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

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.
Community Review  

  • I think Amazon needs to implements some rules about reviews where the product was given away for free. Here should be a mandatory ratio of at least 1:1, endorsed vs. genuine. Many books on film and video production have ratios of 15:1, endorsed vs. actual real-world readers.
    My review for this book is 5 stars. But be careful when looking for other good books. Make sure there are more genuine reviews than endorsed views. The easiest way to do is is by sticking to books that have over 100 reviews.
    The new “not yet rated” has been replaced with 15-20 reviews averaging around a 4.5.
    This book is great for all he reasons everyone else says it is. I just wanted to share some advice as well.
  • The book is everything it’s cracked up to be – very solid information well-presented.
    Among other nuggets, the book emphasizes the importance of caring about the audience, respecting audience members, guarding their time, refusing to bore them. I recently spent good money for a memoir by a prominent football coach. I can’t get over how that guy and his ghostwriter put together that book so casually and lazily. Major disrespect for the audience.
    Stockman’s appendix includes film suggestions. Nice to see “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Godfather” there.
    There’s very little about technical stuff here, i.e., not much at all about compression rates etc. Plenty of books supply that stuff. “The Filmmaker’s Handbook” covers this turf very well.
    Stockman’s book is not only well-written, it’s well-designed and produced – short chapters, plenty of white space, excellent typefaces.
  • Look, I am lazy and old(er). I see things in certain ways and nobody can change them. I know my videos are bad. I could be shooting the most rare underwater creatures or the most dramatic scenery, and my videos are still boring to watch. Tell you the truth, I only read 1/3 of the book so far and I already improved a lot. Heck I could probably gotten my money’s worth with just the first few pages.
    Just using the tips of cutting each scene no more than few seconds made my video much better. I am already a photographer to start with, so I know all about lighting and composition and exposure and all the still image stuff. I watch movies to see what others do and things in this book really clicks. The author made it very clear: if you want to learn about equipment and software, this book has nothing for you. It’s about making movies. With this, I can make good movies on my iPhone with Youtube Capture if I want to. Do you think the viewer really knows whether you are using a $300K NFL camera or an iPhone when you take a video of your world’s cutest cat stretching? I think not.
    I really hope I can go back to read the other 2/3 of the book, because there just may be so much more to learn there. But back to my opening statement *sigh*. In time…
    p.s. if you are interested in seeing my first “movie”, search on YouTube “Zhubei’s Lin-Family Temple”.

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