The Marques Brownlee MasterClass Session provides step by step instruction on how to conceive, shoot and package four compelling videos from MKBHD himself.
Having completed the Session in full, I'm here to share my experience and tell you everything you need to know about it.
I'll even do a side-by-side comparison to MKBHD's pre-existing Skillshare class, to help you decide which is best for you.
I'm going to cover a ton of detail in this Marques Brownlee MasterClass review, so if you're short on time, here are the headlines:
You'll learn how to:
- Land on ideas for your next (or first) video
- Step into the shoes of your audience
- Light and shoot professional videos – on any budget
- Use game changing tips for achieving reveals, angles, moves and slides
- Achieve crisp, clean sound
- Use B-Roll to elevate your story
- Get to grips with editing basics
- Package your video for maximum findability
- Learn from MKBHD – 15.5m+ subscribers
- Brilliantly structured and taught course with great practical assignments
- Learning supported by amazing graphics, visuals and guides
- Feedback provided by a community of fellow students
- Budget and high end options for kit included
- Doesn’t go into a lot of technical depth so less suited to seasoned YouTubers or vloggers
- Quite basic on editing
Length of course: 3 hours and 33 minutes split into six sections and designed to be taken over 30 days (you can work faster if you want to)
Best for: Anyone looking to translate their ideas into compelling videos whilst sharing their learning journey with an active community of like-minded peers. Also great for Intermediate creatives who want to turbo charge their content engines and learn game changing tips from the best.
Overall: In this highly practical session you’ll learn how to take your passions online and create thumb-stopping content. From inception, through to packaging (and literally everything in between) you’ll gain all the production experience you need to have amazing videos ready to post in just 30 days.
In this review, I'll be covering:
- About Marques Bronwlee, MasterClass and MasterClass Sessions
- A breakdown of what’s inside
- What I liked and thought could be improved
- Who it’s for
- How much it costs
- Is there anything better?
- What other people thought of the course
- How unique the content is
- What you’ll need
- And the bottom line: is the MKBHD MasterClass Session worth it?
About Marques Brownlee – MKBHD
For anyone interested in tech, Marques Brownlee (aka MKBHD) needs little introduction.
He’s quite simply the go-to YouTuber for advice and guidance on all-things tech. His 15m+ subscribers, 3bn views, and his interviews with tech giants like Bill Gates and Elon Musk are testimony to the trust folks invest in MKBHD.
Holder of the Shorty award for ‘Creator of the Decade’, MKBHD has also been described by a former Google VP as the, “best technology reviewer on the planet”.
Undoubtedly, part of MKBHD’s appeal is the amazing production quality of his videos.
But more than that, his advice is meticulously thought out, well structured, laser focused and easy to understand. MKBHD would have made an outstanding educator and it’s easy to see why, in our tech dominated world, his guidance is valued so highly.
All of which is great news for someone hoping to gain the video and production skills necessary to create their own online following.
But is MKBHD as good at explaining his art as he is at demystifying tech? Read on to find out.
And if you haven’t watched the official trailer for the Marques Brownlee MasterClass session you can do so here:
About MasterClass & MasterClass Sessions
MasterClass launched in 2015 with a simple idea: Everyone should have access to genius.
The online education platform provides over 150 inspirational MasterClasses taught by those who’ve garnered global recognition in their fields.
Famed for its outstanding production values, MasterClass is also rigorous when it comes to quality of content and learning materials. This combination provides a unique and compelling learning experience.
Having been a member for three years, I can report that MasterClass courses are fantastic and insightful. However, some are definitely better than others. And it’s important to do your research first to make sure the one you’re thinking about matches your needs.
MasterClass sessions are little different from regular MasterClasses in that they are:
- Time bound classes that you start with a cohort of fellow students
- Project based and community oriented – you get to engage with, and receive meaningful feedback from, your peers and teaching assistants
- Structured to be completed over 30 days (though you can complete them in less time if you wish)
You can read our full review of MasterClass Sessions here.
