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How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck: Advice to Make Any Amateur Look Like a Pro

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Newly updated and revised, How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck is a quick and easy guide that will make your video better instantly—whether you read it cover to cover or just skim a few chapters. It’s about the language of video and how to think like a director, regardless of equipment (amateurs think about the camera, pros think about communication). It’s about the rules Newly updated and revised, How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck is a quick and easy guide that will make your video better instantly—whether you read it cover to cover or just skim a few chapters. It’s about the language of video and how to think like a director, regardless of equipment (amateurs think about the camera, pros think about communication). It’s about the rules developed over a century of movie-making—which work just as well when shooting a two-year-old’s birthday party on your phone. Written by Steve Stockman, the director of the award-winning feature Two Weeks, plus TV shows, music videos, and hundreds of commercials, How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck explains in 74 short, pithy, insightful chapters how to tell a story and entertain your audience. In other words, how to shoot video people will want to watch. Here’s how to think in shots—how to move-point-shoot-stop-repeat, instead of planting yourself in one spot and pressing “Record” for five minutes. Why never to shoot until you see the whites of your subject’s eyes. Why to “zoom” with your feet and not the lens. How to create intrigue on camera. The book covers the basics of video production: framing, lighting, sound (use an external mic), editing, special effects (turn them off!), and gives advice on shooting a variety of specific situations: sporting events, parties and family gatherings, graduations and performances. Plus, how to make instructional and promotional videos, how to make a music video, how to capture stunts, and much more. At the end of every chapter is a suggestion of how to immediately put what you’ve learned into practice, so the next time you’re shooting you’ll have begun to master the skill. Steve’s website (stevestockman.com) provides video examples to illustrate different production ideas, techniques, and situations, and his latest thoughts on all things video.  


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Newly updated and revised, How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck is a quick and easy guide that will make your video better instantly—whether you read it cover to cover or just skim a few chapters. It’s about the language of video and how to think like a director, regardless of equipment (amateurs think about the camera, pros think about communication). It’s about the rules Newly updated and revised, How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck is a quick and easy guide that will make your video better instantly—whether you read it cover to cover or just skim a few chapters. It’s about the language of video and how to think like a director, regardless of equipment (amateurs think about the camera, pros think about communication). It’s about the rules developed over a century of movie-making—which work just as well when shooting a two-year-old’s birthday party on your phone. Written by Steve Stockman, the director of the award-winning feature Two Weeks, plus TV shows, music videos, and hundreds of commercials, How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck explains in 74 short, pithy, insightful chapters how to tell a story and entertain your audience. In other words, how to shoot video people will want to watch. Here’s how to think in shots—how to move-point-shoot-stop-repeat, instead of planting yourself in one spot and pressing “Record” for five minutes. Why never to shoot until you see the whites of your subject’s eyes. Why to “zoom” with your feet and not the lens. How to create intrigue on camera. The book covers the basics of video production: framing, lighting, sound (use an external mic), editing, special effects (turn them off!), and gives advice on shooting a variety of specific situations: sporting events, parties and family gatherings, graduations and performances. Plus, how to make instructional and promotional videos, how to make a music video, how to capture stunts, and much more. At the end of every chapter is a suggestion of how to immediately put what you’ve learned into practice, so the next time you’re shooting you’ll have begun to master the skill. Steve’s website (stevestockman.com) provides video examples to illustrate different production ideas, techniques, and situations, and his latest thoughts on all things video.  

30 review for How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck: Advice to Make Any Amateur Look Like a Pro

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve Stockman

    Fairly fond of this. Of course, I'm not that objective.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Berenice

    Funny, smart and useful. This one belongs in all video and filmmaker’s libraries.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    I picked this book on a whim from the local library. My initial thought was I will read a chapter here and there. It didn't work that way. I read it cover to cover. There are good tips and insights in every chapter. If videography doesn't happen to be your "thing" you will still learn a lot from this book. You can translate much of what is in here to other artforms whether they be of a visual nature or a story telling nature. They are probably applicable to musical forms of expression too, but y I picked this book on a whim from the local library. My initial thought was I will read a chapter here and there. It didn't work that way. I read it cover to cover. There are good tips and insights in every chapter. If videography doesn't happen to be your "thing" you will still learn a lot from this book. You can translate much of what is in here to other artforms whether they be of a visual nature or a story telling nature. They are probably applicable to musical forms of expression too, but you would need to ask a musician to be sure. Recommended, even if you have no intention of videoing anything at any time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Pinella

