Be a Student of the Business

In order to be at the top of your game in this business, you have to be willing to constantly invest time in learning new things. Put in the effort and do some research, because tons of valuable resources are at your fingertips. Some like web sites and trade magazines are generally free, while others, like books, manuals and tutorials might cost a few bucks. In any case, there’s plenty from which to pick and choose.

 

Let’s start with trade magazines. I write for Videography, but I also get more than a dozen other audio, music, video and computer trade publications. Many are published by the same parent publishing companies, but most have independent editorial staffs, so you do get a diverse range of articles and product reviews. Now, I don’t read them all cover-to-cover, but I do scan every one for some new tidbit of information or production technique that I find interesting. Many of the trades offer free subscriptions to anyone associated with the industry that they service. In fact, if you get a free subscription to one, you will often also get copies each month of some of the other titles published by that same group.

 

Here are my recommendations of the ones that I think are worthwhile. For film and video production: Videography, DV, Millimeter, Post and Video Systems. For audio mixing: Mix and EQ. I’m sure there are others worth adding to the list, but it really gets down to personal preference. If you like to delve into the technical side, then the SMPTE Journal and American Cinematographer are quite good, but you will have to join or purchase a subscription to receive these.

 

The web is another great free resource. Most of the magazines maintain companion web sites that often feature expanded articles or coverage not included in the hard copy magazine. These sites are often updated with more timely press releases and other news information within the industry. Generally, these sites can be found under the magazine’s name plus .com, without any effort at all.

 

While we’re surfing the web, don’t forget that many companies include support pages with troubleshooting information, white papers on procedures and even technical documents and equipment manuals. Some manufacturers who offer such items include Avid, Quantel and discreet. You might have to hunt a bit on these sites for the right support page, but you’ll also often find forums with input and questions from fellow users. Sony even maintains several specific sites for their HD, DVCAM and editing products. Point your browser to  http://www.sonyusadvcam.com, http://www.sonyusacinealta.com, http://www.sonympeg-imx.com, and http://www.sonyxpri.com. If your main focus is film, then go to Kodak and peruse the wealth of documents on the professional motion picture portion of their company site.

 

Some of the other web resources include special web-based industry services and forums, like Digital Media Network, 2-pop, 2-popHD and Creative Cow. Several well-known system developers also maintain helpful personal sites, including Michael E. Phillip’s 24p.com and Alan Stewart’s zerocut.com

 

If you’d rather get your education between hard covers, check out the many books on subjects like editing, color-correction and more. Nearly all of these titles can be found online at Amazon. Most are published either by CMP Books or Focal Press. If you want to know more about the art of editing, one of the best books is Walter Murch’s In The Blink of an Eye (Siman-James Press). Most of the current editors work with some type of nonlinear editing system, so for a little background and insight, check out Nonlinear4 (Michael Rubin), Nonlinear Editing (Bryce Button), Digital Nonlinear Editing (Thomas A. Ohanian) or Digital Filmmaking – The Changing Art and Craft of Motion Pictures (Michael E. Phillips, Thomas A. Ohanian).

 

If your need is for more detailed information, how about Steve Bayes’ Avid Handbook or Color-Correction for Digital Video (Steve Hullfish, Jaime Fowler). There are also plenty of instructions for effects and graphics, like Boris Visual Effects for Editors (Tim Wilson) and Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects (Trish & Chris Meyer). One of the best that I’ve read for Photoshop is Photoshop for Nonlinear Editors (Richard Harrington). If you work a lot with QuickTime and other media formats that involve compression techniques, how about Ben Waggoner’s Compression for Great Digital Video. If audio post is your thing, then you might want to investigate Audio Post-Production for Digital Video (Jay Rose). And last but not least, for the producers in the crowd, let me suggest Pre-Production Planning for Video, Film and Multimedia (Steve R. Cartwright).

 

So whether you are an editor, designer, mixer or producer, there’s something for you. A simple search through the web or through these publications will provide a wealth of knowledge for years to come – all at very little cost.

 

© 2003 Oliver Peters