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How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck [Paperback]

Steve Stockman
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 July 2011
"How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck" is all about the language of video. It's about how to think like a director, regardless of equipment (amateurs think about the camera, and 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. Written by Steve Stockman, the director of "Two Weeks" (2007), 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. 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 framing, lighting, sound (use an external mic), editing, special effects (turn them off), and gives specific advice on how to shoot 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 learned into practice, so the next time you're shooting you'll have begun to master the skill. Accompanying the book is a website with video clips to illustrate different rules, techniques, and situations.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Workman (31 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761163239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761163237
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 18.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 367,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Stockman is a producer, writer and director of over 200 commercials, short films, web series, music videos, and TV shows. He's Executive producer of the new Food Network series $24 IN 24 and the hit Discovery Channel series DEVILS RIDE. Steve wrote, produced and directed the award-winning 2007 MGM feature film TWO WEEKS, starring Sally Field, Ben Chaplin, Tom Cavanagh, Julianne Nicholson, Glenn Howerton and Clea DuVall.

Visit Steve's blog at for more great articles (and videos!) about video. Follow him on Twitter too-- @SteveStockman.

For workshops and speaking opportunities, please contact

Product Description


"Stockman has packed a veritable film school between the pages of this highly informative, yet entertaining book. Very highly recommended." Videomaker Magazine"Great tips from a video expert." PC World"Whip-smart and funny... teaches readers how to think about film and reveals the why and when behind techniques; there is next to zero tech or tool talk." Library Journal"His simple-to-follow guide takes readers step-by-step through the film- and video-making process" Kirkus Reviews"

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simple, excellent advice 21 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of those books where everything it says is obvious and simple, but it might have taken you a very long time to work it out yourself. It is full of good advice, really about how to approach the business of making video and how to tackle the issues and challenges that come up, rather than practical or technical tips. I am pleased I read it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful but rather muddled 19 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a professional video producer with a lot of TV experience so my perspective is not the same as an amateur or novice looking for advice. I bought the book to see whether the author would introduce me to anything I didn't know already; unfortunately, he did not.
What I felt, though, was that this book could be quite confusing for someone relatively new to video production, seeking inside knowledge and hints. Some advice is useful - such as, 'keep your shots short' - but merely with the explanation, 'it will make your video more interesting'. This is only true to a degree. Often, you have to be patient and keep holding on a shot in case you pull out just when the most useful piece of action is about to happen.
Again, there is advice on using a variety of camera angles and perspectives, with little more than the comment,' see how much more interesting it looks'. Everything you do with your camera - and, later, with editing - is aimed at interesting the viewer but you need to know why you are using particular shots, not just that it will 'be more interesting'.
There is useful advice on lighting and sound but some downright misleading comments on techniques such the zoom. The author repeatedly states NEVER use a zoom. This is very bad advice, since there are many reasons to use the zoom lens facility - much too numerous to list here.
And there is no mention at all of using a tripod. Not everyone will have one but it's important to know when a tripod is best, and when handheld camera operation is best.
I'd suggest a novice video producer (camera operation and editing) should be cautious about buying this book. Despite it being apparently packed with professional insights, it could leave you wondering where to start.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Most of what the author says is perfectly valid - for example that you should work in short cuts to hold attention. But he expands what should be bullet points to entire chapters... and the comes back to make the same point from a slightly different angle in another chapter. This is a book that really could have been three or four articles on a website.

Even worse than that, Stockman suggests some truly dangerous and silly things - typically because he hasn't thought of how his words might be understood. For example he suggests zooming out as much as possible and getting as close to your subject as possible to reduce camera shake. Well, he and I know that he doesn't mean going to maximum wideangle and showing your camera against your wife and children's faces when you want a close up - because doing so will make them look like gargolyes thanks to the extreme perspective effect. But he doesn't say this, even though it is one of the most basic things you should know!

So, in summary, if you want an imperfect selection of basic advice, this is your book. Emphasis on VERY basic - it doesn't even cover simple tricks like you using graduated contrast filters.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its ok, but... 24 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some good ideas and concepts, but it's just too much written from the perspective of a screen writer for a US sitcom, I found a lot of the stuff I really wanted to know about just got a few pages and you were left with a lot of things that were interesting, but not so helpful. It's not a bad book, but have a good sniff on the web first to see if you can find what you need first.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Video that doesn't Suck from 19 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I must say that the author is better at video presentation than writing, It is a very informative book , but I find it hard going in places. Not the sort of reference I hoped for, having said that the information once you get around to reading it is very good. I cant really say more, you have to make your own mind up, I feel a video accompaniment would have made it a far better purchase.
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