In the audiovisual deep end, all dressed in white.
October 26, 2011 9:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm helping some friends with videoing their wedding day, yay! I have zero experience with event recording, boo! Are my noobish assumptions leading us to disaster?

The wedding is some time off, so I have some planning time up my sleeve, but I'd appreciate any advice the hive-mind may have about recording the event in an interesting and cheap way.

- The groom would like the event to be live-streamed for the benefit of friends and relatives who are stuck overseas (the wedding is in Australia, with an audience in the UK and Western Europe.)
- The bride and I question whether an international audience will realistically get up at 5AM to watch an unedited video feed.
- It will occur on Philip Island, off the coast of Victoria in South-East Australia. As a consequence, there's a question around how reliable a 3G connection will be, and the availability of wired internet is unknown at this point.
- We will have access to a consumer-level digital video camera and a MacBook Air laptop.
- Many guests will have reasonable-quality smartphone video cameras.
- Angie Hart will be performing live, and it would be nice to capture that with a degree of fideltiy. (She's a friend of the Groom, not an indication of the budget we have to play with.)
- Regarding sound fidelity, I'm also concerned about the audio quality of the options we have at hand.

Options we've been tossing around include:
- Ustream from smartphone for the live feed, supported by post-produced dedicated camera footage uploaded to YouTube.
- Skip the live feed (for quality and likely audience reasons), and crowdsource footage from guest smartphones and the video camera to the laptop for immediate upload with cursory editing and QA.
- Nominate a few trusted attendees to record with smartphones and stream them all to some form of online portal so people overseas can switch between channels (e.g. say for when a drone goes to the bathroom and hopefully goes offline - see "trusted"). Then, download the streams after the reception and edit them into something coherent. Assuming something like this exists and is not prohibitively expensive.
- A combination of the above.

I'm sure there's some other, completely awesome alternative that we're unaware of, so any advice or suggestions are welcomed!
(I have NO idea what I'm doing, so please be gentle.)
posted by Griffynn to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Get some professional help, it's a lot harder than you think it is to get something which looks good and they're only going to get married once, there's no second takes.
posted by joannemullen at 10:47 PM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Whatever you do, may I suggest that you use the wedding rehearsal as a dry run for the video process?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:51 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Filming on smart phones is ok for "look at this moment Grandma" less so for a permanent record.

The best quality way for UK rellies to get in on the action is to - get photographs on FB (or equivalent) pretty quick, and a high quality post produced (edited) DVD in the post ASAP.

Here's a "you're nuts, go with a pro, but if you insist, here's how")

Your idea about more than one camera is great, but here's how I would do it.

1. You have a camera at the back of the wedding area, pointed at the stage, ON A TRIPOD, which will have a trusted lackey (not the main filmographer) hit record at the beginning, swap tapes as needed (pick a good spot to swap tapes. During the vows is not a good spot- switch early if it is getting low.) Get the sound from the PA/sound desk piped into this camera.

2. your main, and second camera, is also on a tripod. You have it, you are at/near the front of the church/wedding area, and you film the entry of the bridesmaids, bride, and then the rest of the wedding in close up shots (wide if you must.) This camera catches the audience noises.

Know that a video production should be made of wide, mid range and close up shots. The wide camera at the back is your catch everything- the rest is for the interesting stuff that people care about. The close ups add interest, but should not out number the mid range stuff.

You will have mistakes, this is why you have two (and preferably 3 or 4) sources to choose from when you film.

Film the trio of the civil celebrant + couple so you can see them all, and close enough in to see their faces.
Film the bride and her dad walking in (not the cool dude doing the trumpet solo for her entry- true story!)
Film close up of each of them saying their vows.
Film the rings going on.
Film the musical entertainment
Film the register being signed.
FILM EVERYTHING ELSE but be resigned that this is impossible, and focus on getting what is happening to the COUPLE as your number 1 priority.

If possible, have two mobile (as in moving, not phones, if possible) cameras (maybe one not on a tripod) to film from opposite sides of the area, so you get his and her reactions. One can focus on getting the super close up shots and the other on the wider stuff.

See about setting up another camera on a tripod at the front and to the side of the church/area pointing back over the celebrant's shoulder, so you can see both the bride and groom- it's surprising how often they don't face the audience.

Have spares of everything. Have batteries, have tape, have powered in stuff if possible (the stationary cameras. Try and get the cute stuff like the flower girl falling asleep on the steps (true story!)

As the cameraman, you are sacrificing your enjoyment and relaxation at the event- you need to be on your toes THE WHOLE TIME thinking about what is coming next, what shots you need to get, whether the tape is going to run out, am I breathing too heavily... at the end you go "oh hey, my friends got married today!"

