Filmmaking for Fun: Creating a Short Cooking Film | Ben Rountree | Skillshare

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Filmmaking for Fun: Creating a Short Cooking Film

teacher avatar Ben Rountree, Filmmaker and Video Editor

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Overview

    • 3. Lighting Demo

    • 4. Composition

    • 5. Making Creative Choices

    • 6. The Hero Shot

    • 7. Editing

    • 8. The Final Food Film

    • 9. Conclusion

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About This Class

Want to learn how to film fun, short-form cooking content? 

Join filmmaker Ben Rountree as he teaches you how to create a one minute, cinematic cooking film. These short films are perfect for sharing new recipes or just havign some cooking fun for social media! In the class, you will learn how to:

  • Light your sets with different setups
  • Compose your shots to get a standout image
  • Make creative choices for getting unique looks
  • Edit your footage to create your final video

This class is for beginners and intermediates, interested in creating short, high quality films. You do not need any prior experience with filmmaking. As long as you have a phone or any camera, you’ll be fine! 

This class will be useful if you’re creating a culinary blog, website or starting a business making cooking films. Skills from this class will be relevant for other genres of filmmaking.

Let's get "cooking"!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ben Rountree

Filmmaker and Video Editor



I'm Ben, a freelance filmmaker based in NYC.

I work with brands, production companies and organizations to create engaging content.

 I love telling stories visually, and using cinematography to enhance the the way we experience them. 


Check out my work:


