DMA Central


Professional Focus Adjustment For Your DSLR

You’ve seen the effect before in movies and television – someone is talking in the background, then as their conversation finishes, the scene quickly transitions to the foreground, and all the cameraman did was adjust the camera’s lens focus. It’s a quick and almost seamless transition, and you can achieve the same effect too, using just your DSLR camera.

Using an inexpensive kit called Follow Focus, you can now adjust your shots with professional perfection. The kit, which is sold for $59, is easy to use and replicates the same photograph technique it’s named after, follow focus.

The kit includes a Velcro strap and metal focus markers that are actually used as stop points to set the proper focus. Having the two points allows you to switch back and forth between the multiple focus points with the accuracy and precision of a professional photographer or filmmaker. If you don’t want to spend the $59 dollars, you can build a kit without much difficulty, using metal clips, velcro and steel wiring, but we thought the Follow Focus kit was well worth the money considering the professional results you get.

Created by DSLR Solutions, the Follow Focus kit allows follow and rack focusing without a rail or other accessories.

Getting Photography in Focus
Are you serious about photography? Then learn how to use a DSLR camera. You can get professional results with just a few expert tips, and improve your picture-taking skills. Take a summer course, or attend a summer camp at Digital Media Academy and you’ll truly get the most out of your DSLR.


[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Photography,News Blog and have No Comments

A Tribute: Alfred Hitchcock, Legendary Moviemaker and “Master of Suspense”

If you’re considering a career in filmmaking you’re probably studying the masters. Directors like Alfred Hitchcock. Maybe you’ve heard of him? He created such vintage thrillers as “Rear Window,” “The Birds” and “Vertigo,” but Hitch saved his most outlandish filmmaking tricks for a black-and-white classic called “Psycho.”

Hitchcock wasn’t kidding: Armed guards were posted in theaters to keep stragglers from wandering in after the film had started. Hitchcock felt that if the audience came into the picture too late, they would have no idea what was going on. 

Made in 1960, “Psycho” was the most shocking film audiences of the day had ever seen. And for a long time, it was considered the most frightening movie ever made. Even now, it ranks high on the list of movie thrillers and horror films.

Making Crazy
Considering it’s revered as a classic, it’s amazing to think that Universal Studios (the studio that backed Hitchcock) didn’t even want to make the movie. Hitchcock ended up financing it himself, using the production crew from his television show. Universal provided the set – building the famous Bates Motel and the Bates house on the Universal back lot, where both remain to this day. The film’s production budget? About $800,000 – a relatively small budget for a major picture, even in 1960.

Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is now world-renowned as a Hollywood classic and worth looking into for several reasons. However,”Psycho” is best known for “the shower scene.” Like Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” it’s what the audience doesn’t see that scared the heck out of ‘em.

Hitchcock and crew worked on the famous shower scene for seven full days.

Hitchcock was notorious for pulling the rug out from beneath his audience. He’d lead you down one path and suddenly leave you wondering why you didn’t end up where you thought you were going. But in addition to being a master storyteller, he was also a tireless perfectionist – using 70 camera set-ups to produce the necessary 45 seconds of footage for the shower scene.

Pysche-ing Out the Audience
Hitchcock used other clever tricks to psyche out “Psycho’s” audience too. Like refusing to let anyone into the theater after the film had started, and enforcing this rule with actual security guards who were posted at selected theaters during the film’s first run. (The reason is obvious, once you watch the movie.) Did the unusual approach to taking a film this serious pay off? You bet it did.)

The movie created a worldwide sensation – and a national panic over showering in motel rooms. One concerned parent actually wrote to Alfred Hitchcock and complained that since seeing “Psycho,” her daughter had refused to take a shower out of fear. Hitchcock jokingly replied, suggesting the parents send their child to the Dry Cleaner’s.

“Psycho” is now more than 50 years old and by now, all of its shocks and surprises have been fully integrated into American pop culture. “Psycho” is now considered the parent of every slasher movie to come along during the last five decades. However, in a very real way, Norman Bates remains the scariest slasher of them all, because he doesn’t rely on gore or gimmicks (like Freddy Kreuger or Jason or Michael Meyers). Norman Bates looks like an average person…most of the time. Measured by this standard, “Psycho” is far scarier than any monster movie, because it’s about the real monsters that walk among us.


Meet the Masters in Film School
If you’re serious about becoming a filmmaker and learning about the techniques that masters like Hitchcock used to make movies, why not start by going to film school? 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.


[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

New Harry Potter Book On The Way?

The final film in the Harry Potter saga (Deathly Hallows: Part 2) is nearing its release date, and while Potter fans are excited to see the conclusion of Harry’s story on the silver screen, they’re also disappointed that no new Potter adventures lay ahead. Well, that’s not exactly true.

J.K. Rowling’s Youtube Channel features owls and a countdown clock.

