|Steve Vandergriff reviews Desktop Video Studio Bible|
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review
Jacksonville, Florida, USA
©2003 Steve Vandergriff and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
|I don't know about you, but anytime I see five-dollar words like ultimate or bible employed in the title of a product my deflector shields go on high alert. Ever buy a program touting itself as the ultimate creative tool only to find out after countless bug patches and several revisions, it wasn't so ultimate after all? I mean, if it really were ultimate then it would be correct and complete the first time! So I must admit it was with a heavy dose of cynicism that I began ingesting George Avgerakis recent offering Desktop Video Studio Bible: Producing Video, DVD, and Websites for Profit (McGraw-Hill, 414 pages, ISBN 0-07-140612-3).
The book begins with a history of e-Media and concludes with a chapter on crew management and collections. Along the way there are chapters that cover getting your first job, starting your own business, finding and retaining clients, bidding on work and managing legal issues.
The book reads like a historical account of the authors life in the media production business something that can be a good thing. Let's face it, we all need mentors who have paid the price and are willing to share their experiences to steer us around the same pitfalls that once devoured them. Each chapter is written in meticulous detail, sometimes to a fault, recounting the authors lucky breaks, smooth moves, and yes, even his failures. I for one appreciate the simple, honest approach taken in the Desktop Video Studio Bible; I like the fact that Mr. Avgerakis is willing to mix in some painful memories and miscalculations along with his successes and noteworthy achievements. Overall I'd have to say that the book has great balance in this regard.
From a practical business sense, there is a wealth of information in this book; since creative media delivery so often involves unforeseen intangibles, a project can quickly turn from black to red. This book invests a great deal of print real estate in teaching the reader how to outwit the client by exercising business savvy and financial acumen. This is generally helpful information, since most of us are creative types who like to spend our time producing, rather than counting beans and reviewing contract terms and conditions.
Indeed the book gobbles up a lot of ground, providing lengthy opinions on how to build a demo reel, how to dress for interviews and presentations, what to say, what not to say, and so on. While it's true that much of this is common sense, I've learned that common sense can be a rare commodity at times.
Back to my beef with the books title though. The word bible implies a sense of being all things to all people, and that is what my sights were set on as I read through this book. However, that is far from the case. In reality, the Desktop Video Studio Bible reads more like a classroom textbook. It tries to cover so much ground that often the text bogs down in minutia and seems very humdrum, plodding along like a seventies Public Television show about rutabagas. I think the book should've been titled something along the lines of Building Your Own Video Studio Business and the over all page count should've been sliced in half. There is a lot of information in the book that just frankly consumes space and wastes trees. For instance there is a lengthy section on equipment that shows photos of Anton Bauer batteries, CD ROM drives, hard drives and video monitors. I'm sorry, but if you don't know what a hard drive is already, you're looking at entering the wrong business. You would probably be more successful selling timeshares or driving a forklift. And the history of e-Media? Kill it. Move on to the twenty-first century already.
This book is clearly best suited for a high school or college student pondering a career in the media production business. If you've already landed your first job in the production business and have a few experiences of your own under your belt, then your time would be better spent doing something else like producing.
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