OTech reader Albrawy recently sent me an email seeking very common advice. How can I shoot an event, not spend a ton of money, capture clean audio AND possibly throw a jib into my bag of tricks?
Hey Olivia, I am a beginner and willing to film a family wedding coming up soon. I need some help with what lights I should use that are not overly bright and disturb the guest’s vision. I’m looking for a great camcorder which has “background unfocused”. I do have a small Sony HDR-CX150 which is great but doesn’t have external mic
I am looking for a better audio, and an unfocused background feature. I also want a cheap Crane or Jib if I could find one. Can you suggest some for me?
Someone suggested the Canon DSLR 5D Mark3 but it is very expensive. I need to spend less than $1200. Plz help, I have only 2 weeks left to the event. Help…
That sounds like quite the pickle you’re in there, Albrawy. I’ll offer up my expertise on this matter the best I can:
1) First, “background unfocused” is also called a shallow depth of field. The reason DSLR’s are able to achieve this look that they are oh, so popular and widely known for is due to the aperture control. When the aperture is closed down you will obtain a large depth of field. This means that your focus plane will be greater and in effect, more of your shot will be in focus. When the aperture is wide open, a small or shallow depth of field is achieved. This means that only a portion of the picture will be focused and the rest will fall out of focus or become de-focused.
When a lens is able to go REALLY wide open (f/1.4 or lower) the Bokeh, or the aesthetic quality of the blur that makes up the out of focus points of light in an image, looks very creamy. Depending on the aperture shape and setting, your lens will produce different bokeh styles. This buttery look is highly sought after. The ability that DSLR camera’s have to produce this look is one of the main reasons why they are extraordinary for shooting video.
2) If you want to invest in a DSLR for the wedding, keep in mind that you will need appropriate lenses, or since you’re a baller on a budget, at least one solid zoom option to achieve a variety of focal lengths. Tricking a camcorder into acting like a DSLR is a bit tricky. You can always get as close to your subject and zoom in as possible and the background should look slightly out of focus. Try something like the Sony VG10 (used on eBay HERE for a reasonable price, lens included). This has an E mount and you can swap out lenses. You can record audio in via a 3.5mm mini jack with a Rode VideoMic Pro and monitor your levels. Or you can buy a Zoom H1 Portable Digital Audio Recorder and an inexpensive Audio Technica lav mic for guest testimonials. Or go really in expensive and use the Audio Technica ATR-3350, with the FiiO E11 Headphone Amplifier to record audio directly into the camera.
3) Lighting can be tricky. For your budget and in order to be as courteous as possible, I’d suggest shooting with one or two on-camera LED lights like the 312 Bi-Color Changing Dimmable LED Video Light. These can be dimmed, you can change the color temperature and they won’t junk up the wedding space that the bride and groom paid so much to beautify. If needed these can be thrown onto a simple light stand as well.
4) As for the jib, if you have time to build your own, I have a video tutorial on how to Build Your Own DIY JIB with step-by-step instructions on my blog post. Light Craft Workshop also has the Trapezist Jib that I recently reviewed.
5) Additionally, be sure to meet with the bride and groom prior to the ceremony. Be clear on what they want, when things are happening and check to see if you can get any of the behind the scenes action. Whatever you do, DON’T miss the vows and kiss! Be sure to have a shot list, test everything (get your workflow down) prior to the actual wedding day, be sure to have sufficient memory and power and finally.. enjoy yourself.
Well, that’s all I’ve got, but I’d love to hear some advice from all of you out there too! Can anyone throw in some advice, tips, tricks, anything to help our buddy, Albrawy out? Thank you!DIY jib, DSLR, jib, LED 312, Light Craft Workshop, shooting wedding video, Sony VG10, tips, trapezist, tricks, tutorial