Marques Brownlee – MasterClass vs Skillshare
MKBHD also has a class on SkillShare – YouTube Success: Script, Shoot and Edit.
So which should you choose? This quick side by side comparison may help you decide:
|Date of production||2022||2021|
|Length of course||3.5 hours designed to be completed in 30 days||One hour 14 minutes|
|Project based with community feedback||Yes||No|
|Offers other courses specifically on video content production and editing||No||Yes|
|Cost of subscription||$15 per month billed annually||$14 a month billed annually or $32 per month for a monthly subscription|
Inside MKBHD's MasterClass Session
The Marques Brownlee MasterClass Session consists of 31 lessons divided into six sections.
Lessons are bite sized and average about 10 minutes in length. Most are accompanied by downloadable guides that support and add to your learning. There are also budget to high end buying recommendations with links.
MKBHD’s course is a mixture of 1 to 1 style teaching, practical demonstrations, side to side examples of different effects and techniques, helpful graphics and visuals and ‘special messages’ from MKBHD summarising key takeaways and task breakdowns.
What follows is a play-by-play breakdown of each section so you can decide whether or not this MasterClass Session is something you might be interested in.
Section 1/6: Introduction to content creation
Lessons 1 & 2: Session overview and Meet your instructor MKBHD
“This class is about taking something from inside you, that you wanna share, that you feel passionate about, and bottling it and packaging it into a video that you can share online.”
In this short opening section Marques briefly recaps his career, provides an overview of the course, and shares what he hopes you will know, understand and be able to do as a result of taking it. Namely that:
“You will actually create a series of videos that you love and, in the process, gain all the tools, fundamentals and nuances you need to be a better communicator through video.”
You also get to see clips of Marque’s earlier work so you can track his journey of improvement over the last decade. I loved that I got to see such a virtuoso of video being open and honest about his mistakes.
And hyped to know I was about to benefit from over a decade of learning in only 30 days.
Lessons 3-5: Topic development assessment, Framework checklist & Share and score a video
Make what you want to watch, and choose things that are fun for you, topics you enjoy If you’re doing something you love, it won’t feel like work
Here, Marques shares how he choses topics for his videos. But more importantly, he gives guidance for how you can land on ideas and concepts for your next (or first) video.
- Be given a simple method for figuring out your audience is
- Gain tips for viewing your work from the audience perspective
- Use a criteria rubric to evaluate video content you are drawn towards
- Begin to identify your original angle
- Receive a Framework Checklist, setting out everything you need to keep in mind as the course unfolds in order to plan for your video
The structured thinking behind MKBHD’s course was clearly evident. I found it really helpful to be given a framework that I could use as a point of reference for the entire course.
The first assignment was simple and fun to do and the criteria rubric was a great tool for getting clear about what works and why. Plus you get to share your thoughts with the community and learn from their experiences too.
So we’re off to a good start. How did things progress?
Section 2/6: Technical Best Practices: Cameras, Lenses, Lighting
Lessons 1-3 Camera overview, Cameras for all budgets & Lenses
“The best camera you have is the one you have with you.”
Marques starts by introducing the three types of camera he’s using in his class – smartphone, mirrorless and cinema – their pros and cons and which one might suit your purposes.
He walks you through the buttons and ergonomics of each one and provides lots of side by side footage so you can see the contrast between the different results.
Always keen to be inclusive with his advice, Marques says the camera in your pocket is probably good enough and provides tips on how to know when it’s time to switch to a more professional set up. As well as how to find one that suits your budget and purpose.
It was reassuring to know that a big investment was not going to be necessary to meet the objectives of the course!
In terms of lenses you will learn:
- Key features of zoom, prime and telephoto lenses
- What subjects suit which lens (eg yourself, small gadgets or B-Roll)
- How to change the feel of a video by adjusting focal length
- What aperture is and why it matters
- Why a zoom lens is the best for those starting out or on a budget
As with the previous section there were lots of comparison shots to illustrate the different results possible with each lens.
