There are many challenges when it comes to wedding videography, especially because there is no second take like there is when you shoot a drama. The first dance can be one of the most challenging because you are dealing with a moving object that is often in very dark conditions. Obviously if you can barely see the subject you are videoing, then it is hard to keep them in the frame, especially if they are moving fast.
Our professional cameras have programmable zoom sliders. This means that we can set the zoom to a variety of speeds. During final prep, we always ask the bride and groom if they are doing the usual close embrace, or if they are doing a routine. A routine will usually involve quick and more space covering sudden moves, so we therefore set the zoom to a faster setting. This means that if the groom suddenly spins the bride out, then we can quickly expand the frame, and therefore keep her in it, and then reduce the frame as he pulls her back to him.
If the dj has the lights set really low, we will always talk to him, and try to get him to raise the lights a little so that:
1, We can see them better, so it is easier to keep them in the frame.
2, So that we get a better quality picture.
3, So that the auto focus works better.
Most djs want what is best for the bride and groom, but some are obstructive. If it is ridiculously dark and you therefore feel it will seriously effect the video, then you may wish to tell the bride or groom. Off course you do not want to bother them on their wedding day, but it is worth mentioning it to them because if they get their wedding video and the first dance looks terrible, and you then explain about the dj, they will think that you are making excuses after the fact. Obviously, the main advantage is that if they tell the dj to put the lights up, then he will have to do it.
If they do not have a word with the dj, and you are therefore stuck shooting in low light, then we always use a top light on top of the camera. The top light adds a fair amount of light and this helps us to see.
We usually always use the top light any way, because disco lights can seriously effect the auto focus system of the camera, because the lasers are constantly bombarding the camera's chip. By adding light from the camera, which then bounces back to the camera's auto focus system, it constantly tells the camera how far away the couple are, and therefore massively helps the auto focus to detect the distance.
It is also worth mentioning, that we always face away from the disco lights if we can help it, so that the lights have as little an effect on the cameras imaging chip as possible.
We always use a fixed position, and we use the cameras tilt, pan and zoom functions to keep the couple in the frame. By always trying to keep them bang in the middle we are constantly allowing ourselves that little margin, in case a sudden movement were to take place.
By using the methods above we give ourselves a much better chance of producing stunning footage, the rest comes down to camera movement skills.
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