Since 2004 Per Holmes and Hollywood Camera Work have been constructing The Master Course, an all encompassing teaching tool dedicated to exploring camera work in its entirety (see Jeremy Hanke's review of it from Oct 2005). If that isn't extensive enough, the icing on the cake is Hot Moves, a comprehensive look at how expensive looking shots are made and why they work. The most applicable context of many of these moves are high budget action films, but many concepts can be used to sell spec trailers, make low budget action more thrilling, or just give nice visual flare to any project you are working on.
Just for clarification, Hot Moves is not a part of The Master Course. While the main focuses of The Master Course is composition, blocking, and making sure each shot fits together, the focus of Hot Moves is exploring what makes a shot thrilling and how you can do the same thing. While Hot Moves is highly recommended, and most effective in conveying information when viewed in the context of The Master Collection, it is not necessary to view it as such.
Hot Moves has great suggestions on how to maximize production value for smaller budgets
Like The Master Course, Hot Moves utilizes 3D animation to convey concepts so you can immediately see how effective the concept is. In addition, concepts are built off each other, increasing repetition and thereby being more effective in giving a comprehensive, but very detailed overview. Names are given to the moves and concepts presented. While it can be initially confusing, all is made clear by the end due to simple repetition and compounding many of the moves together.
One of the things that impressed me the most was Mr. Holm's ability to show us an already great move that many producers and directors would be happy with, and change it slightly to make it even better. This a a sure sign of someone who not only knows the concepts he is talking about, but thinks in the contexts of those concepts.
Can you make a great shot even better? Hot Moves shows you how you can!
Depth of Information
While it is impossible to categorize every possible way to move a camera or block an action scene, the many scenarios Mr. Holmes presents are thoroughly explored through many different scenarios. For example, when we explore the concept of Parallax, we see it from the top of buildings, in a vehicle chase scene, in a conversation, walking down the street, and even with a fighter jet. Every concept explored is presented this way and it is amazingly helpful in teaching you to think in the terms of the concepts presented.
Since the focus of Hot Moves is teaching you how to have the most visually appealing movements possible, it is fun and interesting to watch. Being the camera nut I am, I actually found it difficult to put down!
This is something that you will continue to reference throughout your career as a filmmaker, especially if you purchase the Master Course. What is taught here will never be outdated, and will be able to be referenced on any kind of project you might be working on.
Hot Moves shows you how you can get great shots on green screen as well
Value vs. Cost
I can only imagine the amount of work that Mr. Holmes put into this outstanding product, but I have to be honest and say that $69 is a lot to pay for a single DVD. However if you compare this price to film school classes, or the even more expensive price of experience (and even after all that you may still not have learned these concepts), $69 is a bargain.
Overall Comment It is amazing what the simple act of moving a camera can have, and the effect it can have on the production value of your project. While the course admits that many of the most practical applications of the concepts outlined require big budgets, the benefit to taking this part of the course is to gain an understanding as to why of these concepts work and then thinking in the terms of these concepts to tell or sell a story.
With a proper understanding, one can incorporate the ideas of these moves to effectively and uniquely tell any kind of story. Don't sell yourself short by thinking these moves can't apply to your project.
Justin Pugh is a freelance editor and documentary filmmaker who lives in Orlando, Florida. A graduate of Full Sail's Film Production program, his credits range from involvement in the Florida Film Festival to editing feature length documentaries. Outside of moving pictures, he engages his passion for still photography.