See full profile

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1. Introduction: Ever since I was a kid, I've always loved photography, film-making, and visual arts. At a young age, I used to carry a camera everywhere I went and would photograph anything that interests me. I started to see at that age how this becomes a language on itself. Hi, my name is Ben Rountree and I'm a filmmaker based in New York City. My sister, Sarah, is also a creative person and a very talented chef. She works at a restaurant called Blue Hill. For years, I've watched her cook in the kitchen, start an ice cream sandwich business, experiment with new dishes. Her process is always inspired my creative process. In this class, I'm going to show you how to create a sophisticated one minute cooking film for beginners. This is something you can easily do in your kitchen, and is going to focus more on the process of cooking rather than a recipe. However, I would love for you to have a lot of creative freedom and create a film that's going to benefit you in what you're using it for. If you've been interested in anything cooking-related, you've probably noticed how cooking films are very popular right now. From the amazing tasty videos to Binging with Babish, Chef's Table and all the cooking films, filmmaking is a very effective tool you can use to showcase culinary arts. If you're someone who loves food, just like I do, or filming others cooking, like I also do, this is going to be a great class for you. We're going to go over some cinematic techniques, lighting, basic editing, and you can do all this through any camera you have at home or your iPhone if that's what you want to use. This will be very relevant if you're looking to build your social media, to build a website, a food blog, or if you're looking to get into food commercials. I'm super excited to film this class because I really want to show you how you can showcase culinary arts and amazing food through cinematography. Thank you so much for joining in and let's get started. 2. Class Overview: Hi, guys. In this class we're going to be creating a one minute cooking film. Now there are many ways that you can approach this, but I'm going to share with you one way that I would approach it and give you alternatives to other ways. Now at the past five years, I've worked on a range of commercials, short documentaries, and narratives. But I have to say, some of my favorite projects have been capturing someone else's creative process. Whether it's a sculptor in New York City or a furniture designer, or even chefs in the kitchen. I love capturing people's creative process and especially making the images look as good as possible. In this class, I'm going to show you how to work on composition, editing, lighting, and creative choices. Materials that would be required are a camera for obvious reasons, you definitely need a camera to record images. But that could be any camera you like, and also an editing software. Whether it's Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro or even I move your Instagram I think would be fine. Materials that are not required but suggested would be lighting and a tripod. Depending on how often you want to make these films, I think investing in some lighting could be a great resource if you're looking to work on this a lot because you're going to have a lot of control over your images. Which I'll talk more in the lighting class. A tripod, I think, would be great if you're in a situation where you're going to be filming yourself cooking. If you're filming yourself cooking, you'll have to focus on the shots that you're filming, as well as the cooking itself and you'll probably want a tripod to do that. With that, I would also say, it will be really good to work on a recipe that you know really well, one that you've done a lot and that you know, inside and out. Because on top of filming yourself, you'll also have to be doing the cooking. I hope that you guys are really excited about this class. I can't wait to see what you guys make. 3. Lighting Demo: Hey guys. For this part of the class, we're going to go over lighting. Now, this might sound a little strange, but I personally love light and lighting so much so that whenever I enter a cafe or restaurant, I'm always looking for the best area that has great light, whether it's a window or an ambiance. There was even one time where I waited 30 minutes just to get a spot by the window that had great light. So that's all to say, I love light. I think about it a lot. I try to notice it in films that I watch and it has a big impact on the films that I make. If you've ever watched Chef's Table or the movie Chef on Netflix, they have some amazing food photography, some great food shots. Besides the fact that they have very high-end cinema cameras, they also do a great job with the lighting and has a huge impact on the film. One thing that's really interesting and cool to note is, if you take the word photograph and break it apart, photo and graph, it translates from the Latin as drawing with light, photo-light, graph-drawing. This is very true because when you're recording an image the camera needs light to record. So what you're doing is you're drawing with light. So we'll talk about three different types of lighting today, and the first one is hard light. It might sound very similar to what it is, but hard light is light that's coming from a very small light source. So you can think about this in the afternoon when the sun's very bright and you get very dark shadows and very bright highlights, it creates a very contrasty image and that's hard light. A lot of people tend to say that this doesn't work as well with beauty photography or food films, but I would argue that there's a way to use this if you're intentional and aware of what it creates. The second type of lighting is soft light. Now, soft light is very different from hard light as it comes from a very large light source. So this would be like the afternoon that's very cloudy. The clouds diffuse the light and create a larger light source for the sun, thus creating softer light. It creates a less contrasty image that has more transition from the blacks to the whites, thus creating what a lot of people say it's a very pleasing image. The third type of lighting we'll talk about is natural light, which is amazing and what everyone loves to simulate and it's the most real, it's what we're aware of and familiar with. The thing with natural light though is that it can be very hard to control and manage. There