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The Digital Video Production Cookbook

100 techniques packed into a 192-page book By John Virata

Click here to purchase.

The Digital Video Production Cookbook is a twelve-chapter book that covers multiple aspects of digital video production effects, from lighting effects and production effects, to safe stunts, sound, and makeup. The book offers 100 techniques that you may want to use in your next DV production.

Up first is Lighting Effects, where each lighting example is covered in detail, complete with full color imagery to show you the way. Lighting effects covered include colored light, wall ripples, using a lighted card, mirror light, and much more. Each of the mini techniques include full color imagery. In fact, there's no scrimping in the color deparrtment -- every page is in full color throughout this well-illustrated book.

Camera illusions offers tips on how to trick the eye into seeing something that's not actually there. Techniques covered in this chapter include topics such as pull focus, real flare, glare fade, shooting from multiple directions, split focus, creating twins from a single person, window illusions, foreground blur, and frame within a frame. It includes tips on how to prepare the camera to achieve these illusions, and even shows you a unique way to give the appearance of shooting with multiple cameras using just one.

The camera movement chapter shows you when and how to move a camera to achieve a variety of  looks. Covered in this chapter are dolly shots, fall away and discovery shots, walk in, camera flow, the spin, reverse spin, hand crane, motionless camera, handling off, and criss cross shots. Adding to the clarity of these examples is the author's use of digital 3D storyboards. He first shows a 3D mockup of the scene and then details the actual shots. It's an effective way to use 3D to illustrate these sometimes-complicated concepts.

Another chapter, entitled "Editing Illusions," delves into the editing system, showing you how to trick your audience with some editing sleight-of-hand. Each of the various illusions covered in the chapter is preceded by a paragraph detailing the kinds of project sequences in which those illusions would work best. For example, in discussing the Flash cut, the author says that it is popular in music videos and flashback scenes and dream sequences.

Production Effects covers the use of props and other production tools to achieve a certain effect. The author first tackles lighting and offers tips on using moving lights, flickering overheads, and particles of light, then moves onto using the camera to capture a shot unusual techniques such as water reflection. These techniques offer a variety of different choices when working on your video production.

Visual Effects gets a bit more in-depth, helping you to achieve more sophisticated goals in a DV production. Covered in this chapter are the use of bluescreen, focusing on empty space, working with spaceships, and much more.  Some of these effects are done in the computer while others use physical props.

Safe Stunts covers some popular stunts such as leaping across a big gap, throwing punches and breaking down a door (without actually breaking anything), and smashing objects. These are nice effects to achieve and the author shows you the easy tricks to use to complete them.

There are 100 techniques in all in the book, and learning just a few of them will pay for the book itself. People always wonder how these tricks are accomplished in major motion picture productions, and this book shows you how to accomplish this. It's an easy read, thanks to the full-color images that accompany each technique. Each example is short, concise and to the point. If you have a good story to tell, the Digital Video Production Cookbook can show you how to create some spectacular effects without breaking the bank.

The Digital Video Production Cookbook
by Chris Kenworthy
O'reilly Digital Studio
192 pages

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at
Related Keywords:DV production techniques, digital video production techniques, Digital Video Production Cookbook

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