My only beef with this chapter was there was a lot of reference to depth of field but no explanation of what it is. It seems like a pretty important aspect of video and photography and I would have liked to hear Marque’s take on it.
That said, it was highlighted and explained in the guide on Understanding Apertures.
Lessons 4-8 Lighting, Household and hardware lights, Gather your equipment, Composition & Share three lighting clips
So my goal for you is to be able to evaluate, when you are looking at a frame, how you need to change the lights to achieve what you want.
In his introduction Marques gets you thinking about lighting sets the mood and tone of a video and the impact this has on your audience.
He uses clips from his early videos to illustrate common lighting errors and provides zero dollar solutions to rectify them. He also provides pro tips on:
- How to easily check your lighting set up so you can adjust it while you work
- Change the warmth and coolness of your lighting
- What three point lighting is, how it works and how to achieve it on a budget
- The importance of the key light
- How and why to deploy a softbox
Having demonstrated the 3 point lighting system MKBHD goes on to show how you can achieve it with low cost lights that you probably already have. And how to manipulate daylight to achieve the same effect.
The section finishes with tips on composition (using angles, slopes, shadows, colour, etc) in order to get a clean background that draws your eye to the subject with as little visual noise as possible.
Then lastly you get to make your first video in an assignment that allows you to compare and contrast the different effects of using:
- Just the key light
- The key and fill lights together
- The full three light system
One you’ve recreated the three lighting systems you have learned you can share your efforts to YouTube and the community for feedback.
Section 3/6: Connecting with your audience
Lesson 1: Eyeline communication
In this section you discover how subtle changes in the height of your camera can be used to increase your authority, or make you feel more approachable – depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
There are side by side shots to help illustrate the effectiveness of this simple, zero cost way to up your on online camera presence.
Lesson 2-6 Microphones and Pro-Level Audio, Voice delivery, Share your performance & Give feedback
Having perfected the look of your frame, this next section deals with capturing the best possible audio.
- The upsides of external vs internal microphones
- Tips for getting a crisp, clean sound
- How to know when your audio levels are correct
- Which microphones to use if recording outside
- How to keep your audio quality consistent across the whole video and lay music under your voice
- Pointers for voice delivery and gestures, and the pros and cons of using scripts
- Suggestions for making your camera feel more like a person than a piece of equipment!
In the assignment for this section you build on everything you’ve learned so far to upload a video explaining your choice of eyeline and audio set up. And of course, you can share it with the community and get feedback.
Section 4/6: Creating better visuals – B Roll and editing
Lessons 1-8: B-Roll explained, B-Roll and Editing Checklist, Smartphone stabilization, Slider demo, How to source stock footage and Assignment
The majority of this section is about incorporating everything you’ve learned so far to shoot compelling B-Roll.
- What B-Roll is and how to use it to elevate your story
- How to have fun with movement but keep shots stable
- Game changing tips for achieving reveals, angles, moves and slides (including low/no cost options)
- Marque’s best recommendations for sourcing low cost stock footage as well as how this can add new dimensions to your story
Finally you put all this into practice by shooting your own B-Roll footage and uploading it to the community for feedback – as well, of course, as providing feedback to the efforts of others.
The next step will be how to loop your B-Roll into your A-Roll..
Lesson 9: Editing basics
In the final part of this section you’ll cover the basics you need to get started with editing, together with a comparative overview of three different editing tools:
- Final Cut Pro
- Adobe Premiere Pro
As well as outlining the pros and cons of each Marques outlines their different keyboard shortcuts and workflow methods.
You’ll learn how to:
- Get your media organised for exporting your video
- Compress your video down to a well paced, watchable format
- Smooth out audio delivery on audio
- Incorporate your B-Roll to make your story fun and dynamic to watch
All that’s left is how to title and thumbnail your video to pull in viewers….