was one time where I was hired to photograph food for a website and I chose to only use natural light. What happened though is throughout the day the light kept changing, going in and out of the clouds and I had to compensate to create a cohesive image that were all similar and predictable. However, the second time I got hired back and I went and brought my own lighting, and it was so much easier because I was able to control the light and therefore how the images were going to look. So that's one thing to think about. We'll talk more about this as we shoot. I'll give recommendations for different lights you can look into, that way you can become more familiar with it. I would encourage you too the next time you watch a film or a TV show, start to be aware of how they're lighting the scenes, where the light's coming from and if it's hard light, soft light, or if they're using natural light and how that affects the images. Before you even start filming, I want you to think about the location you're going to be filming in, the setting, and start to think about where the light's coming from, and if there's any way that you can shape it or work with it. So for example, this is my kitchen. I'm obviously very familiar with this space, but you'll notice that I have a great, nice window here and a lot of counter space. This is where we're going to be doing our prep work because I have a lot of natural light to light our subject, and a lot of space to work to build our composition. The second space we're going to be working in is the stove over here. There's not as much light to work with in this space. I do have these three fixtures, but I know they're not going to produce the light that I want. So I brought in my Kino Flo light, which is a great light. This light creates a very soft source light, and so that's going to light our subjects when she's cooking at the stove here. These are things you want to consider with the space that you're working in and how you can shape and work with it. This is the Kino Flo that we're going to be using to light our subject, my sister Sarah. I'm going to show you the difference between when it's on and off so that you can see how the light's creating a separation between the subject and the background. This is the light that's currently turned on and you can see how Sarah's beautifully lit and the background is falling off very smoothly. This is what it's going to look like when I turn that off, and if I'm just using the natural light, so it's a very different image. So this is something you're going to want to consider when you're filming people and subjects, is how to create that separation and how to use light to your advantage. In the next class, we're going to talk about composition and how to frame your subjects. 4. Composition: Hey guys, today we're going to look at how to make your film more interesting through composition and shot design. So composition is basically how you compose an image in entirety. What you choose to include or exclude from your frame, and I want you to think about this as something that you can control, that you're not just taking an image of something that's already there, but you're making an image and building something so that you have control over it in that way. So one rule early in photography is called the rule of thirds, and this is a framing technique really about how you position a subject to show their relationship to another element in the scene. If you have your frame and you imagine there being a tic-tac-toe board overlaying, the rule of thirds would say you'd want your main subject to be on one of the four corners of the tic-tac-toe board, and therefore, it would leave space in the frame to showcase another element and their relationship to that element. So this is a rule I would say you don't need to follow, but it's really good to be aware of it and to know how to break it depending on your intentions. So with the food film, one thing I love to do is showcase a chef's relationship to their food. So I'll put the chef on the left side of the frame, and the pan or the food on the right side to show them interacting with it and therefore showing their relationship to what they're cooking. All right. So there's three shot types that I would love to go over. A wide shot, a medium shot, and a close up. So the wide shot is basically anything from head to toe showing a full person or wider, and these shots are great to start off with, to showcase the environment, the location, the contexts. They give a lot of information in the frame because there's a lot of space to work with. The second shot we'll talk about is a medium shot, and I might define a medium shot as a waist up level shot that's a little bit closer than a wide shot, but it can showcase the subject and maybe what they're working with or their relationship to something else. Then the third shot is a close up which is exactly what it sounds like, and although it's a bit subjective, close ups work really well with showcasing texture and color detail, and they work great with food because you get to see the food really close up and make it really come alive, especially on a bigger screen. So with my process, usually I'll start off with capturing a wide shot. This is a great shot to start with because I'm getting used to the space, I'm getting familiar with it, I'm showcasing them in the location. I'm establishing what's happening. It's a comfortable point of view. It's not claustrophobic, and then I'll work my way up to getting medium shots and then I'll work my way to getting close ups, and sometimes I'll go back and forth between the close up to the wide. But you want to think about in a way that's going to make sense with the shoot that you're doing to make sure that you have all the content you need. Because I know that our film is only one minute long, I probably don't need more than 10 seconds per shot depending on how many shots I'm going to want to use. So when I'm filming, I'm only going to try to film between 5-10 seconds so that I don't overshoot. But I'm really thinking about my composition and I'm able to get as many angles as I can of the process. There was one time when I was filming a short documentary about a restaurant in New York, Eleven Madison Ave, and I only had 15 minutes to film the chefs in the kitchen. So I knew I had to use my time wisely when I only have 15 minutes, and so I did like I mentioned. I started off with getting all the wide shots that I needed and then I transitioned to get all the medium