DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

Who is Brad Bird?

He’s been called by some Hollywood a modern day Walt Disney. He believes animation is an art form not a genre and he’s the director of the new film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.


Director Brad Bird with Tom Cruise on the set of M:I – Ghost Protocol. The partnership was started when Bird got a text from J.J. Abrams shortly after the release of   The Incredibles that read “Mission?”

Born Phillip Bradley Bird, Bird started training as an animator at the age of 14. Not only is he good friends with John Lasseter, the head of Pixar, in 2007 he was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as #23 on their 50 Smartest People in Hollywood list.

The Young Animator
At the age of 11, Bird was on a tour of the Walt Disney Studios when he announced he would eventually work there. Soon after his tour he started work on a 15-minute short that he submitted to the company. He so impressed the studio, Bird (at the age of 14) would mentor under animator Milt Kahl, one of Walt Disney’s legendary Nine Old Men and continued to follow his dream as he eventually attended the California Institute of the Arts, after he was awarded a scholarship by Disney.

While at Cal Arts, Bird met and became friends with another future animator, Pixar co-founder and director John Lasseter. The two formed a fast friendship which still continues. Bird would go on to adapt and direct the critically acclaimed The Iron Giant for Warner Brothers in 1999, although he’s best known for The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007).


Brad Bird at Pixar, behind him are storyboards for Ratatouille.

Bird also directed The Simpsons‘ episodes “Krusty Gets Busted” and “Like Father, Like Clown” – which is appropriate since Krusty The Klown is his favorite Simpsons character. On the subject of animation, Bird is pretty protective, “People keep saying, “The animation genre.” It’s not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn’t do one thing. And, next time I hear, “What’s it like working in the animation genre?” I’m going to punch that person!”

Brad Bird’s latest is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and the director put his stamp on that movie too - Ethan Hunt’s code number is A113 – a classroom that Bird and Lasseter attended at Cal Arts.

Inspired by Animation
Today Brad Bird is one of Hollywood’s rising stars – and his star is only going to get brighter. For kids who want to learn how to get started in animation and become animators, it’s easy to get inspired. Disney classics are a great starting as well as artist like Mary Blair, or look no further than you’re own local movie theater. Who knows you could be the next Brad Bird.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Walt Disney’s 3D Film Invention & The Future of Filmmaking

Walt Disney was someone way ahead of his time. He defied critics and conventional wisdom by making a cartoon over an hour in length into a feature film (“Snow White”). In 1937, he was again ahead of the curve by making 3D cartoons.


Walt explaining the Multiplane Camera. The original Multiplane Camera used to shoot such classics as “Bambi,” “Snow White” and “Pinocchio” is now on display at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA.

The Most Advanced Animation Tool Before The Computer
Using a technology that wasn’t surpassed in animation until the introduction and use of computers, the Multiplane Camera was the most advanced piece of technology of its day for making animated movies. We found this great piece of video of Walt introducing audiences to the new technology through his weekly television show, “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.”

Animators today use Maya to create jaw-dropping 3D landscapes and make 3D characters come to life on movie screens. In fact, Maya is the entertainment industry standard in computer animation – used to render everything from Woody in “Toy Story” to that little dancing bar of soap on television. Video-game developers also use Maya to create landscapes and characters, just like their counterparts do in the movies. Do you want to know how to become a Maya expert? Becoming an animation wiz using Maya could put you on a path to becoming the next Walt Disney.

Digital Media Academy offers courses in Maya taught by industry professionals. DMA’s Maya 2012 Pro Series Courses like Maya 2012: Introduction, Maya 2012: Character Modeling & Rigging, Maya 2012: Animation & Visual Effects, or Maya 2012: Texture & Lighting are all great ways to create, build on or enhance your animation skills. DMA’s one-week- and two-week-long computer and digital arts summer camps will inspire you to create the future of animation.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Art & Animation,Featured,News Blog and have No Comments

Expect the Best With Digital Media Academy Summer Camps

What can you expect from a Digital Media Academy Instructor?

  What are the summer camps like?

By Ben Jaffe, Instructor

As a regular instructor for several companies around the San Francisco Bay Area, I believe it is important to ensure that every class I teach is different from the last. Even if I teach 5 consecutive classes on CSS, each class has a completely different set of students, each with different skill levels and interests. In many training centers, often classes really do end up exactly the same. Many instructors I have worked with simply plod along, following the curriculum word by word, line by line. No deviations, and no excitement. Of course, as a student you can ask questions and take advantage of their expertise in the field. But that experience doesn’t make for an interesting class. You may learn the topic, but it’s not fun.

