With less and less funding available for the arts in educational institutions of all levels, Monte Zucker Education (MZed) takes on the responsibility of producing creative educational materials for individuals of all skill levels interested in the creative arts.

MZed’s mission, as stated on its website, is to “build an environment through live educational tours, international masterclasses, and recorded training where photographers, filmmakers, and designers can forge mutually rewarding relationships within a community of creatives.”

I was given the opportunity to experience MZed’s capabilities with a four-part digital download titled “Alex Buono’s ‘Cinematography Workshop.’” Nearly four hours of MZed01-350professionally recorded footage provided an intense overview of the artistic elements and core principles of cinematography. Alex Buono, director of photography for the Saturday Night Live Film Unit and an Oscar nominee, teaches the course.

The set up of the material is fantastic. Alex gives some background on himself to start and then lays out what each segment will cover. Throughout the segments, Alex shows examples that he has shot either for SNL or short film projects. I appreciated that the links for the examples were inserted instead of shown directly in the course, giving the viewer the option to watch now or later or perhaps re-watch the example clips at their convenience.

I did especially, enjoy him walking the audience and viewers through his script breakdown example and software tutorial in a step-by-step manner. That was very helpful to understand how a professional handles these things. Alex also suggested several tips, tricks and apps to aid cinematographers with different aspects of their work and then demonstrated how he uses these apps, etc.

MZed02-350Alex was a great teacher, using humor, personal examples and a hands-on approach for his live audience to help communicate the principles and artistic elements he describes in the lecture portion. The digital course is an organized and engaging experience.

I believe this course could have benefited from some cutting of the hands-on participation of the live audience. It is great footage to help viewers understand the process and adjustments as they are made to create the desired shot, but the timing of these live demos was a bit lengthy.

Overall, this course balanced explanations for beginners with more advanced concepts and techniques for more skilled individuals. It covers a vast amount of material in a concise, clear and engaging way. The technical jargon used when talking about camera specifications was a bit daunting to me, as I have little knowledge or experience with high-end cameras. However, the simplistic, visual breakdowns of the camera spec information were helpful and allowed me to better comprehend the complex information. This product would be a fantastic investment for teachers of cinema and television production or a great gift for budding cinematographers of all ages.