What is it?
In a few short years, the electronic gimbal stabiliser has become a staple in every modern filmmaker’s toolkit. Once the domain of big-budget production sets, the cost of this technology has come down to really affordable levels. This has made cinematic, stable footage more accessible to regular people like me. It’s also opened the door to all new levels of creative shots, and this course is here to teach them to you.
I’ve long admired Brandon Li’s work since seeing some of his “travel films” like Seoul Wave on Youtube. His camera movements and gimbal skills do indeed look very unique, and his filmmaking has earned him multiple Vimeo Staff Pick awards. Labelled as a ‘gimbal god’ by many, I was really excited to try his course out, hoping to glean some secrets and maybe even make me a better filmmaker.
Who is this course for?
A lot of lessons cover things like setting up your gimbal, how to use it and how to walk with it. These are all important things to know and will give you a solid foundation, but not all that difficult to learn from a free tutorial on Youtube.
In my opinion, this course is mainly for beginners or people without much experience using a gimbal.
These tips are most of the value I was able to get from the course:
- For any shot: Start slow, fast in the middle, then slow down at the end
- Gimbal is less smooth at odd angles. Whenever possible, return it to home before starting
- Move your body more if possible, if it can prevent the gimbal motors from working as hard
Could use some improvement:
- The shot techniques weren’t tied together in a satisfying way, like you’d find in one of his travel videos. While the course does a great job of outlining a whole bunch of useful movements, a video isn’t simply one shot or a sequence of shots, but a story tied together by different scenes, which are made of individual shots. Perhaps the course could have started with a completed sequence, with a storyline and a variety of different shots. Then different lessons would break down the different shots and how they worked together in a video. The reason for this might be because of the next point..
- Feels like a bit of a sell for his main course. This course is but one section of his larger filmmaking course that runs for $800 (at the time of writing). This is probably why the previous point exists – all of these techniques and are no doubt tied together with all sorts of camera shots to make films in his main course.
- You can’t skip lessons. Since one of the selling points listed on the homepage is to “take your skills to the next level”, that tells me that it’s not only targeted towards beginners, but intermediate and advanced gimbal practitioners too. If you’re not a beginner however, you wouldn’t have any use for the first bunch of lessons and would like to skip ahead to the more advanced lessons.
- I wish there were more examples of the long take. Part 2 of the course does focus on narrative filmmaking and does indeed tell a story. But it uses a completely different technique to do so: the long take. I really liked this lesson actually, and Brandon teaches us about techniques like blocking.
Is it worth it?
The course currently sells for the early bird price of $147. Set to increase to $199 at some point in the future.
There is a lot of free, high quality content available on Youtube these days. Sure, you could make the argument that theres too much. But especially for beginner content like how to set up a gimbal and do basic moves, this can be learned with a short search. This is also packaged nicely and in sequential order for you to learn.
If you’ve bought a gimbal and don’t really know where to start with using it and setting it up, then yes I’d say it’s worth it. But if you already have a decent amount of experience using a gimbal and want to learn more advanced content, I wouldn’t really recommend paying this price for the relatively few bits of advanced content.
I really appreciate what Brandon has done for the online filmmaking community and I love his contributions. It’s a well thought-out course with plenty of useful information.
Just don’t go thinking that you’ll become a gimbal master just by watching this course: that is something only learned through hours, days and years of real-world experience and editing.
Either way, if you own a gimbal I’d definitely recommend checking out the course and seeing if it’s right for you: