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Reprinted with permission.c.2003 Wedding & Event Videography Magazine

Camera Command
Harnessing the Potential of Your Video Camera

DVD, Runtime 70 minutes;
Bonus materials included.
Expected Price: under $60

by Mark Goldberg

With modern sophisticated auto-everything cameras, many operators today have lost - or never gained - the knowledge and art of image control and manipulation, particularly the use of aperture, shutter speed, lens focal length, and gain (or ISO for film) to achieve a desired visual result.

     Now, there's a great way to see, hear and experiment with that valuable videographic information. Dan Strickler and Whitney Rydbeck (with the help of a number of other well-known WEVA International Members), posing as the "RAVAS Partners," teach the fundamentals of camera controls in their humorous but very informative DVD, Camera Command - Harnessing the Potential of Your Video Camera. As an opening caption states, "The characters and RAVAS are fictional, but principles of photography are real, so PAY CLOSE ATTENTION."

     The disc's contents are organized into a total of 42 chapters, grouped in five      sessions, looking at various aspects of a video camera's operation, functions and  features.

By selecting one of the five main sessions from the main DVD menu, a sub-menu appears to clearly show what topics are contained in that section. There is also bonus material with some behind-the-scenes footage and outtakes. A special Education Version is also available, complete with additional print reference material and suggested work assignments. The CAMERA COMMAND training DVD for camera users contains 43 chapters, divided into six easy lessons.

Off the top, we see a slick corporate PR piece, demonstrating a novel new camera for catching shoplifters. It's fun, clever and a little irreverent, and it sets the tone for what's to come. Intiially, the "partners" treat all imaging devices - still camera, movie camera, video camcorder, and even the human eye - alike, describing their operating principles and main controls. The most basic consumer camcorder, and the high-end professional video camera, are discussed, and there is an excellent light ray demonstration of how lenses work in all these devices.

     Excellent, too, are the demonstrations of the use of depth of field, and how different camera controls affect this important and creative tool. You may have heard that "the smaller the aperture opening, the greater the depth of field" but this training program actually shows you what that means!

     The hosts also use the comparison of two fluid flows in a chemistry lab with light reaching the imaging surface of your camera. Later, a spinning fan is used to illustrate the all-important notion of fields and frames in video, and how they can be affected by controlling the camera's shutter speed.

There are sample shots to illustrate how slow or fast shutter speeds are used to achieve a desired visual result.

Odd-ball “scientists” Dr. Rydbeck and Dan examine new RAVAS lens design. Dan Strickler and Whitney Rydbeck, with the assistance of a number of WEVA International members, have created an engaging and informative training DVD on basic camera operation. Strickler (below, right) will be a featured speaker at WEVA EXPO 2003

Camera Command is one of the best works I've seen, not only for our profession, but in the larger world of instructional media as well. It encompasses what could be covered in a college course and is well-suited for use by high schools and colleges, as well las videographers, photographers, and filmmakers. It's entertaining, well-organized, well-acted, and well-produced. It's technically flawless and effectively imparts both complex and simple topics lucidly, without demeaning or confusing the viewer. Illustrations and demonstrations were novel and even amusing; they amplified and solidified each topic.

     Considering various genres of film and video, humor is the most difficult to pull off - and that is exactly what the makers of Camera Command have done. Of all the superlatives I could give here, it is the humorous element that will keep videographers at all levels focused on this DVD.

     Even if you are a camera expert who already knows how to use your camera in full manual to get the image you want, this program is one of the finest examples of what a special interest training video can be. You won't not off with this one!

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Camera Command is produced by
RAVAS Partners in association with EFFECT LLC
Copyright 2003