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DV Rebel's Guide, The: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap

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DV Rebel's Guide, The: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap


  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2007
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-41364-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-41364-2

Written by Stu Maschwitz, co-founder of the Orphanage (the legendary guerrilla visual effects studio responsible for amazing and award-winning effects in such movies as Sin City, The Day After Tomorrow, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), this book is a must-have for all those budding filmmakers and students who want to produce action movies with visual effects but don't have Hollywood budgets. The Orphanage was created by three twenty-something visual effects veterans who wanted to make their own feature films and discovered they could do this by utilizing home computers, off the shelf software, and approaching things artistically. This guide details exactly how to do this: from planning and selecting the necessary cameras, software, and equipment, to creating specific special effects (including gunfire, Kung Fu fighting, car chases, dismemberment, and more) to editing and mixing sound and music. Its mantra is that the best, low-budget action moviemakers must visualize the end product first in order to reverse-engineer the least expensive way to get there. Readers will learn how to integrate visual effects into every aspect of filmmaking--before filming, during filming and with "in camera" shots, and with computers in postproduction. Throughout the book, the author makes specific references to and uses popular action movies (both low and big-budget) as detailed examples--including El Mariachi, La Femme Nikita, Die Hard, and Terminator 2. Note from the Publisher: If you have the 3rd printing of The DV Rebel’s Guide, your disc may be missing the data files that accompany the book. If this is the case, please send an email to Peachpit in order to obtain the files at

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

CHAPTER 1: The Approach 1
Work Backward, Not Forward 2
Mis en Scene, Dans la Cuisine 4
Break It Down 5
Build It Up 8
What Is Production Value? 14
Image Quality 15
Sound Quality 19
Locations 20
Lighting 21
Effects 22
Stars 23
But Seriously, What Is Production Value? 25
Don’t Make Shots, Make a Movie 26

CHAPTER 2: Planning 27
Looking for a Producer? 28
I Have Bad News for You 28
Resources 29
A Uniquely Rebel Plan 30
Your Script 31
Make Waves 31
Authenticity 32
I Am But a Shadowy Refl ection of You 34
Your Storyboards 35
Learn to Draw Badly 36
Eyelines 38
Drawing Through a Lens 41
Shoot it, Nerd it, Steal it 42
Lines of Action (Big Red Arrows) 44
Animatics 48
Turning a Storyboard into a Schedule 50
Cut ’em and Code ’em 52
Binder the Universe Together 56
Putting the “Guer” in Guerrilla 57
On Asking Permission 57
The Pickup Truck Loophole 58
Be a Rebel, Not a Jerk 59

THE CAMERA On the included DVD
Selecting a Camera 2
24p 3
HD vs. SD 6
Widescreen 8
Wider Screen 11
Electronic 16:9 vs. The Real Thing 16
16:9 Adaptor Lenses 19
Settings 20
Crafting the Digital Negative 20
Flatten It Out 23
Cinegamma 28
Detail, Schmetail! 30
Accessories 33
Lenses 33
Tchotchkes 51
Manual Everything! 52
Exposure 53
White Balance 64
Focus 65

CHAPTER 3: Shooting 61
Making Memorable Shots 62
Slow Down 63
Think in Thirds 63
Make Triangles 66
Free Your Mind and Your Camera Will Follow 68
Tell the Story 69
Moving the Camera 72
Sticks 72
Dollies 73
Slider 77
Wheelchairs 79
Steady That Cam 81
Cranes & Jibs 92
Found Cranes 94
Playing with Time 94
Slow Motion for Me 95
Speed Ramping 103
Undercranking 110
Narrow Shutter 112
Hand-Cranking 115
Reverse It 118
Lighting 119
God Is Your Gaffer 119
Bounce It or Block It 121
Eventually You May Need, Er, Lights 125

CHAPTER 4: Effects 131
Special Effects vs. Visual Effects 132
Realism, Schmealism 134
Keep ’em Guessing 137
Treat the Fake Like It’s Real 138
Some Effects Basics 143
Reference Is God 143
Matching Cameras 144
Matching Lighting 154
The Blue Screen of Death 157
Miniatures 163
Scale 164
Speed 164
Hanging Foreground Miniatures 167
Cleveland for Paris 171
Matte Paintings for Nonpainters 171
Copy Paste 172
Virtual Worlds 173
POV Shots 174
Guns Guns Guns! 175
A Little About Real Guns 175
The Electric Gun On the included DVD
What Guns Do 176
Blank-Firing Replicas 176
Toys & BB Guns 177
Digital Ordnance 183
Handling the Guns, Handling the Gun Handlers 189
Guns Shoot Things 190
Light Fuse and Get Away 191
BB Guns 192
Blood Hits 193
Squib That Which Is Squibable 194
52 Card Pickup 194
Digital Squibs 195
Tinfoil Bullet Hits 199
The (Nearly) Free Blood Hit 200
Splitsville 201
Stunts 203
Avoid Killing Your Friends 203
What Professionals? 205
Cars 211

CHAPTER 5: Editing 213
Cut Like a Pro 214
Who Shaves the Barber? 215
Kill Your Babies 215
Manufacturing Reality 216
Everything Is Fair Game 217
Invisible Cuts 218
Pacing 228
Do Over 228
Sound and Music 229
Locking Your Cut 230
Prep the Effects 231
The Top Ten Percent 233
Getting a Handle 240
Accounting 241

CHAPTER 6: Onlining 243
The Rules 244
No Mastering in the NLE 246
No Recompression 246
No 8-Bit Processing 247
Be a Pixel Purist 250
Getting Your Movie into After Effects 251
Color Correction 251
Grade in Layers 253
Not So Secondary Corrections 256
Order of Operations 258
Tools of the Trade 259
Color Theory 278
A Sample Sequence 298
Output 307
The Digital Master On the included DVD
Boom. 307

Index 309



Access book errata at

If you have the 3rd printing of The DV Rebel’s Guide, your disc may be missing the data files that accompany the book. If this is the case, please e-mail Peachpit in order to obtain the files.

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