My parents are extremely well qualified to do wedding videos, they have done two for some ridiculously special and close people, otherwise they say "no". followed by "we recommend you get a professional."

As for filming the reception, I'd film the key speeches, and then put the camera down, if you truly insist on doing it yourself.

If they are strapped for cash and this is too much effort- it will be boring, but have the stationary camera at the back, and just let it go.

About the streaming/dodgy 3G - won't stacks of people in the area clog the bandwidth?

On preview- you absolutely must be part of the rehearsal, know everything about the wedding and plan your shots beforehand. Good call, Chocolate Pickle.
posted by titanium_geek at 11:10 PM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]

oh- and after all that effort, aim on getting the thing edited before it would make a good first anniversary present.
posted by titanium_geek at 11:11 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

This sounds a LOT like what some of my friends have done when trying to get married.

Its just not going to work. A LOT of effort will go into the logistics...more than is required to have the attendees enjoy the wedding.

Your job is to figure out how to relay this to the bride/groom without them being offended.

I suggest you take the tech things that everybody is saying on here, and relay it to them. thing you CAN do is tell them " order to livestream, we need to know the EXACT number of people who will do this (at 5am) to optimize the connection for all of them". THEN they will start to ask people and get them to confirm their 5am commitment...and THAT is when they will decide its not worth the trouble.

Your best bet is to have someone video it, and post it to youtube a few hours later...when everyone who should have livestreamed it is done with breakfast.

Good luck, you seem like a good friend to even consider this.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:20 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

My recent experience with amateur video underlines these points:

-digital video takes a LOT of light. In the wedding venue it's probably fine but in a night-time reception, eg in a dimly-lit tent, you might end up with an audio-only recording. You'll want to find out the lighting conditions for all stages of the event and find our how your cameras do with low light.

-tripod or mostly still shots. Not a lot of panning, not a lot of zooming. Practice filming some other live event then watch the video so you can see that your feeling of "this shot is too still, it will be boring" while filming translates to "omg stop moving the camera, just let me watch them" while viewing.

-as with the photographer, be sure you know who's who. It sucks to end up with lots of video of the third cousin's kids (they're cute!) and hardly any of the bride's dear uncle Ed who flew from Norway to be here -- or worse, to end up with lots of video of one side of the family and none of the other side. You need to be systematic to get good evenly-distributed coverage of the people who matter.

-test your batteries, how long do they take to run out, how long do they take to charge? Ditto for memory cards or whatever you're using.

-Will you be loading video to computer during the event? Consider a way to make a backup as you go, so you don't accidentally erase one full card worth of video (this happened to me recently due to a file-numbering problem, so be sure you have this nailed down, and be sure only a designated person is allowed to copy/delete files so you don't get your wires crossed).
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:53 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

LobsterMitten- you reminded me about the photographer. she/he is your friend, not your enemy. You need to work with him/her so you don't hate each other at the end of it by getting in each other's way.
posted by titanium_geek at 12:07 AM on October 27, 2011

(sorry- last contribution!) Renting a nice camera won't blow the budget too much?
posted by titanium_geek at 12:14 AM on October 27, 2011

There's some great advice in this thread, no better than by joannemullen. Having said that, here's me weighing in.

Based on what you've said, I'd find out whether the following are possible:

- Wired internet with a solid upload rate.
- Renting at least one decent pro camera.
- A Mac with a Firewire socket
- Having the venue to run tests in at least one day beforehand.

If the first three aren't possible, I'd say skip the streaming idea. If the third isn't, test profusely in another environment beforehand. Way, way more than you think you need to.

You're not a professional camera operator, so keep it simple. For the ceremony, the camera should be placed in a relevant but relatively unobtrusive place and left well alone. Someone should be "operating" it at all times, but not fiddling with stuff. Treat it like a slick-looking and sounding webcam.

Regarding sound quality, you could run an XLR cable from the PA to the camera. You may want to mix a little of the camera's mics into the audio feed to give it more of a room feel. That's something that testing should tell you.

If you really, really want to go multicam, have a look at BoinxTV. It's pretty slick and easy to use for "budget" multiple camera setups.

- Angie Hart will be performing live
Awesome! Can I watch?
posted by Magnakai at 6:56 AM on October 27, 2011

If the fourth isn't[...]
posted by Magnakai at 6:57 AM on October 27, 2011

Lot of brilliant answers here, sorry about the delay in me reading them!
I'm hearing the "let the bride and groom down gently" answers, but I'll do a test run of the practical responses first.
Thanks, all!
(And yes, I'll post a link here if I grab some nice Angie moments :-) )
posted by Griffynn at 7:55 PM on November 23, 2011

« Older Nail fail.   |   I'm looking for "triage" for our relationship... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.