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Little Digital Video Book, The

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Michael Rubin

One of the more frustrating aspects of buying a new digital video camera for consumers is trying to discover not only how it works, but how to shoot good movies with it right away. For most of us, we just want to turn on the camera and go, without spending … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Michael Rubin
Genre: Computers & Internet
Publisher: Peachpit Press
1 review about Little Digital Video Book, The

If your friends and relatives groan when you offer to show them home videos, you really need this handy little guide!

  • Aug 10, 2009
Rating:
+5
Books about video tend to be either far too simple or far more technical and unfocused than they need to be. Most presume an audience that either just needs a better manual for the camera than the nearly useless ones that camcorders come with, or that really wants to be out there making independent films. I haven't found a good guide for the hobbyist, who wants to push the limits of a consumer camera and create home video that's watchable and enjoyable ... until now.

Rubin's got the expertise and background to write technical, but doesn't. Rather than a book on "filmmaking" or "videography" he emphasizes that this is a book on making "video sketches" - non-professional but still polished-looking presentations with an emphasis on images caught live, in action, in the situation. He's clear and cogent and explains things very well. He explains how cameras work (or, rather, how to work them to their best capacities); he explains the stages of putting together video projects; he explains how to keep organized when you've got lots of video; he explains all the basic shots and how to get the best shots; he offers several useful ideas for how to think about the editing, and, perhaps most useful, reminds that you should have the editing in mind while you are shooting, so that you are sure to capture enough footage to be able to cut together something coherent after the fact.

Some advice I found very helpful, even though most of this is not new to me, are his suggestions for working with audio: that you should think of sound as its own entity, and that you need to get coverage for sound independently of video coverage. For example, if you are shooting a musical performance, you need to keep the camera on throughout the performance and get a "master shot" of the sound -- even if you will be editing in various other shots into the video "master shot". If you are filming something that's windy, and don't have an adequate wind muffler for the microphone, you should get some "ambient sound" from a less windy location to fill in to the sound track for the video.

One thing to note is that this edition still focuses on recording on tape - especially miniDV tape. Rubin devotes a fair amount of space to issues like working with timecode and effective tape storage methods, all very useful advice for miniDV camcorder. However, in the past year or so there's been an explosion on the market for harddrive and flash memory camcorders (I have the Canon VIXIA HFS10, for example). These camcorders raise a host of other issues that Rubin doesn't address such as how best to store and backup the video files you've recorded or how to convert all of the new popular formats such as AVCHD or HDV, for edit and playback. This is not really a serious omission, since many of these issues are platform and format specific and would be hard to cover adequately in a handy little guide like this - but they are still things that may raise questions for beginners, and I expect that future editions of this book will cover them.

If you are just starting out with home video, you really should consider this book as an essential supplement to your camera. If you follow Rubin's advice, your home movies can very quickly go from boring and unwatchable to engaging and exciting. Highly recommended for newcomers to home video, or for those who don't want their friends and relatives to groan in agony every time they offer to screen footage from a vacation or special event.

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