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Last Minute Tech Gift Ideas

With one more weekend left before the Christmas holiday, retailers and consumers are knuckling down for the final sprint toward the seasonal-shopping finish line. And if you’re like us, you’re more than happy to have an extra shopping weekend (since you’ve still got presents to buy).

Don’t worry, shoppers! We’ve got the gizmos that will keep the technology nerd on your list thinking you spent all year looking for the perfect gift.

Canon PowerShot SX260 Digital Camera
Canon-SX260HS
Take travel photography to the next level; use the SX260 HS GPS image tagging to track your journey on Google Maps. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? The photo blogger who likes to travel
Why Should I Buy It: Exceptional image performance

Canon’s PowerShot SX260 HS offers 12.1 megapixel quality via a high-sensitivity CMOS sensor. It also has a powerful 20x Optical Zoom. Add a 25mm Wide-Angle lens, PhotoStitch (which takes photos and turn them into a panoramic image) and GPS image tracking and you’ve got a powerful compact camera. Canons’ optical image stabilizer helps make every shot a winner.

Kindle Fire HD Tablet
kindle-fire-hd-8.9-inch
With a 1.5-Ghz processor and Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics chip, the Kindle Fire HD is able to go toe to toe with the iPad. The $499 Kindle also gives you 16 GB more storage than the iPad, at the same price.

Retail Price: $499
Who’s It For? The Amazon Prime member who hates Apple
Why Should I Buy It: As iPad alternatives go, it’s the best of the bunch.

Want to serve up movies and games beautifully and lightning quick? Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD sports a 8.9-inch display and 4G LTE Wireless. In nerd speak, that’s a dual-band, dual Wi-Fi antenna and a screen that boasts a stunning 1920×1200 HD display. For ebook readers, the tablet has a polarizing filter and anti-glare technology. All this plus free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content, and access to the Kindle library—with more than 22 million pieces of content (only Apple has more)—makes the Kindle Fire perfect for anything.

iPhone 5

The fastest iPhone yet…at least until the iPhone 5S. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? Anyone who still has a iPhone 3
Why Should I Buy It: Aside from a tablet, it’s the most sought-after electronic gadget going this holiday season.

This is the smartphone that changed the game and now steps it up with 4G LTE. The iPhone 5 features a thinner and sleeker design, plus a new 4-inch screen. Returning from the previous version are the Retina display and Siri. But these are just a few of the things that make this iPhone the greatest one yet. It’s backed by the Apple app store, which recently celebrated serving up its 1 millionth app .

Wii U

Nintendo’s latest video-game console combines a variety of technologies into one amazing interactive experience.

Retail Price: $349
Who’s It For? Your kids
Why Should I Buy It: For the under-14 set, it’s the third-hottest tech gift this holiday season.

Wii U takes Nintendo’s Wii to the next level; what the Wii did for motion controllers, this machine does for gaming options. Play with a big-screen TV or game on the Wii U GamePad’s 6.2-inch, 16:9 LCD touchscreen. The Wii U GamePad has motion control, front-facing camera, rumble feature, microphone and stereo speakers! In fact, there are so many bells and whistles on this thing that even Nintendo hasn’t figured out what they’re all for.

Technology Camp
digital-media-academy-technology-camp-at-stanford
Kids learn how to create the future while using the latest technology. 

Retail Price: $695
Who’s It For? Your 10-year-old Steve Jobs
Why Should I Buy It: To give your kid get a head start on creating the future

This Christmas you can give your child the hottest electronic device and hope that they don’t grow out of it. Or you can really put the technology hook into them with a week or more at a technology camp like Digital Media Academy. Think of it—you’re kids aren’t just playing games, they’re making them, and even getting paid to do it. From learning App Development to Programming and more, a week at tech camp could be a life-enriching experience for your kid. And make you the best Santa ever.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Come Together and Register for Summer Camp!

In just weeks the summer camp shenanigans of Digital Media Academy will be in full effect and I can’t wait. I love working with kids. Their imaginations and outlook on this world is so refreshing in comparison to the box most adults put their brains in. The summer camp course I’m most excited for is the Come Together: Music and Video Production Class I’ll be teaching this summer. I enjoy the fact that this course shakes your brain to think of everything from producing music and writing lyrics to shooting video and editing in Final Cut Pro. I’m especially excited to expand my instructor skill set from teaching this process in one day to one week. I think the students are going to have a ball and come up with some really creative projects. Here is one of my favorite projects produced in a day on the Lennon Bus in Fairhope, Alabama. It was during all the Swine Flu hype and the students on that day had their own angle on the hoopla. Check it out and be sure to register for the Come Together course HERE.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-R1ECiwPqE

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posted by Seamus Harte in News Blog and have Comment (1)

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

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

Music-Making with Logic Pro

Hi, I’m Ben Jaffe, one of DMA’s instructors. In our Music & Video Production course, we’ll be composing and recording an original song, mixing and mastering it, and creating a music video and dvd to accompany the music. We’ll be using the best software tools for the job. I’d like to talk a bit about mixing music in “Logic Studio,” the audio software we’ll be using.

logic-interface

Logic Studio is one of the industry standard audio software packages used in recording studios. I believe Logic is easier to learn than many of the others, but it is just as versatile and powerful.

