Library Introduction: Books and Book
Reviews for Film and Video
The movie business can be learned from "just doing it", but that takes years
and the opportunity. Books can shorten that process. Studio training is dead.
Film schools require a rich daddy and may take longer than "just doing it" if
one can break into the system.
I feel that understanding the basics makes all the rest easier. I also feel
that entering the movie or video world is like entering a foreign country without
knowledge of the language or customs and no map. Not knowing the language is
a great handicap. For film I highly recommend Ira Konigsberg's "Complete Dictionary
of Film" for any beginner or intermediate film person.
I am upset by authors who offer long lists of long out-of-print, impossible-to-find
books. Authors who create or repeat terms that are specific only to their own
region or personal taste also upset me. This is a disservice to people in other
areas and adds to the huge load of terms that a technician has to learn.
I feel that buying books too advanced for a reader is not wise. Material that
is not really understood is of little value other than to impress people on
the set, which can back-fire. Unfortunately in the motion picture business there
aren't enough basic books. Fortunately there are many on still photography that
are excellent and available. After all, motion picture photography is photography.
Regular bookstores often have the worst collection of film coffee table books
and catchy titles full of bogus information. In LA we have some good book sources,
Op Amp Books, Birns and Sawyer, Gordon Enterprises and a few others. Only Op
Amp also has still photo books which I feel are very useful for motion picture
photography and video. If the books are all sealed and you can't look inside,
There are often great used out-of-print titles in the used stores at bargain
prices. I highly recommend taking a lot of time when looking at books. Look
for material that you need to know now and not what would be nice to know someday.
In motion picture lighting if feel that mastery of existing lighting is better
than starting with "key, fill and kicker" stage lighting. Most beginners don't
start on a stage anyway and learning what existing light looks like will help
you make more believable light on a stage when you finally get there. Few movie
books talk about existing light, but the still writers fortunately do.
Almost all the information about still photography is useful if the limitation
of camera/shutter speed is factored in. The aspiring camera-person can learn
a lot from shooting stills at much less cost. Movie cameras today are much more
sophisticated, but the film is still exposed frame by frame. Many of the problems
are photographic problems that can be solved by basic knowledge.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.