Section 5/6: Packaging your videos
Lessons 1-4: Titling videos, Create your final video, Share your Final Video and Give feedback
This short, final section aims to help you package your video for maximum findability so it doesn’t get lost in a sea of other content.
Marques shares professional SEO tips to help you create compact, compelling titles that maximize your reach.
He also introduces SEO tools and plug-ins that help you tag your video and include keywords.
Lastly he emphasizes the importance of thumbnails and how to use them to provide a compelling gateway to your video.
Having covered everything, you now get to upload your very own topic video using everything you’ve learned and post it to the community for feedback.
Section 6/6: Conclusion
“What you create is gonna be more than enough, because it didn’t exist before.”
As he bids us farewell, Marques leaves us with a final piece of advice:
“Done is better than perfect”
As he puts it, you’ll learn more about the whole process if you make 100 videos in 100 days, than if you spend 100 days making one.
He advises us to be realistic and not expect to become great overnight. For Marques, that gap between how good your videos are, and your sense of how good they could be, is what keeps you moving forward and makes the process fun.
What I liked
Learn from MKBHD
Marques Brownlee is undoubtedly one of the most successful YouTubers out there. His reach is testimony to this.
With the Marques Brownlee MasterClass Session you get to learn from the man himself.
In only 30 days you’ll get access to knowledge and skills Marques earned the hard way in his decade long career.
Not only that, but Marques is a great teacher and communicator. Put simply, he is great at explaining stuff and his manner and style demonstrate that he cares about his audience.
So an added benefit is that you get to see clear and sincere communication in action so you can replicate it.
Carefully structured course with practical assignments
Everything about this course screams an understanding of great teaching methods.
The bite sized lessons are easily digestible so you can learn quickly and get to work straight away.
Skills are taught in a carefully structured way so that knowledge is developed incrementally and tasks build on each other logically.
Learning supported by great graphics, visuals and guides
The exemplar videos, graphics and visuals really support learning, and of course demonstrate how to effectively use B-Roll to enhance your story – an added bonus!
In addition to that, each section is supported by downloadable guides so you don’t need to take any notes, and if you want to take your learning further there are additional supporting explanations and advice.
Responsive community for feedback
MasterClass has effectively addressed this drawback by offering Sessions like this one by MKBHD.
Sessions always start at a specific time with a cohort of fellow students. This cohort effectively becomes your audience. As you progress through the lessons you can seek advice, share successes and gain feedback from this community. As well, of course, as providing feedback for others.
We’ve researched this style of learning at Learnopoly and you can read the stats here. But in summary, you’re way more likely to finish a course and way more likely to remember it when you feel a sense of community.
Options for every budget covered
Producing video content can be an expensive business if you invest in all the high end kit.
The great thing about this course is Marques covers options for every budget including several zero cost suggestions.
You won’t need to splash out to get started, and you get clear advice on when it might be time to upgrade.
What could be improved
Well, it’s clear from everything I’ve said so far that I enjoyed the Marques Brownlee MasterClass Session.
But no course is perfect and, as MKBHD himself says, there’s always room for improvement or change.
Doesn’t always go into a lot of technical depth
This is understandable as it is more geared towards those at the start of their video production journey. So for some, this may be a pro!
That said, there are lots of pro tips that seasoned YouTubers can benefit from.
However, if you already have a substantial following you might be better doing specific technical searches on YouTube for the level of detail you're looking for.
Quite basic on editing
This is understandable as video editing is a big topic. Marques does provide a useful overview of key editing tools but if this is something you want granular detail on, you need to bear this in mind when weighing up whether to take the MKBHD MasterClass Session.
If this video editing is what you are really seeking, check out our best video editing course review.
Who is this course for?
In my opinion, the MKBHD MasterClass Session is for someone who is:
- Wanting to translate their passions and ideas into compelling videos
- Interested in learning game changing tips from one of the best in the business
- Looking for a well rounded course that touches on every aspect of video production
- New to video production, or an intermediate creative looking to turbo charge their content engine and boost their following
- A fan of Marques Bronwlee
The class is best suited for someone who is either new to the game, or has some experience and wants to take their videos to the next level.
