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Penguin Publishing Group
Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age / Edition 3

Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age / Edition 3

by Steven Ascher
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Widely acknowledged as the "bible" of film and video production and used in courses around the world, this indispensable guide to making movies is now updated with the latest advances in high- definition formats. For students and teachers, the professional and the novice filmmaker, this clear and comprehensive handbook remains the reliable reference to all aspects of moviemaking.
  • Techniques for making narrative, documentary, corporate, experimental and feature films.
  • Working with high-definition and standard-definition digital video formats, including DV, HD, and HDV.
  • Extensive coverage of video editing with the latest nonlinear editing systems.
  • Thorough grounding in lenses, lighting, sound recording, and sound editing.
  • The business aspects of financing and producing movies.

    Written by filmmakers for filmmakers, this book will give you the skills you need to take your dreams from script to screen.

  • Product Details

    ISBN-13: 2900452286787
    Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
    Publication date: 09/04/2007
    Edition description: New Edition
    Pages: 832
    Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

    About the Author

    Steven Ascher is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker who has taught film at Harvard and MIT.

    Edward Pincus has taught film courses at both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Table of Contents

    Preface xi

    1 Introduction to Digital and Film Systems 1

    Digital Videos Systems

    The Video Format

    What Is Compression?

    Comparing Videos Formats

    High Definition Digital Formats

    Digital Cinematography Systems

    Standard Definition Digital Formats

    Standard Definition Analog Formats

    Recording to Memory Cards, Drives, and Discs

    Sound Recording for Video

    Video Editing

    Film Systems

    Comparing Film Formats

    Sounds Recording for Film

    Film Editing

    Shooting Digital Versus Shooting Film

    2 Before You Begin Production 53

    Getting Your Movie Off the Ground

    Formats for the Big Screen and the Small(er) Screen

    The "Look" of the Movie

    The Impact of Sensor Size and Film Gauge

    Color and Sensitivity to Light

    Sharpness and Focus

    Aspect Ratio Choices

    Frame Rate and Scanning Choices

    Choosing a Camera

    Planning Your Workflow

    Managing Data in Production and Post

    The Importance of Sound

    Coping with Technology

    3 The Video Camcorder 102

    Initial Settings

    Viewfinder and Monitor Setup

    Picture Controls

    Recording to Cards, Drives, and Optical Discs

    Types of Media

    Managing Data on the Shoot

    Recording to Digital Tape

    Operating the Camcorder

    Batteries and Power Supplies

    Camera Sensitivity

    Other Camera Features

    4 The Lens 141

    Focal Length and Perspective

    The Light-Gathering Power of the Lens

    Focusing the Image

    Choosing a Zoom Lens

    Prime Lenses

    Close Focusing

    Lens Quality and Condition

    The Lens Mount

    Lens Seating Problems

    Care of the Lens

    5 The Video Image 185

    Forming the Videos Image

    The Digital Video Camera's Response to Light

    Understanding and Controlling Contrast

    What is Gamma?

