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Filmmaking Essentials for Photographers: The Fundamental Principles of Transitioning from Stills to Motion Kindle Edition
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Eduardo Angel’s little book starts by explaining the similarities and differences between still and motion photography. He talks about the organization of a film crew, framing, camera movement, lighting and sound. There is a brief look at resolution and recorders, and then Angel discusses interviews, post production, color theory and even distribution.
Perhaps it is because I’ve read so much about creating motion pictures, but most of what Angel says seems superficial and of little practical value when it comes to actually capturing video. For example, in the chapter on sound, he tells the reader that sound, including music, is important, and that one can license music for one’s videos. There is little mention of how to design or select appropriate music for your motion picture.
Given the title it seems that this book might be ideal for the still photographer making an early foray into video. Such a photographer will be looking for more than just general comments or principles. The photographer will be interested in technique to capture that early video. He or she will be quite disappointed.
At the other end of the scale the discussion of distribution talks about entering film festivals, but nothing about posting one’s work to YouTube or Vimeo. Most beginning motion picture creators will be a long way from film festivals.
Even when Angel gets more specific he is too general. He tells the videographer to use a fluid head on a tripod, but never gives a detailed explanation of how such a head works, or how to use it more effectively than, say, a ball-head.
The book is illustrated with lots of photographs. Unfortunately most of the photographs, like those of the author sitting in a chair, do little to give any more insight than is already provided by the text.
The one lesson that you may take away is that shooting motion pictures requires a crew of people. That can only discourage lone-wolf videographers.
Just capturing a video clip is different from taking a still photograph. Putting clips together to make something other people will enjoy watching is a far more complex task. This book may teach you a few buzzwords, but it won’t make it any easier to take a video clip or assemble several into something worthwhile.
Note: The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book at no charge.
As a still photographer, you nearly always must work to keep your camera as still as possible. In filmmaking, the opposite is true, Angel emphasizes. "The medium is defined by motion--the action within the frame, but also of the frame itself. It is difficult to find a contemporary Hollywood film that does not use a lot of camera movement. Because of this, most people expect to see movement when they watch anything on a screen...."
As a new filmmaker, you will deal with many issues that likely have never come up while you have been doing still photography. For example, Angel emphasizes that it will be much harder than you think to get good-quality lighting and sound for your movie or documentary project, especially while shooting it yourself--and he gives some essential and helpful tips. For many projects, you may need at least a small production team to help you get the job done. You will need to manage that team, feed them, pay them--and understand who is supposed to do what. You will need story boards, scouted locations, preproduction meetings and production meetings, among other things. If you plan to shoot interviews for a documentary or other project, you will need to know some basic on-camera interview techniques outlined in Angel's book. And if your project calls for travel, pay close attention to Angel's good tips for packing and lugging gear and getting there with the right cables, cords, and voltage adapters.
As a still photographer, you may not prepared for--nor equipped for--the amount of computing power and digital storage space that efficient filmmaking can require. And you may be surprised at how much time that can be consumed just getting your work into storage and then edited. And the editing software may range from free to thousands of dollars, Angel points out.
As the subtitle indicates, this is a "fundamental principles" book intended to help still photographers make the not-so-simple transition from still photography to moving pictures. So it doesn't go into great depth about any particular topic. But it does raise and cover a wide range of topics that may affect you, whether you want to be a one-person documentary shooter or (eventually) the director of photography on a movie or TV project. It is a useful and informative starting point. But expect it to be just one of several books you likely will need as you gain knowledge, focus, experience and ambition as a filmmaker.
My thanks to Rocky Nook Inc., for providing an advance reading copy.
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