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   Book Review
   Producing 24P Video
   Author: John Skidgel
   Publisher: CMP Books
   Pages: 244 pgs.
   Topic: How to create films in the 24P format

   MSRP: $24.95

   Special Pricing:  Click Here
   Expected Release: Available Now
   Review Date: June 1, 2007
   Reviewed By: Jeremy Hanke

Final Score:

For most of us, we want to make the digital films we shoot look as much like they were shot with film as possible. One of the most common ways to come closer to that is to shoot at the same frame rate as film: 24 frames per second. In digital terms, this is referred to as 24P (and is actually 23.976 frames per second, but who’s counting?).

Producing 24P Video aims to help you make sure that you take into account the special needs of shooting in 24P, covering things from the different lighting needs of 24P vs. 29.97 fps of NTSC to how you import 24P from the camera into your editing program. (A feat that is still not nearly as intuitive as it should be!) John Skidgel is your guide as he steps you through the art of Producing 24P Video.

Producing 24P Video is quite easy to understand, for the most part, with the right blend of technical information and explanation to keep you on the same page as the author. He lays down the information in such a way that it stays easy to keep track of as you build on it throughout the book.

With this said, there was one rather strange problem this book had. There were an inordinate number of strange typos and omissions. Usually, this did nothing but prove mildly distracting when a word was omitted from a sentence or something was spelled wrong. However, where it became a problem was when an entire sentence would vanish. For example, during his explanation of settings on the DVX100, Skidgel explains that there are four color settings for a specific setting. He then explains the three most basic ones, with the expected sentence about the fourth setting failing to be included. These last sort of problems really need to be corrected for future versions of this book to be as understandable and as useful as possible.

Depth of Information
There really is a huge depth of information in this book. It starts by explaining what the digital format of 24P is, why it’s become popular for digital filmmakers, and how it compares to film. From there, it goes into pre-production on 24P projects and what to consider as far as cinematography goes. Additionally, it spends a little time mentioning how 24P can be used in chroma-key effects work, which is a nice little tidbit. From there, it goes into recording audio for 24P, editing 24P in common editors, and, finally, exporting out to DVD. Throughout it, Skidgel showcases the work flow from two popular 24P SD camcorders: the uber-popular DVX100A/B and the Canon XL-2. While he explains this all from a higher budget range than most micro-budget films operate from, most of the information presented in this book will be very useful to microfilmmakers.

There are only two places I would have liked to have seen a little more info, which could perhaps be added in a future addition. The first would have been some popular setups for the DVX100 and XL-2 to get as film-like a look as possible. This would give a few starter templates for beginning users of the cameras to start from. The other thing I would have liked to have seen him take a look at with a little more depth is the use of 35mm lens adapters in 24P video. Other than a brief aside on the P+S Technic Mini35 as well as the general comparison between film’s depth of field and DV, there is no mention of this increasingly popular way to make 24P look more like film and give DV the depth of field characteristics of film. Some how-to guidelines and suggestions for use of these 35mm adapters would be a great addition.

Attention Captivation
Aside from the tests performed with the included DVD, I read the majority of this book flying back and forth from our offices in Lexington to San Jose for the recent Adobe Reviewer’s Workshop and it kept me enthralled the entire way. This is saying a lot for me, as I usually find airplane travel so miserable that I have to escape through lighter reading material. (When you’re 6’5” and built like a linebacker, airplane trips in seats designed for petite people quickly become the bane of your existence!) So, for a technical book to hold my attention in that sort of situation, that speaks well for Mr. Skidgel’s writing.

With coverage on everything from common camera presets to shooting greenscreen to editing in Premiere Pro or FCP to creating DVDs, you will definitely find yourself coming back to the information found in Producing 24P Video. While the target audience of higher-budget 24P filmmakers means that this book isn’t quite as useful a primer for micro-budget films as something like the $30 Film School, it still has a lot of valuable information that you’ll want to re-use as you shoot in 24P.

Value vs. Cost
There is a lot of very valuable information in the book, however the price is textbook-expensive for this 240-page soft-cover book. With other great books like Digital Filmmaking 101 and The $30 Film School coming in at the $30 price point, I feel that the $55 is just too expensive. While an added DVD of 24P content for practice does add some extra value, I feel that the price really should be dropped to $30-$35, which in turn would get more folks to read this helpful book.

Overall Comment
This is a truly comprehensive book on all aspects of 24P digital filmmaking, covering everything from pre-production to post-production. While this represents an excellent value to the user, I feel that the high price is likely to prevent people from picking this one up, especially with the lower priced competition. If you don’t mind dropping the extra cash, this one will be a valuable asset. Otherwise, you’ll want to try to see if you can find it discounted online or at a used bookstore!

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
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JeremyHankePicture The director of two feature length films and half a dozen short films, Jeremy Hanke founded Microfilmmaker Magazine to help all no-budget filmmakers make better films. His first book on low-budget special effects techniques, GreenScreen Made Easy, (which he co-wrote with Michele Yamazaki) was released by MWP to very favorable reviews. He's curently working on the sci-fi film franchise, World of Depleted through Depleted: Day 419 and the feature film, Depleted.

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