The course is less suitable for seasoned YouTubers or Vloggers who are looking for highly granular, technical detail.
How much is MKBHD'S MasterClass session?
At the time of writing MasterClass had three subscription offers. The cost of these (per month) is:
- Individual (1 user) $15
- Duo (2 users) $20
- Family (6 users) $23
All are billed annually, which at first glance may seem pricey.
However, you can considerably reduce your costs by taking as many courses as possible.
With over 150 courses on the platform you’re likely to find quite a few to interest you. Even if you buy an individual membership and take only 10% of the courses this still works out to only $12 a course:
$180 (annual individual membership fee) / 15 courses = $12.
Bearing in mind that these classes are taught by global leaders in their fields the value is unbeatable. You can pay over $100 for an online course taught by someone you’ve never even heard of, never mind the caliber of teachers on MasterClass.
What’s more, MasterClass also offers a 30 day refund if you’re unhappy with your purchase.
You can also purchase MasterClass as a gift.
There’s a lot of choice out there for anyone interested in creating video content.
On MasterClass itself, MKBHD’s class is the only one of its kind. There are, however, other classes (including two Sessions) it would sit well alongside such as:
- Ninja teaches how to build your streaming brand
- Petra Collins teaches how to capture your vision through photography
- James Cameron teaches Filmmaking
- Ron Howard teaches directing and filmmaking
- Jodie Foster teaches filmmaking
- Werner Herzog teaches the essentials of filmmaking
- Spike Lee teaches independent filmmaking
- Martin Scorsese teaches filmmaking
- Mira Nair teaches independent filmmaking
- Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking
- David Lynch teaches creativity and film
Skillshare offers a number of courses relating to the creation of video content.
One of these is from MKBHD himself – YouTube Success: Script, Shoot and Edit.
The MasterClass option is newer, longer and project based with community feedback.
But one advantage of a Skillshare subscription is that you then have access to lots of other courses on video content production and editing.
That said, though many SkillShare teachers are well known creatives like MKBHD, anyone can upload their course to SkillShare. So though there are more courses on SkillShare that are directly relevant to video content production, their quality will vary.
If you are interested in filmmaking in general you could consider MZed. MZed is a specialist platform that provides a range of courses that cover every corner of the filmmaking industry. Most of its courses provide professional accreditation on completion.
Many of its teachers are highly regarded within the industry, such as Philip Bloom and Tom Cross.
You can buy courses singly or subscribe to the platform. However, these classes are not project based and there is no community to provide feedback for your work. It is also not geared towards the production of videos for content on platforms such as YouTube.
Lastly, if video editing is something you really want to learn in granular detail, check out our best video editing course review.
MKBHD's MasterClass: what others say
In order to keep this review fair and balanced, I’ve searched the internet to see what others have said about MKBHD’s MasterClass Session.
Because it was so new at the time of writing, there really isn't that much out there.
Checking the YouTube trailer comments, you can see that Marques Brownlee fans are incredibly excited. Although this excitement speaks to how popular MKBHD is, these comments are inevitably biased.
I wanted to find people who had taken the course. So I looked through every comment in the MasterClass community to see if there were any that gave an overall impression of the course (as the majority were related to projects and feedback).
Of these, there were quite a few and only one that could be described as negative so I’ll speak to this one first:
“I was expecting a lot more from this class honestly. I think it was really good for beginners who have never made a video before, but I didn't really think it gave that much info overall and I could've learned a lot more from just looking up videos on youtube. I think the best part about the class was the host, he did a great job explaining things and talking clearly. I wish there was more about video editing in this class. Overall I thought it was a good experience. I think the ideal participant is someone who has never made a video before.”
This commenter has picked up on things that I also felt were ‘cons’ of the course. It could go into more detail with editing and it is tilted toward those at the start of their content creation career.
