5D FilmSchool training DVD review

I just completed the 101 and 102 classes of the 5DFilmSchool training and would like to share my thoughts with you about it (as some others have already done).

I have been watching training videos for a while. Like I said in a previous post, I am a big fan of Lynda.com and spent countless hours in front of my computer learning about new software/techniques. This also means that my expectations regarding training video are high, very high. According to my experience, to be effective, a training has to: have the right pace, be precise (never leave any confusion in the head of the audience), have useful content and be entertaining. Lets see how the 101 class rated according to these criteria.

Note: I watched the digital download version and I suggest you do the same. It has a better resolution than the DVD version and you can watch it right away!

101 Class


Alex get you going in less than 75 minutes. That is a lot of ground to cover and it does so very well. Alex state that his training has no filler or repetition and it is true. The pace is fast as he moves from one topic to the next. While some people might feel the audio and editing section run a bit long, I find them to be the most important because these are two key points that are never talked enough about and have the biggest impact on your work. Dont skip over them!


There are no doubts in the viewers mind that Alex knows what he is talking about. He backs up every statement with an explanation which makes the concept easy to understand and remember.

Useful content

This is where the training shines. This is not a replacement for the 5D manual, you still have to read it (sorry!), it is a guide on how to use your 5D to give serious production value to your clips. While he reviews some camera functions specific to the 5D (and 7D), 95% of the content is valid no matter the model or brand of camera you are using.

The goal of the training is to teach photographers to make films and the 101 class covers the basics very well from a photographer perspective. While a bit of time is spent to explain the exposure wheel (a subject every photographer should know about), most of the time is spent teaching about stuff photographers never cared about such as continuous light, maximum power you can pull from an electric system, how to setup audio, etc. All these little things that no one talk about in the forums and which are learned from experience. Usually, bad ones.

I also liked how each aspect is implemented in a “real environment”. This is how we end up watching the production of a spoof public service announcement from start to finish. Here is the final clip:

Seeing how someone else works is a great way to learn new tricks and watching Alex edit the final clip was interesting. I even managed to learn a few tricks! I really like the way he picks his selects and plan on using the same strategy from now on.

While moving to the video world will pull some money out of your pocket to get additional gear, Alex does a great job at showing where you can cut to get the most bang for your buck (no Zoom H4n or Lightpanels here!).


Alex is not boring. While not a stand up comic, he manages to keep his tone engaging and entertaining. Maybe the edit section runs a bit long, especially for someone who does not know Final Cut Pro, but I think it is an essential part of the training since it shows very well how making a film is not just about stitching 4 clips back to back: it involves sound effects, voice over, graphics and how to edit the whole thing to maximize its impact.

Some people might comment on the skill level of the talents used in the video. While it is obvious that they are not pro actors, I found that it added to the overall charm of the project.

The 102 class

This video walk you through the whole process of creating two short clips, from concept to the final products, in about 50 minutes. There is a lot of theory covered. It felt like watching a condensed version of full year at film school. While the time spent on each topic is short, enough content is given for the viewer to understand the reasoning behind each step and how they integrate in the overall workflow. For example, Alex explains the importance of a story boards but does not show you how to draw one, he simply shows you why it is so important and how they are part of the overall film making process. If you need more information on any of these steps, you will have the required vocabulary and knowledge to search for more information by yourself.

Final verdict

I like it! In about 2:15 hours, these clips will get you started. While not a in depth tutorial on how to use Final Cut Pro or light a set, they put emphasis on the elements that put film making apart from shooting stills. This way  a photographer can quickly learn how to increase the production value of his clips and move away from the classical “test video”. I hope Alex keeps developing the franchise and produce some in dept classes.

As a supplement to this training, I highly recommend you to buy the book Master Shots: 100 Advanced Camera Techniques. It is of great help when trying to convert your script into a storyboard. Of all the books I have suggested, it is the most popular and judging by the amounts of emails I have received about it, very appreciated!

Buy it!

Canon5dTips is now a affiliate of 5DFilmSchool. If you want to buy the DVD, click on the link below. With each sale, we get small cut which is then reinvested into the site. In the end, everyone wins!

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...

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