Classroom in a Book After Effects CS6 -Book Review

The Classroom in Book series is fantastic for taking people with no knowledge of the subject matter and getting them up and running in one quick read. I love the format of the Classroom in a Book series as they start each chapter with what you can expect to learn and approximately how long it will take. The steps are napoleon corporal clear and at the end there is a short non-intimidating quiz to review. Classroom… in a book.

Make no mistake about it, After Effects is one of the programs that goes WAY down the rabbit hole. Seriously so much can be done with this software you will need a lot of books, tutorials, experience, and if you can get a mentor, grab two. That being said, we all start somewhere. Before jumping to video copilot or even Lynda the Classroom in a Book fro After Effect CS6 will get you up and running pretty quickly. I recommend it as a good first step into an amazing world!

Classroom in a Book Premiere Proc CS6 -Book Review

Ok, full disclosure; I am a seasoned vet with Premiere and was reviewing this book for a User Group that I run in Kansas City. After going cover to cover I can confidently say this book is HIGHLY recommended.

The Classroom in Book series is fantastic for taking people with no knowledge of the subject matter and getting them up and running in one quick read. I love the format of the Classroom in a Book series as they start each chapter with what you can expect to learn and approximately how long it will take. The steps are napoleon corporal clear and at the end there is a short non-intimidating quiz to review. Classroom… in a book.

As a seasoned vet that uses Premiere on a daily bases if I can pick up one or two shortcuts from a book/class/tutorial it is normally worth it as I’ll reuse that a thousand times over in a year’s time. I must have picked up a dozen things that had me shaking my head “I cannot believe I didn’t know this was in there.” Some of it was new stuff for version CS6 but so much of it has me wondering how many years I’ve missed out.

I use to be of the midset “Let’s be honest, NLEs typically are not that different or complex, sure I’ll take the Pepsi challenge with Adobe vs anyone but it’s a preference.” Not anymore. I picked up so many tips, tricks, and shortcuts I actually based my next group around the entire book.

If you are new or switching over from another NLE… this book is for you! If you are a seasoned vet, you will find that it’s a FAST read with some fluff content (designed for the beginner) and I bet at the end you will be wanting more, maybe a Classroom in a book part II for the pros ;) Great book.

The Low Light Photography Field Guide -Book Review

In the beginning of this book, it indicates that The Low Light Photography Field Guide is not for beginners. However there are a lot of sections that are written for the entry level photographer. Things like sections on tripods that probably won’t inspire the intermediate – advanced shooter.

There is a healthy portion of the book that goes over 3rd party software (other than Lightroom and Photoshop), this isn’t a knock on the book, but was not to my taste. I’d love to be one of those zen photographers that ‘get it right in camera’ but understand low light, sometimes, you need a little extra help. This is a good read if you are considering one software over another, Noise Ninja vs DXO for example.

The form factor of this book is small… which I really like. I’ve tossed it in my pocket multiple times to read when I have a minute or two here and there. It works against the photographer in my opinion as some of the examples (many) are VERY VERY hard to see the difference. I’m sure that on a nice large format print it would be clear as day.

Some great info for the techy geek (you know… all male photographers) that want to understand low light and the mechanics behind noise.

So freelancer, when do you play?

FROM (a friend)

     “At what point does a burnt-out software developer like me take a dive into being a creative professional doing what he really loves? What avenues are there? Does it all come down to a slick portfolio or what? I’d like to think my technical/engineering background would give make me a unique asset, but who knows.”

My reply:

So much of what I enjoy about starting and running KCVideoCore is being able to give away the software! It is a game changer for so many people.

Your question is a very good one… and actually very relevant to my life.

For the past few years I have had the same four jobs claimed (DESE:full time, Channel 2:part-time, Coaching:summer/fall, and Freelance:full time) Add in KCVideoCore, Helping with a movie, trying to further my self-taught education and oh yeah… I am married with TWIN babies!

So, when do I get to play? Well the simple answer use to be: I travel, that’s how I play. Now, it’s spending time with my beautiful children. And soon, it will be: Travel with my family!

