DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

World’s Best Tech Camp Starts Summer at Stanford

Summer is here and if you’re like most families, summer camp will most likely be part of your summer plans. But summer camps today are way different from those your parents attended. Now instead of making leather bracelets, kids and teens are making technology.


Digital Media Academy’s classroom at Stanford—air conditioned and decked out with brand new iMacs and Mario pixel art.

“I Will Create the Next _______”
Learning app development for the Apple iPhone and Video Game Design camp is a different kind of “screen time” and can be a great way to inspire young imaginations. At DMA, campers aged 6 to 17 choose their area of interest during week-long or two-week courses. They all create technology while meeting other young people like themselves and forging lifelong friendships.

This year Digital media Academy has added exciting brand-new tech camps to all twelve university locations across the United States and Canada:

DMA’s Adventures in Science & Engineering program brings kids age 8 through 12 face to face with science and some of its coolest applications. Campers construct buildings with CAD technology, learning about concepts such as structural stress. Junior inventors also get to build water rockets and solar race cars while grasping key principles about aerodynamics and how machines work. Kids even use Scratch to make their own 2D video games. This is hands-on science coupled with the summer camp experience of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, PS3 & Xbox 360 Game Development with Unity is perfect for the youngster (age 13 to 17) who wants to design and build a next-generation game for the Xbox 360 or PS3. Campers use the industry-standard Unity game engine to help them put together a playable first- or third-person game. Topics covered include game-development work flow, asset preparation, integrating animation, controlling characters, collision detection and weapon interactions. This summer camp experience is ideal for the dedicated gamer.

Another new program debuting at DMA’s Stanford location is the Academy for 3D Modeling, Animation and Visual Effects, for ages 12 through 17. Campers in this program get to go behind the scenes of Hollywood’s coolest blockbusters and find out how special-effects artists are able to work their special visual magic. And by using cutting-edge software like Maya and After Effects, students are exposed to animation basics, motion tracking, color correction, green screen technology and 3D rendering. Learn how the pros do it…by doing it yourself.


At Digital Media Academy’s tech camp (located at Palo Alto’s scenic Stanford University) a teen learns to create a Web site.

Est. 2002
This summer DMA celebrates more than ten years of delivering the finest technology summer camp experience around. It is the only tech camp founded at Stanford University by Stanford technology educators—and it’s grown. The company now operates programs at locations across the country, hosted by some of the nation’s most prestigious college and university campuses. It’s no wonder Digital Media Academy was ranked the world’s best technology summer camp by Worth.com in 2011.

With world-class industry-based instruction and the best in today’s latest software, a DMA summer can deliver lasting benefits and inspire kids and teens to get moving on their career dreams. Make summer vacation count…with Digital Media Academy.

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posted by Phill Powell in Technology Summer Camps and have No Comments

Hitchcock and PSYCHO: A Love Story

Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s all-time master director of suspense, is set to return to the big screen in 2013. “Hitch,” as he was called, influenced both the horror genre and forever left his stamp on the craft of filmmaking. We take a sneak peek at the new biography and the film’s star.


A larger than life presence: the great director Alfred Hitchcock works his magic.

Bringing Hitchcock Back
In the new film “Hitchcock,” Anthony Hopkins (best known as Hannibal Lector and more recently as Thor’s father Odin), will star as Alfred Hitchcock with Helen Mirren portraying Hitchcock’s beloved wife Alma. The Fox Searchlight production will be directed by Sacha Gervasi and co-produced by Ivan Reitman, of “Ghostbusters” fame.

“Hitchcock” will concentrate on the lifelong love story between the famous director and his wife. The backdrop for the story: the 1960 production of Hitchcock’s brilliant terror masterpiece, “Psycho,” a film many critics still consider the greatest horror film ever made.

Shooting on “Hitchcock” began last week in Los Angeles, with the cast being rounded out by Scarlett Johansson (as actress Janet Leigh, who portrayed the ill-fated Marion Crane in “Psycho”), Jessica Biel (as actress Vera Miles, who also starred in the original film) and actor James D’Arcy (who will play Anthony Perkins, an actor who gained tremendous notoriety based on his performance as “Psycho”’s deranged Norman Bates).


