July 2009 Book Reviews

July 1st, 2009 Auscam, Books & Publishing, Tech

Photoshop CS4 The Missing Manual

As David Pogue’s foreword explains, this is the missing manual because Photoshop is so fully appointed these days it (like every other component of Adobe Creative Suite) doesn’t even have a printed manual any more.

Photoshop seems designed and refined for the user who’s been with the program since the early days of Postscript and has much of what’s in this book on instant recall. For the dabbler, beginner or the rest of us, it delivers everything it promises.

Like all manuals it covers the extreme basics first and you’ll be tempted to bypass it, but if you do you’ll miss at least one gem you never knew that’s obvious in hidsight. At just over 750 pages there’s room for a lot more detail on every feature you know any plenty you’ve heard of but never used, and they’re all well laid out with large, helpful screenshots.

It starts a lot like the marketing material that comes with Adobe applications, listing the new features and tools. From there it covers all bases, even to the extent of telling you how to best create new files depending your creative project when such information would seem obvious.

The chapters start with the easy stuff and get progressibely more specialised, and in amongst them are workshops and break out boxes covering related information you need to be an effective user such as the difference between vector and raster images or the basics of effective scanning, even a small aside warning you of the legal minefield you’re in for if you use images off the web and the copyright owner catches you.

Though a creative tool, using Photoshop’s effectively about productivity, so the stuff you need to know is more procedural than artistic, like the best tools (or a combination thereof) to selct elements of an image. It’s a thesis the Missing Manual understands and while plenty of the tips will already be second nature to you, others which pleasantly surprise you are second nature to others, making the book pretty close to being all things to all people. It also knows what’s important and puts it in perspective the way a dry Adobe-sanctioned manual never would, such as in a title called ‘The Mighty Alpha Channel’.

YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts

It’s part of the zeitgeist. Just like the holy grail a couple of years ago was to be on top of a Google search, an entire industry from guerilla film school grads to expensive publicists now extol the virtues of being on top of the moving pictures equivalent of Google, YouTube (coincidentally owned by Google).

As broadband gets better – yes, even in Australia — there’s a whole new way to engage your audience, customers, friends or hangers-on with video rather than test-based web pages or blogs (so 2005!). Video, as the authors can contend thanks to their own subscriber numbers, is where it’s at.

The first few chapters are a sort of cut price film school with tips on — for want of more casual terms — props, casting, shooting and editing. They’re followed by a couple of chapters on navigating the YouTube site, creating a channel and setting up your playlists and preferences.

It’s not until Chapter 7; Building Your Audience that the book starts to make good on the promise we interpreted from the title, not expecting shooting advice or a YouTube How-to guide (not that they’ll be unwelcome depending on your skillset). But after awhile it’s evident most of the imformation is just more technicalities, explaining spambots, listing the cheats and hacks you can employ but telling you why you shouldn’t and sales strategies like Google Adsense.

There’s no magic bullet about how to be a YouTube star like you hope, and the reason why is the inherent paradox in the viral nature of internet video. If you’re talking TV or movies strategy and quality certainly count. But online, mere popularity is your badge of honour regardless of your content. You can spend considerable time and money perfecting your online video presence and you’ll probably still get buried by hand drawn animation of a whale stranded on a New Zealand beach…

Full client and publication list:

  • 3D Artist
  • APC
  • AskMen.com
  • Auscam
  • Australian Creative
  • Australian Macworld
  • Australian Way (Qantas)
  • Big Issue
  • Black Velvet Seductions
  • Black+White
  • Bookseller & Publisher
  • Box Magazine
  • Brain World
  • Business News
  • Business NSW
  • Campaign Brief
  • Capture
  • CHUD.com
  • Cleo
  • Cosmos
  • Cream
  • Curve
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Dark Horizons
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Desktop
  • DG
  • Digital Media
  • Disney Magazine
  • DNA Magazine
  • Empire
  • Empty Magazine
  • Famous Monsters of Filmland
  • Fast Thinking
  • FHM UK
  • Film Stories
  • Filmink
  • Follow Gentlemen
  • Geek Magazine
  • Good Reading
  • Good Weekend
  • GQ
  • How It Works
  • Hydrapinion
  • Inside Film
  • Internet.au
  • Loaded
  • M2 Magazine
  • Marie Claire Australia
  • Marketing
  • Maxim Australia
  • Men's Style
  • Metro
  • Moviehole
  • MSN
  • Nine To Five
  • Paranormal
  • PC Authority
  • PC Powerplay
  • PC Update
  • PC User
  • PC World
  • Penthouse
  • People
  • Pixelmag
  • Popular Science
  • Post Magazine
  • Ralph
  • Reader's Digest
  • ScienceNetwork WA
  • SciFiNow
  • Scoop
  • Scoop Traveller
  • Seaside Observer
  • SFX
  • Sydney Morning Herald
  • The Australian
  • The Retiree
  • The Sun Herald
  • The West Australian
  • thevine.com.au
  • TimeOut
  • Total Film
  • Video Camera
  • Video&Filmmaker
  • Writing Magazine
  • Xpress
  • Zoo