Shooting the first dance is one of the biggest challenges in wedding videography. This is because you are shooting a moving object, in dark conditions and with disco lights adding an extra layer of difficulty.
One of the things we do before the wedding is to ask the bride and groom what sort of dance they are doing. Is it a slow close embrace, or will it be an elaborate set of dance moves, with rapid and erratic motion.
We ask this, so that we can adjust the zoom slider on our cameras. If it is just a slow dance, then we set the zoom to slow. If it is a fast and elaborate dance, then we set the zoom to fast, so that if the couple spread apart, we can instantly widen the frame to keep them both in the shot.
Shooting video in darkness is difficult because:
1, Darkens diminishes the picture quality.
2, Makes it hard to see the couple and therefore hard to keep them in frame.
3, Can cause the auto focus to struggle because less light is going to the sensor.
Because of this we always ask the dj what light conditions he will put on the first dance. If it is too dark, then we ask him to turn it up. Most djs will be helpful but the odd one is not.
We always have a top light on the camera to help illuminate the first dance, which becomes essential if the dj is not helping.
One other thing to note, is that disco lights can effect the auto focus system, because of their intensity. For that reason, it is good practice to set up so that we are not facing the disco lights. There will still be disco lights all over the place in the frame, but as long as they are not shinning directly into the lens and chip, then it should be ok.
In post we often apply filters to the first dance footage in order to remove grain and sharpen the image, so that when we brighten the image as we usually have to, the image quality is not reduced.
In conclusion, there are many factors that make shooting the first dance difficult, but as experienced and qualified videographers we are able to get around these difficulties and produce good footage.
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