Video For Beginners: What Comes Before "Video For Dummies" ?

The aim of The Complete Idiot’s Guides and For Dummies series might be described as to simplify things so people with no background in a given subject can understand the new material. We all know that even people with a high IQ have a hard time understanding things that are new. The challenge is not really IQ, but the time required to learn things.

Here at Videomaker, we have been making things easy to understand since 1986. In the topic of making video, we have had an additional challenge in learning: pride. Those people who are proficient at making video are sometimes (perhaps unconsciously) reluctant to teach others. Many who are skilled at creating video are reluctant to share their knowledge with others. Sometimes they imply that making video is very complicated. They enjoy the privilege of feeling important because they possess rare skills. This was a big problem until recently. The appearance of cheap, easy-to-use solid-state camcorders has changed this perception. Today, even mobile phones record video. However, I confess that here at Videomaker we may have become arrogant towards people using cheap camcorders and cell phones to make video.

We have been using three levels to describe skill sets here at Videomaker: beginner, intermediate and advanced. I am inclined to develop another level. During a brainstorm, I reflected upon the Idiot’s Guides and For Dummies books, which made me think we need an even simpler level. I wouldn’t really consider Instructions for Morons or Basic Information for Imbeciles, because the terms are derogatory and it is not about IQ anyway. It is about time. Newcomers and lay people need to learn quickly and easily how to make video.

I am a big fan of mass collaboration, so I am throwing this question out to our community. What word or phrase should we use to describe the skill level of someone who is making video but is less skilled than a beginner? Let’s omit the derogatory phrases and consider terms that address those of us who are “time-challenged.”

Many people of normal or superior intelligence are time-deficient, so they must learn quickly. When I reflect on master wood carvers or musicians, I imagine how disappointed they’d be to read this. Like a master of any craft, they know that you really can’t take short cuts in developing great skills. In this case, we are trying just to develop rudimentary skills, like learning how to use a pencil, not like Shakespeare but like a child who needs to grasp spelling, grammar or even proper pencil grip.

We’d love to hear your feedback. Please submit your terminology suggestions to and put Newbie Video Creator in the subject line.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

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