    Gamma Options When Shooting

    Video Color Systems

    Some Image Manipulations and Artifacts

    Video Monitors and Projectors


    Digital Video Recording-How It Works

    Pixels and Resolution

    Working with Digital Data

    Digital Connections

    Hard Drive Storage


    File Formats and Data Exchange

    Digital Compression

    Compression Methods

    A Few Common Codecs

    6 The Film Camera 253

    The Film Gate and Shutter

    Camera Speed and Motors

    Viewing Systems

    The Reflex Viewfinder

    Camera Film Capacity

    Other Camera Features

    Camera Tests and Maintenance

    7 The Film Image 271

    Properties of the Film Stock

    Contrast of the Image


    Choosing a Raw Stock

    Packaging, Handling, and Purchasing

    The Light Meter and Exposure Control

    Light Meters

    Taking Readings

    Exposure and Film Stocks

    The Film Lab During Production

    Screening the Rushes

    8 Color and Filters 304


    Color Temperature


    Matte Boxes and Lens Shades

    9 Shooting the Movie 321

    The Goals of Production

    Composition and Shot Selection

    The Moving Camera

    Style and Direction

    Dramatic Films


    Preparing for Production

    Preparing the Script and Approach

    Scheduling and Planning

    Organizing the Production

    The Equipment Package

    In Production


    Supporting the Camera

    Slow Motion, Fast Motion, and Judder

    Slow Motion

    Fast Motion

    Judder or Storbing

    Shooting TVs and Video Monitors

    Shooting in 3D

    10 Sound Recording Systems 402


    How Audio Is Recorded

    Analog Audio Recording

    Digital Audio Recording

    Types of Audio Recorders

    Digital Audio Recorders

    Audio in the Video Camera

    The Analog Tape Recorder

    The Microphone

    Audio Connections

    11 Sound Recording Techniques 435

    Preparing for a Shoot

    Gathering Gear

    The Sound Recordist's Role

    Recording Technique

    Setting the Recording Level

    Music, Narration, and Effects

    Other Recording Issues

    Recording Double System for Video and Film

    Syncing Audio and Picture

    Operating a Double-System Recorder

    12 Lighting 471


    Lighting Equipment


    Types of Lighting Instruments

    Lighting Technique

    Lighting Styles

    Positioning Lights

    Controlling Lighting Contrast

    Lighting and Color

    Special Lighting Effects

    Location Lighting

    13 Picture and Dialogue Editing 521

    Some Film Theory

    Approaches to Editing

    Dialogue Editing

    The Editing Process


    14 Editing Digital Videos 544

    Components of a Nonlinear Editing System

    How the NLE Plays and Edits Media

    Postproduction Workflow

    What Format or Resolution to Edit In?

    Importing and Organizing Your Material

    Importing Files

    Capturing from Tape

    Creating and Editing Sequences

    Basic Sound Editing

    Working with Double-Systems Sound

    Basic Video Effects

    Titles, Graphics, and Stills

    Mixing and Converting Formats

    Working with 24p and Pulldown

    Editing 24p Footage

    Finishing and Output

    Managing Media

    Exporting a File

    Output to Tape

    Creating a DVD or Blu-ray

    Creating a Digital Cinema Package

    Color Correction

    Tape Editing

    The EDL and Online Editing

    15 Sound Editing and Mixing 635

    The Sound Editing Process

    Sound Editing Tools

    Sound Editing Technique


    Some Sound Editing Issues

    Preparing for the Mix

    The Sound Mix

    Level and Dynamic Range

    Frequency Range and EQ

    Other Sound Processing

    Mix Formats


    16 Working with Film in Postproduction 675

    Overview of Film-Video Transfers

    Some Film-Digital Workflows

    Film-to-Digital Transfer Devices

    Telecine Options and Controls

    Recording Format and Scanning Options

    Image Control

    Audio Options

    Film Transfer Data

    Booking a Transfer

    Editing Film Digitally

    Preparing to Edit

    Editing Considerations for Traditional Film Finish

    When You're Done with the Offline Edit

    From Digital to Film

    Preparing for the Digital-to-Film Transfer

    Traditional Film Conforming and Blowups

    Preparing the Original for Printing


    Making Film Prints

    Printing Basics

    Answer Prints


    Release Prints

    Sound for Film Prints

    Analog Optical Tracks

    Digital Sound Tracks

    Film Projection

    17 Producting and Distributing the Move 718

    Developing the Project

    Funding Sources


    Business Arrangements

    Legal and Copyright Issues

    Protecting Your Work

    Releases for Real People, Places, and Things

    Using Copyrighted Material

    Distribution and Marketing

    A Last Word

    Appendices 767

    A Adjusting a Video Monitor

    B Data Rates and Storage Needs for Various Digital Formats

    C Depth of Field Tables

    D Hyperfocal Distance Table

    E Angle of View in Different Formats

    Bibliography 791

    Websites 794

    Index 797

    What People are Saying About This

    Pat Jackson

    "I was thrilled to find your book, which is a gem. No matter what corner of the subject I poked into, looking for cogent explanations, the Handbook passed with flying colors. So please accept my admiration, appreciation and thanks."--(Pat Jackson, Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University)

    Steven Ascher

    From the Author:

    A book for people working in video, in film or both.