    I like the simple exercises given in the book that I can practice, reinforcing specific instructions you just learned. You'll never shoot a boring thirty minute video from one stationary spot ever again. Great value for the amount of information you get, possibly even better than a college class. I'll be referring back to certain chapters. The only thing missing in this book is how to operate your personal camera. Super advice on how to take better videos.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Silva

    Great place to start if you haven't worked much with video or film. This covers all the basics of how to make interesting videos, and it delivers it in a fun, easily digestible format. If you already have experience in the business, though, you'll find this is basically just review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad

    Amazing guide for videographer w Just started taking videography as a serious job opportunity and this book helped me alot in noticing and handle different subjects related to videography and montaging

  7. 4 out of 5

    Koveanthan

    A no-nonsense book on filmmaking. Great Read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel L

    I read this book cover to cover... it’s excellent. The tips, helps and easy explanations have really helped me in shooting for my YouTube channel. I highly recommend this book. Steve... I’d love a Part 2!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danielle DuPuis

    I read this so that I can consider it for a textbook for a county video production class. While there was some repetition, there's also a lot of extremely valuable information in plain english that beginnings can benefit from immensely. As I was reading, I got a lot of ideas for creating some lesson plans to go along with this title. I found it to be a very practical guide!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Porter Trepanier

    Practical advice and fun to read! I just read this book straight through and feel like I came away with a lot of good insights into the world of making better videos. Good book for any amateur videographer hoping to learn the basics!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jason Lilly

    I won this through a Goodreads Giveaway! If you ever in your life hold a video camera, READ THIS BOOK FIRST! An excellent and entertaining quick lesson on exactly what the title says, "How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck". Steve Stockman is witty, informative, and harshly dedicated to making great video. He has zero tolerance for those who make bad video, but offers encouragement and easy-to-understand tips for making video better. I not only enjoyed this book, but was inspired and found myself I won this through a Goodreads Giveaway! If you ever in your life hold a video camera, READ THIS BOOK FIRST! An excellent and entertaining quick lesson on exactly what the title says, "How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck". Steve Stockman is witty, informative, and harshly dedicated to making great video. He has zero tolerance for those who make bad video, but offers encouragement and easy-to-understand tips for making video better. I not only enjoyed this book, but was inspired and found myself practicing each tip enthusiastically. I was also happy to see several of my favorite movies listed in the appendix as movies to watch for examples of great video. Whether you are an aspiring filmmaker or the member of your family usually holding the camera, this book is for you.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Mcdonald

    Video that Doesn’t Suck is really basic and perfect for its target audience. Most, if not all, of the stuff here was covered in my film classes, but Mum got it for me for Christmas and it was an easy read so I stuck with it. At first, Stockman’s tone felt almost condescending, but once I got used to it, he laid everything out simply and clearly and wrote familiarly. Even as someone who’s gone through a degree in this subject I felt encouraged and inspired by his simple explanations. He throws te Video that Doesn’t Suck is really basic and perfect for its target audience. Most, if not all, of the stuff here was covered in my film classes, but Mum got it for me for Christmas and it was an easy read so I stuck with it. At first, Stockman’s tone felt almost condescending, but once I got used to it, he laid everything out simply and clearly and wrote familiarly. Even as someone who’s gone through a degree in this subject I felt encouraged and inspired by his simple explanations. He throws technical jargon by the wayside and makes good video sound like something anyone can do! Which it is. So get shooting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    A. Sines

    I've enjoyed reading this book. Set up like a list of advice, it is skim-able while taking away pertinent information. Ideas I've never thought of, things I've forgotten...it is a refresher course that includes advice good for both adults and kids and those who've never shot video before. Some of the advice can also be used to take good still shots as well. But readers should take into account one of the first piece of advice Mr. Stockman gives: make a video that YOU would like to watch. Shooting I've enjoyed reading this book. Set up like a list of advice, it is skim-able while taking away pertinent information. Ideas I've never thought of, things I've forgotten...it is a refresher course that includes advice good for both adults and kids and those who've never shot video before. Some of the advice can also be used to take good still shots as well. But readers should take into account one of the first piece of advice Mr. Stockman gives: make a video that YOU would like to watch. Shooting video is an art like writing and painting. Read the advice with an open mind...experiment, but in the end, do what you like, what keeps you watching and there are others who will do the same.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason McCrory