Hitchcock on the set of “Psycho,” setting up the shower scene…


…And Sir Anthony Hopkins, in full makeup, displaying the famous director’s profile in the new film “Hitchcock.” 

Hitchcock’s challenges to get “Psycho” made are legendary in Hollywood circles: The master director eventually was forced to fund the entire $800,000 budget himself and save money by utilizing the shooting crew from his celebrated TV program. Once released, however, the film (which the studio didn’t want to make) caused an international sensation and earned its director and producer both financial success and and a reputation as filmdom’s Master of Suspense.

Based on Stephen Rebello’s outstanding book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” (which detailed Hitchcock’s struggles to get the project produced, despite a complete lack of interest in making the film by Universal Studios) “Hitchcock” could be an Oscar contender.


Ever the prankster, Hitchcock released this publicity shot of him sitting in the set chair of “Psycho”‘s very dead Mrs. Bates.

Meet the Masters in Film School 
Serious about becoming a filmmaker? Then learn how to make a movie this summer at film camp. Learn about the techniques that masters like Hitchcock used to make movies. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, there’s no better time to learn the craft than now. Tools like Final Cut Pro X and After Effects make it easier than ever before to bring your cinematic vision to life. Who knows? You might have what it takes to be the next Alfred Hitchcock.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Digital Media Academy Alumni Creates Smule Productions

Doug Larsen is a multimedia professional hailing from Ohio. Doug spent a year on the road as a producer for the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. When Doug was hired he had just graduated from University of Miami and his polished chops were really in the departments of songwriting and keyboards. He had no formal training in the areas of digital video production. Oh, how the times have changed.

Doug is one cool cat.

He’s also a very lucky cat.

When Doug was hired on with the Lennon Bus a couple years ago we picked him up at the very end of our tour season. This is typically in the late fall and it’s also the time period the crew spends training on all of the latest and greatest hardware and software from our many sponsors. At this point in time the Lennon Bus and Digital Media Academy had a fairly new relationship and one of our first experiences together was to train on Final Cut Pro, Motion, Logic Pro, and After Effects and become certified in these programs in just under 20 days while we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in San Francisco.

It seems like an insane task and it was, but we all made it through. Not only did we survive but we came out with endless knowledge of the programs and freshly printed certificates to go with it.

Doug learned a lot in those 20 days. We all did.

Since then Doug has entered in two contest for Smule. He was a finalist for the “I Am T-Pain App” contest and he is currently a contender for Smule’s latest contest.

I love these videos. Not only because they are hilarious, creative, and well crafted, but they also come from a friend of mine whom I was able to watch go through the process of learning how to utilize digital media to fully express his ideas. Doug is a great songwriter, but he is also a great music video director and he may of never had explored that avenue had it not been for the DMA training we went through to polish our chops.

Help Doug by watching this video and voting for him!

Friday Night Grind: SMULE ReMix – Legendary Johnson

And be sure to check out this video that Doug did for the “I Am T-Pain App” contest. It’s a great video and it gives some insight to living on the Lennon Bus. Enjoy!
I\'m On A Bus

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posted by Seamus Harte in News Blog and have No Comments

After Effects: From Fan to Feared to Favorite (plus tips)

We’ve all been there, watching a film when an amazing special effect blows your mind – leaving you to wonder how did they do that? Well, several years back, I started asking fellow editors and educators this very question – and again and again I heard the same response: After Effects. Want to motion track? After Effects. Want to green screen? After Effects. Want color correction? After Effects. Want an intergalactic light saber fight scene with explosions and an amazing 3D camera move? After Effects.

I started to see a trend . . .

Satisfied with this answer – I happily downloaded the free 30-day trial of AE (that’s After Effects for short) from Adobe’s website. However, my initial enthusiasm soon waned, well, plummeted actually. Almost immediately after launching AE, I had a common new user experience – I will politely dub “After Shock”. To explain, as a full-time teacher of Adobe software for years, I had taught literally thousands of people how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and/or Premiere Pro. Some would even say I’m bit of an Adobe zealot: I’ve beta-tested new releases, done workshops all over, and even trained new Adobe employees through the Digital Media Academy. Indeed, when it comes to Adobe software no mysterious button, workflow, or special effect is safe from my twisted desire to know everything an application can do.

