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Filming “Mastering the Funk”: What I Learned About Filming Instructional Courses

imovie-logoThis past month, I worked intensively on finishing my first bass guitar online course called, Mastering the Funk.

The experience itself was a wide array of emotions and feeling including frustration, anger, joy, fulfillment and satisfaction.

I’ve been a bass player for a number of years – going on almost 10 – and this was the first time I decided to unload many of my ideas and concepts onto film and do it in a way that I though would certainly be different to say the least.

I looked to create a course that was comprehensive, practical, taught a very specific area of bass guitar but above all that, I wanted it to be interactive.

I didn’t want to have a course where I sit, the viewer watches me play and then I say, “Now you.” I worked to make this course as much of a back-and-forth, we’re-learning-together kind of course as possible and downplay the “Now You model”.

As I said before, I felt a lot of things over the course of filming, editing and making for this course and spent a lot of extra time re-shooting, re-exporting (oh God the exporting process…) and questioning everything until I was at least slightly more confident that I had everything I wanted to say in place.

I wanted to make this post to share with you some of the things I learned throughout this process in hopes that if you too decide to make a video course, consider these aspects from my experience.

1. Film Don’t Lie. To build off an old Rasheed Wallace saying, it’s very true. What’s on film IS what the video camera sees. A simple realization, but none the less, one that is tremendously insightful. I hadn’t filmed myself much prior to this ongoing adventure and boy did I learn a lot about how I sound, act, gesture and present in reality.DSCN1134

Some things I liked, some things surprised me, some things made me cringe.

But I kept what I liked (making sure to cover all the little things – good and bad – to remember) and am still working to improve the things I don’t like (occasionally floating on tangents). It’s a process, but an enlightening one none the less.

2. TIL I work best with notes and can’t ad lib. I’ve interned with a man in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instruction who sounded and worked phenomenally in front of a camera. Usually getting the shot he needed in one or two takes.

In this process, I learned it takes me 5..6…7..sometimes more to get a result that  I can feel like captures everything I wanted to say. I learned that not only is it very difficult for me to nail things in one or 2 hits, but I NEED a system. I NEED to know what’s going to happen before I do it.

That’s where notes came in. Lots and lots of notes, talking points, bullets in all kinds of shapes, colors and fonts to make me remember to bring them up.

All this brings me to my next point…

3. Re-shoots can be a process themselves. Each time a shot would go off, there were a handful of programs that needed to be cued, the signal through the audio interface needed to be checked and I needed to make sure the mic would pick me up. Each time a shoot didn’t go off properly, I would need to stop and delete all these programs and then cue them up again and go again.

What it taught me was the value of being as prepared as possible for each shoot (see the section above).

All in all, though hours of editing, shooting and exporting, compressing, re-typing and fact checking, the package came together. Like I said before, I couldn’t be more proud that the course is completed and it did fulfill my vision of having a bass guitar instruction course that teaches in a different way and works towards viewer interaction and playing in real-time with the DVD, not just sitting back and passively absorbing information.

It was a trip – but now I’m ready to start into the next project. You can purchase the final result here for your viewing and learning pleasure:

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