Scout the location before hand. Go to the rehearsal. Contact church people and
wedding coordinator about where cameras can be, ask if there are singers in
front or back, what is the length of the service (longer than your tape).
When told what camera people "always do" it may not be the best solution, but
listen because there may be good solutions you haven't thought of.
Make and use a check off list!
Church acoustics, are often bad, but get better when full of people. If there
is EQ or a feedback eliminator in the sound reinforcement system, the church
acoustics may be worst than usual.
Good pictures with bad sound will make a bad tape.
GET THE MICS. AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE! Within inches if you can.
A radio mic. on the groom is good, but don't trust a groom to worry about turning
on your transmitter. Avoid the rustle of the bride's gown. On the minister is
also acceptable as he has more to say and might be much more used to it. A mic.
on both groom and minister is insurance. Feed their receivers into different
cameras. The minister might also have his own radio mic. for the church sound
reinforcement system. Be prepared with clips and strong tape (strips of carpet
tape on wax paper) to tape off the cable for strain relief. Electronic alligator
clips with ends cut off are useful too. Tape over the jaws to protect mic. cables
and clothes. (Don't forget to retrieve your mic.) Use fresh batteries. In most
transmitters the batteries will last for hours.
Rarely will a camera mic. work very well, but they are good for syncing different
camera shots in editing. A camera mic. would do fine in the choir loft to hear
an organ and probably the choir. While people are sitting get all the music
you can for editing and change tape and battery if you have to before the main
event. Don't leave an accessory mic. cable in the mic. jack without a mic. attached.
A feed from the sound reinforcement system is OK if possible. But many sound
operators are not technicians and can't make adjustments or plug in your stuff.
If YOU screw up their sound system, you will not be a hero.
Ear bud earphones are less obtrusive. Two pair will allow two systems to be
The camera in the loft should have earphones.
If you have to place a mic. to pick up speaker sound, place it close to the
speaker to avoid echoes, but not on the speaker cabinet itself. Our ears alone
are not a very good judge of sound quality, but the camera mic. and earphones
with good outside sound rejection will tell you a lot.
Test your radio mic. for noise and interference at the alter before putting
them on the groom and/or minister. (Maybe at rehearsal.) Use a back up short
shotgun at the altar if possible. A mic. on the kneeling bench may pick up mechanical
noise from the couple. Shotguns are worse in places with bad acoustics. Sometimes
a flower arrangement will hide a mic. if you have enough hardware and tape to
mount the mic. out of sight and can hide the cable. A selection of colored cable
or tape might be wise. Tape down cables and run them along walls. Leave enough
extra cable for mic. position changes at the last minute.
FOR SINGERS IN FRONT
House XLR mic cables may be double female (the pins, not shell). Have male gender
adapters. Have both style XLR "WYE" adapters. Have XLR to 1/4" adapters, RTS
Use a true transformer mic. splitter, not "wye" cable if possible. It avoids
problems. Test existing systems after hooking in yours in. Be prepared with
your own double mic. holder and mic. (SM 58 or equiv.). Mic stand booms will
often only handle the weight of one mic. A counterweight might be a considered.
A wired or radio lavaliere can be taped on an existing mic with pretty good
Listen for hum and noise, try ground lift is you have hum.
Be very careful if you are feeding line or speaker level into your camera. You
will need attenuation such as a Beach XLR Adapter or Pro Co A/V adapter.
A separate sound recorder for singers in front is wise. Because you will have
to leave it on for the whole event you might need more than 45 minutes of a
cassette recorder. You might use an old VCR with sound level meter. Cassette
recorders need instant reverse to be useful.
Think a lot about having good sound tracks for your edit. Let cameras roll that
might be getting whole songs.
Are there windows behind the bride and groom that could be covered from the
outside? How do you attach the cover? Can you? The church representative or
wedding coordinator may say yes and the pastor say no.
Will there be light through any windows at the time of the service that is detrimental?
Can you do anything about it? (See Sun
See the lights on. The couple will probably be backlit. Check with camera. Do
you need to supplement? (Often not possible. Are there lights globes to be replaced,
can you balance lighting by turning some lights off? Seen from the rear, the
altar should be brighter, but maybe not as much as normal, expose the audience
darker except when shooting from the front.
Arrive early to set up and leave time to attend to problems that arise. Wear
If you are all set up, don't relax, things change at the last minute. Flowers
seem to walk into the middle of your shot. Things get moved. Know were the groom
and minister are.
Brides in white and grooms in black are not the most favorable for exposure.
If the light is constant and no intermittent clouds passing through, go manual
exposure. From the loft the altar will probably be brighter. Let it be and let
the audience go darker. There may or may not be the same light on the couple
as on the alter.
