"After talking to Monica the head of Portobello Films about the more esoteric side of wedding videography, we were lucky to meet up with Mwaura the cinematographer at Future Farm Productions and co-director at Portobello Films. We asked him to run through a few of the behind the scenes technical considerations when shooting live events.
"Well like all filming there is always two things on your mind. Where is the light? and How is the audio? Wedding videographyis no different. Those two things are always your main considerations. The trick is to solve those problems while in a live environment, however problems only arise if you have the wrong tools for the job. Therefore planning is everything".
"Before I get all technical it is actually fairly simple. What you are trying to do when selecting the right kit is not to try and re-invent the wheel. What I mean by that is if you are filming a live event then the equipment that is used in broadcast for filming live events is the equipment you need for a wedding video. If instead you use old or sub standard or cheep or the wrong kit then it is a false economy, the results will always look amateur".
"Before I get on to the audio just a quick thing with the lens. For live events, or wedding videography you have got to use a servo lens. Simply what that is, is several lenses combined into one, with a large zoom in/ zoom out rocker on the side. Basically a servo lens is like a proper zoom lens that also lets you manually focus. It gets you a range of shots, quickly, with varying distance, while letting in as much light as possible. It is an industry standard for anything live, from football to ballet, news and documentary, to reality tv and award ceremonies. If it's not scripted you use a servo." the cameras used for wedding videography mentioned above all have removable servo lenses "The other type of lenses are often called fixed or prime lenses, because they have no automation, that is they need to be focused manually from a Dial at the side of the barrel by someone called a focus puller. These are film or drama lenses where several people work the various discipline on the camera all at the same time, to time with the actors hitting certain marks at certain times. It goes wrong quite often and maybe you actually get one to five minutes of final footage a day. The lenses are changed on cuts as the director chooses whether to shoot a close up next or a long or whatever. The thing is these are so not the right lenses for wedding videography. Yet, I know of wedding videographers and wedding videography companies that use just one or two fixed lenses (a good servo covers five or six fixed lenses) and save money by not employing a focus puller. So a lot of the wedding video is not actually in focus. But after our very first Portobello Films meeting when Monica explained how crazy wedding videography was nothing suprises me any more"
"Audio is also pretty straight forward it you take the right kit. A camera typically gives you two channels of audio. So if you are filming a one camera wedding video you need a good shot gun mic on the camera. A Sennheiser MKH416 is our mic of choice as we have several for the broadcast work. Retailing between £700-£1000 they are worth every penny as they isolate a sound source brilliantly. However no mic is going to perform well outside of two or three metres so you also need a remote mic. Something on a radio transmitter that you can position near the sound source if you are shooting discreetly out of the way. We use a transmitter block that plugs into another Sennheiser mic that is positioned near to the sound source like the speeches for example. Alongside the two Sennheisers we also take a radio mic as a possibility for the groom or minister."
"So that's it really, equipment is just the kit it's what you do with it that counts. However get the right kit and you are half way there. Wedding videography should be fun and pretty easy. If you're not filming with a smile on your face then you are doing something wrong."
"Technically in a live environment lighting can make or break a shoot. However filming with a top light" a bright light the fixes on top of the camera "makes everything look like a news report which isn't probably the look you are after. Not only that but you draw attention to yourself, which means fewer natural shots. What we do instead is use a range of cameras that perform particularly well in challenging lighting conditions. Namely Sony cameras that use the Exmor chip. There are of course many excellent cameras out there and at Future Farm Productions we use most of them. However in a live situation, or for wedding videography it is always the Exmor chip cameras that we go for. So that could mean the Sony Z7, the EX1 or EX3 and more recently the Sony F3" there is a you tube clip showing just how good the F3 is - F3 candle shoot. "The only real difference between those cameras is the size of the Exmor chip. The Z7 uses 3x 1/3" all the way up to the F3 which uses a 35mm chip. The Z7 currently retails at £5000 the EX3 £7500 and a fully loaded F3 is a cool £30,000. You can get earlier, cheeper non- Exmor Sonys like an old Z1 or even the pretty ancient standard def PD170 but all that cheepness will come straight back down the lense resulting in dredfully milky blacks and an horrible orange hue"