2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Marc Andre Ferguson
- Published on Amazon.com
When I started in postproduction, in 1995, my first Mac only had 32 MB of RAM, I owned the only copy of After Effects 3.0 Production Bundle in Montreal, and Photoshop didn't quite yet produce automatic drop shadows. It was way before discussion forums and user groups in my area. Let's just say that when I ran into a problem, I had to figure out by myself.
In the golden age of SD (at least mine), most of the problems plaguing graphic design were interlace issues, pixel aspect ratio and a broadcast safe color palette. The television and motion graphics jargon was being introduced, but it was still hard to navigate those waters.
In 1999 I discovered Trish and Chris Meyer, motion graphics celebrities and authors of many books on After Effects. They produced a pair of VHS tapes on postproduction problems, Videosyncracies, which thankfully answered several of my questions and solved most of my issues.
Fast forward ten years later. On top of those SD problems, which are still a pain, an editor must face a host of new ones, from digitizing to developing post workflows, as well as a forest of HD production formats. My old Videosyncracies tapes aged quite well, but I was looking for something more modern. Enter Fix it In Post, by Jack James. I had loved his previous book, Digital Intermediates, the one and only bible on the subject, and I was looking forward to discovering his new treasure trove of tricks of the trade.
Jack James is an expert on all things digital. I find his website, Surreal Road, an excellent resource on postproduction, digital intermediate systems and other professional gear.
The book's approach is simple, clear and very well structured. While not favoring a specific piece of software and delivering application-agnostic explanations, the book is split in 11 chapters relating to families of technical problems:
- Image problems cause by lenses
- Video image problems (digital or not)
- Film image problems
- Audio glitches
- Color issues
In the beginning, James explains basic techniques that all editors should learn to master, whether it's properly reading a histogram, or image retouching using cloning techniques, à la Photoshop. Each technique is illustrated with a specific icon. Icons are then used together with film frames in order to clearly illustrate the steps to solve a specific problem. This confers a very practical aspect to the book. Even more so, since the tricks can be used in different applications, the reader needs only adapt the technique to his favorite software. This is really the book's strength, teaching you how to fix a problem by explaining what caused it, what you can do to make things right, step by step, and examples of possible results.
This is more of a reference manual than a casual read, since you can quickly find the "magic" trick that will get you out of a snag. I discovered several new tricks, like how to fix focus issues in a shot, a better way to reduce digital noise, as well as tips to produce great looking black and white footage.
The last chapter deals with what I consider the most important subject, postproduction workflows. How to conceive a management strategy for your media, as well as security and archiving, should be on top of your "to-do list", in the era of multi-terabyte HD productions. The appendix contains a plethora of up to date lists and tables, covering everything from production formats and codecs to image frame sizes, a great resource for recognizing whatever can fall in your editorial plate.
The verdict: most of the techniques covered in this book could leave the casual Final Cut Pro enthusiast by the wayside. Online editors and compositors will feel at ease with the book, and might even discover some new tricks for their arsenal. On the other hand, one can never stress enough the importance of learning: in order to master your art, you must master your tool of choice. Understanding why a problem surfaces is essential in preventing such a problem to happen again, and there lies the importance of a book such as Fix it In Post. It deserves a special place on your bookshelf, because we still often hear "we'll fix it in post".
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