CAMERA and TRIPODS
Keep all cameras on the same side for screen direction in editing. OK in the
middle back of the loft. If you have different types of cameras, use the different
one in the loft.
Roll tape continuously during the main event to make editing easier.
Start with full tapes, put cut-a-ways on separate tapes and get them before
the ceremony if possible. (Lighting candles, candles burning, windows, and symbols,
outside shot of church.
During singing and solos get cut-a-ways of minister, audience, couple etc.
Use batteries if possible to avoid hum, ground loop and noise problems.
At the altar, small and light tripods are often enough. If one camera is getting
audience long lens shots, a heavier tripod will help. If there is a rug, there
will a problem with smooth tele moves. A head with minimum pan resistance is
helpful. If a second audience operator is possible, possibly behind a pulpit
or on the side, your job will be easier. Use people you can trust and give them
A camera in the choir loft is great if possible, even if locked off with a wide
shot. It can get good organ and choir sound with an on-camera mic. Give good
instructions to the operator if you have one. Get wide shots that can be used
anywhere. Get close-ups of altar group, singers, audience couples hugging, stained
glass, candles, religious symbols, but don't neglect key action shots at altar.
Close ups are not often possible because of the distance. The telephoto end
of camcorder zoom lenses (and many pro lenses) have a slower "F" stop. Extenders
behind lenses reduce exposure a lot, 2 stops for 2X. Many telephoto attachments
are not very high quality. If you have to work at high "gain" to get a picture,
it may be acceptable for the teary-eyed watchers. Avoid platforms especially
if shared by other people.
Tripod in loft should be heavy with a head suitable for the camera weight. Good
contact with the is floor necessary. Rugs without pads are too shaky. A pad
with small nails through the rug will rest directly on the floor and not do
damage. Cups and tie downs are wise. Try prusic knots and bunji to the pads.
(See RUG PADS FOR TRIPODS)
If the altar camera position is limited to parallel to the couple and minister,
remind the groom to step back a little so the bride can be seen, or visa-versa.
Remind them as they settle in if necessary. You shouldn't walk out, but a "psst"
and hand signals might work.
If you can get the minister's radio mic. on to the bride and let a camera on
a tripod roll for her would be nice for the reception line. Hand held gives
more options to see who's in the line and the bride's reactions. To get good
sound will be hard especially with music. Having a good track of the band (if
there is one) would be good to cut to, as would good church music for people
sitting down. An on camera light would be wise. Tape off the room light dimmer
to keep a reasonable level for video. Respond with comment about mood lighting
and bad video are a bad marriage.
Make notes for the next time.
Additional comments by George Montalvo of Take One Productions of Santa Barbara
California, who has shot hundreds of weddings and other events.
Mic. placement. On the groom below the boutonniere about one to two inches on
his left lapel for a Christian or Catholic ceremony. This centrally located
the mic. between the bride, groom and minister for nearly the whole ceremony.
When the bride and groom face each other for vows the minister will still be
heard because he usually speaks louder anyway.
Just the opposite for Jewish ceremony because the bride and groom's positions
are reversed. If the groom refuses to wear a microphone (rare) it can be placed
in an arch. I personally rarely put a mic on the minister because they talk
much louder. If that is the only way you can compress the sound in post. For
Catholic weddings I use the Azden mic mixer (a palm size passive mixer) in order
to have two wireless lavs with the second one on a tall light stand close to
the PA speaker in order to pick up people doing readings and when the priest
may talk away from the couple's location.
I usually put the mic on 10-15 minutes before the ceremony starts and only after
the boutonniere has been put on. Sometimes people will put the boutonniere covering
the mic. and you may get rustling noises. You might assure the groom that sound
picked up before the ceremony will not be on the finished edited tape. Of course
this doesn't apply to an in camera edit. Just plug the wireless in when the
ceremony starts. Monitor your headphones prior to the ceremony start for cues
it is about to start so you don't get caught off guard.
For two camera shoots, put a wireless at the back camera, short shotgun or second
lav at the front camera close to bride and groom. I instruct the back camera
operator to frame 4 different shots, WS,MS,CU and ECU and have them locked down
with hands off the camera visible to me so I know that I can move camera if
necessary and still be covered. Sometimes I record the musician's complete songs
before things start to have for the edit. The sound of guests talking quietly
Reception. I sometimes use a wireless again near the PA to get both music by
the band and toasts spoken through the sound system. But lots of times I just
use an on camera shotgun to get sound of what the camera is seeing; comments,
congratulations, etc. A problem will be that the music will be interrupted if
camera isn't on continually. You can get a list of the music the bride and groom
have selected and use it later to cover any interrupted shots, but not with
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.