But here was After Effects, and it appeared to be a different animal entirely. I must confess, I was a grown man . . . and I was afraid.

Like most who experience such After Shock, I did my best to poke around and bend After Effects to my will – but with little success. For those comfortable with other Adobe apps, there are some truly strange and downright spooky moments to be had when first looking at AE – for example, creating a new project does not involve a settings menu, there is no razor tool to cut clips with, there are over 200 effects each with a range of adjustments allowing for literally millions of possible combinations . . . and seemingly as many shortcuts. Clearly, this was not my beloved, intuitive Photoshop.

So given the choice of abandoning the AE quest – or to stubbornly plod on – I looked at every AE website I could find, read every book I could get my hands on, watched DVD tutorials, took a class with my fellow Adobe Ed Leaders, and even bothered contacts at Adobe for more info. It was not always a smooth journey, my friends, but along the way I came to three important conclusions:

1) AE is just as amazing as they say.

2) AE can be easy to learn – if approached the right way.

3) I could have realized #2 a whole lot sooner.

Essentially, in looking back at my AE travails, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I slowed down my own progress by forming some common AE misconceptions. So for those of you just setting out with AE (or hoping to someday), I hope this list of “5 Beginner After Effect Tips” might make your experience much better – and possibly save you a few months of your life:

5 Beginner After Effect Tips

1) Know your DV basics first. As a longtime editor, this was the only thing I had going for me when I started with AE – and probably the only thing that kept me going early on. Basically, if terms like 24fps, interlacing, NTSC, or compression are entirely new to you, help yourself out by visiting some useful websites that define such basic DV terms and concepts:

For just the bare bones of DV, you can start with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_video#Technical_overview

For the hardcore user, checkout the extremely thorough DV primers on Adobe’s site: http://www.adobe.com/motion/primers.html

2) Know what After Effects is (and is not) for. Think of AE as a dedicated special effects application for individual shots and short animations – and here’s critical part- you typically perfect these shots in AE and then export them to your preferred editing application. In other words, AE is a great enhancement to (but not a replacement of) your editing software. This paradigm shift is really important– because AE is not really designed to: capture footage, make a bunch of tight cuts, work with transitions, etc. as you would with Final Cut, Premiere Pro, etc. Because AE is dedicated to special effects, it is appropriately different in many respects and truly does have a logical structure and workflow. Embrace these differences (and the rationale for them) and you’ll be far less likely to fall into the common trap of thinking “why doesn’t AE work like my editing software?”

3) Know just enough of the AE keyboard shortcuts to be dangerous – and realize that this does not mean that many. While certain shortcuts are essential to AE, most are simply there to save you from a deep dive into the pull down menus and an extra click or two. Do not feel that you need to know a hundred of these to be an AE editor. By learning 10-20 of these clever little guys, you’ll soon adapt to a new way of editing – and find yourself having a much better time. To get you going, here are 10 shortcuts that I particularly like (and that took a while to discover):

 

When getting started:

With a new project, import a video clip, and drag it to the comp timeline. This is often preferable to creating a composition first because it auto-creates a new composition that matches the chosen video clip’s duration, scale, frame rate, and pixel ratio.

 

When making edits in the composition timeline:

Page Down moves the current time one frame forward

Page Up moves the current time one frame backward

; toggles the view to a full zoom in or out at your current time.

Ctrl + [ trims the “in” point(s) of the selected layer(s) to the current time - and as you might expect it has a twin . . .

Ctrl + ] trims the “out” point(s) of the selected layer(s) to the current time.

Ctrl +D duplicates selected layers or effects

Ctrl + Shift + D duplicates and cuts a layer at the current time. It’s as close to a razor tool as you will find in AE.

 

When animating/keyframing:

U shows only the keyframed attributes of a selected layer.

Alt + Drag selected keyframes stretches (or squeezes) the distribution of selected keyframe groups uniformly. This can save a ton of time when retiming a complex multi-layered effect.

4) Start simple, and I mean super simple. With all that you can do in AE, it’s tempting to try to make first project something colossal. So while making an HD sequel to the movie “300” (green screen and all) is certainly do-able in AE, it would lead to more than a little frustration for a newcomer. (Not that I’m speaking from experience . . . ahem). Try experimenting in a standard definition project with a few foundational elements – 3d space, keyframing, text animation, camera moves, etc. and you will have a much easier (and more fulfilling) sense of what can eventually be done on the grand scale.

