Book Review: “From Still to Motion: A photographer’s guide to creating video with your DSLR”

by planetmitch3 Comments

From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR” – Every now and then, we're asked to review a new book and tho this one has been out for a few months, it is not only very relevant for the HDSLR market but if you're like many of us and moving from stills to video, you'll want this help. And, down toward the bottom of this post, you can find out how to win one of two copies we're giving away!

Redrock Micro

Cover of the book

Written by a team of 4 (James Ball, Robbie Carman, Matt Gottshalk, and Richard Harrington and some additional supporting contributors) with a wide variety of experience in the photography and video industries, this book is aimed at the stills photographer who is interested in expanding their skills into video.

I recently met Richard Harrington in LA and he emphasized to me that they're really very serious at the beginning of the book in telling you to read it from front to back and to do the lessons along the way – because the book is designed specifically to teach you as if you're learning how to do a video project from scratch (and of course, many of us are!) Skipping around in the book can be done, but you won't get the most out of it that way. And by the way, I wish I'd had more time to talk to Richard as he's a joy to sit down and chat with.

So, the first question is who is this book designed to help? Obviously from the title, it is aimed at a photographer (either pro or semi-pro) who is wanting to learn to make motion pictures. However, this isn't a ‘movies for dummies' book. If you don't know anything about photography in the first place, you should start with a different set of books and come back to this when you understand more. And, everyone has different skill sets and experience so it can be tough to craft a book to help everyone. For example, my wife is taking on a new role at her office and she only has limited experience with photography (basically point and shoot stuff). I've shown her a couple of books that i've been reviewing and in most cases, she's lost – because she doesn't even have the photography basics down yet. Same with this book. However, this book wasn't designed with her in mind in the first place.


From the first chapter: “Whether you identify yourself as a professional photographer or an avid amateur, you'll find solid information in this book.” So there's at least an expectation by the authors that you know the photography basics.

Ok, now, what's in the book? The overview shows there are 5 main sections:

  • A new way to tell stories
  • Cinematic lighting
  • Gearing up for motion and sound
  • Post production
  • Creative explorations

And, like i said earlier, it is designed for you to start at the beginning and go all the way thru – especially if you're going to do a video project. Walking you thru all of the steps you need to do to start, make, and then finish your project. And tho there are only 5 sections, each one of them is chock full of the appropriate information that you'll need to get the job done. For example, the ‘Gearing up for motion and sound' is very complete in terms of helping you figure out all of the things you'll possibly need for your shoot. Including cameras, sticks and tripods, audio, lenses, follow focus, rigs, steadicams, and even the job of the DIT (managing the resulting data). Some books only cover just this stuff and you'll get 4 more sections!

Here's a snap from the finished video:

Snap from the finished music video

Even if you aren't working on a video project yet, when you get this book, you'll also get a DVD with all sorts of resource materials – including the project they finished when writing the book and all of the raw materials that they used in making the video. Plus, you get Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro project files. As they tell you in the instructions:

“Each project has a sequence that is a rough cut of the music video. A rough cut is a sequence in progress. Therefore, you'll notice some shots are not perfectly in sync, they might need to be moved, extended or trimmed. Additionally, feel free to play with the sequencing of shots, opacity changes, transitions and effects to your liking. You can also use these sequences to practice color correction. “

so you'll get a work in progress to practice with. You don't have to just start from scratch.

I think another big advantage of this book is that it was written by a staff of 7 different people – each with their own skills and expertise with making movies. You don't get the knowledge of just one expert, but seven! It is almost like getting 7 books.

Negatives? Well, that depends on your perspective i guess. There's so much material here you're not going to get thru it in one or even two sittings (which could be considered a positive LOL) so if you're after something quick and dirty, you're gonna need to look elsewhere. And there are some ‘profiles' of photographers and others thrown in and i'm not sure they add much to the content, but you can skip those too if you want. And i'd say the biggest negative (still isn't really a negative) is in general, this is aimed at a production shoot that seems to have a larger crew. You'll be able to learn the concepts, but you'll have to adjust a bit for much smaller crews (and you should be flexible anyway if you're in this business right?)

The good news is that there may be advances in cameras in the next couple of years, but the concepts you gain from this book will transcend any minor adjustments to the future equipment.

Win one of two copies of this book!

To enter into this giveaway, all you need to do is to write a short post in this thread on the planet5D forum (yes, you will have to register to enter – we are trying to expand the forums user base after all).

On December 16th, we'll randomly pick 2 entries from the thread and then we'll mail out the books. Only one entry per person please.

However, by posting in this thread, you'll also be entered in other planet5D contests running in the month of December!

For more info: here's an interview with the authors on peachpit's site

Blogger's disclaimer – links to the book point to Amazon and we would appreciate you buying thru that link as it supports planet5D and feeds my kids.

(Photo credit: snap from the video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. This book sounds great! There are many things that I have learned on the net and podcasts but sometimes you just want a good book to go throw for pure start to finish information. Thanks Planet5d for posting this!

  2. looking to get my 1st DSLR in about a month’s time….will get this book.Thanks so much for this review.

  3. I just ordered “From Still to Motion” plus two other related books on Amazon. I hope you get credit for those as well!

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