Authors: James Ball, Robbie Carman, Matt Gottshalk and Richard Harrington

Publisher: New Riders

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

DISCLAIMER – Scott Bourne wrote the foreword for this book and is also featured in it. Scott had no input whatsoever into this review and it appears here completely unedited as written by Conrad Obregon.

It must have been a very easy step for the manufacturers of digital single lens reflex cameras to include the capability of shooting high definition movies in some of their new models, since the additional facility did not significantly raise the prices of the cameras. However, many photographers suddenly and perhaps unexpectedly, found themselves with a sophisticated tool to capture motion. Some photographers were shocked to find that even though they were experts in taking still pictures, their results with videos were less than satisfactory. Helping photographers make the move is the goal of From Still to Motion: A photographer’s guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter).

The book begins by telling us that the transition to motion requires a change in mind set and then presents some of the technical fundamentals of video and preproduction. The authors then discuss the importance of lighting; camera support and motion, and audio; postproduction; and stop-motion and time-lapse photography. The book illustrates its points by following the making of a video of a singer in extensive photographs. There are also brief profiles of noted still photographers who are starting to create videos. A DVD is included with training films, film clips, documentation and the actual video whose production the book uses for illustration.

What most impressed me was the huge amount of knowledge and equipment, above and beyond what a photographer might already have, required for the artful use of the video capabilities of video equipped cameras and the fact that the production of a successful video is usually a team effort. The knowledge required is so great that the book can only deal with the broadest outlines of the tasks. Each of the chapters can be, and probably is, the subject of a full book itself. (The authors do provide lots of tips for further information.) The DVD is excellent and provides a great deal of additional instruction. Some of the DVD lessons are shots of talking heads discussing broad issues and some are technical lessons, like constructing a dimmer. Many of the illustrations in the book following the shooting of the documentary were not always as helpful, consisting of many shots of folks looking at monitors, but the DVD lessons more than made up for this.

Although there was a full, though broad, discussion of the technical aspects of creating a video, there was little discussion of scripting a video, or compositional techniques for video photography.

If all you want is to make a quick video of the kids playing in the back yard, without much art, this book is probably overkill. Instead you may want to get started with a simple converter and something like Windows Movie Maker. If, on the other hand, you want to know what is involved in creating a high quality video, this book is an excellent place to start.


Sponsored by PMA – It’s not too early to mark your calendar because this is big. For the first time in the USA, the PMA tradeshow and conference will be open to the general public – September 6-11, 2011 in Las Vegas. See you there –