I’ve done a handful of weddings, which is enough to know they can be pretty stressful. It’s a situation where ‘can we do that one more time’ does not apply, and getting coverage of everything can be somewhat overwhelming.
However, Rachael and Anmar’s wedding was slightly different. I was at the advantage in the fact that there was already another film crew employed to cover the whole event, and I was simply employed to capture a few key moments, then gather whatever footage I needed on the side to complete my own short film of the day.
The company that were covering the whole event were Engage Cinematic Wedding Films. Pete (owner of Engage) is a great guy, he’s a highly skilled wedding filmmaker and his work is an inspiration.
Although Engage were covering a majority of the wedding, I came in on a different level. It was my job to cover a few moments where Pete was otherwise engaged (pun not intended), and to provide my own edit within a week for the bride and groom to take with them abroad. The specifics for me were the groom’s helicopter journey (great experience for me, as I have never been in one before), and the visit to Tintern Abbey (Although pete covered the latter also in the end).
Picture by Catherine Walsh
I took all of my kit apart from my shoulder rig. I tend to try and avoid using my shoulder rig at weddings as it draws attention. Instead I bought a Manfrotto monopod, and used a 577 quick release plate on top for easy of use between it and tripod. I actually ended up using the monopod for everything apart from the ceremony in the end.
I can’t rate monopods enough, they are such a great stabilisation tool for when stationary. I got caught out a few times unfortunately, where I was in the wrong place and had to adjust my position. This normally results in just holding the monopod in the air, which can in turn produce some shakes in the footage. I used the FCP effect smoothcam on these occasions.
It seemed the biggest challenge on this shoot was stabilisation. The helicopter journey was the first test, due to the vibrations and nature of the CMOS sensor in the 7D, footage came out quite jelly like. I used smoothcam again here, but it’s still not quite to my liking. I’m going to to put a bit of research in refining smaller camera shakes, the type that After Effect’s motion tracking wouldn’t pick up also. The second challenge was the horse and cart track. This was out of the blue a little, and was done out of the back of one of the golf buggies on site. My shoulder rig would have been perfect for this shot if I had known! Unfortunately I only had my monopod to hand, you live you learn.
Lens wise, 80% of it is shot using my Sigma 30mm f/1.4, faultless prime for this kind of work.
The helicopter scenes were shot using my Tamron 17-50mm VC f/2.8, I try to avoid using this lens for video at all costs. This is down to the short focus throw, it’s just too short for video, and as a result you can never get tack sharp results when shooting handheld. I used it for the VC (vibration control) as I knew that in the helicopter would be a bit of a task.
I also used my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 on a few wides, and my Canon 70-200mm IS f/2.8. I use any excuse to get this lens out of the bag, it’s just fantastic. And with the IS it meant I could shoot at 200mm with the monopod and still get dead steady shots.
The two tracking shots of the abbey were shot on a separate day, using my glidetrack. A great advantage of local work, only had to pop down the road to get some cutaways!
To tie the piece in, I used a beautiful track by Cat Power, titled The Greatest. I’d never listened to Cat before, but had a clear vision of the style I wanted, and had an incline that she might have just the type of thing I needed. Turns out the first track I picked was a winner.