DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

DMA Instructor Marcus Duvoisin: Only Spiderman Has More Web Experience

Courses: Graphic Design, Beginning & Advanced Photoshop, 2D & 3D Video Game Creation

DMA Instructor: Marcus Duvoisin

Education: San Francisco State University; San Francisco, CA (Marketing Major, focus on New Media Design)

Professional Portrait: Web designer. Marcus started early – learning web design while still in middle school. By the time he was in high school, he already had a huge slate of professional clients Marcus owns his own web design firm, Genuine Web Design and provides design services for a variety of different companies, including www.extremenewzealand.net. A skilled and in-demand instructor, he teaches Adobe Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, HTML and CSS.

DMA Campus: Stanford University

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Spinning Webs Since Childhood
Every artist has a favorite medium for their style and talent. For DMA Instructor Marcus Duvoisin, his canvas is a web page. He’s been building his own web sites since he was fourteen years old. Marcus and his friends designed web sites related to their hobbies and interests at the time, which included skateboarding, music and video games. Back then, programming and designing software were less intuitive than today. And there were no computer camps to guide budding web designers.

“We coded in HTML/CSS and used applications like Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Flash,” he remembers. “It was hard to learn on our own and we spent a lot of long nights troubleshooting. Having a teacher by our side would have definitely helped! But technology camps like Digital Media Academy didn’t really exist back then…so we had to spend the extra hours trying to figure out solutions on our own.”

At that time, creative teens with an interest in web design often had to make their own way. Luckily, Marcus didn’t have to look any further than his own father, a technologically advanced dad who had mastered the fundamentals of online design around the same time. “My dad taught me web design basics and with constant practice, I have developed a strong base of skills.” Marcus has also developed his professional skills by working side-by-side with professional experienced designers.


Kids love Marcus’ energy and excitement.

Marcus continued learning and building sites. By the time he was in high school, a local start-up company asked him to design a simple company web site.

Taking it to The Next Level
“I remember being really nervous about whether or not I could accomplish the task,” he says, “It turned out it wasn’t all that different than designing web sites with my friends.” The site he designed was a huge hit with the company and the client then recommended Marcus to other businesses. Soon he was designing enough web sites to pay his way through college, and he credits the experience for opening up career opportunities.

Now Marcus is running his own company – Genuine Web Design, which includes a roster of great clients that count on his expertise to establish their online presence. Marcus also maintains those web sites, refreshes the content and provide periodic redesign. In 2010 Marcus was selected to work with Google to help improve Google rankings for his client Demandforce. “This experience provided me with many tools and techniques for expanding my knowledge about Internet marketing.”

In addition to his successful career in web design, Marcus also teaches for Digital Media Academy during the summer at DMA’s Stanford University campus location. This year he’ll be teaching Graphic Design & Arts, as well as 2D & 3D Video Game Creation.


“DMA’s hands-on training provides the building blocks for a career in technology.”

“I enjoy everything about DMA’s summer camp experience: the kids, the fun, the cafeteria cuisine, and (especially) teaching kids design skills that they show their parents at the end of the program. If I could make DMA summer camp my full-time job for the rest of my life, I would.”

Marcus also teaches 2D & 3D Video Game Creation. Like all DMA instructors Marcus’s has professional credentials and real-world experience. To learn more about DMA’s programs and instructors visit Digital Media Academy.

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured,News Blog,Web Design and have No Comments

Summer Survival Tech Tips: Keeping Your iPad Dry & More

Summer is just around the corner and this means that, in addition to the sunscreen and shark floaties, you’ll no doubt be bringing your technology along with you to the beach or pool. You know, modern must-have accessories like your iPad, your MacBook Pro, your iPhone and iPod. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your electronics while enjoying summer fun:

Stream Your Music & Media Everywhere
You should already be using a free cloud storage service like Amazon or Dropbox offer, and if you’re not, you will be. Doing so offers a pain-free way to secure your computer’s data, while improving CPU performance. Cloud storage services are becoming more and more popular for a variety of reasons, and you can start using one today – for free!


Stream your music, from the cloud…

But why risk bringing your one and only music player and your entire library of music on vacation when you don’t have to? Amazon offers 5GB of free storage while Dropbox offers 2GB. Buy an album on Amazon and you can get 20GB. Dropbox even has an app for iPhone and iPad that allows you to play your music on the run, although it doesn’t offer quite the functionality as something like…

BoxyTunes – Make any iPhone or iPad a Cloud Music Player
Google’s Android platform has multiple options for cloud music players; the iPhone, not so much. But if you have Dropbox, now there’s a solution so you can access your tunes on the go. BoxyTunes cost $2 and allows you to sync up your iPhone or iPad with your Dropbox account.


A new way to think outside the box when it comes to music: BoxyTunes.

The BoxyTunes app plays all the formats iOS supports and even offers such great features as quick rewind, background play and AirPlay support.  It certainly won’t replace your iPod but it does offer a great alternative to playing your music, especially if you’re storing your music on the cloud (or in this case, on Dropbox). Remember though, this app doesn’t stream music; it’s a music player for Dropbox.

Keeping Gadgets Dry & Sand-Free
Nothing could be worse than watching your iPad or Kindle slip from your fingers and take that slow dive to the bottom of the pool. But now you don’t have to worry if your new electronic buddy goes for a swim, thanks to the makers of Dry Case.


Dry Case – protecting your technology while you enjoy it.

The vacuum-sealed plastic pouch is completely waterproof and has earphone and mic jacks that provide an additional layer of protection. Sure, with a few gallon-sized Ziplock bags you can do pretty much the same thing, but at $59.95 it’s a small investment to properly protect your $500+ iPad.

Make Your Own Mobile App – at Summer Camp
What better way to really learn what that amazing mobile device can do than to build an app for it? And where better to do that than on the campus of a prestigious university like HarvardThe University of ChicagoDrexelUCLAUCSD or StanfordDigital Media Academy offers critically acclaimed app development summer camps, where you’ll learn app development skills from leading industry professionals.

Spend an exciting week learning 3D Game Development for the iPhone or App Development for Apple iDevices. Before you know it, you’ ll be on your way to making your dream app a reality.

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posted by Vince Matthews 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

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)