last weekend. The shoot re-educated me about two things - 1) the importance of having a good solid tripod and 2) the limitations of using slr zoom lenses for video.

Weddings can be tricky events to cover. They are similar to news and documentary filming in that you only get one crack at it... so you better be well prepared. During a wedding ceremony you need to balance coverage and discreetness. For this I decided to hire a fairly long zoom lens - Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L.

The lens performed beautifully. The images were superb and it was a joy to use. I hired mine from Topic Rentals for nz$64 + GST per day. They retail at around nz$1855 +GST.

In addition I also purchased a 77mm ND Fader off Trademe for nz$105. I now own three of these faders (52mm, 67mm) and really like using them when shooting video. Find out more about ND Faders.

Getting back to my first two points... unfortunately I wasn't able to find my video tripod for the wedding and had to resort to using my much less sturdy stills tripod. This was very limiting especially when using the longer focal lengths of the 70-200mm. I was having to lock of the ball joint head and remove my hands completely to get a decent steady shot not to mention trying any panning or tilting. I was also completely paranoid about the safety of my camera and hired lens on such a flimsy set of sticks. A good tripod should be strong and have enough weight to stabilize the rig. A good fluid head is also a must. This will make a huge difference to the end product.

Secondly I have realised that you should not expect to manually zoom in any usable fashion. SLR zoom lenses are much stiffer than video zooms resulting in jerky push-ins and pull-outs.  Never again will I take for granted the smoothness and ease of using a servo nor the focal range they afford.

On review of my rushes I found I was guilty of changing my frame at crucial moments in effect losing those moments because it was unusable footage. I also attempted to reposition myself to improve my view of a certain moment and ending up missing the moment altogether.

In my footage I see the photographer running in and out of frame, darting here and there. Although I am using a dslr I must remind myself that in this case I am not a photographer but a videographer. Whereas the photographer tries to capture the moment, a videographer tries to capture an event including all the 'I do's' and the 'You may kiss the bride's'.

So lesson of the day?... Get the right gear. If you don't have the right gear then be prepared to operate within it's limitations. Have patience and utilize the camera's strengths by doing the basics well.

On a positive note the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L is a beautiful lens that when used appropriately can be a powerful tool for photographers and videographers alike.

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