There are several steps to recording a song. First, you write the song, and decide what instruments play which parts. Then, you record the parts, and input the parts for the software instruments. After that, you mix and master the song. I’ll be talking about those last steps in this blog entry.

Mixing is mainly just setting the volume levels of different instruments so they sound good together. When you go to a concert, the engineer standing in front of that huge board somewhere in the back-center of the audience is the sound mixer. In that case, the mixer only gets one shot at mixing it right, since they are mixing a live show. Recording studios are great because we have plenty of time to get the song to sound exactly the way we want it to sound. And if something sounds entirely wrong, we can just re-record it!

mixer

We can also use automation to simulate live mixing. If we have a guitar solo, we can push the guitar’s volume slider up to make it louder, and pull it back down after the solo is over. Automation lets us do this automatically exactly the same every time we play our song.

There are other tricks we can use. When we record an artist playing or singing a part, we call that a take. We usually record several takes so we can get the best one. If none of them are perfect, we can actually stitch multiple takes together and use the best parts from each take. For example, if the guitarist botched one chord, but the rest of the take was perfect, we can substitute in a chord from another take to fix it. Logic makes splicing clips together very easy. In the project pictured below, I had two substandard takes, so I used different parts of each take to create a better one. (You can hear the song at the bottom of this post).

logic-multiple-take-edit

We can also add “Equalization” to a track. “EQ” lets us change the volume of specific ranges of frequencies. In other words, if the vocalist’s track sounds muddy, we can boost the higher frequencies and take down the lower ones to increase the clarity of their voice. If we have a high-pitched whine in the background, we can take out just the offending frequency.

Here are some examples of the kinds of problems we can fix by mixing the song. I recorded this song with my friend Misha Byrne a few months ago. For all three examples, I’ll play the unmixed version before the mixed version, so you can compare them.

In the first clip, listen to the volume levels. The vocals get a bit quiet on “Maybe I’ll never see…”
In the second clip, you may notice the high pitched noise in the background. Also, the ‘t’ in “heart” gets lost in the unmixed clip.
In the third clip, notice the error in the guitar on the last chord. In the mixed version, I spliced in another recording of Misha playing that chord correctly to make it sound better.

I’ve only mentioned a few of the tools recording engineers and mixers use to arrange and mix songs. We cover them all in our Music and Video Production Class, plus we cover the video side of things as well. We’re all very excited for this class. There is so much to learn, and this class will give every student the knowledge they need to get started in both audio and video.

Here’s the full song. Misha Byrne is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter in Queensland, Australia.

I hope to see you all this summer. This course will be a blast!

-Ben

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posted by Ben in News Blog and have No Comments

Make a Music Video at Film Camp this Summer! John Lennon Bus

Written by Brian Rothschild of the John Lennon Bus 

Experience the ultimate music video summer camp.  Bring your imagination, and leave with the skills you need to create professional music and video projects with ease, from start to finish. The Lennon Bus has teamed up with the Digital Media Academy to provide a new course based on the techniques taught daily on The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Using the latest audio, video and music gear, you’ll work with a diverse group of talented students and professionals to edit and create original music and videos. Make beats, write a song, record audio, shoot video, edit like the pros and author your own DVD. No experience needed; this course is for anyone interested in learning the basics of music and video creation.

Making a Music Video

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posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

Cartoon Creation with Toon Boom Studio

At the core of all types animations – cartoons, videogames, movies – are “keyframes.” Keyframes are what allow animators to move characters to different positions, essentially, it’s a “keyframe” that animates Bart Simpson, a Lego videogame character or computer generated monster in a Harry Potter movie.


Lego video game cut scenes are animated using keyframes. 

Keyframes: Bringing Art & Imagination to Life To bring a character to life, you need the same ingredients as real life. Motion. Keyframes change the still images – for computer rendered characters, keyframes simplify animation by allowing animators to modify a character or object quickly over an animation cycle. Instead of manually drawing a new pose every single frame individually, keyframes get rendered characters from one point of action to another. The alternative is frame-by-frame animation; think making a flip-book, and redrawing the character on every page.

Draw to Life: Frame By Frame In Adventures in Cartoon Creation, young animators learn how to make cartoons  and are taught frame-by-frame animation – the same methods used to create the classic Disney cartoons using Toon Boom Studio. Toon Boom Studio has an copy feature built in to help with this kind of animation. It outlines the drawing from the previous frame, and gives you a reference of the position of the next frame’s drawing. Animators certainly didn’t have it this easy back in the ’70s!

Lighting: In the Shadows Shading characters is easy too. In the picture below, the darker shading on the left side of her face was created with the shading tool. Adding shadows for characters is as easy as dragging and dropping a shadow in. The shadows even automatically update. Once we put the shadows in, we don’t have to worry about them anymore. We can even draw with gradients, instead of plain colors. Check out the star in her hair. It’s a smooth ramp from orange to yellow, and gives the character a subtle touch of realism.

toonboom-drawing

Toon Boom Studio has an animation studio-full set of features, like shading and lip-syncing.