shots that I wanted, and then I started to get all the close up shots so I can get the beauty of the food, and them interacting with it and really showcase what they were creating. It was great to have that prepared in that time doubts so that I knew what I was getting into and I had a plan. Sometimes there will be a balance of wanting to prepare and make a plan and also respond to what's happening and have fun and go with your instincts and make decisions off the cuff. I think there's a really good balance to have between both of these things. But having a plan and knowing something you want going in is really helpful. One of the things that I'll do with a lot of shoots I do is I will write a shot list, and I might say all the wide shots, maybe two or three wide shots or medium shot, close ups. How many I might want? How much I might use? If even you want to go further, you can write a timeline of one minute and just write down how many shots you want and how many seconds each shot would be. That's a very detailed description of knowing specifically what you want. If you want your wide shot to be 10 seconds or medium shot to be three seconds to have five of those and then end with another wide. You can really plan it out as much as you want and then have a lot of flexibility to make decisions off the cuff and be inspired in a moment and have a lot of flexibility when you're filming. I think it's good to have both. So you can think about that and maybe start thinking about writing a plan and making references to what you want. The images and the shot design, the composition to look like, and how many shots you think you're going to need, wides, mediums, and close ups. So as you go on, keep thinking about composition and practicing it to get a sense of what you're interested in and what you like and how you like to compose. Keep thinking about what you're including and excluding from the frame, and keep working on how to make those adjustments. In our next class, we are going to be talking about creative choices and how that can better your film. So I look forward to seeing you then. 5. Making Creative Choices: Hey guys. In this video, we're going to be talking about three creative choices you can consider when making your film. The 1st one is movement. Movement is really cool because it's what distinguishes photography from filmmaking. In photography, usually you just have one moment or a fraction of a second to capture an image. With video, you have all the time that you need to create a scene, and in that time you can do so much with how the camera moves. Let's say for example you have a camera move that's very slow and static. It can create a mood that's more reflective. But if you have a camera move that it's more fast, it can heighten the emotion and bring out more energy in a scene. You can choose how you want to think about this. It can be curious or it can be energetic. Whatever you want, whatever the style of your film is going to be. One shot that I particularly really like when it comes to filming an artist or a chef is a shot where it starts with the artist or chef and slowly moves down to the food or their craft that they're working on. I love this because it shows the craftsmen to the art in one shot. The 2nd creative choice we'll consider is slow motion. Slow motion is really cool because it's not how we see time normally. You can take a moment in time and extend it greatly so that we can pay more attention to that moment and focus on it more. I think slow motion is also inherently romantic in some ways because of how it's been used in films in the past and because of the quality of slowing down time and having that gaze that's a lot longer. You can use that in your film and experiment with that. The 3rd creative choice we'll consider is depth of field. Now depth of field is defined by how much of the image is in focus. If you have a shallow depth of field, that means that only a small part of the image will be in focus. But if you have a greater depth of field, it means that a larger part of the image will be in focus. It's great because if you have a shallow depth of field, you can play with what you want the viewer to pay attention to, what you want them to look at. You can control that in the camera. With food films it's great because it can bring out so much color and texture and you can play with how you want them to see your images. Now on a camera, your aperture is what controls the depth of field. On your camera, I would say anywhere between an aperture of 1.4 to 4.0 is going to be a shallow depth of field and anywhere from 5.6 to 22 will give you a greater depth of field. These are three creative choices you can consider when making your film. I want to encourage you to experiment with them, try them out, see what you like, see what you don't like, and get familiar with them. Start to also notice them when you're watching TV and other films. See how people use movement, see how people use slow motion, and if someone's using a shallow depth of field or larger depth of field. The more that you become accustomed to these techniques, the more that you'll feel confident in using them effectively and telling the best story that you can tell. In our next class, we're going to be talking about the very last shot of the film which is what we'll call the hero shot. This would be an important shot because it's going to be the final food product, it's going to capture the final food that you guys create, and it's going to showcase that in the best way possible. Thank you so much for joining in today and I'll see you next class. 6. The Hero Shot: Hey guys, here we are going to be talking about creating the very last shot of your film, which is what we'll call the hero shot. This is going to be a shot of your finished food product. It's going to showcase the food that you've created in eloquent and sophisticated way. With this, I would say you have a lot of creative freedom. It's going to be a lot of fun because you can choose what type of lighting you want to use, what you want the setting to look like. If you have a cool table you want to bring out or a placemat or some marble slabs, you want to create a scene that best represents the dish that you're making. You have a lot of options with this. Logistically as well, I would also say it's very important to find the location and find where you want to film this before filming anything else. That way, when the dish is finished and it's fully cooked, you can bring it over and shoot it right away because, with food, you don't want it to be sitting out and getting cold. You don't want it to be waiting around. You want to shoot it right when it's fresh, right when it's ready to go. This is going to be a time when you can experiment with if you want to use hard lighting or soft lighting, if you want to use maybe some candles or do some decoration around it and also think about if you do want texts in the image, where you want the text to be, how you might want that to interact with your image. Sometimes it can look really good to have some texts of what the dish is called or you can put your name in there or any information you want to include. For me, I'm going to be using the three creative techniques that I went over. I'll be using a shallow depth of field. I'll be filming in slow motion and I'll be incorporating very slow movements into my shots. You'll be able to see that and you can see how it looks and what you want to use and what you don't want to use. You can see a shot like this can require a lot of attention and detail, but you can really make it as simple or complex as you want it to be. You can have a very simple white backdrop and keep it plain and eloquent or you can decorate it with all kinds of things and make it the way that you want it. That's basically all of the classes that we have for the filming aspect of it. For our next class, you'll want to have all the filming complete and you're ready to start editing. That's what we'll be doing in our next class. I look forward to seeing you there. 7. Editing: Hey guys, I'm so glad you've made it this far. We're almost at the end of the class here, and at this point you should have all the footage captured and be ready to start editing. I'll be teaching you how I edit on Adobe Premiere, but feel free to use any editing platform you have and feel comfortable with. I also want to be up front by saying this isn't an in-depth editing or Adobe Premiere class, feel free to definitely check out other Skillshare classes on that. But if you have a platform you feel comfortable with and have some general knowledge of, that will work great. Here is our Premier Pro project file window and you can see that I have all my files imported. The first thing you're going to want to do is organize everything in bins. Organization is definitely super important and it's going to make your life a whole lot easier down the road. That way, you're not missing files or losing information later on. You can see here I have my sequences bin, which is going to have all my sequences. You'll see I have my finished film bin, which is actually the film that I was working on for this class, so don't mind that. But then I have my footage folder with all the footage that I have. Then I have my music bin, which has all the songs that I was trying out and seeing which worked best. Then I have my title page. You want to think about what bins are going to be most relevant as you go along and create them accordingly. The next thing I want to talk about real quick is music. Everyone has a very different approach to how they use music, and there's not really a right or a wrong, but one thing I like to do personally, is have the music I know I'm going to use or a temporary track that's in the same genre or style that I'm going to use. That way it will influence the pacing and the style and how I go about editing. With this, for example, I probably looked at around 20-30 songs, and then from there, I narrowed it down, maybe 10-5, and I ended up getting permission by an artist, Stan Forebee, who makes really cool hip hop, chill hop, jazz style beats. He gave me permission to use one of his songs and I really liked how dynamic it was and I liked the mellow tone to go with my film, so I ended up going with that track. But you could also start a rough edit of your film and then bring in a song later and mold it that way. This is my Adobe Premiere project window. You can see I have all my files imported and I started organizing bins. This is the first thing you're going to want to do, is organizing all your assets in a footage. You'll notice I have my Sequences folder, which has all the sequences that I'll be using, I have my Finished Film folder, which is actually the film that I was working on for this class, so don't mind that so much. But then I have my Footage folder, which has all the footage I shot, and then I had the Music folder, which has all the songs that I was experimenting with, and then my Title sequence. You're going to want to think about how to best organize your files and what's going to make most sense for your project, but being organized is super important and it's definitely very helpful down the road when you're editing so you don't lose track of any files or lose anything. I get through all the footage. The next thing we're going to do is we're going to select all of our footage. We go into our Footage folder, select all the footage, and we're going to drag it into our timeline. I name the timeline, Footage Class, but you could just title it Footage, or whatever is going to be helpful for you. The next thing I'm going do is, with my playhead, I'm basically going to scrub through all of the footage and then select the clips that are going to work the best for our film. How I do this is I'll either with the Select tool, click and drag it up to the second layer so that I can identify it as one of the clips I like, or we can use a Razor, which is over here, the Razor tool, it's also a shortcut C. So if you click C on your keyboard, you'll get the Razor. We can cut a part of that clip and then select it up. Shortcuts C and V, I'm going to keep them really close by, because C is the Razor tool and I can use that to cut a part of the clip, and then V is the selection tool, and I'll use that to bring it up to the second layer. From here, I'll pretty much just scrub through all the footage, cut the shots that I like, and then at the end you'll have a good selection of clips you want to use. Just like that. I'll just scrub through, watch all the footage. Sometimes you'll probably have clips that look very similar, so you just want to use the best ones. I pretty much already went through all my clips and selected the best ones I want to use. You can see here, I originally started with about an hour and 30 minutes of footage, which is definitely a lot of footage for a one video. I cut that down to about 10 minutes of footage, and then I cut that down again to here, which is about three minutes and 46 seconds. This is a good time