Quick Tip | Have A Dedicated 1st Camera

A camera to rule them all…

I am someone who loves to have the post production of weddings down to a science. One that is fast, efficient, and allows you to max out the potential quality of each film. One of the ways to do this, is to develop a workflow or a pipeline that you use on the shoot. That will have a huge impact on your post production workflow.

One thing I have noticed, especially editing for a bunch of studios, is a lack of organization when it comes to managing cameras on a wedding day. What do I mean? I think it’s a really good idea for each shooter to have a main camera and a backup camera. You can think of this as camera 1 and camera 2. Or you can think of this as camera A and camera B. Whatever works best for your brain.

But the idea is simple and it will all make sense in a second. If I am the lead shooter. I want to use my main camera (camera one) to shoot the main events of the day. I want this to always be my main angle. For me, my camera one is always my monopod camera. Its the camera I use for card readings, its the main angle for ceremony, its the safe shot for first dances, and it’s the shot of the speaker during toasts. Then my second camera (camera two) is usually my gimbal cam.

I know what you’re thinking. What’s the point?! You’re saying… dude we’re creatives! We don’t like structure!

Fair enough, fair enough!

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 6.54.42 AM.png

I’m the type of person that isn’t a big fan of templates, formulas, or a cookie cutter approach to weddings. But, I don’t think having a shooting structure takes away from your creativity in any way. If anything, I believe it allows you to be more creative since it will speed up your post production time greatly!

So check this out. If you use the same camera for the main angle during all of the main events of the day, two things happen.

  1. You don’t have to hunt for clips while editing. This is huge especially if you’re an editor but didn’t shoot the wedding. Have you ever caught yourself wondering if they didn’t do a certain dance, or didn’t cut cake? Having that main camera allows you just search that camera instead of wasting time looking through 2, 3 , 4+ cameras.

  2. This also speeds up your multi cam editing. Having a dedicated main camera gives you a reference point for each multi cam section. We multi cam edit Card Readings, First Look, Ceremony, Toasts, and First Dances. This means I always know camera 1 is my main/safe shot. Which removes all of the guess work for me.

This is such a subtle tactic to put into your workflow. However, it can have a huge impact on turn around times! I can honestly say it takes 1.5x to 2x as long to edit a film where the shooters had no dedicated shooting structure VS. editing a film where this structure is used.

Q: What if I shoot in a team of shooters?

So you shoot with a team of shooters? So do we. This is how this system would apply to a team. Yes, I understand everyone on your team is a rockstar and an amazing person. But, all egos aside, someone has to be the lead. That lead shooter is usually getting the main shot throughout the day. So, the way I do this, the main shooter is camera 1 - 2 (or 3 however many cameras that person operates). Then, the second shooter would follow with their cameras in numerological order. Here’s how that may look.

  • Camera 1 [Lead Shooter Main Cam]

  • Camera 2 [Lead Shooter Second Cam]

  • Camera 3 [2nd Shooter Main Cam]

  • Camera 4 [2nd Shooter Second Cam]

  • Camera 5 [Drone]

You can follow that pattern for however many cameras/shooters you have on a film.

I know this seems like such a small thing to do. And, honestly a lot of you may already have a structure that works for you. I think this a tip that will really help those that are starting out or, it will really help those that don’t edit and drop a shoebox of un-organization on their editor every weekend!

Try it out, let me know what you think!

Michael Hook