It is certainly important to have guidelines and curriculum for a class so every class matches or exceeds a certain quality baseline. But what really brings a class to life is enthusiasm and flexibility. The instructor and the students both need to have fun, or it will be monotonous.

Digital Media Academy hires passionate and enthusiastic instructors for their classes. Just as importantly, DMA also allows their instructors quite a bit of flexibility with the course curriculum. Some of the best classes I have ever taught were classes where we went off the beaten path, attacking a project that nobody in the room had ever tried before. Last year, I taught Flash Actionscript Class for Teens at Stanford. After a few days, we voted on a game to work on together. We ended up making a playable version of Connect Four in Flash. Not only was it the first time any of my students had programmed Connect Four, it was the first time I had too!

Because Digital Media Academy hires only the best and most competent staff and instructors, we can go places with our classes that other companies cannot. Having taught with many computer training companies over many years, I truly do feel Digital Media Academy has something very unique. When you take a class with DMA, you don’t leave with a curriculum mindlessly stuffed into your brain. You leave with knowledge, confidence and a fulfilling experience.

I hope to see you this summer at Digital Media Academy!

If you’ve had a fulfilling experience at DMA in previous summers, feel free to join the conversation and leave a comment below!  Read one of our summer camp success stories!

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posted by Instructor in News Blog and have No Comments

Thinking of going to school to learn 3D? Don’t gamble. Do DMA.

By Kevin Appel, Digital Media Academy Instructor.

*Note: I am not advocating DMA as a replacement for a college education. Rather, I am suggesting it as an appetizer, if you will, to make sure you’ll like the main course.

I’ve never been much for gambling. The prospect of taking something valuable of mine and putting it up against the unknown on the off chance that my bet paid off never seemed like a particularly savvy thing to do. Therefore, it may come as some surprise to some to learn that one of the biggest decisions I have made to date in my life was a bit of a gamble.

That decision was deciding what to study in college. The question, “what do I want to do when I grow up?” rears its ugly (hideous, even) head for everyone at some point. And one day, I’m sure that question will probably come up for me, too.

But that question’s evil little sibling of a query is “what am I going to go to school for?” I consider myself lucky, because at the tender age of I-forget-how-old-I-was-when, I saw some Saturday morning TV show that left a permanent impression on me. If I can recall correctly from my days as a second-grade terror (I think that’s when it was, at least), that show was titled “Movie Magic,” or some such. And it made a part of my weekly routine. On some network or another, every Saturday, they’d fill my little head with dreams of creating movie visual effects.

As I grew up, my experiences with computers grew. I became a nerd, and got into online gaming. I became a bigger nerd, and got into mods for those games. I became a bigger nerd still, and learned how to edit them myself. For the most part, I would edit textures on 3D models in games to change my favorite characters’ shirt, or face, or edit my face into a hockey game so I could be a bigger nerd.

Eventually, though, I came to realize that as computers got bigger and badder, 3D animation did, too. And not only that, but video games kept getting better and better, and soon games and movies were using a lot of the same 3D animation techniques. So, now-17-year-old-me thought, “I keep with this hobby, so I can work in either field when I grow up!”

And so, I made my gambit. I applied to a big fancy-shmancy school that had enough money to buy all the latest and greatest software and workstations and labs. And with big, fancy labs came big, fancy tuition.

I am happy to say that I was right. For me, the gamble paid off.  I did love 3D modeling and animation. The desire to create fantastic wonders the likes of which I’d seen in countless movies as a kid stuck with me all these years, carried through my college education, and has now brought me to DMA.

My gamble was that I chose to get an education in 3D animation (and some other stuff) without ever knowing if I’d actually like it. What if I could not grasp the software? What if it was all too complex, if I was no good at it? All of my tuition dollars would have been wasted, at least for my freshman year, after which I would have had to transfer to another major (assuming my University would have allowed it), or go to another school, or jump through any number of hoops just to try to find something else that I liked.

College is expensive, especially if you’re looking at a very technical field like 3D animation and want to have access to the newest tech. For me, it was a necessity. I didn’t have access to the software I needed, or more importantly, the know how and instruction I needed to make the sorts of crazy things I’d always dreamed of. It is possible to dig through this stuff enough to learn it on your own, eventually, but what if I had had an alternative? How much more sure of myself could I have been, coming into college, if I had had the chance to get my grubby little paws all over Maya, or 3D Studio Max, and start pushing polygons around so I could make the animation, video game level, or random abstract whimsical thing that I wanted to?


A 3D thing I made once.

For me, the gamble paid off. I did love 3D modeling, and I could eventually make stuff like this.