where at three minutes and 46 seconds of footage, I can bring it over my music and start editing and seeing which shots are going to work best, and how I'm going to want to craft it together. If you have two shots that are very similar and might work well, definitely include those and see how you want to make that flow, and give yourself options in the editing. From here, there's two things I can do. I can duplicate this timeline and just keep my selected footage, or I can create a new timeline and put all that footage in. I'll create a new timeline to show you how that looks. You'll go into File, New, you'll go to Sequence, and I'll title this sequence Food Film_1. I go into Settings, and you just want to make sure all your settings are similar to your footage. I want my video, 1920 by 1080, which is HD. I want to make sure my time frame is 23.976, which is what I shot the film at. You're good to go. From here, I'm in my footage sequence, I'll highlight all the clips I want and I'll put it in Food Film_1. Then I'm going to bring in my song. I have my track here called Portrait. I'm going to bring that in and you can see the song is much shorter than the footage. This is really the creative part of the process, where you use your creativity and intuition and decide how you want to make editing decisions. With this, usually what I'll do is I'll listen to the song a few times, get a sense for what the vibe is, what the tone is, sometimes, I'll even put markers on different points of the song that I know are going to be really important. I'll show you, for example, in this part of the song, if there's a beat here that I know is a big transition and I really want to hit, I'll press shortcut M and that will give me a little marker, and so I'll know that's a point in the song where I really want to transition something and that's going to be a really important moment. Sometimes I'll do that and I find that helpful, but then a lot of it is just listening to the song, going through and editing to the beat or offbeat or however you want to make things work. In my film, I have about 40 clips that are all around one-and-a-half seconds. You can choose how long you want each clip to be and how you want the footage to be. I want mine to be a little bit fast and be able to show a lot of compositions that I got. I did that by creating faster cuts all in and out of the beat of the song. Two shortcuts I'll mention that I find very helpful in this stage of editing are the letter B. The letter B is an editing tool that allows you to shorten or lengthen a clip, and it keeps all of the other clips together. It's really helpful for shortening a clip, lengthening a clip and just keeping everything put together and much more fluid. The second shortcut I'll talk to you about is the shortcut N. This tool is great because it allows you to maneuver two clips that are next to each other, also with keeping everything put together and not influencing the clips around it. It allows you to just edit two clips that are right next to each other without influencing the rest of the clips around it. With this, you've a lot of creative freedom at how you want to edit it. If you want it to be narrative, if you want it to be sequential in time, if you want it to start at the end, however you want to do it, you have a lot of creative freedom. Feel free to keep going about doing that editing and making those creative decisions. Then when you get to a place where you feel like your film is just about ready to be done, you have edited to the song, it looks good, usually the last thing I'll do is think about text and how I want to incorporate text. For me, I'm just going to add a title card to the last shot and include the text, which is the dish, linguine all vodka. But if you want to use texts throughout the film, if it's a cooking video that is instructional or that you want to use ingredients, if it's one of the how-to videos then you can include text throughout the whole film, but I'm going to show you how I did it at the very end. I wanted a text that was eloquent, sophisticated, one that looked really nice. Here I created a legacy title, which I'll show you how to do. You go to File, New and then go down to Legacy Title. I can name it the Title Page, make sure it's the right size. Then here you have an option for so many different types of fonts and so many different types of colors, and you can really do a lot with the text here. What that does, that Legacy Title, it creates its own file right here that you can use and lay over the footage. You can actually see that I already did that here. This is my file. If I click that, I can see, this is the text that I used, linguine all vodka. You can change the font size, the aspects, leading. Kerning is one thing that I like to use and I used here. Kerning basically spreads out the letters in the text. I like to use it a bit and I feel like I like how it uses the space in the film. Once you feel like you're happy with your film, you like to edit, the colors look good, you're happy with the text, then you're going to want to export your video, and that's about it. There's so much more we could have talked about with editing, but I want to encourage you to look at other Skillshare classes, keep practicing it, and you're going to keep getting better and you'll see how fun it can be and how much control you have over your images. You have so many creative options when it comes to editing. It's a lot of fun to keep practicing. Thanks so much for joining in today, and I'll see you in the next class. 8. The Final Food Film: Hey guys. So before we wrap up, I just want to share the final cooking video that I made. I hope that this inspires you to create your own films and think about some of the concepts that we covered. 9. Conclusion: Congratulations on finally finishing this class. I'm so excited for you. Thank you so much for joining. I really hope that you enjoyed this class, and I hope that you continue making food films, down the road in the future. As you go along, keep practicing composition, movement, and lighting, and keep practicing with your friends, with your family on Instagram. The more that you grow in these skills, the more it will influence your creativity. There is so much more that we could have gone over in this class. But I hope that you at least see how effective cinematography can be for engaging an audience. Thank you again so much for joining in. Please, don't forget to upload your projects. I really look forward to seeing what you create.