June 06, 2007

Unobtrusive? How about invisible....

Many brides and grooms are hung up about the videographer being unobtrusive, but they still want amazing shots of themselves coming down the aisle, saying their vows, exchanging the rings and all that goes into a memorable ceremony.

Sometimes getting that footage from any angle is a difficult task.

At the rain-soaked affair on May 19 at the Church of Heavenly Rest on 90th and 5th, I was told that the church had very strict video rules. The rules essentially meant that I had to shoot the entire ceremony from a balcony in the back of the church, about 200 feet from where the nuptials were going to take place.

In a dark church from a distance like this, the challenge can be quite daunting. Fortunately the bride had asked the church in advance to turn up the lights, knowing the difficulties I would face shooting from the balcony. This was a tremendous help, and shows why such pre-wedding communication between vendors and bride/groom can be so important.

I met with the groom after setting my tripod and camera in the balcony. A crucial part of shooting from so far away was for me to get impeccable sound. Putting a wireless mic on the groom was instrumental in achieving this. He was hesitant about having any wires or mics show as not to ruin or disturb the immortality of photos, so I tucked the mic under his lapel so that it would not be seen by anyone. Clothes do not alter the quality of sound with the mics we use, so making the mic completely invisible was not a problem.

Many people ask why we even need to use a mic at all if the church has a PA system. The reason is that the quality of the church sound system when recorded to film is muffled at best. If I choose to use my on-camera microphone to record the vows through the church PA system, your "I do's" on the wedding video might sound more like the conductor of the six train telling you that you are arriving at 59th street. Wireless mics on the camera allow the best sound from the most important part of the day to be transmitted unfettered directly to my camera, so every word and inflection is crystal clear. Even at two hundred feet away and thirty feet in the air, I could still hear the bride and groom whisper their greetings to each when they met at the alter. No one else in the church- not even the priest or best man- could hear these words. When the bride and groom watch the video later, not only will this moment bring back a flood of memories, but it will also be a nice surprise.

As far as the video quality from far away, I was able to zoom in close enough to see the bride's face light up during the vows and see the excited anticipation in the groom's face as he hung on every word from his bride-to-be while she placed a ring on his finger. From my lofty perch, I was also able to pan the line of bridesmaids and groomsmen standing up at the wedding to catch their expressions and reactions while also getting some beautiful shots of the interior of the church.

Given the limitation of shooting from the balcony, the only shot I needed to get that would be impossible was the face of the bride coming down the aisle. This is the moment many brides have imagined since they were a little girl.

I needed to get this shot.

From my spot in the balcony, a back-of-the-head shot was all I could get. So once the tripod was set and the camera was rolling, I took my small but amazing HD handheld camera to a pew in the back and caught a few moments of the beautiful bride coming down the aisle before returning to the main camera in the balcony.

With the small size of the camera and the stealth of my shooting, the priest would have just assumed I was a friend of the bride!

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