The Best Video Gear for Weddings

Recently, a few friends have asked for advice on the video gear they should use when moving into freelance wedding videography. I’ve been out of the video world for a few years, but if I was starting out, here’s the gear I’d pick up.

Legendary creative Chase Jarvis says “The best camera is the one that’s with you”. I learned on a Sony DCRTRV-38—literally any camera on the market is now better than that. Gear can be a great help, but also a huge distraction. Try before you buy. Get to know your gear inside and out. And remember that all the best gear in the world won’t help if you’re not comfortable with it.

CAMERA & LENS

Your main expense is the camera and lens. Here’s three suggestions:

Canon 5d Mark III

I’ve used a 5DMk2 since they first came out, and I love the portability and small footprint. I LOVE the 35 f/1.4L lens and shot 90% of this recent wedding on it.

DSLR’s are a great investment for starting out in video. They’re small, easy to carry around, and keep their resale value. Although DSLR’s are primarily designed for photography, they’re well suited for event video. If you love the super shallow depth of field that you find on vimeo wedding videos, a huge number of them would be using 5d’swith top notch lenses.

The major drawback to DSLRs is recording audio. If you plan to do documentary work, or anything that requires proper audio, a DSLR isn’t your best choice.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with 24-105 ($3,099.00)
Canon EF 35 f/1.4L USM ($1,479.00)

+ Small, easy to carry around
+ Shoots video and stills
+ Full frame
+ EF Lens mount for removable lenses

– No professional audio input
– Manual focus
– Limited to 29 minute long shots

Canon C100

The C-series cameras bring the goodness of a DSLRs, and add the convenience of professional video cameras. The C100 includes XLR audio inputs, dual recording slots (so you can change cards during a shot), built in ND-filters for working in bright sunlight, and auto focus options. They’re compact, but not small enough that you’d carry it around causally.

The C100’s are amazing for documentary work and run and gun jobs, especially because they allow you to get great sound. If you don’t mind the increased size over the HDSLRs, the C100 is an awesome option.

Canon EOS C100 Cinema EOS Camera ($2,999)
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens ($549)

+ Made for video
+ XLR audio inputs
+ Good for long shoots (battery, memory, shots)

– It’s a large camera to casually carry around
– More options and dials make it harder to learn
– Crop sensor. Not full frame (EF-S Lens mount)

Canon XC10

The XC10 is a new camera that isn’t shipping yet, so don’t buy it 😉  But it’s interesting one that I might rent a play around with a bit. The lens is a non-removable 27.3 to 273 mm zoom, with a 2.8 to 5.6 aperture range. It looks like a nice, compact, run and gun camera. No XLR inputs.

TRIPODS & SUPPORT

Manfrotto Fluid Monopod with 500 Series Head ($279)

This monopod is perfect for events. It allows you to move quickly and in crowds without setup time. It has a tiny footprint, so you won’t trip grandma or the caiters.

Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Head & 755XB Tripod with Carrying Bag ($450)

When you’re shooting a wedding, you’ll most often use a tripod for a safe shot from the back. With a long zoom lens, a tripod eliminates camera shake, and makes for nice, distraction free footage. Tripods can get expensive, but this one from Manfrotto is good enough for the work I do. It also has the same camera plate as the monopod, so you can leave one plate on the bottom of your camera, and switch on and off the tripod easily.

AUDIO

Audio is hard. An on camera mic is ok better than nothing, but it won’t cut it for speeches, vows, etc.

Shooting video is hard enough without trying to get professional level sound. Depending on what you’re selling to customers, wedding videos don’t necessarily need sound. Andy Fitts, an amazing dude in Seattle is doing some amazing wedding work without audio.

Sennheiser ew 112-p G3 Camera-Mount Wireless Microphone System with ME2 Lavalier Mic ($600)

This is the only wireless microphone set I’ve ever used. Might be a budget option out there, but I can’t endorse anything else.