On June 22, 2011 (at 8 pm EST), the legendary children’s author J.K. Rowling will make an announcement about the next chapter in Harry Potter’s saga – or at least that what’s the owl has led us to believe. What exactly the owls are gathering for hasn’t been revealed, as a new Harry Potter web site that popped up on the Internet prompted fans to take to a wild goose chase to find out more.

“This is not a new book,” a note on the web site read, “But it is something equally exciting.” What could it be??? A new Harry Potter online game? A new potion that clones Harry? No one knows except J.K. Rowling and she’s not talking… head over to and see for yourself.

Make Movie Magic
While Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 won’t hit theaters until July 15, 2011, you don’t have to wait for the magic – you could make your own movie about wizards this summer. Take a filmmaking summer camp at Stanford or another university that hosts a Digital Media Academy program. In DMA’s filmmaking summer camps and two-week filmmaking academies, student campers learn from industry experts like DMA Instructor Neal Dhand. “The film industry is dominated by people who know both ends of filmmaking,” says Neal. “Behind the camera, in front of a computer…and everywhere in between! We’ll be experiencing some of all of that, this summer.”

DMA’s digital filmmaking programs are tailor-made for young talents who have a love of movies and are eager to master actual production techniques now. No matter your level of interest and experience, there’s something for every type of aspiring filmmaker – or wizard – at Digital Media Academy.


[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Professional Hands-on Training with Sony’s New NEX FS100UK

The gap between Professional and Consumer (or Prosumer) level products has been closing for years. Sony’s latest video camera takes another step to close that gap even more. Sony’s response to the DSLR craze is the NEX FS100UK. Aspiring filmmakers can now shoot like the pros, using equipment that rivals what Hollywood studios use to make big-screen blockbusters.

Sony’s NEX FS100UK. Small, compact and powerful.

The NEX FS100UK camera has an interchangeable lens camcorder and is also equipped with a large CMOS sensor – it’s the equivalent of what’s used in Sony’s PMW-F3 . The NEX FS100UK camera is also tapeless, features audio inputs, multiple HD recording formats, and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization.

Hands-On with the NEX FS100UK
Great audio and shallow depth of field are most commonly associated with high-end commercials and feature films but this summer you’ll be able to get access to these features with Sony’s NEX FS100UK.

This impressive test video was shot with the NEXFS100UK.

What better way to experience the power of Sony’s NEX FS100UK than to use it for yourself? You can, as this summer Digital Media Academy is proud to feature Sony’s NEX FS100UK in the DMA Studios Experience at DMA’s Stanford University location.

DMA Studios reproduces the exciting atmosphere of a Hollywood studio-production environment on the campus of Stanford University. Students 15 & up who attend the two-week experience will become part of a working studio film production team, and get to learn every aspect of film production – pre-production, video camera operation, shooting film, sound & special effects editing, location shoots, auditions, casting calls and post-production. Get yourself on a fast track and become a professional filmmaker, by joining DMA Studios.


[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Video Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies. The very thought of being chased relentlessly by the undead tends to unsettle people. Ever since the George A. Romero classic “Dawn of the Dead” first terrified moviegoers in 1968, zombies have been a staple of pop culture. And they’ve never been more popular.

This book sat atop the New York Times Bestseller List for months…

One of the hottest shows on televison, AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” tracks a band of survivors trying to stay a step ahead of the hungry undead. And a recent re-telling of a classic, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” became a New York Times bestseller. Zombies are popping up everywhere – giving you the creepy feeling that a “zombie apocalypse” might be imminent.

Preparing for Hordes
Benjamin Hermes has thought a lot about zombies. More specifically, how to take them out. And at the recent Maker Faire in San Jose, California, aspiring maker Ben set out to show the ways he’d developed to “incapacitate a zombie.” True to their name, “Zombie Bats” are baseball bats equipped with lots of extras – like an axe and a stun gun attached at the end of the bat, capable of delivering a 90,000-volt charge.

Another model of “Zombie Bat” trades out the axe for a samurai sword. And while the stun gun may seem like “overkill” to the uninitiated, Ben explains why it’s necessary. “The central nervous system of your average zombie is, because of the reanimation process, extra susceptible to electronic weapons.”

Batter up! Benjamin Hermes’ turnkey solution for eliminating the undead, on display at the 2011 Maker Faire in San Jose.

Zombies have been experiencing a real surge in popularity lately, and not just at events like Maker Faire. Recently even the Centers for Disease Control issued a guide on how to prepare yourself for the fictional zombie apocalypse. Or is it fictional? After all, why would the CDC – a noted government agency – issue a statement on how to protect yourself from zombies…unless there was a real reason for doing so?

A CDC ad promoting zombie preparedness.

DMA Studios Making a Zombie Movie
Maybe there’s more to this whole zombie thing than meets the eye. Digital Media Academy thinks so, too, and this summer, DMA Studios will make a short film featurette about – you guessed it – zombies! DMA Studios is a premier summer camp experience that puts you in the middle of a real studio production environment. Students in the two-week program come together as a working film production team to write, produce, shoot and edit the movie.

