Thursday, October 13, 2016

Family Gravity Media, A Division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc. Online Christian Filmmakers Academy Review

My family had the privilege of trying the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy from Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc. for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

This course is put together by part of a homeschooling family, father-son team: Ken (father) and Zack (son) Lawrence. Since 2004 Ken & Zack Lawrence have worked together learning the film industry themselves and creating productions including; the feature film In His Steps, the TV series Welcome Home Antelope Valley, DVD releases: The Pastor's House, Father-Child Projects, The Courtship Formula documentary, and many short films.With more than a decade of experience under their belts they have created the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy.

From left to right, top to bottom of Video Lesson Layout: Ken, Zack, Zack teaching lighting accessories, and this video has a download with it.

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy is a online cinematography school that is taught by Ken & Zack Lawrence. This online film academy teaches cinematography which includes: lighting, camera operating, photography skills, directing skills, sound design, and film score composing. Within the training there are videos of Ken and Zack teaching. In the Introduction by Ken we learn that some of the videos might have been updated so as to keep the information up to date and current. In other words you might see a difference in time from one video to the next depending upon if they thought it was necessary to update the videos or not. Even though you do not need to go out and purchase any equipment for this course, it still is great to have some hands-on practice. As Zack tells us, "It is very important to put what you have watched into practice" so that you retain the information better.

Landing Page and Navigation Menus.

This Christian filmmaking course is jam packed with a lot of information! It includes video segments, quizzes and sometimes downloads. The course starts out with three introductions: Navigating the Website, Introduction by Ken, and an Introduction by Zack. There are a total of five modules after that: The Camera, Cinematography, Sound, Pre-Production, and Production. Each module has 5-15 videos which make up a total of 45 fairly short videos (including the introduction ones). Each are 1-22 minutes. They are currently adding quizzes after and sometimes even within a module to see what you have learned in each section (most of these say coming soon). The one after module 1 has 25 questions. When you take the quiz online you will immediately receive the answers upon completion. They will also be adding material to the Bonuses section which currently doesn't have anything. After watching each video lesson it will automatically mark it as completed and each one will receive a check mark beside it in the menu or you can mark it as complete/ yourself. Under each video lesson there is a place to enter comments/questions if you need to. Other students and even the company can then read your comments/questions and respond/answer. This makes it fairly interactive as well. Also the video lessons follow a Christian perspective but are not heavily indoctrinating with Christian theology. You just hear a few Bible verses here and there.

Here is an syllabus of the course modules:
  1. The Camera – how it works and DSLR usage
    • Module 1 Lesson 1 - Introduction to the Camera
    • Module 1 Lesson 2 - DSLRs and Lenses (Part 1)
    • Module 1 Lesson 3 - DSLRs and Lenses (Part 2)
    • Module 1 Lesson 4 - Frame Rate
    • Module 1 Lesson 5 - ISO and Shutter Speed
    • Module 1 Lesson 6 - Tripods and Camera Support
    • Module 1 Quiz
  2. Cinematography and Lighting – working with different types of lighting
    • Module 2 Lesson 1 - Introduction to Cinematography
    • Module 2 Lesson 2 - Color Temp & White Balance
    • Module 2 Lesson 3 - Hard vs. Soft Light
    • Module 2 Lesson 4 - Types of Lights
    • Module 2 Lesson 5 - Lighting Accessories
    • Module 2 Lesson 6 - Using Lights
    • Module 2 Lesson 7 - 3 & 4 Point Lighting
    • Module 2 Lesson 8 - Painting with Light
    • Module 2 Lesson 9 - Framing
    • Module 2 Lesson 10 - Outdoor Lighting
    • Module 2 Lesson 11 - Depth of Field
    • Module 2 Lesson 12 - Jibs and Dollies
    • Module 2 Lesson 13 - Green Screen
    • Module 2 Lesson 14 - Setting Up An Interview
    • Module 2 Lesson 15 - Final Considerations
    • Module 2 Quiz
  3. Sound – capturing the sound in the field and post production
    • Module 3 Lesson 1 - Introduction
    • Module 3 Lesson 2 - Sound Equipment
    • Module 3 Lesson 3 - Microphone
    • Module 3 Lesson 4 - Field Recorders
    • Module 3 Lesson 5 - Location Recording
    • Module 3 Lesson 6 - ADR and Foley
    • Module 3 Quiz (Coming Soon)
  4. Pre-production – preparing to make your film a reality and getting everything you need prepared beforehand
    • Module 4 Lesson 1 - Introduction to Pre-production
    • Module 4 Lesson 2 - The Story
    • Module 4 Lesson 3 - Writing the Screenplay
    • Module 4 Lesson 4 - Pre-production Paperwork
    • Module 4 Lesson 5 - Assemble the Team
    • Module 4 Quiz (Coming Soon)
  5. Production – working onset, with budgets and making your idea a reality
    • Module 5 Lesson 1 - The Crew
    • Module 5 Lesson 2 - Set Hierarchy
    • Module 5 Lesson 3 - Set Etiquette
    • Module 5 Lesson 4 - Directing
    • Module 5 Lesson 5 - The Slate
    • Module 5 Lesson 6 - Filming Step by Step
    • Module 5 Quiz (Coming Soon)

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:
Among a lot of other things, my husband has a background in animation and went to film school when he was younger. He had his own studio called Brian Pictures and he and a friend of his were trying to put together a production called Ohiomation in Ohio where he would be taking students from Ohio schools and putting them through a course to teach them animation and film. This ideally was to create an animated movie about the Wright Brothers first flight and called Kitty Hawk that was to be produced in time to celebrate Ohio's Bicentennial. This didn't ever materialize because of school politics, but he sure did learn a lot on his journey. I know that animation is totally different from learning cinematography and since it was a while ago that he learned about being a director and producing film I thought that maybe he could have a refresher and get caught up with all the new equipment involved.

I love photography and have a small background in theater. I have also always wanted to learn cinematography for myself. I thought that it would become a handy skill to have for vlogging and making fun home movies. I have very little experience in this and so I have instead stayed out of the limelight for the most part. I also thought it would be a wonderful experience to have my boys be taught this wonderful art for their homeschool studies and as an extracurricular curriculum.

Since we have a whole year to finish this whole course we are pacing ourselves. I decided that I would take the course first to get a feel for how involved it was. Since the video lessons are fairly short I was doing about a module every 3 days to a week/week and a half depending how long they were. The second module took me the longest. I expect my husband and boys will go through this quicker.

I don't have any of the equipment that they mentioned in this Christian film course, although like I said above you can take this course without any extra purchases even though you are highly encouraged to get out your own equipment and play with what you are learning as you go.  My camera is an old Canon PowerShot SX110 IS and I have used it for videos before, but I really had no idea what I was doing! They recommend a DSLR or a digital camcorder which my camera is not. I; however, have been wanting a DSLR for Christmas and so this just gives me another reason to get one.

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy is a exceptional course! It is very thorough in teaching you a strong foundation in cinematography. I highly recommend this for anyone that would love to learn all about the art of making motion pictures. I think this online film school is also perfect for the an extracurricular art and is perfect for homeschooling or supplementing education for public school.

You can purchase a full year of the course for $299 at the time of this post. You can get $100 off until November 30th, 2016 by using Coupon Code: FALLCREW16 at checkout. It includes a 30 day no questions asked money-back guarantee. The one year membership is good for your entire family and can be used by multiple students within your household. You can get tips and free video lessons on the Christian Filmmakers Academy Facebook page.

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