Thursday, October 13, 2016

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew

In early September I learned I would be reviewing a product for Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc. 

I received 12-months of access to Online Christian Filmmakers Academy about four weeks ago. 

I signed up for this review with myself in mind as the student. My son does a lot of internet videography. I figured the Filmmakers course would have content that would be helpful to my son. I planned to work on the course myself, tell him about it, and when he had more time (a.k.a. time between semesters with his dual enrollment at the community college) he could watch the training videos.

I logged into the Filmmakers Academy shortly after receiving access and began the course shortly thereafter. I was surprised by the course in so many ways:
  • The course has nothing to do with videography. It is nothing like it. This will still be a gleaning process to determine if there is information my son will be interested in, but so far it is just entirely different. Analogy... I guess like someone is interested in coin collecting, so a friend recommends a book on stamp collecting?... Just different.
  • I've taken home video, family movies, in the past -- small camcorder, cell phone video, digital camera video -- this is nothing like anything I've ever done in the past.
  • You don't know what you con't know! I had no idea how much I didn't know!
Online Christian Filmmakers Academy is taught by father-son team Ken and Jack Lawrence. They've been working together in filmmaking over 12 years. Individually they each have a long resume of their experience.

As I initially looked at the website to decide if I wanted to do this review, I found it difficult to determine what the course includes. So for the benefit of my readers, here is a course Table of Contents. If you are not interested, skip on ahead.



  • Navigating the Website;
  • Introduction by Ken; 
  • Introduction by Zack
Module 1 - The Camera 
  • Lesson 1 - Introduction to the Camera;
  • Lesson 2 - DSLRs and Lenses, Part 1;
  • Lesson 3 - DSLRs and Lenses, Part 2;
  • Lesson 4 - Frame Rate; 
  • Lesson 5 - ISO and Shutter Speed;
  • Lesson 6 - Tripods and Camera Support;
  • Module 1 Quiz 

Module 2 - Cinematography 
  • Lesson 1 - Introduction to Cinematography;
  • Lesson 2 - Color Temp and White Balance;
  • Lesson 3 - Hard vs. Soft Light;
  • Lesson 4 - Types of Light;
  • Lesson 5 - Lighting Accessories;
  • Lesson 6 - Using Lights;
  • Lesson 7 - 3 & 4 Point Lighting;
  • Lesson 8 - Painting with Light;
  • Lesson 9 - Framing;
  • Lesson 10 - Outdoor Lighting;
  • Lesson 11 - Depth of Field;
  • Lesson 12 - Jibs and Dollies;
  • Lesson 13 - Green Screens;
  • Lesson 14 - Setting up an Interview;
  • Lesson 15 - Final Considerations
  • Module 2 Quiz
Module 3 - Sound 
  • Lesson 1 - Introduction;
  • Lesson 2 - Sound Equipment;
  • Lesson 3 - Microphones;
  • Lesson 4 - Field Recorders;
  • Lesson 5 - Location Recording;
  • Lesson 6 - ADR and Foley
Module 4 - Pre-Production
  • Lesson 1 - Introduction to Pre-Production;
  • Lesson 2 - The Story;
  • Lesson 3 - Writing the Screen Play;
  • Lesson 4 - Pre-Produuction Paperwork;
  • Lesson 5 - Assemble the Team;
  • Module 4 Quiz
Module 5 - Production
  • Lesson 1 - The Crew;
  • Lesson 2 - Set Heirarchy;
  • Lesson 3 - Set Etiquette;
  • Lesson 4 - Directing;
  • Lesson 5 - The Slate;
  • Lesson 6 - Filming Step by Step;
  • Quiz on Module 5

[They are working to get quizzes posted for every module.]

So I began the course at (of course) the beginning, the Introduction. Then I rolled into Module 1. When navigating the course, there is a menu button. You select the module, and then you click on the lesson. As you complete each lesson (or quiz), the menu shows a green check mark, so you never lose track of where you are. You can keep working forward, but you can also go back and review any time. This is good, because there is such a massive amount of information presented!

Almost every bit of information in every lesson was educational for me. Okay, I knew a lens allows light to enter the camera. I learned all about names of various parts of the camera. I learned about different types of lenses and their care. I learned about filters. I learned about frame rate and shutter speed. I learned about tripods. I learned so much, and I still have so much to learn. I only covered Module 1 because it is ALL new to me, and I've already forgotten the difference between frame rate and shutter speed, and I need to go review.

Sadly, I don't own a camera of the quality covered in these lessons, so it was a lot of new information, but difficult to assimilate in many ways. In his Introduction, Ken encourages the student to go and practice what they learn because if you don't it is too hard to remember and is a waste of time. What can I do? I don't have any of this equipment. So now I have a new camera on my "wish list". I currently only have an old iPhone, an old HP digital camera with "movie" option, and an old video camera that I don't think you can change the lenses on. None of these are anything like the equipment this course covers.

The most exciting thing (to me) that I learned had to do with lenses. In 2006 my dad died. One of the things he left behind was an expensive 35 mm Nikon camera with a bunch of lenses and filters.

 I was advised the camera was old technology, obsolete, trash, and that the lenses that went with it were likewise. I resisted the advice and hid the camera and lenses. Now I have learned that there are adapter rings, and there might be use in the lenses to my dad's old camera. And lenses are the most expensive aspect of going into filming. Cool! ...Maybe...

Each video has a place, below the video, where the student can leave comments. Ken and Zack are very responsive - they answer your questions and comments very quickly and are very encouraging.

Anyway, this is an amazing, full course on making movies. If you have a student interested in learning to create movies, this is the course for you! Check out their site and see what you think. If you are at all interested in this course you can get $100 off using this discount code: FALLCREW16 - the discount code expires 11/30/16.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed Online Christian Filmmakers Academy. To see other product reviews, please click the button below.

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}

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