Mark Shapiro (1996, SRS Productions, 8030 La Mesa Ave. #112, La Mesa, CA 91941; 60 min., $30)
The latest in Mark Shapiro’s YourCam series of instructional tapes focuses on all of the buttons, bells and whistles
that you’ll find on Canon’s consumer line of camcorders. Using the ES5000 (Canon’s first camcorder with eye-control
technology), Shapiro covers all of the basic controls in a simple, step-by-step fashion.
Most of the footage on the tape consists of close-up shots of the camcorder in a studio setting, delineating the
various buttons, switches and controls found on the camera body. Also discussed are battery-usage problems, lighting
situations, triggering special effects and using Canon’s eye-control system. Precious little footage is devoted to shots
of people using the camera in ordinary situations; a little more in this area would have helped make the tape more
approachable and easier to watch.
Though this tape and others in the series do carry some of the tell-tale signs of cottage-industry video–wrinkled
bedsheet backgrounds, less-than-perfect narration, overuse of transition effects, etc.–they nonetheless serves as an
excellent introduction to camcorders for beginners. The brand-specific approach is a good one, as it teaches novice
videographers about the specific camcorder they’re holding in their hands, rather than some generic camera that
doesn’t exist. 3
The Art of Editing Wedding Videos
Gary Kleiner (1996, Mobile Pro Video, 412 Park St., Fort Collins, CO 80521; 60 min., $40)
This hour-long tape discusses the nuts and bolts of editing from the perspective of the wedding videographer. Using
footage gleaned from his own professionally produced wedding videos, Gary Kleiner shares his apparently wide range
of video editing knowledge with wedding-video novices.
Although a bit dry at times, this tape does present some very useful information on a wide variety of topics, such
as insert editing, using time code, shooting to edit, using cutaways, avoiding jump cuts and editing your video
creatively. The copious video examples given for each topic are pertinent and well-produced, as are the on-screen
Kleiner’s instructional tape does have one major drawback: all information carries an S-VHS bias. Neither Hi8
nor DV equipment is included in the technical discussion of topics like insert editing, time code and generation loss.
There’s nothing wrong with an author showing his own personal preferences, but to exclude all but discussions of S-
VHS technology doesn’t leave much for the owner of Hi8 or DV gear to work with.
Still, the information that this tape conveys is sound and well-researched. If you can get beyond the S-VHS bias
and the occasionally banal tone, you’ll find that it provides much that is useful to any videographer, not just the
weekend wedding shooter. 4
101 Essential Tips: Video
Roland Lewis (1995, Dorling Kindersly, 95 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; 72 pp., $7)
You see them often at drugstore checkout counters and in little display racks at the bookstore–colorful little books that
give you helpful hints in the garden, tips on caring for pets, eye-catching manuals for home decorating and dozens of
other instructional topics. Dorling-Kindersley publishes a line of books like these, dubbed the 101 Essential
Tips series, and one of the topics covered is home video.
From such basic and essential topics as What is a Camcorder? (tip #1) to more advanced areas like Understanding
Aperture (tip #12) and The Advantages of Editing Machines (tip #85), this little book presents brief, enlightening
descriptions of many basic video concepts. The layout is colorful and full of visual examples, the information
presented is accurate, and the binding and paper stock are thick and durable, so you can easily stuff it into a camcorder
This book presents more useful information for under $10 than some videotapes we’ve seen that cost $80 or
more, in a format that’s easier to access and refer to in the field. A good many long-winded producers of video
instructional material could learn a thing or two from this tiny gem. 5
KEY TO RATINGS: 5-excellent, 4-very good, 3-good, 2-not so good, 1-poor