I didn’t have that option – but today, Digital Media Academy offers fancy PCs, the latest software, and experienced teachers who’ll answer all the questions you can throw at them without investing in 4-5 years and many thousands of dollars.  That’s not to say a one-week summer camp takes the place of a full education.  But it helps to get a taste before committing to school. I’m proud to be one of those teachers, because my gamble paid off and I hope I can make the choice and learning curve easier for some grubby-pawed kid to make the next great animation or game for the still-nerdy, present-day version of me to enjoy.

See you this summer, everybody…but please, wash those grubby paws before you lay hands on our computers. They’re shiny. (Just a suggestion.)

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posted by Instructor in News Blog and have No Comments

Maya Hands On Training Courses 3D Modeling and Animation

Finding the Best Maya 3D Modeling and Animation Learning Resources

By Geoff Beatty, Lead Maya Instructor

Just about everyone is familiar with the endless creative possibilities made available by the latest 3D modeling and animation software. Software like Autodesk Maya and 3D Studio Max bring professional quality tools to the independent artist, the hobbyist, and the teenage student with an interest in animation.  Maya 3D modeling and rendering software is used in the game, film, television, web, multimedia, marketing and communication professions, and the need for up to date and efficient 3D modeling and animation Maya training is growing rapidly.

In my experience as a Digital Media Academy instructor and university professor, I have seen more and more students showing up in class with prior experience creating 3D models and animation, 3D modeling training is in high demand.

These 3D artist students are usually self-taught, having picked up whatever lessons they could find from the internet and in books. This is fine to a certain extent. I’m always impressed by how these 3D artist students are constantly seeking 3D modeling answers on their own, not waiting to simply be handed the information but actively searching.

However, in order to really get the most from these learning resources, in fact the best way to really learn the software and become a 3D Artist, is to get some hands-on instruction with a knowledgeable teacher. I experienced this dynamic myself when I was first learning Maya. Prior to this I had worked in Softimage and 3D Studio Max, and I had practically taught myself 3D modeling through manuals and online tutorials. I was certain that I was going to have to do the same with Maya. I was on my way to doing that when the company I worked for hired a Maya professional to come in for a few days and get our team of 3D animators up to speed on how to model, rig, and animate a character.  Even professional 3D modelling artists can benefit from Maya workshops.

I learned more in those two days than I had learned on my own in the past two years. Not only was it personalized instruction, but I had never had someone tying it all together into a well-organized workflow. Things made sense and were directly relevant to the 3D modeling task at hand. Now all the bits and pieces of the online tutorials and book chapters came together like puzzle pieces fitting into their places. And not only was that time productive, my future self-directed learning in Maya was made more valuable because I was able to put it into the solid framework established during that 3D modeling training session.

So, if you would like to become a professional 3D animation artist, and you are beginning the long and rewarding journey of learning 3D software, I would highly recommend you take the time to start out right with some quality instruction of the type that Digital Media Academy offers . This could be a summer pro or teen summer camp course , or perhaps it’s an instructor coming to your workplace to offer specialized training . In any case, not only will the hands-on instruction be of immediate benefit, but it will add value to whatever 3D animation learning resources you pick up afterwards. And there are a lot out there, which is why it’s good to have someone be a guide through it all.

To that end, here are a couple that I highly recommend: Autodesk Area is the official hangout for Autodesk Maya users. It offers a wealth of well-moderated tutorials, plugins, models, and other resources. Creative Crash (formerly know as HighEnd 3D) is another well-established repository for tutorials, models, and the like. It’s also got a great responsive forum community, in case you run into any problems. 

Hope to see you at Digital Media Academy this coming summer for some great Maya 3D modeling training!

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You’ll enjoy these related posts:

Digital Media Academy’s Maya-Certification-Program-An-Amazing-Immersive-Experience!

3D Modeling and Animation Tip – Asymmetry!

The Digital Media Academy Difference – Success Stories!

A Teen’s Summer Camp at Digital Media Academy Review

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Ready to register for summer camp for teens or Maya Certification Program?  Click here for more information and registration:  Digital Media Academy

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posted by Geoff Beatty in News Blog and have No Comments

DMA Summer 2009 is Underway!

We are now in our third week of summer 2009! As of this week, we have four locations up and running across the country, including Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, UCLA and The University of Texas at Austin. The University of California at Irvine ran for two weeks, June 22 – July 3, focusing on filmmaking courses for both teens and adults. Next week, four more locations will be launched, including Brown University, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego (UCSD) and our first ever international location, The University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

DMA students include adults, teens and kids as young as seven years old. At each age group, a variety of courses are offered, including movie making, video game creation, robotics, animation and web design. Summer 2009 also features several new courses, including Adventures in Cartoon and Comic Creation for kids ages 9-13 and Junior Adventures in Digital Art and Movie Making for kids ages 7-9. Among our new teen courses is the very popular Music and Video Production course, taught in conjunction with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Students in this class use the latest audio, video and music gear to create their own songs and music videos! Stay tuned for more features on each of these new courses!

