Tag Archives: online learning

Review: Mzed.com’s Directing Color With Ollie Kenchington

By Brady Betzel

I am constantly looking to educate myself, no matter what the source — or subject. Whether I am learning how to make a transition in Adobe After Effects from an eSports editor on YouTube to Warren Eagles teaching color correction in Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve on FXPHD.com, I’m always beefing up my skills. I even learn from bad tutorials — they teach you what not to do!

But when you come across a truly remarkable learning experience, it is only fair to share with the rest of the world. Last year I saw an ad for an MZed.com course called “Directing Color With Ollie Kenchington,” and was immediately interested. These days you can pretty much find any technical tutorial you can dream of on YouTube, but truly professional, higher education-like, theory-based education series are very hard to come by. Even ones you need to pay for aren’t always worth their price of admission, which is a huge let down.

Ollie sharing his wisdom.

Once I gained access to MZed.com I wanted to watch every educational series they had. From lighting techniques with ASC member Shane Hurlbut to the ARRI Amira Camera Primer, there are over 150 hours of education available from industry leaders. However, I found my way to Directing Color…

I am often asked if I think people should go to college or a film school. My answer? If you have the money and time, you should go to college followed by film school (or do both together, if the college offers it). Not only will you learn a craft, but you will most likely spend hundreds of hours studying and visualizing the theory behind it. For example, when someone asks me about the science behind camera lenses, I can confidently answer them thanks to my physics class based on lenses and optics from California Lutheran University (yes, a shameless plug).

In my opinion, a two-, four- or even 10-year education allows me to live in the grey. I am comfortable arguing for both sides of a debate, as well as the options that are in between —  the grey. I feel like my post-high school education really allowed me to recognize and thrive in the nuances of debate. Leaving me to play devil’s advocate maybe a little too much, but also having civil and proactive discussions with others without being demeaning or nasty — something we are actively missing these days. So if living in the grey is for you, I really think a college education supplemented by online or film school education is valuable (assuming you make the decision that the debt is worth it like I did).

However, I know that is not an option for everyone since it can be very expensive — trust me, I know. I am almost done paying off my undergraduate fees while still paying off my graduate ones, which I am still two or three classes away from finishing. That being said, Directing Color With Ollie Kenchington is the only online education series I have seen so far that is on the same level as some of my higher education classes. Not only is the content beautifully shot and color corrected, but Ollie gives confident and accessible lessons on how color can be used to draw the viewer’s attention to multiple parts of the screen.

Ollie Kenchington is a UK-based filmmaker who runs Korro Films. From the trailer of his Directing Color series, you can immediately see the beauty of Ollie’s work and know that you will be in safe hands. (You can read more about his background here.)

The course raises the online education bar and will elevate the audiences idea of professional insight. The first module “Creating a Palette” covers the thoughts behind creating a color palette for a small catering company. You may even want to start with the last Bonus Module “Ox & Origin” to get a look at what Ollie will be creating throughout the seven modules and about an hour and a half of content.

While Ollie goes over “looks,” the beauty of this course is that he goes through his internal thought processes including deciding on palettes based on color theory. He didn’t just choose teal and orange because it looks good, he chooses his color palette based on complementary colors.

Throughout the course Ollie covers some technical knowledge, including calibrating monitors and cameras, white balancing and shooting color charts to avoid having wrong color balance in post. This is so important because if you don’t do these simple steps, your color correction session while be much harder. And wasting time on fixing incorrect color balance takes time away from the fun of color grading. All of this is done through easily digestible modules that range from two to 20 minutes.

The modules include Creating a Palette; Perceiving Color; Calibrating Color; Color Management; Deconstructing Color 1 – 3 and the Bonus Module Ox & Origin.

Without giving away the entire content in Ollie’s catalog, my favorite modules in this course are the on-set modules. Maybe because I am not on-set that often, but I found the “thinking out loud” about colors helpful. Knowing why reds represent blood, which raise your heart rate a little bit, is fascinating. He even goes through practical examples of color use in films such as in Whiplash.

In the final “Deconstructing Color” modules, Ollie goes into a color bay (complete with practical candle backlighting) and dives in Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve. He takes this course full circle to show how since he had to rush through a scene he can now go into Resolve and add some lighting to different sides of someone’s face since he took time to set up proper lighting on set, he can focus on other parts of his commercial.

Summing Up
I want to watch every tutorial MZed.com has to offer. From “Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Masterclass” to Ollie’s other course “Mastering Color.” Unfortunately, as of my review, you would have to pay an additional fee to watch the “Mastering Color” series. It seems like an unfortunate trend in online education to charge a fee and then when an extra special class comes up, charge more, but this class will supposedly be released to the standard subscribers in due time.

