Making Movies: A Guide for Serious Amateurs

A step-by-step approach to making quality video productions.

Making Movies book cover

Tired of turning video footage into ho-hum productions that make people yawn? Or, worse yet, just putting raw video out there and hoping for the best? If so, this guide is for you. It clearly explains how to research, plan, shoot, assemble, edit, and fine-tune video productions for just about any purpose. Richly illustrated with stills from an example movie, it’ll get you on the right track to making movies that’ll inform, entertain, and impress your audience.

Buy from Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore

I’m really pleased to announce that the first book in the Maria’s Guides series — Making Movies: A Guide for Serious Amateurs — is now available.

About the Book

I originally wrote the first draft of Making Movies as a personal guide to help me remember how I created my first “watchable” movie, Cherries: From Tree to Truck. Later, I rounded it out into a series of articles for InformIT. To create this book, I added and revised content and formatted it for print and ebook publication.

This book differs from most of my computer how-to books in that it concentrates on theory rather than specific how-to tasks. For example, it doesn’t explain how to edit moves in iMovie or Final Cut Pro. Instead, it tells you about the kinds of clips you should acquire and why. It also goes into a great deal of detail about the part of movie-making that’s most overlooked by inexperienced movie-makers: the planning process. The idea was to write a book that could benefit all first-time movie makers — not just the ones using a specific camera or editing software package.

Inside, you’ll find chapters for the following “steps”:

Step 1: Explore the Topic
Step 2: Plan the Shoot
Step 3: Shoot the Video
Step 4: Create the Rough Cut
Step 5: Fine-Tune and Complete
Step 6: Publish and Share

The printed version of the book runs 66 pages, including cover, front matter, and index.

The book uses two examples throughout the text: the existing cherry harvest video I created and a hypothetical home movie of a kid’s soccer game. There are screen images and other figures to help illustrate important points.

I think the book is a great guide to help new movie makers learn the lingo and get a feel for making good movies. Its step-by-step approach can help keep readers focused on the tasks that need to be done to ensure success.

Buy the Book

The book is available in four formats from three sources (so far):

EPUB and Kindle Ebook

I wrote the book primarily for distribution as an ebook. As such, it’s available in EPUB and Kindle formats from two popular sources at a very reasonable $3.99:

Print and PDF Ebook

The book is also available in print and in a PDF-style ebook format from MagCloud.

MagCloud is a print-on-demand publisher that calculates printed cost by the page, so the longer a book is, the more it costs. The printed version, which is in full color, is available for $12.95 plus shipping. Be advised that it may take up to two weeks for the book to arrive.

MagCloud also offers a ebook version of the book. Unlike the EPUB and Kindle versions, the MagCloud version is based on a PDF, so it’s formatted exactly like the book. The cost of this ebook version is $3.95 and it downloads immediately upon purchase.

Note that when you buy the print version, you get a free copy of the ebook version.

Additional Material, Feedback, and Support

You can find additional material about making movies on this site. Just follow the Movie Making topic link.

You can also post questions and read questions and answers on the book’s support page.

Time Machine & AirPort Disk

Clarification for my Leopard book readers.

Time MachineEarly in Leopard development, Apple clearly indicated on its Web site that Time Machine would work with the AirPort Extreme’s AirPort Disk feature. To test this out, I obtained an AirPort Extreme and used it to set up an AirPort disk. And yes, with one of the pre-release versions of Leopard, this feature did work.

But somewhere along the line, the feature broke. Apple removed reference to the compatibility from its Web site. Leopard was released and Time Machine would not work with an AirPort Disk.

You can read confirmation of this in “Apple doubles back on Time Machine and AirPort Disk” and “Time Machine and AirPort Disk: Together again. Sort of” on Ars Technica. You can also find a workaround in “10.5: Make Time Machine work with AirPort and AFP disks.”

I tend to agree with the folks at AppleInsider, who claim in “Briefly: Apple still working on Time Machine’s AirPort Disk support” that:

The findings suggest that the AirPort Disk support under Time Machine could resurface in an upcoming maintenance update to Leopard, the first of which is well underway. However, it should also be noted that Apple has pulled features from its major operating system in the past and never looked back.

So, to that end, I’d advise readers not to depend on using Time Machine with an AirPort Disk, at least not on the near future.

This is unfortunate, because Time Machine compatibility was one of the main reasons the owner of an older AirPort Extreme base station (like me) would consider purchasing a new AirPort Extreme that supported the AirPort Disk feature. I said as much in an article I wrote for Peachpit’s Web site before Leopard was released. Without this compatibility, I’m just not motivated to upgrade my base station. And I suspect there are others in the same situation.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Excel 2003 VQS Correction of the Day

Another very minor correction to my Excel 2003 VQS for Windows book.

As I continue to revise the book for Excel 2007 on Windows Vista, I continue to find tiny errors in the existing book.

Today’s error is on page 118, in the caption for Figure 38. The caption states that gridlines have been turned off for the illustration. In reality, they have not. But I do explain how to turn gridlines off in Chapter 15.

Excel 2003 VQS Figure Correction

Well, it only took me 3 years to notice this.

Sheesh. It always happens. I find errors in books I’m revising, after thousands of people have bought the book and consulted it, sometimes for years.

Well, that’s part of what my Book Support sites are about: to provide corrections and clarifications to the books. So here’s a correction on my Excel 2003 Visual QuickStart Guide.

Due to a cropping error in the layout (my fault), Figure 6 on Page 107 is incorrect. It should look like this:

Formatting Examples

If you find an error in any of my books, please don’t keep it to yourself. Use the appropriate Q & A post to comment on it. If it’s wrong, I’ll fix it and note it on the Book Support pages. If it’s not wrong, we’ll try to figure out why you think it is.

Mac OS QuickStart Q & A

Post your questions about my Mac OS Visual QuickStart Guides here.

Have a question about something in one of my Mac OS Visual QuickStart Guides? Here’s how to get the answer:

  1. Browse through the comments at the end of this article to see if someone else has already asked your question. You might get the answer without even asking!
  2. If your question is not asked (or answered), use the Leave a Comment form at the bottom of this post to enter your question. (If the form does not appear, click the Comment link below to display it.)
  3. Check in once in a while to see if your question is answered. I usually answer questions within 48 hours, unless I’m out of town. To have responses to your question delivered to you automatically by e-mail, along with other Q & A comments submitted for this book, turn on the Notify Me check box at the bottom of the form when submitting your question (step 2). You can unsubscribe to the notification feature at any time.

Please do not use the Contact form to ask me questions. I won’t answer them. I want the questions and answers here, where everyone can see them, so I don’t have to answer the same questions over and over again.

Remember, I can only answer questions that clarify or correct information in my books. If the answer to your question is in my book, I will provide a page number reference to help you find it.

October 27, 2011 Update: Because I no longer have access to previous versions of Mac OS, I may not be able to answer questions about Snow Leopard or Leopard. Feel free to post them; I’ll do my best. I will not answer questions about versions of Mac OS earlier than 10.5.