All DMA courses are project based, so students are going home every Friday with their very own portfolio of project work. In the coming weeks, we will feature many of these projects, as well as profile some of the students whose creativity is filling college campuses nationwide!

All courses are taught by professionals with classroom teaching experience and/or experience in the industry, so students are learning from the “masters” themselves! Please check out our instructor biographies to learn more about our teaching staff.

Spots are still available at several locations. Please call 866-656-3342 for course availability!

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posted by Margaret Lim 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

    3d Video Game Design Experience at DMA Summer Camp

    Watch an actual student talk about his experience at DMA’s Teen 3d Video Game Design Program. He used 3ds Max to create a 3d Mario World and 3d characters to match. 

    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmXUcYXiOkk

    Learn more at http://www.digitalmediaacademy.org/teen

    Become a Video Game Designer at Digital Media Academy!

     
     

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    posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have Comment (1)

    3D Game Design at a Digital Art & Technology Computer Camp!

    What an amazing 3d video game design experience! Digital Media Academy offers creative 3d Video Game Design courses for adult professionals, teens, and kids. All 3d Game Design courses are taught using the latest software, applications and game engines currently being used in the video game industry. Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max are two of the most popular software programs available that allow students to create realistic, 3d character models and animation movies.

    In the teen 3d game design course programs, students create a full 3d game level. An entire virtual world is created for their video game. The students then create a fully customizable 3d character model to enter and play with in their 3d world! Many teens who stay for the overnight camp experience get involved in network LAN party to play against all the other students’ 3d characters. This is more than just a summer camp experience. This is the full digital art and technology computer camp experience you can only find at Digital Media Academy. You can see an actual student’s experience in this video. Below is an outline of the 3d Game Design and Video Game Creation courses offered this summer…

    3d Game Design Making Video Games at DMA

    3d Video Game Courses offered 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, Maya II, Maya III, Maya IV
  •  

    3d Game Design Computer Camps for Kids:
     

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

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    posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

    HD and Blu-ray Quality Movies Getting Too Real?

    There I am standing in front of the most beautiful high definition audio and visual setup money can buy. I have completely lost reality of where I am. I have totally forgotten what I am doing inside an electronics store. I am surrounded with the televisions, computers, cameras, gadgets and only the latest technology (at the best prices I’m told), but none of that matters to me now. I have completely lost touch with reality. I am completely transfixed with the 60″+ flat screen, crisp surround sound system with the super 1200 watt subwoofer, and the high definition blu-ray player in front of me. It seems nothing can suck me out of this odd technology trance I have been sucked into.

    High Definition Experience

    For a moment I feel as though I am a real pirate in the Caribbean on board with Captain Jack and the crew. I get kind of grossed out with Davy Jones squirming tentacles. Ewww. I never noticed his mouth moved like that when he talked! I have to turn away, but my eyes become glued to another 65″ flat plasma screen. Then I am suddenly on the back of a funny looking dragon flying down into a huge canyon. As silly as it sounds, I was momentarily scared. Then I stop and realize the 3d dragon looks…. fake. Lame. I turn to another huge LCD flat-screen to get pulled into an amazing live concert. Now this is great! The crowd is screaming. The music is pumping out of the awesome surround sound speakers, the lights are flashing. I feel like I am inside a Rock Band video game. I feel like I am on the front row at the concert…. and all of a sudden I realize how scratched and ugly Sting’s guitar is. Actually, the whole group looks really old. Look how much he is sweating. OK. That’s enough.

    Then, all of a sudden I am pulled out of my technology trance and out of the home video and audio department. I need to go find the Apple computers. Do they have those new 17″ MacBook Pro laptops yet?

    As I stroll back down the large aisles I begin to think about how quickly technology is moving. Can designers, digital artists, 3d animators, filmmakers, audio technicians, and creative programmers keep up? You better bring your best 3d models and animated characters if your viewers are going to be critiquing them on a ginormous flat screen TV with the highest of high definition disc players.

    Think about it. I was snapped out of the movie by thinking about how fake the 3d character looked in the movie. If the the movie had been on a low resolution, old-school setup, I might have been able to pass over the poorly rendered and animated polygons. I wouldn’t have noticed. I’m just saying…. 

    It’s time to flex your creative muscle at Digital Media Academy. Get in some of the computer courses this summer at any of the prestigious summer locations.

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    posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments