Is a Camera Jib really worth it for Wedding Videography?

I have been using Jibs from the beginning. The first wedding I photographed in Minneapolis I used one and I will never go back. A Jib is crucial to really make your videos stand out from the rest and I use them at 95% of my weddings. Here are a few things you get from having a Jib and how to use them.

What you need to know about a Camera Jib Crane for Wedding Videography

Camera Jib Crane for Wedding Videography

The VariZoom VZQUICKJIB QuickJib is one of my favorite camera Cranes for wedding videography.

A camera Jib, which also known as a Crane, gives you those sweeping shots that start down low and all of a sudden are in the air above the crowd as the bride is walking down the isle. These shots are amazing, when done well. In order to have a good set up, you must put the right counter weights on the end of the camera Crane. You need to have the weight distributed so that you can align the Jib Crane horizontally with the ground and have it balance there with your DSLR camera attached. This makes smooth motions very easy to obtain as the weights are doing the moving and you are simply guiding the camera. I use the camera Jib during pictures for a slider effect that I can be doing an inch off the ground and then in 5 seconds I can be sliding 8-10 feet in the air. The Jib Crane can consist of many shots that are set up, and always results in an impressive professional wedding video.

The main tip I can share for camera Jib operation is “Slow and Steady”. If you are shooting at 24fps you must move slowly or you will get an excessive blurred motion effect which normally you are not looking for. You must move the Crane slower than your mind thinks it should be. Be sure to preview your shots the first few times you do them to make sure you have proper focus and good composition. I use the Canon 24mm 1.4L II Prime Lens and am very very happy with what I get from that lens for my Jib shots. The resulting image is very wide, but with little to no distortion. I know some other Minneapolis wedding videographers that use a 16mm lens on their camera Jib Cranes which can look really cool as well for large buildings and massive reception halls. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to creativity get the shots that set you apart as the best wedding photographer or videographer.

Keep practicing, always try new things and have fun!

Best Minneapolis Wedding Venues for Photography and Videography

As a professional wedding videographer, I’ve seen a lot of wedding venues, both good and bad. So, I wanted to share my experiences and ultimately my favorite wedding venues in Minnesota, specifically in Minneapolis.

My favorite Minneapolis Wedding Venues

The University of Minnesota Campus Club is on the top of the list of being one of my favorites. It is just beautiful. Located on the fourth floor of Coffman Memorial Union it combines elegance with great views of downtown Minneapolis skyline and a full food carter service with fantastic food. The views are great, the building is historic and has so many wonderful options for great video.

Minneapolis Wedding Venue

The magnificent Walker Art Center is one of the best wedding venues in Minneapolis.

Walker Art Center

Another favorite of mine is the Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis. It has been made known as one of the top Minneapolis wedding venues by many Minneapolis wedding photographer blogs and is featured in publications like Minnesota bride magazine each year. The Walker Art Center’s cutting edge artistic displays and amazing architecture will hit your palate for modern art. The building has wavy design to it and inside features some incredible modern art that is for sure going to give you some awesome footage to use for your b-roll. The ceremony is normally held at the top in a room that has a big window that over looks the city. Gorgeous views! Portraits of the wedding party are often photographed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – right across the street from the Walker Art Center.

Van Dusen Mansion

I recently shot a wedding at the Van Dusen Mansion as well and was very impressed with the staff and how helpful they were with keeping my gear locked up during the day and safe while giving me access to it when needed. The courtyard was an elegant attraction with hanging Chinese lanterns and white chairs that were a nice compliment to the maroon colored brick walls of the mansion and surrounding pathway. The venue also has a beautiful reception area with built in mirror lights, cool designs and an awesome loft. Wedding guests can sit upstairs on the fancy furniture; meanwhile people are kicking it on the dance floor downstairs. It is one of the best setups I have seen for a wedding reception. It’s small, intimate and classy.

Mill City Museum

Lastly, the Mill City Museum located next to the Guthrie theater is quite the wedding venue as well. The towering dilapidated brick structure has huge metal posts holding up the building structure with rough concrete flooring. This compliments the old styled wood in a dark cherry color that surrounds the venue – providing a rustic feel that is perfect for a warehouse district Minneapolis wedding. This venue is a great place to get out the crane and slider and get really creative. You can get some incredible high up shots of the structure during the ceremony and slide out from the post to reveal the bride and groom through the center isle. The Mill City Museum has a balcony that over looks the Minnesota, Mississippi River for a beautiful landscape shot with friends and family having a few drinks before the main course. All in all: incredible view, great food and great location!

I’ve shot all over Minnesota, but again, these are a few of my favorite Minneapolis wedding venues and I can’t wait to go back for more – to see more things, capture more shots, and try new photography and videography tactics!

What you need to know about DSLR Camera Sliders for Wedding Video

Best DSLR Camera Slider

The Kessler CineSlider, one of the best DSLR camera sliders for the money!

