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Sony PMW-EX1 Training DVD Reviews: VASST and Call BoxGet the most out of your PMW-EX1
Two new excellent training DVDs from VASST and Call Box have come out covering all aspects of the amazing Sony PMW-EX1 professional XDCAM EX HD camera. Both are great, but each has a unique aspect to it.
(One caveat: I have worked with VASST in the past, on two HDV/HD books and a Sony Z1/FX1 training DVD. However, I had nothing to do with their EX1 training DVD.)
Since 1999, I've been using training DVDs to learn how to use video production equipment and software. Back then, I bought a copy of Final Cut Pro 1.0 and it came with a training DVD. Nothing helped train me faster with Apple's NLE app than perhaps a Final Cut Pro trainer showing me. After that, I was hooked, and have enjoyed many DVDs over the years.
Recently, I was hired to co-produce a feature film. When I priced out renting a Sony F900 HDCAM, I realized for half the cost of the rental, we could buy the Sony PMW-EX1. The Executive Producer was interested, especially since we could use it for future projects, so we bought one. However, it's still such a new camera that very few have used it. Enter the training DVD!
Knowing that, I turned to two excellent companies known for their training DVDs, VASST and Call Box. I've reviewed Call Box's DVDs, featuring trainer Noah Kadner, in the past, the HVX 200 and Apple's Color, so I knew this was one to check out. And since I know VASST's Douglas Spotted Eagle ("Spot") is an excellent trainer, I added their DVD to the roster to watch with the camera crew. With both DVDs, have your camera and NLE standing by, and be ready to pause so you can try out everything on your own unit.
VASST's EX1 Training DVD
VASST's Spot (a filmmaker, musician/composer, certified Sony Vegas trainer and author) is "the man" when it comes to training DVDs, lectures, books and articles. He's confident and probably one of the best and strongest speakers I've had the pleasure of seeing (and working with). I have learned quite a lot from Spot, and see him as a mentor, which many of my fellow trainees will agree. VASST's "Inside the Sony XDCAM EX" is an excellent tool for the learning the EX1. I'm sure future editions will include the upcoming EX3.
Using a neutral backdrop so the focus is on the action, Spot goes through the camera's buttons, menu settings and more. The camera overview was excellent, because so many things have changed since Sony's HDV offerings, like the Z1u. In some ways, the camera is built a bit like the Z1u and V1u, but the placement of buttons, knobs, I/O ports, etc., has changed.
Soon after, Spot started covering menu settings and functions. After going through basics, like video, audio (with extra info on PCM audio and more-Spot is known for his audio knowledge), and timecode set-ups, Spot goes into Picture Profile/image control functions. In some ways, I miss the Z1u's simple image controls, but they never offered the kind of power the EX1 allows a user. Fortunately, Spot walks you through each and every setting, so you can start creating your own custom image looks.
Spot also covers Color Correction (being able to isolate and manipulate a specific color in a shot), Shot Marks (meta data for your footage), Media Mode (the "new" VTR mode), Slow and Quick Motion (which is pretty cool; use 720p for slow motion, 1080i/p and 720p for quick motion), and Freeze Mode (yet another reason to love tapeless video cameras).
There's also a bonus chapter on HDV, also hosted by Spot. Why HDV? Because the EX1 can shoot in SP mode, which is similar to HDV, except it doesn't go to miniDV tape, but the SxS cards.
Where's the section on the EX1 and post-production? There is none, because VASST has many NLE (non-linear editing) training DVDs, which cover Vegas, Final Cut Pro, Avid, and more. New volumes come out often, and it's a sure bet EX1 titles will be added.
Visit www.vasst.com for more information on the EX1 training DVD, and all its training products, free resources and more.
Call Box's EX1 Training DVD
I have reviewed a couple of Call Box training DVDs in the past, and have enjoyed them immensely. Hosted by Final Cut Pro certified instructor, filmmaker, and author Noah Kadner, these are very thorough training DVDs. Noah doesn't skip anything, so you'll get great instruction.
Noah covers the camera buttons, dials, functions, menu settings and more. He dedicates a lot of time to SxS media management, saving camera settings to an SxS card and hard drive, variable frame rates, and more. Have your camera next to you to try out his tips and techniques.
Noah then moves into post-production, covering Final Cut Pro 6 (FCP). Why not any other NLE? Call Box is known for its Final Cut Studio training DVDs, and, again, Noah's a FCP certified instructor.
He walks you through the editor's shopping list, importing and processing the SxS card media data for Final Cut Pro (the first thing I watched as I began processing video clips from the film). It's similar to working with Panasonic P2 media data. He also covers basic FCP Easy Set-ups, the Open Timeline, and more. Noah then dedicates time on how to export your project to DVD, web, and even film.
Visit www.callboxlive.com for more information, and also a look at other Call Box training DVD titles.
So you're probably wondering, can I choose one training DVD over the other? Actually, I cannot. Both provide useful information, some similar, some different (like Noah covering post-production with FCP). It's worth it to go ahead and purchase both, as you'll get a more rounded EX1 training session. Find them at www.vasst.com and www.callboxlive.com.
Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.
Related Keywords:training DVD, videography, video camera, PMW-EX1