Thursday, October 6, 2011

Grab Vol 1 of my new book - free!

It's been nearly a week since I released my new book, and for some inexplicable reason, I haven't yet mentioned it on my blog. Oh, that's right, I've been hard at work on Volume 2, which will be out in a few weeks.

I'm writing a book about how to use Moviestorm as a film training tool: as Phil South puts it in the introduction, it's like a pilot learning to fly a plane. Using a real plane all the time is way too expensive (and dangerous), so you train in a simulator. That enables you to log plenty of hours, practice the difficult maneuvers in safety, and become familiar with all the basics. It's the same with filmmaking: it's complicated, time-consuming and expensive, so why not use a simple, easy animation tool to practice with?

Each book in the series consists of a set of 15-20 simple exercises that you work through. You have to film the same thing in several ways, focusing on how to use a specific technique. It's all self-guided, so after each version, you review your work, see what was good and bad about it, and do it again. Of course, I recommend using Moviestorm to do this, because it's quick and easy, and you can do it without needing anyone else's help, but you could equally well do it using any other animation tool or even in live action if you have the time and enough willing friends. Most importantly, the skills you practice are relevant to any film medium, not just to machinima or animation.

So far, reviews and comments have been extremely positive, which is immensely satisfying.

“Spot on. The exercises are set up in a very logical, progressive way.”
James Martin, University of North Texas

“Excellent - great for schools and colleges alike. The tone of the writing is perfect - neither patronising or too authoritative.”
Jezz Wright, Blockhouse TV

“I really liked how you tell the reader to try a shot with and without each technique to be able to actually see the difference they make.”
Dan Horne, film student, Full Sail University

Volume 1 covers camerawork; the upcoming volumes cover staging, editing, lighting, sound, and so on, and will be released monthly. They're initially available free in PDF form via Moviestorm. When all five volumes are complete, I'll compile them into a single full-length book with some additional material and release that commercially for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.

I'm doing it this way for four reasons. First, after discussing this with Moviestorm, we figured it would be good to release something early to gauge the reaction, so we decided not to wait until it was complete. The book naturally divides into several sections, so this was an easy way to do it. I'm having a lot of meetings with film teachers and film students at the moment, and it's useful to have the book on hand and available for them to download.

Secondly, I'm taking a leaf out of Roz Morris's book. She recently released her novel My Memories of a Future Life in four weekly parts before the whole thing was available. While this was irritating in some ways - mostly because I wanted to read the whole story - it did enable her to get a lot of publicity, effectively doing five launches instead of one, and keeping the momentum going throughout. I'm hoping the same will work here, but without the "I want to know what happens next" factor.

Then there's the argument about proving the point. If I can generate a lot of interest in the free version, it makes it easier to pitch to a print publisher. Several film schools have said that they see this as potentially a useful textbook, and that's a market I'd love to get into. A few thousand downloads and some useful feedback would be a great way to prove to a specialist publisher that the book would be worth taking on.

And lastly, Moviestorm were happy to pay for the rights to distribute the PDF free as a marketing tool. Sure, it's likely to impact my sales when the completed thing becomes available, but it's money in the bank right now, and I'll have made more from it than many self-published authors, and I can't argue with that. What's more, the version I'll be selling will be expanded, revised, and formatted for a range of devices, so there's still a reason for people to buy it.

Please do go and grab a copy, pass it on to your friends, and let me know what you think.

Download Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 1