Lip-Service
Toon Boom Studio has a lip-syncing engine built in too. This lets you record an audio track and sync the lips of our characters to fit our recorded dialog. This helps take the monotony out of lip-syncing. Animators get pretty excited when they make a character speak, and the software does the hard part for you.

File Compatibility
Toon Boom Studio works with file formats that animators already use – import to Adobe Illustrator vector files, Flash .swf’s, all kinds of raster image formats, video formats, and sound formats. This means that animators or cartoonist can use almost any source material that they want to animate. Artists who use Adobe Illustrator can even bring their work right into Toon Boom Studio, with no loss in quality, and no conversions!

If you’re ready to learn how to make cartoons then Toon Boom Studio is for you.

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posted by Ben in Art & Animation,News Blog and have Comments (2)

Get Creative with a Music Video! Learn How at This Film Camp

Make a creative music video that will make you famous!

Come take film courses this summer at DMA! Be sure you are learning from the best! DMA has also teamed up with The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to offer a Music Video Production course! You will learn the skills you need to make the perfect music video. As I always say… the only limit is your creativity! Here are a few famous music videos to get your creativity flowing….

….Ever heard of Ok Go?

How can anyone forget this famous music video from the band Ok Go – “Here We Go Again”? This music video went viral and took the internet by storm. The band didn’t include the normal drums, guitar and bass you’d expect. Instead, the rock band turned in their instruments for treadmills. With over 45,321,935 views on YouTube, you know this music video made this band famous.  httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5zWaTEVkI

….The White Stripes get creative in their music videos!

The White Stripes always seem to stretch the creative boundaries in their music videos. This is such a creative example of combining technical filming and editing skills with a truly original idea. The video becomes more complex and interesting with each beat! httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLESpHrtvxs
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Here is another amazing White Stripes music video made with Legos! This is crazy creative. How much time do you think this could possibly take? Find out this summer!  httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRDi67G0Siw

 

Get a Certification from DMA: Game Design, Maya, Film, Web Design

http://www.digitalmediaacademy.org

 

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

Boost Your Job Career with DMA Certification! Get Certified in Video Production, Game Design, Maya, Film, Web Design

Are you ready to give your job career a boost?

Come to DMA this summer and get certified. You can earn a certification in Video ProductionWeb Design and ProductionMaya, Digital Filmmaking(Teen Only), or 3d Video Game Design(Teen Only)! You can jump start your current career with a DMA Certification. Or, you can switch to a new career path and become a Maya Modeler, Maya Animator, Special Effects Coordinator, Film maker, Video Producer, Video Editor, Web Designer, Graphic Designer, 3d Video Game Designer, and more! The choice is yours!

You can choose to take the hands-on computer training courses at any of Digital Media Academy’s beautiful locations including: Stanford University in Palo Alto, UC San Diego, University of Texas at Austin, University of Chicago in Illinois, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins, George Washington University in Washington D.C., Harvard University in Boston, St. Johns in New York, University of California, Los Angeles, Case Western in Ohio, and more. Register for training courses today.

Get a Certification from DMA: Game Design, Maya, Film, Web Design

Digital Media Academy = Apple Authorized Training Center

You can also earn an Apple Certification through DMA’s courses.
Learn more about being Apple Certified at DMA.


http://www.digitalmediaacademy.org

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posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

Adventures: Kids Learn Web Design and Flash

I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I teach Game Design and Web Design.

I love teaching Web Design to 9-13 year olds. One of the best parts about DMA’s Adventures Web Course is the software we use. We teach the kids how to use Adobe Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver. We use Photoshop to create and modify graphics, and we take some of these graphics into Adobe Flash to add movement to them. Finally, we use Dreamweaver to build a full website and upload it so they can share it with friends and family.

We see Flash files everywhere on the web. YouTube uses a flash player, and most web banners and online games are created with Flash. Dreamweaver is used to build and manage websites of almost any scale. Photoshop is used for image modification and preparation. Virtually every image in every print publication has been modified with Photoshop. It is even used to prepare graphics for videos!

Our students learn how to use the same tools that the pros use. Photoshop, Flash, and Dreamweaver are the industry standards for graphics, animation, and site design. After taking our course, many students continue using the software to create websites and media. Middle schools and high schools often have a few licenses of the software. Knowing these applications gives anyone a distinct advantage in the job market.

When I first learned about Photoshop, I was in 9th grade. I took a multimedia class, and we covered Photoshop in moderate detail. There suddenly were so many possibilities open to me, and so many fun projects to work on. I impressed my family by creating realistic-looking photo compositions, and eventually made my way into video. Now, I do graphics, animation, video and audio work as a profession. It only took that brief introduction to pique my interest. The seed was planted. But the job I enjoy most is teaching, because in every class, there is a chance that one kid might latch onto what I teach them, and blossom.

I hope to see you this summer at DMA!

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posted by Ben in News Blog and have No Comments