janet finishing up getting ready moments before the ceremony. all images pulled from the epic footage and processed in redcine-pro.
we added the epic a couple months ago solely for our more produced commercial side. from the beginning we’ve been asked if we planned to shoot any weddings with it, and from the beginning the answer was always ‘no’. after all, this is a $70,000 investment and with the unpredictable nature of an event, it felt like too much of a liability. the power of being a part of the creative community of photographers and filmmakers is that through hearing the question so many times we couldn’t help but start to wonder what if…
as we prepared to fly out to the south of france for janet and josh’s wedding, the question, which inevitably had to come up at some point, and we asked ourselves if we should bring the epic. it was far from an easy decision considering how much gear it adds and that our trip was a flight, train, and car rental. if we were ever going to try it, this seemed like the right time (no same day edit, a very free flowing wedding, and…well.. france).
the view from our hotel. epic, meet epic.
those of you that know what we are about, know that we are very passionate about keeping things real at an event. that means no pausing, slowing things down, or re-takes. the problem is, the epic likes all of those things. in fact, it might not be a stretch to say that the epic was built for those things. that was absolutely the biggest challenge. trying to keep up, or ideally stay one step ahead, while working with a slower, heavier, and more complex camera. i’ll be honest, i caught myself a couple times wanting to slow things down so i had time to get where i wanted to be. if the epic was to be part of how we shoot weddings it needed to fit into the way we cover an event, and that meant i needed to find a way to be faster and adapt.
why the epic?
challenge. if the epic is a camera that isn’t optimal for shooting an event than why bring it along in the first place? first and foremost, and this can’t be understated in it’s importance, we love a challenge and we love to push ourselves. this was a scary endeavor and it’s important to put yourself in those situations.
resolution. france would be a location that calls for scenics. a DSLR is many great things, but shooting wide scenics is not their strength. having a camera that shot at such a high-resolution meant no more moire, amazing wides, the ability to zoom and crop in post as needed, and the possibility of pulling frames as photos. with amina there also shooting photo, but shooting by herself, we definitely took advantage of the resolution of the epic and pulling frames. it is too early to tell exactly what she may use, but it would be hard to see the frames not being a significant part of her coverage.
frame rate and aspect ratios. we don’t shoot much slow motion, but when we do it is awesome having the option to go up to 120fps while still keeping 5k resolution. there was a couple times this felt appropriate and i think both shots will end up in the trailer. as with any new tool, the trick is in not over-using and instead employing it in a relevant way. i hope we did that. we opted to shoot the entire wedding at 5k and 2.4:1. the area was in itself a character in the wedding (hence the title of this post) and the wider frame in a 2.4:1 ratio really lets that come alive.
dynamic range. having about 13.5 stops of range to work with is a huge benefit for an event. for the majority of the day we need to shoot natural light, and having the ability to capture that extra detail helps to make the most of tough lighting situations. the epic also offers an HDRx mode where you can add up to 6 stops more range. surprisingly, we rarely needed to use HDRx as the 13.5 stops was more than enough in most situations, including the one below.
the guys playing a relaxing game the day before the wedding. note how they are in complete shade yet we can still see detail in the mountains behind them, which are in direct sun (shot around 2pm).
shooting in raw. color is such an integral part of our process, and the idea of being able to grade an image in raw is one of the most exciting aspects of the epic. see the images below, both processed in redcine-pro in seconds, to get an idea of just how much you can push and change and image and it still stands strong. this gives an incredible amount of creative control to really have your story come through in the color phase.
the view from the other side of the hotel 🙂 shot with the RED 17-50mm at 17mm.
a warm toning to match the early morning when the shot was taken. shot with the RED 300mm. shot from the same spot as the image above (note this house slightly to the right of the middle of the frame).
processed to look like it was shot in the evening as an example of how far the image can be pushed.
shooting with the epic was absolutely a challenge. so much so that mid-way through shooting some coverage the day before the wedding i almost went and put the epic away in favor of my trusty MKIV. i’m very thankful i had paul there with me shooting DSLR. it meant i could trust he would take care of things and give me the freedom to make mistakes and adapt. with that i kept pushing myself to be faster and stuck with it.
mobility. having the same speed and flexibility as a DSLR was definitely what hit me most. by the end of the wedding day it was definitely smoother of a process than the day before. while the epic is definitely over weight for our faithful monopod, it handled it well and the majority of the wedding (including ceremony and speeches) was still shot with a monopod. i don’t know if it would have been possible otherwise. a shoulder rig would have added a lot of fatigue and not enough stability for the look we wanted, and a tripod would have been much too slow. another thing that really helped was using the side handle and red volts whenever possible. these are small batteries that fit inside the side handle and power the camera for 20-30 minutes each. the epic-m package ships with four, so that gives us just over an hour of maximum mobility. when things were moving fast, i took off the much larger and heavier red brick/battery mount/cheese plate setup and opted for the much smaller batteries. the run rime definitely scared us but all four end up lasting the day (for the portions they were needed).
audio. as the epic has no built in mic, audio was something that needed to be solved. for more formal parts of the wedding (speeches and ceremony) where we would normally use lav mics, audio wasn’t a major concern as we could figure out syncing in post. for other times, such as the preps, we attached a zoom H4n to the bottom of the rails and ran the headphone jack into the input on the epic to give us a guide track. this is not the best solution, but it kept our size down and speed up (the wooden camera XLR adapter and a shotgun mic would have been much better for audio quality alone).
seeing outside. we take things like our z-finder for granted when shooting with a DSLR. the red touch screen is an awesome tool when indoors, but it is definitely difficult to see in direct sunlight. the epic also ships with a bomb EVF but those are currently not shipping. the cameras HDMI ports are not yet enabled so that also means no working with another monitor solution. that meant really trusting the onboard scopes (which are awesome) and reading the image through there.
memory. shooting at 5K at 8:1 compression ratio meant some pretty big files. the epic ships with 4 128gb SSDs and we only managed to fill up half of that. what was a concern at the beginning of the day turned out to be a non-issue. with longer event coverage this would definitely come into play again, but we were lucky to have a shorter ceremony and very few speeches.
the ceremony. shot with a zeiss CP2 at T2.1 and an ISO of 1000.
tito shares some words at the rehearsal dinner.
at the end of the day i’m glad we chose to bring and shoot with the epic. a good portion of the wedding was still shot on DSLR (by paul or myself) but it looks like the majority of the trailer will come from the epic. it is too early to tell how this may change our event coverage in the future, but i think it is safe to say that the epic won’t become a staple part.
we often say that we learn so much through sharing with everybody else. this is a shining example of how we’ve been inspired, challenged, and learned a ton all because of the questions, comments, and support from everybody out there pushing us to try the epic at a wedding. we are excited to share the trailer with you shortly. for now, i’m still in berlin and hoping to get a day or two off before i get back to the edit.
janet and josh right after the ceremony. all images pulled from the epic footage and processed in redcine-pro.