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A very handy guide for figuring out how to fix the most common postproduction problems

  • Aug 1, 2009
This guide would be better described as offering "strategies" rather than "solutions" to postproduction problems. On the one hand, as advertised, it is software neutral. That means you have to know your own software well enough to figure out how to apply the approaches outlined in this book. Additionally, as should be expected, the steps outlined for each problem are not so much "recipes" as guidelines. In many cases, a step in a long process will say, basically, "tweak the various relevant values here until you're happy with it". What the book really offers, and for this it is invaluable, is a strategy for approaching each problem in the right order, in such a way as to solve the problem with the minimal amount of intervention and the minimal amount of difficulties. After reading through this book, I don't yet know how to apply all of the solutions in my software package (Final Cut Express 4) - though I've tried several, such as the "bleach bypass" look, and been very happy with what I got. In many cases (at least as it applies to FCE) the solution amounts to: duplicate the clip you want to adjust, and layer it on top of itself; then create a mask that defines the area you don't want to be affected by the adjustments; then adjust the layer that appears through the mask, by applying various filters. Just knowing this basic "workflow" (and several others) and how it can be used to solve specific problems has given me a much greater level of confidence that I can solve a range of problems in the future and introduce intriguing creative elements into the shots I have.

For a wide range of practical problems and ideals, "Fix it in post" offers a clear outline of how to create the best result given the footage you have to work with: what kind of tools to use and in what order to use them. After describing the basic techniques that the book employs, each of which will look different in different programs, James goes on to discuss, in a chapter each: (1) ways to fix or improve footage that was poorly shot, shaky, out-of-focus, flaring, or overexposed; (2) ways to solve basic video problems like interlacing artifacts, stretching, dropped frames, and how to make video look like film; (3) ways to solve basic problems with film footage such as damage due to dust or watermarks or grain, and even how to make film look more like video; (4) how to fix problems endemic to digital formats, like pixellation, noise, banding, compression, and multiple video formats; (5) how to fix audio problems - the weakest chapter in the book, in my mind; (6) adjusting color, and creating some of the more popular "looks" like "bleach bypass"; (7) how to do some simple compositing work, such as removing objects, replacing skies, adjusting the framing or aspect ratios of your shots; (8) fixing problems with timing, such as time warping footage, adjusting flicker, adding or removing motion blur; (9) polishing a final project and fixing problems introduced at the editing stage, such as continuity errors, flash frames, bad dissolves, and more. There is an appendix on file management and other practical issues, as well as one that gives information about standard video and film details, as well as information on various video formats - I was disappointed there was no entry in there for AVCHD, the format my camcorder shoots and an increasingly popular HD recording medium.

One odd thing about the book is that several of the photographs are just cool photos from flickr, and don't exactly illustrate the processes described where they appear. Other photos that are supposed to illustrate the process don't always do it. There are several "before" and "after" shots where I couldn't tell the difference between them -- it's possible the difference would have shown up if they were blown up and projected on a large screen but I couldn't see it. (That's only true in a few cases).

Still, this is a very valuable guide, and I'm very happy to have read it, and expect I'll refer to it every time I'm finishing a project. It definitely belongs on any respectable video editing and postproduction bookshelf. This is not one of those books - and there are several out there - that provides a limited set of narrowly applicable "tricks" or "gimmicks" (if that's what you're looking for you're better off on youtube). The majority of the solutions outlined in this book are likely to come up again and again in the course of almost any large editing project. Perhaps the most important lesson of the book is that it's not just what you do to fix a problem but what order you do it in.

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review by . October 15, 2009
This is a very handy manual on how to fix very common digital picture and video problems during post production. The thing I like best about this book is that it does not adhere to any particular software. It gives you general step by step instructions and using your knowledge of whatever software you use you can follow the guidelines to achieve the intended result. So you can use Adobe or Corel softwares and focus on the steps rather than the specifics of click this tool and then click that tool.    …
review by . July 31, 2009
This is kind of a platform-neutral post-production cookbook.     The author serves up 114 different techniques for accomplishing a wide variety of common and not-so-common post-production tasks ranging from changing day to night to h=getting rid of film gates.     He begins with a chapter on essential techniques. Anyone moderately familiar with higher-end video editing packages will have no trouble with this. (I'm not so sure how beginners will find he going.)  &nbs …
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #68
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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"Finally!  A well-written software agnostic guide to fixing common problems in post ranging from shaky camera to film look!"

-Jerry Hofmann, Apple Certified Trainer; FCP Forum Leader, Creative Cow; Owner, JLH Productions

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ISBN-10: 0240811240
ISBN-13: 978-0240811246
Author: Jack James
Genre: Computers & Internet
Publisher: Focal Press
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