Best Books for Aspiring Filmmakers – Part 3

See the other parts here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Screenwriting Books


An industry standard. Syd Field’s book is a must read for anyone interested in screenwriting. It’s a wonderfully concise and clear volume which explains how great storytelling is built on a solid structure and well defined characters. I would highly recommend it to those telling stories in other mediums such as books or audio recordings.


A more difficult read at times than Screenplay, Story is an equally renowned book on screenwriting. I would advise reading Screenplay first. Robert McKee goes into much more depth than Field. Sometimes I find this helpful though other times slightly confusing. Some passage will require several readings to get the most out of them. Don’t let this keep you from picking up this excellent book though.

Miscellaneous Good Books


I’m only half through this book and it is already one of my all-time favorites. The story begins with biographical chapters on George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppolla before transitioning to early stars in computer graphics such as Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith, before spinning off to the history of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic which unites with the computer graphics geniuses who later went on to form Pixar and many other companies, all while telling about marvelous inventions like the personal computer, alpha channels, frame buffers, the mouse, motion-blur in computer rendering, digital audio processing and a million other fascinating things. While it may seem like this book doesn’t know what it’s about that’s part of what I enjoy about it. However all these topics are very interconnected, so if any or all of these things cause you to become very excited you will love this book.

The Making of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

I immensely enjoyed reading J.W. Rinzler’s behind the scenes look at the final Star Wars film. Even though it’s written for a general audience I think to get the most out of the book it helps to be somewhat knowledgeable about film production and visual effects. The chapters on pre-production are especially fantastic because they show Lucas’ and the concept artists’ reasoning and thought processes as they chose designs for the film’s characters, machines, and locations.

The Filmmaker’s Guide to Production Design

It’s been several years since I read this book but I recall it was a helpful guide to aspects of production one might not think about right away. It taught me things like what flats are, and what a greensman does.

The Art of Tron Legacy

A nice little book; very heavy on the incredible concept art but light on the accompanying text. However, still an interesting book. The images are beautiful.

Best Books I Haven’t Read Yet

Save the Cat!

Aside from the rather bizarre title, this book on screenwriting looks promising. I heard about it on Isaac Botkin’s website

The Art of (simply insert name of any Pixar film here)

Although I haven’t read any these books yet I’m confident they are as amazing as they look.


Oshkosh Airventure 2011 Video

Short edit of some footage I shot at the Oshkosh Airshow this year with a Canon T2i. There’s also some Canon HFS20 footage at the end.

I used Premiere Pro to edit this (my favorite editor, though Avid Media Composer is great too). Then I used dynamic link to take my timeline into After Effects for color grading and motion stabilization. Being able to move right into After Effects instantly is what sold me on Premiere. Since buying Premiere I’m no longer satisfied by editing something, doing some quick color correction and exporting. I love being able to go into After Effects and tweak everything to get it to be just right.

Mocha for After Effects, a planar-motion tracking program that is bundled with After Effects, is also a favorite app of mine. I used Mocha in this video to track the title in at the beginning, and to do a quick roto to remove a person I found distracting from the background of the Luftwaffe reenactors shot. There’s one still image in the video; see if you can guess where it is. To make it appear to be video I tracked the camera shake from a different shot and applied it to the photo to give the illusion of being video.

The Warp Stabilizer plugin in After Effects really impressed me. This was the first time I had used it heavily on a project and it really performed beyond my expectations. It really is a one-click solution 90% of the time. Warp Stabilizer was crucial for this project because I shot everything handheld so I wouldn’t have to carry a monopod everywhere.

Even though it was just for fun I’m very pleased with how the project turned out.