I was excited to try the free trial of New Masters Academy. Signing up was easy, you get 7 days of free trial before they start charging a monthly fee, and you have access to their site. The site itself looks professional. There are many interesting courses about drawing and painting, as well as other forms of art like sculpture. I did notice that the course offerings for sculptors were considerably less than for drawing and painting. If I were primarily a sculptor, I'd be disappointed by that.
I was able to check out a few of the courses, watch them and get a sense of the style of instruction. The newer videos are well shot and high resolution, but some of the older courses were at a lower resolution. Not low enough to ruin the material but, there was noticeable blurring when I went into fullscreen mode while playing the videos. Not a deal breaker but rather annoying. I found the quality of instruction excellent. I didn't have time to check out the forums. I did check out the reference photo section, which was not bad, a good selection of figure photos. I played around with the 3D model viewer, and though the models looked sharp and clear, I found there weren't enough models I was interested in. Many of the poses seemed forced or contrived, when I was looking for something graceful and natural but still interesting. Overall though, there seems to be plenty of worthwhile content on the site.
So why only two stars from me? Because of the endless, excruciating lag I experienced while trying to watch the videos, the fact that the site crashed during my trial and was down for hours, and the really slow and poor response from customer service. I have a fast connection and no problems with streaming videos from any other site, so the problem is not on my end.
I sent a total of 9 emails to customer service, only 3 of which were ever answered, and when they did bother to answer, they only suggested things I had already tried, such as clearing my browser's cache, and argued with me that the error codes I had seen their player display were ones they had never seen before. I made screenshots of the crashed player and its error message and sent them to NMA, but got no reply.
Then I looked at their terms of service. They don't guarantee their site will be accessible, or compensate you in any way if it is not. They only claim they will make a "good faith effort" to keep it up. Considering they want $45 a month for their subscription, such empty promises are not good enough. I had so many problems with slow, lagging, crashing videos and server outages that I was only able to use 4 days of my "7" day trial. Yet NMA never offered to extend the trial period so that I could get full use out of it. I point blank asked them if they would, and got no reply. Only one free trial is allowed per customer, so I felt very cheated.
After the 7 days were up, they would start charging my credit card. I cancelled before that could happen, which was easy enough, and my card wasn't charged. A few days later I got some spam emails from NMA trying to get me to re-subscribe, and I replied to one of them to let them know that as long as their technical issues were so severe and their customer service so poor, there was no way I could trust them with my money.
I really hate to leave a review like this, because I liked the parts of the material I was actually able to watch. And I think NMA have worked hard to create good content for artists who want to learn better skills. But there's just no excuse for the way they run their site, or their slow and unhelpful customer service. The site is advertised as a premium product at a premium price, but the way it's operated does not live up to its branding. I didn't lose any actual money from this experience, but I still ended up feeling cheated. I cannot recommend this company.