Zoom H4n ($200)
Portable recorder. Simple and easy to use. Simpler than the Tascam DR100, but if you’re doing multiple inputs (ie, wireless mic and audio deck) go with the Tascam for better dual input volume control.

END

Hope that helps! The guys at Stillmotion put together a list on what to do with $20k investment here. (Edit: That list is from 2011, so a bit dated)

People who are actually working in the video industry, what would you recommend for a basic wedding video kit? (Please say drones.) Ping @Jacqui_Hocking @andyfitts @joshbatchelder @cailyoung @alisterrobbie

 

Wedding Video: Sinan + Damiana

Happy 2014!

10 Best Non-Profit Videos of 2012

10 years ago, non-profit videos were different. They were on brand, on message, had voice-over narration and showed children suffering terribly. It turns out, people don’t especially seek out this content to watch (although arguably still effective in fundraising with older demographics).

With the rise of online video, there’s been a trend in the industry to create art, or entertainment that people want to watch.

After looking at 2012’s top non-profit videos (mainly 1M+ views) nearly all are one of the following:

  • Funny
  • Shocking
  • Sexy
  • Amazing/Beautiful

Here’s ten that we thought made the biggest waves in 2012.

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10. Sorry, we’re going to need that back…
Organisation: GetUp
Views: 70,000 (in 2 weeks)

GetUp is an Aussie group that knows video. In 2011 they created “It’s Time” a simple concept with a brilliant ending that racked up 7 million views. They’re masters at reframing issues to make people think. In this video GetUp imagines how the government’s decision to divert aid might play out in office. It’s sad, funny, and convincing.

The team at GetUp raised $100k from this video.

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9. How to Grow a Moustache with Nick Offerman
Organisation: ManMade.com for Movember
Views: 1,040,508

To promote Movember, ManMade went manly. Actor Nick Offerman teaches the ways of the ‘stach, and eats a raw onion. It’s a style reminiscent Will Ferrel in Anchorman, Old Spice, and Dollar Shave Club.

Movember raises money to fight prostate cancer. You’ll notice this video doesn’t focus on–or even mention–the cause. It’s a trend becoming more common in cause related marketing. If you want to read more there’s a link, but Nick doesn’t smash you for your money.

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8. Boyfriend Went Vegan (Semi-NSFW)
Organisation: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Views: 3,009,700

Last night, this got boo’d. Fair enough.

In true PETA fashion the ad is controversial. The intended message here is “Men: if you go vegan, you’ll be better in bed”, opposite to those that equate veganism with being unmanly.

Some feel that the ad implies violence against women. Two thirds of YouTube ratings are thumbs down, and facebook social plugin shows around 75% of comments are negative sentiment.

Despite the complaints, their core demographic must be responding because year after year they continue to create provocative media like this. And they get attention.

PETA spokesperson: “The piece is tongue-in-cheek. People who watch the ad all the way through see the woman has a mischievous smile. She’s happy to go back with him. It’s playful.”

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7. Africa for Norway
Organisation: The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund
Views: 2,052,615

This won last night’s “People’s Choice – Comedy” award.

Inspired by the 1980’s “We are the World” and “Do they know it’s Christmas?” Africa for Norway shows a western audience exactly how silly some good intentioned aid ideas are.
Beginning with a hilarious intro from celebrity rapper Breezy (remember 50 cent’s “global movement’?) the video carries the fake appeal through the very end, and onto the website. The campaign goals are listed there, but I can’t help but wish there was an opportunity for supporters to take meaningful action beyond the joke…

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6. Dumb Ways to Die
Organisation: Metro Trains
Views: 38,731,272

Does Metro Trains qualify as a non-profit? This one is too good to keep off the list on a technicality!

Last night’s Melbourne audience was especially familiar with this cause marketing campaign. It’s a morbidly cute, catchy tune that rose to 6th most downloaded song on iTunes (globally). Creatives behind the campaign said kids are more concerned about not being seen as dumb by peers than dying, thus the chorus.

