5 Free Books Every Editor Should Read
I often put together book review posts here on the blog, and you can check out all of the previous ones on the blog here. In this post I’ve rounded up five free books every editor should read, that will definitely help you to learn something new, and up your day-to-day editing game. Although at first glance these might not seem like a gripping read, they’ll be well worth the time you invest in them.
Personally I’ve found downloading them to my iPhone and browsing a few pages at a time, during idle moments, a really easy way to make my way through the content, and learn something useful in a few minutes.
The FCPX User Manual
The Final Cut Pro X user manual is available to download for free from the iTunes store as an iBook, which can be opened on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac computer. The iBook format makes it very easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for, as well as being able to bookmark and make notes on important sections.
At just shy of 700 pages, the manual is no slouch when it comes to explaining some of FCPX’s inner workings and the intricacies of it’s new ways of doing things. It’s also nice that you can click on any of the embedded images to bring them into full screen mode for a closer look. The manual’s writing style makes for very easy reading, whether you’re an experienced (FCPX) editor or not.
The ‘What’s New in FCPX’ section also helps to give you a quick overview of the evolution of the application, which is especially helpful given the large shifts in how things actually work, that have changed between some of the later versions.
If you’ve wondered about what it might be like to edit in FCPX, then have a skim of the manual to get your bearings and then download the 30 day free trial of FCPX to give it a whirl yourself.
You can also grab similar, free, iBooks for Motion 5 and Compressor 4, along with links to online versions of the User Guides, from this official Apple help page.
Adobe Premiere Pro Manual
It’s amazing how much you can learn about the inner workings of a program when you stop to read the manual, and maybe people tend to read them less and less, now that we’ve done away with paper copies. Or maybe no one ever read those anyway! Adobe has a vast array of ways in which you can learn more about how to use their products.
First of all, you can download the Adobe Premiere Pro manual as a pdf here. At 479 pages it’s a breezier read than some of the other manuals in this post, but it is also packed with hyperlinks to further online resources, including tutorials from ‘non-Adobe’ sources. It’s pretty easy reading, not quite as well written as the Resolve manual, but fully comprehensible to any novice editor.
As an example of some of the useful things you can learn whilst reading the manual, here are a few posts that I wrote over on PremiumBeat.com as a result of time well spent in this pdf.
You can also access a ton of tutorials on their Learning and Support page – click on the ‘Learn Essentials’ tab for a full list. Plus there is the Adobe.TV archive.
Avid Media Composer Editing Guides
There’s a lot to read over on the Avid Media Composer Knowledge Base including the Installation Guide, the What’s New Guide, the High Resolution Workflow Guide and the Supported Video File Formats pdf.
But the real behemoth is the Avid Media Composer Editing Guide (version 8.4) which weighs in at a massive 1688 pages. That’s over 50% larger than the DaVinci Resolve manual and I thought that was hefty at a thousand pages. It’s easy to find everything you need though, and the 68 page Index will allow you to jump to any topic you want to know more about, with ease.
The whole manual is structured to take you through the editorial process, from project set up and ingest to editing, effects, grading, sound mix and final export. This also then provides any new editors with a detailed over view of every stage of the process, as well as helping you to get to grips with the established industry-standard NLE. The manual is easy to read with detailed step-by-step guides and annotations.
It is interesting to note, from a design aesthetic, that the substance over style approach of the Media Composer software is mirrored in the layout of the manual too. The font isn’t particularly easy on the eye and there are less screenshots to guide you. In comparison to DaVinci Resolve’s highly designed interface, echoed in the beautiful layout of their manual, the contrast is quite stark.
DaVinci Resolve 12 Manual
One of my favourite things about every new release of DaVinci Resolve is getting to dive into the updated edition of the very excellent manual, written by professional colorist Alexis Van Hurkman. Not only will you find step by step guidance on every single nook and cranny of Resolve’s extensive feature set, but you’ll also be given a decent lesson on the process and craft of colour correction. Not bad for a free pdf!
The latest edition of the manual, which has been completely reorganised and restructured, weighs in at a massive 1096 pages, but a nibble 35mb. Alexis has put together a very useful introduction to the new layout and updates over on his blog, which is well worth a read before you get too stuck in. The manual is beautifully presented with endless screen grabs, captions and side-bar explanations. And to give you some sense of the level of detail, the contents page section runs for 17 pages alone. It simply is the very best manual I’ve ever read.
Chapter 6, “Data Levels, Color Management, and ACES” covers the brand new DaVinci Resolve Color Management, so head next to page 154 to learn all about how you can use Resolve Color Management (RCM) to deal with the varied color spaces of multiple media formats and log-encoded media without needing to use LUTs. Whether you’re a colorist, a finishing editor, or a creative editor, this new way of managing color just might speed you up.
Adobe After Effects Manual
The fifth and final book in this round up is the ‘other app’ that every editor would do well to learn – Adobe After Effects. You can download the Adobe After Effects CC 2015 manual here, or check out similar resources to Premiere Pro, over on the Adobe site.
At 744 pages it is a longer read than the slimmer Premiere Pro CC manual, but it is accessibly written and provides plenty of detail where needed. There are even helpful explanations of common topics that you’ll encounter else where, for example – just what do all those blend modes do (p. 154), video fields and interlacing (p.p87) and it even has a basic tutorial to get you started in the app. (p.16)
For any editor any time spent learning After Effects will pay off in spades, and having this manual to hand will certainly help to guide you as you learn.