One of the most important pieces of equipment I use every video I shot here in Minneapolis is the slider, otherwise know as a Pocket Dolly. The slider allows me to get nice sweeping shots and adds a cinematic touch to the images when used. Instead of just having static shots, this tool allows me to slide out from a position to reveal the subject in a dramatic way. It is also fun to simply slide towards the bride or groom for a nice touch. A Pocket Dolly forces you to be creative, and adds unique perspective to your wedding videos, not easily achieved otherwise. I recently used it to slide out from the Crown Plaza in Downtown Minneapolis to reveal the Foshay tower where the bride and groom had first serious date. The effect was very cool!

Pros and Cons of the Camera Slider

First, I encourage everyone to look into Kessler products. They’re my go-to slider and crane vendor. I personally really like the build quality of their product and their customer service has been fantastic. The ability to get really smooth shots is very easy with a little practice because of the mechanisms used and the high quality hardware. I also like the Cinevate slider with motion control. This allows for very consistent movement as compared to simply using your hands as that can be extremely difficult on longer slides (up to twenty or more inches).

Second, consider your wedding venue and shooting location. If you are going to be shooting outside all day on dusty ground then you don’t want to be sliding on the dirt. You will want to have the ability to mount your slider on a couple of stands so that you don’t get your DSLR camera dirty and so that you can get a good shot of what you need to see instead of being stuck at a ground level perspective. Dirt and dust is a DSLR camera’s worst enemy, so always be aware of the surrounding elements. I know a wedding photographer that ruined a very expensive camera body when he got too much dust into the mirror and sensor. It was a very expensive repair, so be careful!

Third, rent a couple of different sliders from places like Lens Rentals or Lens Pro To Go or Borrow Lenses. All of these companies ship around the U.S. and have quickly shipped to me here in Minneapolis, Minnesota several times. This will allow you to get a good idea of what kind of slider you like before you invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a particular setup. The average price of a three day rental is anywhere from $40-$100 dollars depending on how long and how fancy the slider is. That’s not a bad testing price! (and if you can book a gig during that rental time that’s even better!) Just try a variety of systems – ball bearing sliders, chains, pulley systems or even hand crank options – and see what works best for you and your shooting style. There are so many different makes with different features it is easy to find one that matches your style and creative side. Then invest in your own gear and start cranking out the wedding videos!

Finally, I would recommend networking with some people in the industry that have lots of experience. There are many people in the wedding industry willing to lend a hand and show you some tips and tricks. Even if you don’t get to work side by side right away or at all, Tweet or e-mail them! You never know when they will respond and give you a quick paragraph of valuable info. Very helpful! People like Phillip Bloom or teachers like Richard Harrington are great resources for experience, product knowledge and teaching. Hit them up on Twitter, check them out on lynda.com, or see some great local Minneapolis resources here.

Wedding Photography and Video Tips – Prime vs Zoom Lenses

I have had several Minneapolis bridal photographers come to me after a wedding and ask “How do you get the shots you get without zoom lenses?”. It is an art form. It can be tough to get the shots you need when you can’t zoom. It honestly has come from many years of experience. Like some of the best professional athletes, you need to be able to anticipate what is going to happen and be ready to adapt on the fly.

Prime vs Zoom Lenses

Prime vs Zoom Lenses for Wedding Photography

The Canon 24-70mm is my go-to zoom lenses for wedding photography.

Personally, I see Prime Lenses giving the sharpest, clearest picture quality compared to Zoom Lenses. With Zoom Lenses you need to make sure you don’t have a variable f-stop as that will change the lighting, exposure and depth of field when zooming in and out. When that occurs you will start to look like you are a beginner using out-of-box auto settings. I do use Zoom Lenses on occasion, but it is no cheap accessory. The Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS Zoom Lens is my go-to telephoto zoom as it has a constant f-stop. This means that I can lock in f/2.8 as my aperture from 70mm-200mm without having the image lighting, or exposure change throughout the shot.

Benefits of Prime Lenses

A benefit of Prime Lenses if that they are lightweight. Longer Zoom Lenses with more components can be heavier and thus harder to bring with you from the ceremony to reception venue, or to lug around a field while taking wedding portraits. I find that if I have done my research, scout the venue and plan in advance for the wedding day, I can pack the necessary Prime Lenses to cover every situation I’ll encounter at that location. It usually works best for me to carry three Prime Lenses compared to two Zoom Lenses.

My Wedding Photography and Videography Setup

My primary wedding photography and videography setup includes the Canon 24mm 1.4L II mounted on my crane and a slider, and the Canon 50mm 1.2L on a monopod as my “run around” lens, which is how I get most shots of the bride and groom, the family members, decorations, etc. The 50mm 1.2L is super sharp and is key to get those fine details of the flowers, the wedding venue and anything else while being a comfortable distance away allowing me to not be too obtrusive. The Canon 70-200mm 2.8L zoom lens enables me to shoot the Vows from the sides and the back. I usually have three of those lenses, all setup on tripods. Those allow me to capture all angles of the wedding ceremony without much trouble. Recently I shot at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota and it was a small enough room to where I did not need to zoom in and out much.

All and all Prime Lenses have less components so they’re lighter, sharper, clearer, and provide the best image quality of any DSLR lens for photography or videography.