David Hidek and Garrett's positive review of the ASK Video Sibelius Tutorial DVD bundle (Tape Op #62) prompted me to check out ASK's Cubase 4 Tutorial. In short, if you are new to Cubase (or to DAWs in general) or even if you're an intermediate user, this tutorial could be one of the best purchases you make. I've already watched it twice-once while editing along with the included project files and a second time as a refresher while doing email and other tasks at my computer before a Cubase tracking session the next day. You can choose to watch the two-sided DVD (NTSC on one side, PAL on the other), or you can install a proprietary application that plays back Quicktime movies from a DVD-ROM. The DVD-ROM also holds the aforementioned work-along Cubase projects. I first watched the video DVD in Apple's DVD Player. Then my plan was to go back to certain chapters by opening their Quicktime movies on the DVD-ROM (the files are numbered and named appropriately), but the QT movies won't play without ASK's special player application, and that application requires online registration before it will even start (true for both Mac and Windows viewing). I gave up on the app, and watched the video DVD a second time using Windows Media Player, which allows you to jump around easily (unlike Apple's featureless DVD Player).
What can you learn from the tutorial? Well, as you might guess, I picked up a bunch of keyboard and mouse shortcuts, but more importantly, because this really is a tutorial with actual tasks to be completed, I mastered a few workflows that are more efficient than ones I'd employed previously. Also, seemingly simple but very powerful interface elements-like the Event Infoline-are introduced early on, but are later explained in further detail, allowing you to take advantage of some of their functionality during easier exercises but then use them to their full potential for more complex tasks later. Moreover, there are some unexpected but much appreciated lessons, like two chapters on managing your audio files to make sure you account for them properly when you transfer projects elsewhere.
The tutorial is taught by Steve Kostrey, who for ten years worked as a product specialist and clinician for Steinberg. It's obvious he has a ton of experience demoing and teaching Cubase, because he presents everything in a
very palpable manner. Also, the video itself is produced very well. The camera zooms in and out to the various Cubase windows at appropriate times, and the mouse pointer is highlighted with a yellow circle. Whenever a mouse button is clicked, animated "splash rings" appear around the pointer. It's all very easy to follow. Cubase being a cross-platform application, the discussion is cross-platform (Win XP/Vista and Mac OS X), but I found some instances where the keyboard commands were mistakenly Windows-specific (e.g., Control vs. Command). Also, while I'm grateful for the references to advanced lessons in DVDs that follow in the series, specific chapters aren't given. Speaking of chapters, I found the chapter introductions by "Amanda" superfluous, but there are funny bloopers of Amanda at the end. I'll be watching Levels 2 and 3 of the DVD series next, so stay tuned. ($55 direct for each level, $150 for three-DVD bundle; www.askvideo.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.