    To be honest, I was skeptical of this book at first. It was given to me as a Christmas gift. After reading it, though, I have to say that the content was helpful, to say the least. Some of what's inside are merely opinions, but isn't that true for most artistic endeavors? If you're new to video production and want some basic direction, then this book is a great place to start! I was very impressed with Steve Stockman's overall delivery. The book is easy to read and the nuggets of insight are inval To be honest, I was skeptical of this book at first. It was given to me as a Christmas gift. After reading it, though, I have to say that the content was helpful, to say the least. Some of what's inside are merely opinions, but isn't that true for most artistic endeavors? If you're new to video production and want some basic direction, then this book is a great place to start! I was very impressed with Steve Stockman's overall delivery. The book is easy to read and the nuggets of insight are invaluable for the minimal time investment.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    This was entertaining for a how-to book and got me interested in shooting personal video after I read it for a work. By following one of the exercises, my family created a few videos this holiday that truly did not suck. Until this Christmas, we have had few video memories. Thanks to tips from this book that actually work, we will be making many more, and I suspect participation will be more enthusiastic as the videos get better.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karen Brockney

    Loved this book. I have made some terribly boring movies in the past and bought this book to see if I could learn how to stop making snorers. Fantastic! The writing is concise and entertaining with lots of great examples. Very inspiring. If you are looking for technical details, don't buy this book. But if you want to find out what makes a video entertaining and emotion-grabbing, this is the book for you.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Knew nothing about film production before picking this up, and now I feel much more confident talking about the subject. I enjoyed how casual the writing style was, and how it still managed to be informative. Really interesting read, even if you're not planning on becoming a director I would still suggest this!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Meitzler

    A decent-enough how-to book for those looking to get into video production, shooting, editing, and any other facet of creating video and media, although personally I felt it was a little basic and too straight-forward. If you're looking into more advanced or professional-level insight or tips then this probably is not the best read, but otherwise for beginners it's definitely a good start.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Niniane Wang

    Make shots brief. Focus on interesting characters. Have a purpose to the video. Use cuts, not fancy transitions. Focus on one person with a need, not many people. Start in the middle of the action instead of preamble plot. Keep the camera still. Use establishing shots to indicate location. Focus on people rather than scenery.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Morgan (Turbo)

    This book saved me! I volunteered to do a video production workshop and quickly realized I was in over my head. But then I picked up this book from the library and was instantly in good hands. Even from the inside cover there were simple methods to improve your video. I read it from start to finish and it was really easy. I recommend this to anyone at all interested in shooting video.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a fantastic book for beginners, but even with a few years of filming and editing under my belt I gleaned alot of great insights. Steve keeps things in very basic terms but there is alot of valuable information here calling out to all videographers.

  22. 5 out of 5

    James

    "Two years of film school in 250 pages" is a stretch but it is a great read and full of good ideas. Loses a bit in trying to be a book for everything from short films to viral videos and everything in between.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris Johnson

    One of the better ones I've read for basic video knowledge.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tiff

    I enjoyed this book. I gained insight and enjoyed his humor and writing style.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Good practical information that has improved my video taking a lot. I look forward to practicing more of the techniques given in this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dan Gilbert

    Fantastic book with practical advice on shooting video, from the basics to more advanced techniques.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chaz Konkle

    Great book for folks new to videography. Doesn't waste time with too much technical stuff, just a refreshing view on the basics on how to avoid shooting stuff people will ignore.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Lau

    Essentially, it teaches everything an Intro to Production class should teach in an approachable manner. It doesn't go into detail with the technical bits like lenses, shutter speed, and editing software, but it does provide info on the basic idea of how to make a video that draws interest with lighting, angles, and pacing your edits. Even though I went to film school, I still found stuff in here that made buying and reading the book cover-to-cover worth it (Plus it's only, like, $11). You can che Essentially, it teaches everything an Intro to Production class should teach in an approachable manner. It doesn't go into detail with the technical bits like lenses, shutter speed, and editing software, but it does provide info on the basic idea of how to make a video that draws interest with lighting, angles, and pacing your edits. Even though I went to film school, I still found stuff in here that made buying and reading the book cover-to-cover worth it (Plus it's only, like, $11). You can check out some examples and pieces from the book on the author's site: https://www.stevestockman.com/

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Lee

    It was a good read, with the author being just funny enough to keep you entertained but not so much as to make you not take the book seriously. It is all about movie making, more in the sense of getting good shots so if you are looking at how to video edit look elsewhere. I won't ever become the video artist, but I took away a few things that I hope will at least help home movies to not look so drab. Either way an interesting read to me!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Panagiotis

    On point and perfect duration A good companion when one starts practicing the art of storytelling through moving picture. I personally read it as part of research for creating educational videos. It has tons of great advice delivered in a simple and humorous way. I am very happy that I took the time to read it.

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