Hollywood Camera Work and Mocha Pro… Or Do You Really Need to go to Film School?

Per Holmes, the creator of HCW and I have had long discussions over the need for most aspiring filmmakers to attend a film school. A degree in film, for the most part, doesn’t really mean much to most production company owners, and since the industry is so difficult to get into, the $60,000+ cost is more than most graduates will ever have a chance to make in the business.

What actually gets you hired is a good reel of your past work, and an impressive set of production skills.

I hired a few of my students while I was teaching part time, and found that it took about a year for them to function efficiently in the “Real world”.

I believe that this is the answer. Work as a free intern, and spend the $60,000 on your own HD camera, editor, light and audio packages. In 3 to 4 years, instead of a piece of paper, you will have a reel that you actually can impress someone with, a set of useful skills, and 3 to 4 years of valuable experience.

When I was teaching, my classes cost my students about $1600 per course, which is about the same money as 3 years of www.lynda.com tutorials, and all three of HCW’s high end tutorials. Trust me, Lynda.com tutorials are great for learning editing, and the HWC products educate you on “How to be a great Director”, much better than my 4 year college ever did.

Per’s first course, The Master Course In High-End Blocking & Staging is a very comprehensive Directing Course. This course teaches high-end camera work using over 9 hours of 3D animated instruction on 6 DVDs. The cool part about the 3D animation is that you are able to see the moves and the resulting shots, without the distraction of human actors, or real sets.

This course is so deep that you could spend 11 weeks just re-watching it and trying out all of the new concepts that it presents. Trying to watch it all at once results in your brain melting and dripping out of your ears, as your eyes glaze over and you go into a self induced coma. This is pretty much true for all of Per’s courses. It took him years to make each of them, so don’t think that you will be able to absorb all of that information in one viewing. The great thing about these turtorials is that you own them, and can refer back to them for guidance in future productions, rather than having to locate and use film school notes.

Besides working with actors, blocking is one of the most important things a Director does, and should be really good at. Yet most books, videos and many film schools barely get past the basics.

The Master Course de-mystifies single-camera blocking and teaches you how to break down complex scripts into great looking shots.

Per spent over half a decade developing his high-end feature camera work for personal use. Soon he realized how much others would benefit from these techniques, so now the information is available to you as well.

The primary goal of The Master Course in High-End Blocking and Staging is to teach you how to do fast and effective blocking, with the highest production-value, and to learn enough different techniques to make Directing more expressive, and ultimately more fun.

As a Director, blocking often takes so much of our time that we’re forced to choose between doing camera work or nurturing great performances from our actors.

If we choose acting, the camera work suffers. If we choose camera work, our actor’s performances can suffer. The problem is that we have to get a good-looking shot with good technique, and a great performance if we want to keep being Directors.

The Master Course in High-End Blocking and Staging helps your camera work become so automatic, that you can do both at the same time. Hopefully, when shooting under pressure, you won’t have to revert to tried and tested techniques like two reverses and a master because you will know the new techniques well enough to feel comfortable using them.

If we hope to ever achieve control over the emotional impact that our productions have on our viewers, we will always be learning new techniques.

Per wouldn’t name names, but The Master Course is being bought by some of the most famous filmmakers in the world. Some of these filmmakers even bought dozens of copies to give to their crews.

Together, the filmmakers who bought this course have won over 10 Academy Awards and 15 Emmys. These are people whose movies everyone has seen, yet they are still learning and training.

Per’s next project, Visual Effects For Directors, was an effort to make others as comfortable as he was with shooting visual effects.

Visual Effects For Directors is a 7 DVD set that covers everything you need to know about shooting Visual Effects. The course is an intense training on everything from green screen, virtual set, 3D, camera tracking, and motion control, to character animation, motion capture, crowd replication, digital set extension, VFX cinematography, and compositing. It shows you exactly what to do on the set, so that the budget isn’t wasted on fixing impossible problems in post that you should have shot correctly.

This is training that everybody needs, from Directors and DPs to professional Visual Effects Artists, because the challenge is the same… to make some good decisions during shooting that you know for a fact will work easily in post.

The course covers everything from basic visual effects, to advanced techniques. While part of the DVD series is geared towards high-budget shooting, the majority of it is about how to do things like “Hollywood” green screen on a budget.

For example, the green screen cyc stage used in the course was built, painted and lit for less than $700, and they show you how it was done. Once you understand what’s important, you can do high-end work on a smaller budget, which is very attractive to clients.

Per’s newest course is Hot Moves, a single DVD addition to The Master Course that’s all about making single and master shots look absolutely awesome.

Where The Master Course focuses on drama and coverage, Hot Moves focuses on a how to make single shots look expensive and sexy. What’s cool is that the vast majority of truly awesome and trailer-worthy shots come from just a handful of concepts, which are easy to learn.

While the course lends itself to very high-budget shooting, the majority of the techniques can be executed even on a very low budget, because it’s the understanding of motion that makes it a hot move, not the equipment you shoot it with.

Hot Moves is full of things that every Director and Cameraman should know. I learned that shots from a small dolly and jib arm looking off of the second floor of a parking garage look very close to those of a very expensive crane.

Learning and mastering these three courses will give you a solid foundation of the things that a director needs to know. You will be able to look at a script, and instantly imagine which shots would look best, and how to quickly lay them out, giving you plenty of time to work with your actors. If you are a Cameraman or DP, you will know what the Director is wanting, and how to get the shots the Director is asking for.

While watching the Visual Effects For Directors series I saw them using Mocha, from Imagineer Systems, and if you plan on doing VFX, this is the software to own.

Mocha Pro offers you a powerful, and easy to use, planar tracking-based solution.

It has a streamlined interface with the power to easily track and manipulate shots not possible with traditional trackers, Mocha Pro is a great VFX choice for Film or Video Post Production, creative motion graphics, and 2D-3D conversion pipelines.

Mocha Pro took all the planar tracking and rotoscoping tools from their award winning software… Mocha, and added the best parts of their legacy products Mokey and Monet, to make one product with all of the features, all optimized for 64 bit operating systems.

Mocha Pro’s Remove Module is a great alternative to painting, cloning and manual tracking, and offers planar tracking and roto export to most editing platforms like After Effects, Flame, and Nuke.

What you end up with in Mocha Pro, is planar tracking and rotoscoping compositing tools for match moving, auto image, wire removal, clean plate generation, and lens distortion correction and stabilization, all in a single “All-in-one” master VFX tool set. Mocha Pro is easy to use, and is very powerful software. Mastering the use of tools like this can get you work, even in this economy.


The Master Course In High-End Blocking & Staging $329

Visual Effects For Directors $329

Hot Moves $69

Contact: Per Holmes



MSRP: Mocha Pro $1495 or upgrade for $895


About david

I have been in the Audio/Video production business for over 35 years, and I still enjoy using all of the latest production gear, and reviewing it.
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