It’s a full 2:21 into the video before safety around trains is even mentioned.

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5. Girls Going Wild in Red Light District (Semi-NSFW)
Organisation: Listed at the end of video, I won’t ruin the surprise.
Views: 3,217,953

Here’s another video that waits to reveal it’s deeper message. After dancing along with the crowd, you’ll feel like you got punched in the face at the end.

The experiential marketing blends a real life campaign with online reach, just like the next one…

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4. Smoking Kid
Organisation: Thai Health Promotion Foundation
Views: 1,002,312

“Smoking Kid” and “Girls Going Wild in Red Light District” both have the benefit of organic search—people stumbling on it looking for something else. This one gets a traffic boost from the 2010 news clip of a child who smokes a pack a day (17M views).

When smokers are lecturing others about the dangers of smoking, you’re doing it right.

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3. Kony 2012
Organisation: Invisible Children
Views: 110,000,000

Clearly, a few people have already expressed their thoughts about this video. Some remember Kony as the biggest trainwreck of 2012; for others it’s the pinnacle of digital video storytelling.

While it may have simplified the plot, advocated military intervention, and came from a western lens, it certainly got people to listen and take action. My feeling is that the charity world only took the warnings, and none of the lessons.

Tell a story.
Make it personal.
Make it beautiful.
Know your audience.
Aim bigger.
Target influencers.
Invest in video.

Here’s something you might not know: Invisible made $12.6 million (net) from the campaign. That’s more than any single year income for the organisation.

Invisible did make Kony famous. Perhaps the guys will tackle climate change next?

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2. First World Problems Anthem
Organisation: Water is Life
Views: 2,073,640

“When I go to the bathroom and forget my phone.”
“When I tell them no pickles, and the add pickles.”

Priceless.

This video piggybacked off the popular twitter hashtag–but flipped the context. It’s funny, relatable, and hits hard. The video finishes with short simple ask. Here’s the top-ranked comments:

#firstworldproblems

Water is Life created a few bonus videos that respond directly to specific people tweeting #firstworldproblems. View here, here, and here.

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1. Rachel Beckwith’s Mom visits Ethiopia
Organisation: charity: water
Views: 600,000

This might restore your faith in humanity.

It’s the most emotional video of the bunch, and on Thursday at #net2melb, many of us were in tears. Charity: water have put out over 200 videos… this is the best I’ve seen yet. It’s different from the other concept pieces created by agencies; it’s slower, beautiful, and moving. In light of Rachel’s death, and the subsequent outpouring of support, I feel equal parts devastating sadness and joy.

Charity: water have done an amazing job communicating their mission. They explained it clear enough for a child to understand, and want to help. They built an online fund-raising platform that works easy enough for Rachel to start her campaign. And in honour of Rachel, they shared her story, made the media, and raised $1.2M. Now they’re showing the impact and saying thank you to donors.

It’s an amazing story. Kudos to Rachel’s mom for sharing, and to @jazzyjamieleigh for her beautiful work filming and editing on deadline.

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Honorable Mentions:

Final Thoughts

Are you surprised the big orgs aren’t in there? Don’t be. Creating a video with viral appeal is nearly the opposite of the way many established organisation operate: it takes risk, buy-in, and requires more attention to the audience than internal politics. Young, scrappy orgs with a clear identity lead the charge in digital video, while established organisations are sticking to what has safely worked in the past, like grants and direct marketing.

Will your organsation make a viral video? Statistically speaking, it’s unlikely. But if you’re authentic, concise, and focus on your audience, you’ve got a better shot than the others.

What do you think? What charity videos do you remember from 2012?

Comment below or share this post for a chance to win Seth Godin’s newest book “The Icarus Deception”, a book about risk, beauty and passion. One winner randomly chosen, shipped anywhere in the world. 

Happy New Year!