RISC World

Digital Video Books

David Bradforth rounds up some recent books guiding you into the realms of digital video

While it's fair to say that RISC OS users editing video these days are probably few and far between, there is software support out there if you're willing to look for it. Computer Concepts and EIDOS partnered up many years ago to release EIDOScope, an entry level editing system that made use of Optima within an enthusiast-priced hardware/software bundle.

Given that the software sold for under £200 when new, we'd recommend that you don't pay anymore than £80 second hand; especially given that there are more than a few issues when using it with current hardware and operating systems.

As RISC OS technology gets more powerful, we may start to see some of the open source solutions making there way across and given that flash-based digital camcorders are making their way onto market there is nothing to stop any RISC OS user getting in to digital video.

We'll start a new series on that next time, taking a look at what's needed - if you have any questions in the meantime please email me and we'll make sure they're answered. Now, to move onto the books...

Digital Video and DVD Authoring, Jeff Sengstack - SAMS Publishing - £24.99

There's no shortage of books aiming to introduce readers to different aspects of computing. The Teach Yourself series, published by SAMS, offers a very similar structure to magazines such as Windows XP Made Easy and DVEasy by blending simple jargon-free advice with detailed explanations of topics that are a little more complicated but necessary within the context of a market.

In Digital Video and DVD Authoring, the author takes you through everything from the choices to make when buying a new camcorder through to storyboarding and editing video. The focus is on PC applications, with Windows Movie Maker, Pinnacle Studio, Premiere Elements and Premiere Pro covered in depth, but the majority of the topics covered are easily portable to other editors and indeed other computers.

Once you've edited your videos, it's time to pass them to others so the explanation within the book moves on to DVDs and the Internet, showing easy ways with which you can share movies with your friends and family and the world at large.

The step-by-step approach taken by the author is used to good effect, providing an instant familiarity with the subject; and the buying advice given at the front of the book seems to come from the point of view of somebody who's actually carried it out in practice. You'll benefit from the experience of the author by adding this book to your collection, particularly if you've yet to buy a digital camcorder - the practical advice given should save you from buying a dud piece of kit.

Overall - A good book explaining principles as well as actions, equally useful for Mac and RISC OS users despite the PC focus.

Digital Video with Windows XP, Greg Perry - SAMS Publishing - £17.99

Digital Video with Windows XP is a quickstart guide to the world of digital video editing. Walking the reader through everything they need to know, the author explains some of the most basic mistakes and how to resolve them with a Windows XP system.

Starting from making upgrades to your computer to get the best out of it, Perry makes some simple recommendations that generally improve the performance of your PC in any sense, not just Digital Video. From upgrading the memory, to increasing the storage space of your hard disk, once the introductions are over Perry moves squarely into the Digital Video field.

There's plenty of tips here on shooting quality video, getting all of the right shots and maximising your shooting time. Then once you get home, you've got the ability to edit video like a pro using Windows Movie Maker (part of Windows XP) and a variety of other applications.

The advice given here is often very simple, but it's the sort of stuff you wouldn't necessarily think about so it's useful to have it all in print. As with the other book, the simple step-by-step layout with all jargon explained makes the book instantly accessible to all; and the way it's presented to the reader makes it a joy to read.

At under £20, Digital Video with Windows XP is a cheap introduction to the subject that may provide more than a few helpful hints for seasoned professionals too.

Overall - Digital Video with Windows XP is a good book, clearly explaining some of the things beginners may do while setting up their digital video system. While it has a focus on Windows XP, a good number of our readers are using VirtualRPC, and they can benefit from the advice the book offers in practice using the native operating system and in theory using RISC OS. Some of you may have issues with the focus on the Windows XP operating system.

Real World Digital Video, Pete Shaner & Gerald Everett Jones - Peachpit Press - £37.99

With somewhat more of a professional focus, the Real World Digital Video offering from Peachpit looks at DV with the view of a professional publishing medium. With that stated on the cover, it was surprising to open the book and discover what is essentially a complete and comprehensive guide to the subject.

Working through all the phases of the digital production process, from renting/buying gear to making sure you buy the correct equipment for whatever the job is you have in hand. The book then continues with an exploration of the techniques you can use while filming and editing to produce business presentations, feature films and much more besides.

A DVD is provided with the book, containing a number of how-to videos, advice from experts, demo software and resources and while it adds to the value of the content of the book; like many resources of this type it will quickly be put to one side. Particularly for RISC OS users - the content is very heavily PC-focused and the vast majority of RISC OS users do not have a DVD drive installed in their system anyway.

The authors provide through this title a simple exploration of the commercial aspects of digital video. Both are professionals in the field, and it shows both through the clear explanations of the topics and the passion they share for it. While the pages are, at times, a little wordy everything is presented in a clear and concise fashion making it very difficult to lose track of the subject.

Overall - A good introduction to the professional side of digital video, exploring most things that will come up during the process. Given that the RISC OS platform has had perhaps one professional editing package, Optima, it will have relevance to very few people within the market. However it's a well-produced package that's also a very good read and hence could be a good way to explore professional principles. It is however a little expensive.

David Bradforth