kodak instamatic was a toy you had to read the directions to play with.

A device from back when we had to read directions. Now we don’t.

When I was seven, my new Kodak camera came with a thick instruction manual.  My dad solemnly sat me down and told me how important it was to read the manual before I played with the camera.  After all, I could break something.

I love my dad, but what was good advice then isn’t as good today.  The major working parts of your new smartphone, DSLR, pocket camera or editing software are microchips.  Short of running over your new toy with the car, they’re hard to break.  Instead of expensive film you’re recording data.  Store the original movie in a separate folder on your hard drive and you can’t break that either.

Forget what Dad told you.  If you got something technical in your stocking and you’re still looking at the outside of its box, it’s time to dive in.  The best way to learn video production is to practice.

Go shoot something.  Start on the simplest “auto” setting and fire away.  As you play more and get more comfortable with your new toy, then it’s time to try the bells and whistles (but never the digital zoom!)

Got editing software?  Duplicate your footage, load up a copy and screw around.  You can always hit “undo.”

Much of what you start with will look awful.  Which is fine.  You expect to eat a little snow your first time on a snowboard.  You don’t get to level 3 on Call of Duty on your first day.  Why should you be a video pro from minute one?

Learn video the best way possible– Dive in!

PS:  You can, of course, also get instruction from a book.  Say, this one.

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