Review: The Art of Moving Camera Techniques, Volume Two (Von Wedding Films)
One of the common misconceptions in the wedding video world, especially among relative newcomers, is that Mark and Trisha Von Lanken of Tulsa, Okla.-based Von Wedding Films invented moving-camera wedding videography. This is not true. Mark himself admits that in his first couple years in the business, it never occurred to him to detach the camera from his shoulder until he attended a WEVA seminar by Toronto videographer David Lai (www.visionsbydavid.com), in which Lai demonstrated off-shoulder techniques like panning and tracking shots and reveals that created dramatic visual effects seen often in films and television, but rarely in wedding video up to that point.
Ever the innovators, Mark and Trisha immediately set about not only learning these techniques but making them their own, and developing them as part of their own ever-evolving style. A little more than half a decade later, there are two main reasons why their names have become synonymous with moving-camera wedding productions today: because Mark and Trisha do those techniques so well, and because they teach them so well. One could even argue that the moving-camera approach has become so prevalent in wedding video today for those exact same reasons.
Having looked at The Art of Moving Techniques, Volume 1 back in 2006, and found it pretty definitive, the first question in my mind when I popped in MCT II was whether there was any point in doing a sequel. And MCT II does start out on familiar ground. You get Trisha’s very accessible, straightforward narration, which makes potentially daunting topics and techniques seem like something anyone could do. And as she introduces the topic, making moving camera techniques also seem like something everyone should do if they want their videos to look as polished, romantic, and dramatic as Von Wedding Films’, she also makes an absolutely crucial point: Too much motion can be too much of a good thing; however proficient you become with these techniques, be sure to use them in moderation.
Early on, the disc also reviews some techniques covered in MCT I—always using manual settings, how to hold the camera and position it against your body to keep your motion smooth and steady. But it quickly moves on to a great demonstration from Mark on the difference between panning and tracking, which makes it crystal clear how the tracking approach yields a more professional look. The Von Lankens also walk you through a behind-the-scenes look at how they cover bride and groom prep, always breaking down the motion techniques they’re using for maximum accessibility, and showing you the completed edit so you can see how the technique played out in the final video.
There is also a fascinating first dance making-of segment showing shooting assignments and positions for two cameras, and of course the final edit to show you how the effects they were going for were achieved. Essential stuff.
The focus this time is on handheld cameras, which is another key difference from MCT I; it’s important to see how these techniques can be achieved with the handheld cameras most videographers are using these days. What this installment of the MCT series doesn’t show, of course, is how these techniques work in shoot-to-delivery HD productions. But they had to leave something for MCT III, right? Which, incidentally, Mark says will be all in HD, will be available in a Blu-ray version, and will come out sometime in 2009.
Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV.