Book Review – Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs on Your Mac

Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs on Your Mac
Author: Jesse Feiler

Publisher: McGraw Hill/ Osborne
Price: 24.99
ISBN: 0072225548

Imagine for a moment that you have a spiffy new iMac and further suppose that you want to use it to make all kinds of multimedia. Heck if you have a newish Mac you know it comes pre loaded with iTunes for music, iPhoto for pics, iMovie for making your own movies and iDVD for cramming that newly made movie on a DVD disc. That’s a lot of programs to take in all at once and if you have a new Mac you also know that the manuals are nonexistent. So are you left running out to buy a book for each program? Maybe not, perhaps Jesse Feiler’s book “Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs on Your Mac” can answer your specific needs for a fraction of the price of four individual tomes and with a good deal more depth than an all-encompassing Mac reference.

The first problem with the “Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs on Your Mac” is the title. It might trick you. Jesse Feiler’s book is not about making music or photos on your Mac, it’s about organizing and manipulating said multimedia. I suppose that objection is a minor quibble, after all it is the stuff between the covers that counts. “Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs on Your Mac”, from now on referred to as MMPMD, starts out fairly basic. On page five Jesse Feiler covers the importance of “thinking digital” noting that today’s computers are digital. Computers (the kind Jesse is thinking of) have been digital since 1937 but other media has been heading steadily towards the land of 1 and 0’s for the last few years. The progression of media to the digital realm is what makes the Mac a digital hub and what makes MMPMD worth reading as long as you ignore anything that doesn’t pertain directly to computers or digital equipment.

Just what am I talking about? An example resides on page 21 where Jesse Feiler is chatting about visual perception. Sure this topic may seem a bit extraneous to some (and I would agree) but if you’re going to jam this kind of information in you should at least get it right. After noting that you need your brain to see (who knew?) we are treated to the following:

“Light, like all other electromagnetic radiation, consists of waves. All electromagnetic waves behave in the same way. This is why sound, light, infrared, X-rays, and gamma rays all exhibit similar behavior”

This is not some quibble about wave/photon duality or some other obscure quantum mechanical complaint my beef is a bit more basic: Just when did sound become an electromagnetic wave? It’s been a couple of years since my class in classical mechanics but way back in Ô97 science was pretty sure that sound waves were mechanical.

Once we get the first few chapters out of the way we can begin to actually eye the book for the intended purpose of using our Mac to the fullest in the increasingly digital world. So how do the remaining 23 chapters hold up? Generally pretty well, the prose is easily understandable and the book is full of useful iMovie tips I haven’t seen elsewhere. The iPhoto information is quite thorough and useful and the iTunes chapter is more than passable. The last few chapters are “case studies” which are fairly useful to help the reader realize just what the “hub” can do.

While mostly solid (say 85%) MMPMD also has more than it’s fair share of “why the hell is this here?” spots where you are left wondering what the point was of the last few pages. A prime example of this can be found in the chapter on Applescript. The reader is treated to a couple pages full of Applescript terms and lines of Applescript code but not enough info to write a useful Applescript. The point of the chapter seems to involve a wish to get the reader to learn Applescript elsewhere and noting that there are quite a few useful downloadable scripts. My question remains: why did I wade through all that Applescript stuff just to find out I need to get a different book to actually write an Applescript?

Bottom Line: When MMPMD is going well it’s full of tricks and solid tips. When MMPMD is going bad it can be quite a time waster. My advice to those who buy this book: Make frequent use of the index to avoid the tangential information scattered throughout MMPMD.

MacMice Rating: 2 out of 5

Chris Seibold

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