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RCL Career Resources Communication: Radio and Television Production Technologies

RCL Radio and Production Technologies + Choice Titles

In a series of essays written over the course of a career in what he calls the "information motion media industry" (a term he never defines), Shelton analyzes the communication processes of film, television, and multimedia and offers his own theories--including his premise that "the message is the message." This is not a production book, though it offers models of scripts and storyboards. Rather, the author focuses on how media producers can optimize their conveyance of ideas. Sections on multimedia production design are useful. Shelton's failure to explain what he means by "information motion media industry" is a stumbling block, though readers will eventually understand that this often means industrial video and film (i.e., promotional and informational media for corporate or governmental interests). Also problematic: many references are old. For instance, a study he says was conducted "a few years ago" is in fact 25 years old. And his "classic documentary film" list, which he admits is incomplete and subjective, is myopic, including as it does masterpieces of the genre (among which he includes an informational film he produced for the US Navy) but omitting groundbreaking filmmakers (Frederick Wiseman, Michael Moore) and contemporary works (the most recent entry is from 1989). Summing Up: Not recommended for academic collections.

--S. B. DeMasi, Suffolk County Community College--Ammerman Campus

The greatest pitfall for books on television production is the mention of hardware that dates the volume before it reaches the library's shelf. Both of these books profess to sidestep this problem by eliminating references to specific equipment; however, only one--Jarvis's--accomplishes this goal, because it includes no photographs of studios or equipment. Jarvis was associated with the BBC for 25 years, and in this book he shares his insights and skills in a delightful, humorous way. Well organized and easy to read, the volume covers television grammar, interviews, studio shoots, performing, field work, writing, and music. The chapter on music is particularly well written and covers live recordings, trade unions, copyright, library music, commissioned music, and working with composers. Sidebars throughout each chapter give "words of warning," "helpful hints," and "tricks of the trade." Because this is a British publication, the language, terminology, and spelling may be unusual for some readers, but this fact does not obscure the authors points.

Although his book cover states that he "focuses on the production techniques, not the hardware," Curry (California State Univ.) does devote a chapter to studio facilities that includes photos of equipment. Pictures of scopes, cameras, sound mixers, and video switchers all serve to date the text. However, Curry includes more details and illustrations of television production and, in some ways, offers more information in the "how to" vein than Jarvis. An opening section on set design and subsequent chapters on music editing, commercials and PSAs, and news are detailed and informative. The author expands into multicamera productions and includes many sample scripts as illustrations. By contrast, Jarvis's book is peppered with humor and sticks to the practical basics of single-camera television production. It is every bit as informative and is the more indelible of the two. Both will serve undergraduates, technical students, and professionals in the area of television production. This review refers to an earlier edition.

--R. Davis, Kent State University

Roberts-Breslin incorporates the traditional aspects of linear television production with nonlinear structures. Eleven chapters deal with lighting, sound, movement, and theory of linear and nonlinear production with appropriate graphics. The author does an admirable job of combining all aspects of traditional and new media in each chapter. A conclusion and sections devoted to "putting it into practice" and "key concepts" appear at the end of each chapter. The accompanying CD-ROM offers visual and audio examples of production design and is itself is a good example of nonlinear programming in covering the concepts of storyboarding and releases, visual aesthetics, light quality, brightness and contrast, color mixing, color temperature, sound mixing, camera movements, sequencing of still images, and examples of persistence of movement and the phi phenomenon. The examples presented are well thought out. This book goes beyond the traditional media of sound and image production, expanding into the nonlinear production techniques of CD and Web creation. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduate collections supporting work in teleproduction and especially new media. This text refers to an earlier edition.

--R. Davis, Kent State University

Stempel (film historian and instructor of screenwriting, Los Angeles City College) analyzes 21 films in depth and provides quick takes on 32 others. Examining what he considers to be good, mediocre, and bad scripts and films, the book will have an audience among prospective screenwriters, but it also merits the attention of others involved in the medium. That said, novices will be unfamiliar with certain screenplay devices mentioned and not necessarily engaged by the opening chapter on Lawrence of Arabia, which is generations away from them (both in historical setting and date of release). Some of the longer analyses are dense, but Stempel provides the necessary page numbers for scripts and minutes into the film. The book's strengths include Stempel's fascinating comparison of screenplay drafts of the film Kinsey; the variety of genres covered; and the detailed citation of sources. The book is weakest in its analysis of the film Anchorman, a treatment that reads more like a harsh film review. Stempel warns readers that they may disagree with his choices of films analyzed and his conclusions about them. With this understanding, those willing to devote a significant amount of time delving into the selected films will find the book worthwhile. Summing Up: Recommended. All film collections, all levels.

--S. B. DeMasi, Suffolk County Community College--Ammerman Campus

Hurbis-Cherrier (a professional who teaches at Hunter College) provides a comprehensive, well-organized resource for those interested in exploring the art and technique of narrative film and DV production. First published in 2007, this book guides the reader through the storytelling process, from creative inception to the collaborative and increasingly technical production and postproduction phases. The author also includes a timely analysis of various acquisition formats, ranging from 8mm film to the most recent 2K and 4K digital cinema resolutions. The book is full of helpful tips for professional application of production tools and technologies, and numerous sidebars within each chapter provide examples of how noted filmmakers apply these tools for the purposes of fulfilling their artistic vision. By balancing the discussion of the art versus the craft of narrative filmmaking, Hurbis-Cherrier provides a unique perspective that differentiates this volume from competing resources. Though intended primarily for the classroom, this book should find a place in personal libraries as well. It will help even professionals expand their knowledge of the ever-evolving narrative format. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels.

--M. A. Bay, Southern Connecticut State University

The recent TV documentary series "The Civil War," produced for PBS by Ken Burns, is sure to have an impact on the quality and number of documentary films produced in the next few years. One would suspect that as the Watergate investigations of Woodward and Bernstein in the 1970s influenced many students to pursue degrees in journalism, Burns's popularity may also increase enrollment in film and video programs all over the country. This book will become a helpful guide for these legions of students as they study the art and craft of documentary film. Rosenthal, with more than 60 films to his credit, writes about documentary film conceptualization and production with skill and authority from his many hours in the trenches. His use of personal experiences and those of his contemporaries successfully illustrates the planning, writing, and production phases of documentary film. The chapters covering cinema verite, documentary drama, historical documentary, and industrial public relations films will be particularly useful to the prospective film producer. Should be added to any library's collection on film and video production. This review refers to an earlier edition.

--J. M. King, University of Georgia