Another opportunity to learn DSLR Filmmaking with Billy at fxphd

My apologies for the tardy notice, but I wanted everyone to know that my DSLR Filmmaking course is available online once again over at fxphd as part of the July – September term, already a couple of weeks in progress. I received many notes last Fall, after the course had ended, asking when it might be available again. The good news is, you can take it now!

Right this minute!

Billy in his studio teaching DOP213 for fxphd

It’s a 10 class course called DOP213: DSLR Filmmaking. Since it’s an archived class from last summer, you won’t get the course discussion forums we had when the class was taught week to week, but the good news is, you can download all 10 classes as soon as you sign up. No waiting for next week’s class! Download and learn at your own pace.

DOP213 is full of great information, tips and techniques about how I use DSLR cameras to create great looking motion images. You can see a short video preview by locating DOP213 in the course listing and clicking on the little play button to the right of the course title.

The July term is already in progress, but you can still register for my course as well as the staggering number of other courses that are available covering everything from editing to motion graphics to audio to directing. Pretty much any topic you can imagine in the filmmaking community is covered at fxphd.

It’s great to be a part of fxphd. If you’re interested in improving your skill set in any of the visual effects, production and post fields, check out the courses for the July term that runs through September. It’s not too late to head into Fall with useful new knowledge!

Below is the course summary for my course if you’d like to see what it’s about:

DOP213: DSLR Filmmaking

Professor: Billy Sheahan
Software Version:
Original Run Date: July 2011

In the past, we’ve traveled to Japan as well as the wilds of West Yellowstone to focus on DSLR filmmaking. In DOP213, we’re staying close to home and focusing on one photographer’s base of knowledge to bring a very approachable and practical course on DSLR filmmaking. Professor Billy Sheahan ( has been shooting stills and video for over two decades. With the developments in DSLR cinematography, it’s only in the past few years however that he’s become happy with the the image he is able create with motion technology. His background as an award-winning editor and a passion for photography makes him the perfect fit for fxphd. His passion for both has enabled him to contribute his motion photography to major projects and national television commercials — most accomplished more easily than you’d expect. He’ll be showing you how this term.

The course will walk you through filmmaking from Sheahan’s perspective, with a bit of focus on model/live talent photography (though other areas will be covered as well) and how taking the simple path can lead to excellent visual results. Each week will feature an easy to accomplish mini shoot and resulting exercise for members. One week it might be to light with sources you might find in the average living room. The next week, to shoot day for night. Members will be encouraged to share their work with others in the forums.

class syllabus

Class 1: The basic gear. From the camera to the lenses, we’ll examine Sheahan’s basic kit and basic camera set up.

Class 2: When less is more. Sheahan rarely shoots with more than one light. It may sound lazy, but it gives motion photography both a distinctive look when he wants it as well as a more natural look. Choosing that one light is important as are the non-light tools used to fill in areas that need a little help. Members will be asked to use that one light, in this weeks exercise.

Class 3: When that one light is the sun. Sheahan loves shooting in available light and it’s the light we’re all most familiar with. However, it’s an extremely powerful light source; constantly changing and it needs to be controlled to get the look one is after. Building on the one artificial light discussion from the previous session, we’ll talk about some non-lighting tools as well as neutral density filters which are used to help tame the sun to get the look we’re after.

Class 4: Continuing on our available sunlight topic we’ll discuss how using neutral density along with the advanced picture styles in your camera not only allow you more options with your camera aperture settings, they also allow you more options for color grading in post. Sometimes it’s best not to commit to a look during your shoot when you don’t have to. Also we have an interview with architectural photographer Marian Kraus.

Class 5: We’ve gotten spoiled with RAW. Sometimes to better understand the present, we have to look to the past. Shooting images in RAW has allowed us so many ways to manipulate our images. But when shooting h.264 on our DSLRs it’s like turning back the clock a decade or two to the days of shooting transparency film when exposure and color temperature mistakes were not easily fixable if fixable at all. We’ll discuss the parallels between transparency film and shooting h.264 and how choosing your white balance can help get you half way to your desired color grading look.

Class 6: We all need a little support. The great thing about HDSLR cameras is that they’re small and lightweight. The horrible thing about HDSLRs is that they’re small and lightweight. The ergonomics of shooting video with HDSLRs is less than ideal. We’ll talk about tripods and gliders and how and when to use them. Stationary or glide? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should all of the time.

Class 7: HDSLR rigs: So many choices and so much money. Let’s navigate through what you need in an HDSLR rig to help you pick what you need to achieve the look you want before you spend more than the cost of your camera and lenses. Matte boxes, follow focus, hand held or on a support system and monitoring? It really depends what and how you’re shooting.

Class 8: Sometimes pre-visualization and planning can really help make a shoot go more smoothly. In class 08, we’ll take a look at a few apps for the iPad and iPhone that really help me to arrive on set prepared. And then we’ll take one of those apps and literally give it a test drive. How do you mount a DSLR camera on a car and manage to monitor it while driving? I’ll show you my method of camera mounting and ways to shoot interesting angles from a vehicle. And one of them involves time-lapse photography.

Class 9: We’ve been talking a lot about shooting flat to allow your colorist the maximum amount of options during a color grading session. We’ll head to Color Playground to talk with Kelly Armstrong who will show us how she would work with some of the footage we’ve been shooting in class and get her viewpoint on color and working with DOPs. Then we’ll look at the other side of the camera as we sit down with Musician/Actor/model Jillian Ann and discuss some things she looks for when collaborating with people behind the camera. That’s us. Two very interesting discussions.

Class 10: Something for everyone. We’ve packed class 10 with a variety of subjects, grouped into four sections: Timelapse tips and tricks when shooting timelapse from daylight to night, Shooting at 29.97 for 23.98 to introduce a slight slo-motion effect and how to keep a music video track in sync, workflow practices and software to get your media from camera to your editing system, and finally a discussion on some key professional business topics to help you keep making your art, including the Cost of Doing Business Calculator, stills vs. motion usage and copyright, insurance and why you need it to shoot in a professional environment, helpful industry organizations and best practices for backing up up your precious media files.

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