The complex answer is: I incorporate what “i really love” into as much of the work that I do as possible. I really do love all four of my jobs. Obviously as a freelancer I can pick and chose the gigs I want to take. How much will they stretch my creative legs? How much can I push the envelope!?

Here is another example. For coaching, I was trying to advance some Flash skills… I ended up designing some football plays in Flash… to the point where I attached the depth chart to the x’s and o’s. Mouse over the position and the kid’s name/pict pops up. Talk about a heck of a way to learn 40+ kid’s names!

On the rare occasion that I get to combine FUN + NO CLIENT + FUN + MY SKILL SETS it is some of the most exciting/rewarding experiences. The short film Tell-Tale Heart and my little ‘The Jedi’s Sphere’ that I did with my nieces were very exciting.

Underlying message here is do what you love. If you are at the early stages or perhaps have only entry level skills then get another job to pay the bills, but ALWAYS focus on getting BETTER at what you love.

Arrivederci May!

What a crazy month. Thank you to my beautiful bride for putting up with me during these 31 days.

Freelancing Photography

  • shot two large dance studio’s photography (total of six days on set)
  • my first destination wedding (2nd shooter), OMAHA! Turned into about a 28hour shoot.
  • shot a wedding as a main photog
  • shot a play in Leavenworth

Freelancing Videography

  • Recorded three dance recital shows (two of which had three camera angles)
  • Filmed a video project for a lawyer firm
  • Filmed two board of education meetings

Freelancing EMERGENCY!

  • My scratch disc hard drive (150GB Raptor 10k drive) starts doing the click of death.
  • My 2TB drive labeled “Freelance” looses connection or power and disappears. On reboot it does chkdsk and discovers bad sectors… great.
  • Spend 72hours recovering / backing up / moving data.
  • Spend two trips to Microcenter and replace the graphics card, scratch drive, freelance drive, and mother board.

Crazy life

  • In the middle of the busiest 10 day stretch, kids both get sick
  • Took a three day trip to Caldwell
  • Celebrated my 6 year anniversary
  • Was victim to a scam artist. He offered to buy my house but needed immediate occupancy and would pay $2k earnest money up front… check bounced, he moved in, found out he is a scammer and had to deal with that on top of everything.


  • Continued to work 40hr weeks

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

If you give important presentations more than once a year Confessions of a Public Speaker is the book for you. Personally I am comfortable in front of a crowd and was not looking for a ‘how to’ book that would calm me down. Confessions certainly will provide some nice tips, but I was looking for a book that was more of a conversation with a professional speaker.

That is the tone of this book, a conversation with a pro. But don’t let the word ‘pro’ intermediate you, the author is humble and funny.

Warning: Reading this book will cause you to analyze the next 100 speakers you hear! While doing this you should improve your own skill sets but it will make those speeches tuff to sit through!

Form factor: This is the first time I used O’Reilly’s ebook download feature and read the entire book on my Sprint EVO. The experience was excellent. So kudos to O’Reilly as well.

I give this a 5 out of 5… and honestly, a few people agree with me Check out Amazon’s 150+ 5 star reviews reviews!!

Songza for mood based music selection

It seems like ruled the internet airwaves for years. Then Spotify came along and shook the grounds pretty hardcore. Personally, between the two, I prefer something that plays in browser. I’m pretty strict on what gets installed onto my work computer. Going through my 1,000+ google reader subscriptions I came across Songza ( and might have a new internet music addiction on my hands!

Songza picks music for you based on your mood. Energy Boost – to – Work/Study (with no lyrics), pretty cleaver. There are no audio ads and it’s 100% free. I might be a sucker because the first song played was the theme to Star Wars.

Check it out!

Monkey Butler Ninja LIVES!

I’ve been in training for over two years and have emerged one butt kicking ninja that remains at your service! I have a couple posts already scheduled to post so updates will begin to trickle in very soon. Looking forward to seeing you, but remember, I’m a ninja so you won’t see me.