5) Take a class (and yes, this is a shameless plug . . . but hear me out). The incredible range of AE means that its structure has a corresponding range of complexity – which can be tricky to figure out. To this end, I am all for books, web tutorials, DVDs, etc., but there is simply nothing like project-based, hands on training. Moreover, having learned differing approaches from so many AE experts over the years, I have worked hard to come up with a streamlined approach to learning AE that is enjoyable, easy, and avoids the mistakes that so many of us have made when first starting out.

Looking back, I’ve come a long way from my initial day of After Shock, but I am proud to say that After Effects is now my favorite application to use – and to teach. Even though I took the long way to get there, I am now proud to have clients pleased with AE results - and students creating with some of those the same special effects I first fell in love with on the big screen.

Hope to see you at DMA this summer,
Kevin McMahon

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posted by Instructor in News Blog and have No Comments

Exploring After Effects CS4

By  Thomas Hensler Lead After Effects Instructor (Adobe Certified Expert)

Adobe’s exciting new release of the Creative Suite applications welcomes a wealth of features to streamline workflow, customize workspaces, and save you time.  After Effects has long been one of the industry standards for effects compositing and working with motion graphics. DMA’s Introduction to Motion Graphics & Visual Effects with Adobe After Effects course will allow you take an in-depth look at this powerful program and explore many of its new features.
Integrating multiple applications for seamless project workflow has never been easier than with the new Adobe Bridge and the Adobe Dynamic Link.  Learn how to import files from Illustrator and Photoshop and bring them to life in both 2D and 3D environments inside After Effects.  Key-framing, motion control, and various video exporting tools will be covered as we work on individualized projects to suit each student’s interests.  At the conclusion of the course you will walk away with your own motion graphic demo reel that includes all of your project files and animations! Be sure to take the opportunity to view the online course outline to see all of the topics we will be covering.

It has been an exciting journey working with DMA and we can’t wait to see you this summer at one of our many amazing locations!

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posted by David in News Blog and have No Comments

Maya Training + Video Special Effects Courses at DMA

Do you know about the Maya training courses and video special effects courses that are being taught at Digital Media Academy? Learn 3d video game design, animation, character modeling, and more at DMA’s summer computer training sessions at prestigious universities and schools around the United States and Canada. DMA offers separate programs, summer computer camps, and digital art & technology camps for adult professionals, teens, and kids.

The video below talks about some of the exciting tech concepts students learn at DMA (wait until the end!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L0NzptikOQ

Check out some of the 3d, video game, animation, modeling, and special effects courses taught at DMA:

 

3d Game Design Courses and Summer Camp Experiences for Teens:
 

  • 3D Video Game Creation I - Level Design with Maya
  • 3D Video Game Creation II – Character Design with Maya
  • 3D Video Game Creation I - Level Design with 3ds max
  • 3D Video Game Creation II – Character Design with 3ds max
  • Advanced Video Game Creation with 3ds max, Maya and ZBrush
  •  

    Professional Level 3d Game Design Computer Training:
     

  • 3D Game Art and Design with 3ds max
  • Also, check out the Maya Training Courses: 

  • Maya I – Introduction to 3D Modeling 
  • Maya II - Introduction to 3D Character Animation
  • Maya III - Advanced 3D Character Animation
  • Maya IV - Creating an Animated Movie
  •  

    3d Game Design Computer Camps for Kids:
     

  • Adventures in 2D & 3D Game Creation : Ages 9 – 13
  • Adventures in Advanced Game Creation : Ages 9 – 13       

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    posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

    Digital Media Academy teams up with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to Offer Courses at Macworld

    Visit DMA in the North-Hall at Booth – 4528

    The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is non profit multimedia studio dedicated to providing free opportunities to create original music, video and still photo projects. Short 45 minute courses will integrate Lennon Tour Bus produced content with hands-on learning experiences provided by Digital Media Academy. Topics to include Apple Final Cut Studio, Logic, Adobe After Effects, and more.

    The DMA courses will be offered throughout the expo January 6 – 9, 2009. Click here for the full course schedule.

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    posted by Phil Gibson in News Blog and have No Comments