It is no secret that our business is high-end video production. One thing we constantly do is educate ourselves. This last weekend, Jacob and I were afforded the opportunity to attend Shane Hurlbut, A.S.C.’s, Illumination Experience workshop.

A misconception about the video production world is that it is as easy as just pointing a camera at a subject and hitting the record button. This  couldn’t be farther from the truth, and our clients can and will attest to that.

One of the big factors in video production is cinematography. In short, this is the art of lighting a scene, positioning a camera, and determining the camera’s motion during a scene.

Shane Hurlbut, A.S.C., does this for a living and does it well. He also has a burning desire to share his knowledge with those who are in the pursuit of high quality production, ergo, his Illumination Experience Tour.

Now, there are a ton of courses available from people who do this sort of thing on a regular basis, but, there are none like Shane’s Illumination Experience Tour. His credits include movies such as Need For Speed, Act of Valor, Terminator Salvation, and so on. This man is no amateur. His most recent feature is a movie called “Fathers and Daughters” with Russell Crow (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Need for Speed), and Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables, Mama Mia). This guy is absolutely the real deal.

Not long ago, he started a subscription based education community called “Shane’s Inner Circle” where he goes as in depth as possible teaching things that you can only learn from someone who works on large- studio feature films. I was an early adopter and signed up before it was officially launched because I have been following Shane for some time on his blog and have learned more than I could ever explain. This was an opportunity to have a direct connection with someone who I look up to and hold in such high regard.

Shortly after the launch of the Inner Circle, Shane made the announcement of his Illumination Experience Tour.One part is called the Illumination Workshop. It is a day where you get to spend a full day in a room with Shane and his crew watching and breaking down segments of movies he shot and getting your hands dirty working an actual set lighting and shooting a scene from “Crazy/Beautiful.”

The other part is in limited cities and it is called the Experience Masterclass. It is about a 12-hour day where you start off with the set of Air Force One from “Swing Vote” and all you get is some walls, some practical lights, and some set decorations. From there, those who attend take turns in different positions and the class has to light the set, position the camera, move props, you name it. The later part of the day, you move to another area of the Air Force One set and light a different scene. We finished up moving back to the Crazy/Beautiful set and lit the same scene from scratch several times. The attendees are the directors and crew. Once each lighting setup is done, we shoot the shot and Shane helps break down how he would have done it and why.

You can attend one or both days and I cannot recommend the Illumination Experience Tour highly enough.

Jacob and I, were given a unique opportunity along with both classes in Dallas. We got an extra day with Shane. We were contacted and asked to come up a day early and help load in and set up for the workshop and masterclass. We figured that we would get there and be pack-mules and maybe Shane would show up, give marching orders, and head to his hotel room to prep for the next day. Not at all! Shane showed up and was completely involved in the whole process. He introduced himself to us and a little while later caught us and said, “Hey, you guys are Inner Circle members, right? Aren’t you the ones who were [messing] with my GoPro mods?”

I, being completely awe-struck, shook my head like an idiot and was just floored that he KNEW who we were. Jacob and I were there from 4pm to about 12:30am (8.5 hours) and Shane was there for most of the time. That night, we forged friend ships with his road crew and a couple of other guys (Les and Mayson) who were also there to assist with the Dallas stop of the Illumination Experience Tour.

We got to spend 3 days with Shane totaling about 32 hours and we came back with our brains completely stuffed.

I know this post is long-winded, but, I cannot stress enough, how important it is that you attend this class if you aspire to be behind the camera.

The other thing I really want to make mention of is that this isn’t a tour where the keynote speaker is introduced, comes out, does his thing, maybe does a Q&A, and goes into seclusion. The whole event is a Q&A and Shane stays and mingles the whole time. He is a very real person. He calls you by your name. He will make fun of you (completely in jest). He will fire you from the set for not being able to tell time (you will have to attend to find out about this inside joke). He will be your friend. And most of all, he will be more grateful than words can express that you made the time to join him in the experience.

But, enough about Shane 😉 I’m going to talk about his crew. We worked with every crew member at some point during the set-up night. David (Shane’s Personal Assistant), Jeremy (Shane’s Tour Manager)

, Matt, Larry, Alex, and Freddy (aka. Fred Jackman, #Frackman) [please, forgive and remind me if I left anyone out because my brain is fried after this weekend] were all bros be the end of it. They never talked down to us or treated us like a couple of idiots who had no clue what a lot of the stuff was because we’ve never even seen some of the tools before. If we didn’t know what something was, they explained what it was, what it did, and how to use it. They did this all weekend. Shane is great and all, but, he admits that the tour wouldn’t be successful without his crew members.

There are not enough nice things that I can say about this tour and if you can afford to go and you choose not to, then you must be brain damaged.

I cannot wait to share what we have learned and I really cannot wait to apply it for our clients.

We must also thank our awesome cousins, Steve and Katy Esquivel, for letting us crash at their house the last three evenings. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to afford to make the trip and stay in Dallas for the Illumination Experience Tour.



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