If you’re a beginning or intermediate shooter, I would highly recommend a new book from cinematographer Barry Braverman. Hot off the presses, this second edition of Video Shooter covers just about all the artistic and technical considerations that go into telling stories visually.
Barry has been shooting for over 30 years. Among other things, he shot the cult-hit Bottle Rocket (which launched the careers of Luke and Owen Wilson, and director Wes Anderson), and has also shot tons of network shows, National Geographic documentaries, music videos, etc. This 286-page book is a collection of the tips and tricks Barry has learned over the years, with a focus on HD cameras and the tools that go with them.
The book is truly comprehensive. There are big sections on the fundamentals such as Camera, Lighting, Workflow (tape and file-based), Audio, etc., and each section is filled with useful details. For instance, some of the camera issues Barry covers include dynamic range, shutter speed, white and black balance, auto knee, color matrixes, camera noise, chromatic aberration, gamma, back-focus, focus charts, and frame rates (know the difference between 23.98 and 24fps?). And that’s just scratching the surface. Of course, cameras and other electronic gear change every year or two, but the book sticks to more or less “timeless” issues that apply to all HD cameras systems.
The book is also really easy to browse, which, in my view, is as important as the information presented. The pages are filled with color pictures (2-4 each page, on average), and lots of headlines and captions, so interesting information jumps out as you flip through. Barry’s writing is clear and down-to-earth, which is no surprise if you’ve ever heard him speak at tradeshows or product demonstrations. He also talks about his own personal work habits and gear choices, which has a lot of value given his long run in the industry. One of my favorite pages lists almost 60 unique items that Barry packs in his “ditty bag” of small tools.
You can read more about Video Shooter over at Amazon.com, where it’s got 5 out of 5 stars. Enjoy!