    This new edition was written with the idea that you may want to work just in video, or just in film, or in any combination. Writing the first edition, I tried to put in a book the essential things you need to know to make films. In the new edition, I've tried to do the same thing with video. Camcorders, nonlinear editing, tape-based and computer-based systems, TV broadcast. We are in a transitional era, in which both analog and digital gear are in use — the book deals with both. Moviemakers working with digital video (DV) cameras, analog video, 16mm or 35mm should find what they're looking for. The book isn't just about technology. It's about the tools and methods of telling stories with motion pictures, and includes a short course in fundraising, legal and business issues and distribution as well.

    From the Publisher

    – New York Times

    "Gold-standard technical reference book for filmmakers."
    -Boston Globe

    “The bible – updated.”
    - The Independent

    "This is an essential book."
    -Self-Reliant Filmmaking

    "You need this book. Billed as the authoritative guide to filmmaking from fundraising to distribution, the book achieves this in clear, accessible language using current up-to-date information. It's easy to see why this has become a standard text in many film schools. A gilt-edged investment for aspiring and beginning filmmakers and it would not be out of place in the libraries of experienced professionals either."
    -James MacGregor,

    "This edition of the book is awesome. I don't know how you managed it. Such a mass of information so expertly organized and so clearly presented! Amazing."
    -Alfred Guzzetti, Professor, Harvard University

    “Anyone who is serious about learning the language and techniques of this art, whether amateur or professional, must have this comprehensive reference.”
    - Bookviews

    “Speaking as a member of the 'figure it out yourself' camp, I consider most 'technical' reference books to be nothing more than leisure reading. This one is worth its salt. Every page is relevant and fascinating. When I find a chapter that refers to something we've done, I realize that every mistake we made was covered, if only we'd thought to read up beforehand.”

    "I was thrilled to find your book, which is a gem. No matter what corner of the subject I poked into, looking for cogent explanations, the Handbook passed with flying colors. So please accept my admiration, appreciation and thanks."
    -Pat Jackson, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University; Emmy-winning Supervising Sound Editor

    Alfred Guzzetti

    "This edition of the book is awesome. I don't know how you managed it. Such a mass of information so expertly organized and so clearly presented! Amazing."--(Alfred Guzzetti, Professor, Harvard University)

    Customer Reviews

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    The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
    DrGuam More than 1 year ago
    This is one reference you will need.

    There is some technical information not in this book, but I'd be hard pressed to find much that was left out that doesn't border on the esoteric or specialized.

    A hand book for techniques in use at the time of publication plus an assortment of data on historic and legacy gear. The student filmaker, a budding TV engineer, to experienced working professional or other individual in need of reference about the actual work that goes into creating an image on film to the latest digital HD product will find a wealth of usable detailed reference information.

    From perspective techniques, to industry lingo, to specifics about how cameras work, this book borders on encyclopedic.

    This won't solve your special effects questions, but it can point you in certain directions, it won't make your script writing skills better, but you may find you'll rethink certain shots or setups in the script, and it will provide details you may wonder how you got by without knowing.

    Some organization in the book is a bit scattered. There may be a bit too much time spent on older equipment such as 16mm film cameras. I'd like to see more details on current broadcast gear for full digital encoding.

    The recently updated version is worth twice the price.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I was a bit skeptical about this book being too out-of- date to discuss modern digital video and HD, but I was wrong. It covers, in great detail, all aspects of modern DV and HD including 24p, modern codecs, tape vs. solid- state recording vs. film, current editing workflows and software, etc. There are chapters covering how digital video camera technologies work, how film cameras work, film and video workflows, discussion of all film/video accessories including tripods, moving supports, lighting, extensive coverage of audio recording and mic info, also covers all aspects of traditional film (most of which I skipped). Overall this is one of the best and most informative books on video/film I've been able to find. Most are way too basic covering only consumer-level technologies and filming techniques (like filming a birthday party... boring).
    DanOH More than 1 year ago
    I own an earlier edition, but I can say exceptional in educating yourself in the art of Filmmaking.
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