These participants loved the course, but it is obvious they were new to video creation:
“My first-ever YouTube. I had more fun than I had imagined! Not nearly as awkward as I had always feared it would be. Thanks for this opportunity to get outside my comfort zone!”
“This has been a wonderful learning experience to have forever grateful as we apply what we learned and get better at it. All of this was new information for me and I so enjoyed reading everyone's projects. I am looking forward to getting better. This was amazing.”
That said, not all the positive comments came from beginners, many clearly had at least some experience and still benefited from taking the course:
“This course opened my eyes to new things I could do for my content creation and hopefully build a great following, enhance my editing skills and give me the confidence I needed to be a great creator!”
“Really enjoyed this course! He dished out some intangibles with lighting and conversation to a camera that I would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. My advice to other students? Watch videos twice! There's a lot to be learned from Marques.”
So the general consensus amongst those who have actually taken the course is a positive one.
Length of course and what you'll need
The Marques Brownlee MasterClass session is designed to be completed over 30 days.
Actual viewing/reading time is just over three and half hours with lessons spread across six sections. You also need to build in time to complete the assignments. These include analysing existing content as well as producing four videos of your own to upload to the community for feedback.
Once you get started with your cohort of fellow students, you can go at your own pace and complete the course in less (or more) time.
What you'll need
- Either a smartphone or mirrorless camera
- Camera lenses (a zoom if you can only afford a single lens)
- A lighting set up
- High end – a key, fill and rim light
- Budget – hardware store light, desk lamp and floor lamp
- Camera slider (MKBHD shows you how to use a cardboard box for this purpose if you don’t have one)
- Stock footage from providers such as iStock (for B-Roll)
- Editing software (Marques overviews four possibilities)
Is the course content unique?
Yes and no.
I say this because as mentioned above under alternatives, Marques has a similar class available on Skillshare.
Read the Alternatives section for more detail on how to decide whether the MasterClass or SkillShare option is better for you.
But in summary, the MasterClass option is:
- More recent
- Twice as long
- Broader and deeper in terms of content
- Provides the opportunity for feedback from teaching assistants and students who start it in the same cohort as you.
Is the MKBHD MasterClass session worth it?
My answer: yes.
The Marque Brownlee MasterClass Session is a highly practical, broad based and incredibly well taught and structured course. It offers the opportunity to learn the process of video content creation from beginning to end from one of the best in the business. As evidenced by his 15.5 million+ subscribers.
By the end of the session, you will have had the opportunity to gain all the video and production experience necessary to build your own following. You’ll even have four videos ready to post.
However, it does depend on you, your experience, and what you’re hoping to get out of it.
IF you’re a seasoned veteran of YouTube who's expecting an advanced and highly technical course, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
That’s not to say you won’t get lots of game changing tips and wisdom. You will – but the content is tipped towards those at the start of their video content creation career.
But remember, with a MasterClass Subscription you have access to over 150 other courses, all delivered by connoisseurs of their art. So the best way to get value for money is by taking as many courses as possible.
Plus the 30 day refund policy reduces the risk of you spending money on something you haven't enjoyed.
Frequently asked questions
An individual MasterClass subscription costs $180 a year ($15 a month). This gives you access to the Marques Brownlee MasterClass alongside 150+ other courses.
The Marque Brownlee MasterClass session is designed to be completed in 30 days, though you can complete it more quickly if you wish. The class itself is three and a half hours long divided into 6 sections but you need to build in time for completing assignments and video creation.
Unfortunately you can’t get MKBHD’s MasterClass for free. But MasterClass allows you to sample it for free, has a range of purchasing options and offers refunds if you’re not happy.
Yes, MasterClass operates a 30 day refund policy if you purchase directly through them. If you purchase through other providers, their returns policy may apply.
Liz Hurley has 30+ years of high school teaching experience and is one of our senior writers here at Learnopoly.