Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 07/09/07 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Total Training Online

Let's see how the world's best digital media training tools work on the web By Kevin McAuliffe

Training is a big thing for me. Once I pick up a new product on the market, I want to know the ins and outs of what it can do as quickly, efficiently and as thoroughly as possible. For me, whether I was using After Effects, Photoshop or learning Final Cut Pro, I always had my Total Training DVDs (or VHS tapes if we're going way back) by my side. Total Training (TT) has now ventured out into new, uncharted waters. Online Training. Let's see how the world's best digital media training tools work on the web.

When Total Training first announced that it was doing web-based training, I quickly hopped onto their website to check out the price structure, and I have to admit, I was taken back by the prices, and at first thought it might be a typo. Total Training has offered its online training packages for between $149 and $249 with varying package prices in between. I thought to myself that even $249 was a ridiculously good deal for its "Entire Library." 

One thing that is important to keep in mind is the fact that TT is focusing its efforts on the "Current" Adobe product line (CS2/CS3), and they do not have any legacy products included in this current batch of training (Final Cut Pro, After Effects 5.5, etc).  Also, I will assume that they are currently working on After Effects CS3, as it is not mentioned as being included or even coming up in the near future. But, knowing TT, I'm sure it will be online once it's ready. Depending on the package you want, and for the purposes of this article, I'll look at the Adobe Library. To do so, simply break out your credit card, punch in your info, choose your username and password, and you're all set to go. Once you log in, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Total Training has done an excellent job of setting up its web training in an easy to navigate, user friendly interface that I think everyone will enjoy. The first thing you will see is your homepage. Your homepage is basically where you will do all of your training. In the upper part of your window, you have your QuickTime interface where all your training will play back, and in the lower section, you have all the training you paid for laid out in a very "DVD" like manner. Navigating through it is quite simple.  First, select the program that you want to do your training on. Next, select the section you want to learn about, and then finally, select the specific "chapter" you want to watch. It's as easy (easier actually) as navigating your way through one of the training DVDs. 

An excellent feature that TT has added is that once you start watching a section of training, when the chapter you are working through is done, it automatically switches to the next chapter, and "checks off" that you have completed it. You can also "bookmark" chapters for any reason, and quickly navigate your way back to it at any time. I found navigating through the menus to the different training sections extremely fluid and user friendly, and it is one of the more organized websites I've ever seen, considering the sheer volume of training material at your disposal. One thing that I also thought was pretty clever is that when you are done with your training and you log out, when you are ready to start again and you log back in, your training starts playing from the chapter you left off. No need to navigate your way back through the menus to find your place again!

Everyone knows that the training provided by TT is excellent, not only because its instructors are knowledgeable, but also because users CAN actually follow along, as TT provides all the same projects and training materials on an included DVD when you purchase the non-web based training. Things have not changed. To follow along in your lesson with the same materials the instructor is using, simply navigate your way back up to the top of the screen (or bottom for that matter), select "Project Files," select the course you are working on, and then select either a ZIP or SIT file, depending on whether you are working on Mac or PC. 

If you need to know anything about your account, such as the date you signed up, when your training expires, or which courses you paid for, you can simply click the "My Subscriptions" tab, and if you are experiencing problems, you can select the "Support" tab and read the FAQ's to the most common problems.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the work that TT put into its online web training. There were a few questions that were left up in the air like will they have online training for their legacy products (After Effects 5, Photoshop CS, etc), and will TT think of possibly incorporating a monthly payment plan, for all the people that cannot afford to drop $149-$249 in one shot. Overall, those are small issues as Total Training has hit a home run with Total Training online. It is well worth every dollar you WILL spend on it! Head over to to sign up for a free two day trial.


  • hours and hours (days and days) of training
  • EXTREMELY reasonable price for what you get
  • user friendly interface


  • no legacy products
  • no After Effects, Premiere or Encore (yet?!?!?)
  • no month to month payment plans

Purchase Recommendation : Absolute Buy!

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

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