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on June 14, 2008
I have an entire library of filmmaking books - this one book (esp. the 2008 update) is fantastic - covering every aspect of filmmaking - and not just the technical stuff - even working with actors, directing and some basics of film theory. Of course it is best at the technical side - including HD production and post production editing. Very few of my collection come close to this one for breadth and depth.
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on December 2, 2007
I've read a lot of books on cinematography, and this is by far the finest I've seen.
This is an extremely well written, comprehensive book on ALL aspects of film making.
The authors have obviously worked very hard on this book, and it shows. For example, there are EXTENSIVE cross references throughout the book like: "before you read this you should read pages 22-25". This kind of cross referencing takes a lot of time to do accurately.
The cost is a real STEAL for the amount of information in it. In my opinion it is the only book you need on cinematography. If you don't think so, at least read this first. I think all your questions will be answered.
I can't recommend it highly enough.
Daniel O. Benson
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on June 4, 2009
I would encourage anyone from amateur (photographers committed by passion) to professional (photographers committed by career choice) to include within their ongoing study curriculum source material covering cinematography. And, this book should be first on their reading list! It is a perfect compendium of technique, theory, equipment and practice.

What impresses me is how much more deeply the authors explain basic concepts, beyond what you find in most of the regular digital photography books currently on the market; and, the explanations are so succinct. Take, for instance, when discussing depth of field and distance compression and expansion in perspective, the choice between changing the camera to subject distance or changing focal lenght to control the size of the subject in the frame, pages 142 to 146, makes an enormous difference in the way the image will look. It is explained that,

" ... as the camera is moved closer, the relative size of foreground and background objects increase at different rates. [...] Perspective may be thought of as the rate at which objects become smaller the farther they are from the camera."

This isn't your ususal dslr concept of camera to subject distance and its effect on the still image, but it goes a great deal further to better conceptualize, visualize and help dslr photographers understand how to consciously and intelligently compose scenes to communicate subject character and thematic content. The authors then go on to explicitly demonstrate this concept through comparing and contrasting different photographs, and diagrams.

Another instance of this succint and analytical style of writing is near by, between pgs. 151-153, concerning applying focusing to the image and determining depth of field:

"In the ideal (theoretical) lens, there is only one subject plane in focus-everything in front of or behind this plane is out of focus. In the case of the portrait, if the man's eyes were exactly 10 feet from the camera, his nose and ears would be out of focus. Fortunately, with real lenses the area that looks in focus is more generous. A zone (called the depth of field) extends from in front of the subject to behind the subject, delineatiing the area of acceptable sharpness (see Fig. 4-8). In other words, the depth of field is the zone, measured in terms of near distance and far distance from the camera, where the image appears acceptably sharp."

Illustration follows to assist the visualization. These are just a couple of examples of the analytical and clear vision with which the book in its entirety has been written. These are the kinds of explanations for which I have been searching; and, no doubt, which you would welcome in lieu of sitting in a classroom listening to a professor lecture.

I bought this book after browsing at Borders for something to help me understand how to use cinematography techniques to produce still photos that look more cinematic. I got lucky that night! But you will find even more luck getting it from Amazon, since the price may be about half of what I paid at Borders. It's a great deal to get so much expert guidance for Amazon prices!
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For those who love films but don't really know what's involved in their getting made, this is an excellent guide. Of course, it's even more indispensible for those who hope one day to make a film but aren't currently involved in the business. I emphasize "business" here because this isn't really a guide to the art of making films; you could imagine a similar book called "The Entrepeneur's Handbook: A comprehensive guide to establishing your own business in the age of the internet" and it would cover the same types of topics. For a guide to the art of filmmaking/directing, my favorite book is "Film Directing Fundamentals" by Nicholas Proferes. But for the practical and day to day and big picture of the business of filmmaking, "The Filmmaker's Handbook" is Indispensible: an excellent and thorough introduction and guide to the processes, the people, the arrangements, the contracts, the details that go into making films, especially independent films.

I required this book as one of the textbooks for my film history course on "American Independent Film" because it seemed to me there was no better way to indicate to students how much is involved in getting films made. It's a very helpful piece of the course and gives students a perspective that they wouldn't get from my own emphasis on film theory and criticism.
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on September 28, 2013
Just read it cover to cover (skimming the parts on older technology, like 16 and 35mm film - everything is digital now) and it was extremely helpful. I've written four screenplays and have been contemplating producing one of my low-budget shorts. I knew next to nothing about filmmaking and this was a deep dive into all aspects of the craft. Very well written. I started with the book, How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck, which makes for a good companion to this (and is lighter reading). I plan to reread both.
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on May 28, 2009
I have enjoyed reading this book. It is the nuts and bolts of film making. It is a step up from a technical manual, but it does gloss over the feel and philosophy of filmmaking. I would recommend this book to serious independent filmmakers. It is probably too basic for professional filmmakers and too technical for shooting home-movies. This really nails that middle ground.
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on February 9, 2015
This book is SUPER detailed. I have the kindle version, and use it as reading material while the sleeping pills kick in. Yes, it's dry and technical... but what do you expect of such an exhaustive tome on filmmaking. I feel like film school won't be worth the money by the time I'm done reading this cover to cover. Looking forward to finishing it (in the next month... melatonin works!)
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on February 17, 2016
Bought this for my husband, who makes a pretty impressive family Zombie Apocopolypse movie every summer. (Yes, it's silly, be we have a great time and make great memories while he learns about filming.) Anyhow, he said that this is a filmmakers bible, and if you have this you really need nothing else. Very advanced stuff in here, for when you are ready to take it up a notch. Or two. Or more.
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on October 2, 2013
Filled with information that is useful and applicable in every aspect of filmmaking. Almost every film class I have taken recommended it. I did not think i needed it but after buying it I don't even need a bible anymore. It is the perfect book to use when a technical or production problem occurs.

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on March 6, 2015
I purchased this book after a decade long hiatus from working in the medium. I have to say, this is a technical guide more than anything, and really lacks any sort of personality that might be interesting to younger readers. This is a totally in-depth piece of work that focuses on all aspects of filmmaking, from basic camera set-ups, aspect ratios, lighting techniques, etc. The good here, of course, is just how in-depth it is. The only negative aspect of the book comes from a lot of it, despite how long it is (over 800 pages), is actually just an overview. Sure, you get a lot of techniques from the work (I bought it specifically to read up more on editing and shooting techniques and it was fine for me), but there are a lot of things in this book that could definitely be updated (especially eliminating the older tape mediums from the text - no one uses those anymore). If you are looking for something more in-depth in a specific element of filmmaking, like cinematography or directing, I would definitely seek a different text all together; one that specifically focuses on those elements. But if you are looking for a general overview on many different subjects (or for just a refresher like myself), this is indeed a fine book for your purchasing pleasure.
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