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Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy

Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy

A Creative COW Training Product Review



Steven Gotz takes a look at Elite Video tutorials for Sony FX1-Z1U
Steven Gotz
Steven Gotz
http://www.stevengotz.com/premiere
Garland, Texas, USA
©2005 Steven Gotz and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
CreativeCOW leader and Video enthusiast Steven Gotz takes a look at the
Elite Video tutorials Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy and concludes ''..these training DVDs really cover all of the necessary topics for anyone who has purchased, or is thinking of purchasing either one of these Sony HDV camcorders.''


When I found out that there was going to be competition in the market for tutorials about the Sony HDV cameras (the prosumer HDR-FX1 HDV HandycamR Camcorder and the professional version, the HVR-Z1U), I was interested in seeing just how different the tutorials would be, so I volunteered to review the Elite Video tutorials "Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy".
I am usually the sort of person who reads the manual before putting things together or using them. But since I have already had some great training on the Sony HDR-FX1/Z1U from another DVD training series (reviewed in May by Jim Harvey), I thought I would poke around the DVDs a bit before I started watching them in order. One of the chapters on the menu, "Bob's Big Brain", caught my attention right away. In about three minutes I learned something new. I must admit to being pretty happy about that. I was initially worried that this might be a "me too" tutorial. It turned out to be nothing of the kind. It really has an interesting feel to it. And there are a few items included that make this product special.

It is not my intention to compare different training DVDs, but I do want to point out some of the unique features of this set. As you might expect, EliteVideo has done a fine job of explaining every button and setting, so it is only the additional features that differentiate the Made Easy DVDs from the competition.

When I popped in the first of the two DVDs, the initial thing I noticed was that these guys are not hired talent. The tutorials are presented by video veterans Bob Nagy, Zac Smith and John Cooksey. Much of it felt like I was sitting with some old friends who were teaching me all about the camera I just bought. Like I had finally joined their club and they were giving me the grand tour of the clubhouse. The second thing I noticed was that while the production values of the DVD are good, they are not polished. The version I reviewed was not the final version and I was able to point out a few things that they promised to change. I fully expect that the released version will eliminate all of the minor issues I found.

There are a few "In Depth" sections, like the one for White Balance that explain some of the more difficult concepts. A more thorough explanation of the two presets (Indoor and Outdoor) would have been nice, but the explanation of how to use the A and B settings was quite welcome. And then there are "Tech Tips" like the one that explains some different ways of setting the gain switch parameters to suit your needs. Showing the different settings using a room with normal, ambient lighting, it was very clear what the numbers really mean. The tech tip on Expanded Focus even gave a little history on how focusing was done before this feature was added.

Back to "Bob's Big Brain". All of the general tips were things I already happen to know, but it was nice to see them in the tutorials anyway. Subjects like dealing with condensation, sticking to one type of tape stock, and using the tape head cleaner, are important to a new user.

The chapter on the difference between the FX1 and the Z1 was easy to follow, and I found myself listening closely to make sure I thought my decision to stick with the FX1 was still a good idea. (It is - at least for me.) I also enjoyed the explanation of how to use the ND filters to help with Depth of Focus. I finally feel like I understand how to get the background slightly out of focus to enhance to foreground image. Additional information on this topic is included in the bonus section "High-Definition Film School" at the end of the second DVD.

The bonus section also covers the differences in composition when shooting 16:9 instead of 4:3, as well as provi
ding information on composition angles, panning, pivoting and using horizon lines.




In conclusion, these training DVDs really cover all of the necessary topics for anyone who has purchased, or is thinking of purchasing either one of these Sony HDV camcorders. And, they provide a lot of additional information that will prove to be invaluable to most users. The look and feel of the DVD is different than the competition, but I believe that the material is presented in just as effective a manner.

I hope they get right to work producing a tutorial on the less expensive Sony HDR-HC1 coming out in soon (July, 2005).

I give Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy DVDs 4.5 cows, and I would not be surprised if people who buy the released version argue with me and give it 5 cows.





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