MZed.com has two subscription models: MZed Pro, which is $299 for one year of streaming the standard courses, and MZed Pro Premium for $399. This includes the standard courses for one year and the ability to choose one “Premium” course.

“Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Master Class” was the Premium course I was signed up for initially, but you you can decide between this one and the “Mastering Color” course. You will not be disappointed regardless of which one you choose. Even their first course “How to Photograph Everyone” is chock full of lighting and positioning instruction that can be applied in many aspects of videography.

I really was impressed with Directing Color with Ollie Kenchington, and if the other course are this good MZed.com will definitely become a permanent bookmark for me.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

Top Five Tips: How to make the most of online learning

By Dan LeFebvre

If you’ve done any sort of online learning, you’ve probably heard of Digital-Tutors. We offer a huge variety of  videos and software packages for artists to choose from. However, the system isn’t just for individuals. Oftentimes studios tap our library for their teams, effectively creating an on-demand learning center for artists of all experience levels. Fourteen years of working through this process with them has taught us a lot about what breeds success.

Her are our Top Five tips for success:

Start With The Why
What are your goals? Why are you considering an online learning program in the first place? Answer these questions and the path forward becomes a whole lot clearer.

Maybe you’ve got a big project on the horizon and your team needs to hit the ground running. Maybe you’ve just hired some new artists who need to get up to speed. Or maybe your team just needs to stay on top of the industry’s latest trends.

Assessing the why behind your decision makes it easier to understand how your team can take advantage of online learning and what kind of platform is going to help you achieve those goals. Only then should you dive in.

Share Tutorials With Your Team
After choosing the right online learning platform, you can help your team take full advantage of it by using the training yourself. See what’s good, what fits, then share relevant tutorials with your artists. You’re probably already recommending books and articles you come across. Why not expand those suggestions to online learning, as well?

Cinema 4D and After Effects tutorial

Cinema 4D and After Effects tutorial

For example, if you have a motion designer whose project needs a 3D-to-After Effects pipeline, you could share this tutorial on “Designing Elegant Product Visualizations in Cinema 4D and After Effects,” which is full of great tips on how to speed up their workflow, as well as inspiration for new approaches.

Even if it’s a five-minute video here or there, sharing tutorials with your team can spark their creativity, helping them find new ways to tackle challenges without having to search out every solution on their own. Sharing tutorials can also help team communicate better around the challenges they’re facing, giving you better insights into how to collaborate best.

Encourage Ongoing Learning
We all get caught up in the day-to-day, which makes setting aside the time to grow as artists an afterthought for most. Finding learning opportunities for your team can help curb this cycle, helping them to grow individually and as team members.

For example, have one of your artists pick a tutorial for the team to watch, then set aside time to discuss it as a group. What did people learn? What might help everyone in the future? Not only does this help your team come together and learn new things, the act of explanation improves individual communication skills, as well.

Don’t Judge A Tutorial By Its Cover
New rule: just because you know some of the techniques, doesn’t mean you won’t learn anything new. We are constantly hearing from artists who say that watching tutorials on mastered topics led them to new tips and tricks.

Problems often have many solutions, especially when software packages are being updated so frequently. Besides it never hurts to get a little faster at production, become an expert on the latest updates or hear why one technique is better than another.

Growing as an artist often requires having a strong sense of awareness — knowing how to do something and why you are doing it in a particular way. The how is sometimes easier to get to (i.e. “To do x, I need to do y”). However, knowing why you should do something requires a deeper, more subjective, artistic understanding of a process (i.e. “Why x is better than y”).

For example, knowing why an image looks “better” because it’s elements are composed in a specific way is a completely different exercise than actually knowing how to arrange them. It’s this deeper artistic understanding that even your most experienced artists can continue to refine. Revisiting familiar subjects, performed by other experts, is a way to do this.

Make Sure You’re Getting an ROI
When it comes to an online learning platform, it helps to periodically re-evaluate its efficacy. For example, if your original intention was to help your team hit the ground running for a specific project, what will happen once the project is done? Do you still need it at that point?

Maybe the original intention changed along the way from helping a single team tackle a new project to helping the same team learn about new technologies. Maybe there are other teams within your company who could benefit from the training. Or maybe the answer is you simply won’t need the platform until the next big project. Re-evaluating the why behind your purchase helps you reaffirm both its value and purpose.

Hope these tips have been helpful!

Dan LeFebvre is a 3D tutor at Digital-Tutors (@digital_tutors). Long before Dan joined Digital-Tutors full time,  he was a dedicated forum moderator, helping out Digital-Tutors members with problems they encountered across a wide variety of software.