Director and instructor Seamus Harte explains, “We’re looking for experienced filmmakers who want to join our studio production team. Ideally, you’ve had some previous experience using Final Cut Studio or maybe have taken a DMA Film or Production course. The entire two weeks will be just like working on a real film production for a Hollywood studio: pre-production meetings, location scouting, casting, multiple shooting units, special effects teams…the whole nine yards.” This program is only offered at DMA’s Stanford University location and because of the structure of the program is limited to only 20 filmmakers. Register now for this exciting sci-fi moviemaking experience.

Who will live…and who will wind up at the bottom of the zombie food chain? Only DMA students will find out, when they spend summer making a zombie movie.


[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

How To: Make Your Video “Viral”

I get to rub shoulders with some pretty talented and amazing technical instructors. Once in awhile these same instructors come to me for my thoughts, and I get to do what I do best, which is to think of how on earth people use the internet to find what they’re looking for.  I take that info and share it with the authors, so they can write technical copy to be reachable by those people.  I don’t write the articles here, I take the written articles and insert them into the blog with pictures and videos. I add categories and tags, keywords, and I brainstorm about why kids want to come to summer camp – what are the needs that can be met and exceeded by our training and summer camps for kids, teens and adults and how Digital Media Academy’s training and summer camps can help people meet their goals.  I try to make sure those important ideas and words are included. And it all ties in together – DMA has terrific professional instructors and camps are set on amazing university locations for our summer camps (Stanford, UCLA, UC San Diego, University of British Columbia at Vancouver, University of Chicago, Drexel, Swarthmore, Brown, George Washington University Washington, DC, Harvard, University of Texas at Austin.) We just need to present the information in a way that is interesting, original, and findable. Findable being key!

Our campers love to post their videos on YouTube, what words do they need to use to be found and viewed? If I were a teen with a dream to make an amazing film and change the world, where would I start? I’d probably search the internet for amazing films that are already changing the world, and work backward from there to learn where to go to learn how to make an amazing video! Digital Media Academy teaches a wide variety of courses, some of which teach kids to make amazing films at film summer camp.

As I was writing a pretty dry document for our instructors to use this year, the nuts and bolts of posting student videos to YouTube, I was trying to think of a great example of a “viral video” – the holy grail of “viral” and how to achieve that goal.  And I remembered that I had used a great video as and example in a “surprise and delight your customer” post…  shown here.  (And you can also check out another amazing viral video:  educate girls)

If I were the original creator of this video, and if I had made it during summer camp, I’d post it with tags like this:  “Digital Media Academy Summer Camp”, “Film Summer Camp”, “Make a Film”, “Teen Summer Camp” and so on.  To view it on the blog here, post it, click on “embed”, select the viewer color box you like, and select size 560 X 340, and paste it in the post in “Html” view.

Enjoy the video!

I’m going to illustrate a few things simultaneously here, so bear with me as it all weaves together with this one incredible viral film!

Tips for Posting Your Summer Camp Videos to YouTube

  • Categories – YouTube has several categories that are appropriate for summer camp videos – check out the categories by clicking on the “browse” tab next to the search box.
  • Think about your video – if your video is the answer, what was the question?  If the question is “I want to watch something funny”, and your video is funny, consider placing it in the “Comedy” category.  If it’s a technical film about how to create something using a certain technology, consider “Education”, “HowTo”, “Science & Technology”, or “Gaming”.
  • Post your video and select your tags.  Tags help people find the video.  If the film is made by the Digital Media Academy staff or a student, use “Digital Media Academy” as one of the tags.  If it’s made by kids at summer camps, or if this film would help kids looking for a film summer camp see what happens behind the scenes at film summer camp, use “film summer camp” as a tag.  If the camp is about “skateboard summer camp” or “academy for game design” use those words in the tags.  Whatever the title of the summer camp is, that would make a good tag.  Use all of the available tags.
  • Write a brief description of the video, mentioning the name of the summer camp, the location of the summer camp, the age group, and what made it special.  Include a link to the page on the Digital Media Academy website that displays either the course name of the summer camp, or the location of the program.

I’d love to see all the videos made by students and staff this summer at Digital Media Academy!

This film was made by Keith English, acclaimed artist, animator and instructor for the Digital Media Academy. He created the animations for this promo for the Sonoma International Film Festival.

Kids, post your videos, and leave a comment on this post.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a contest for the funniest video?  Please let me know (especially!) if you post a video to the comedy category!

Check out Digital Media Academy’s videos on YouTube! Have a blast at summer camp!

[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Stanford and SkateWorks for Teen Summer Camp

Even if you don’t know an Ollie from a McTwist or Gain from Shutter Speed, Digital Media Academy’s got teens covered this summer at Stanford. We’ve teamed up with leading local retailer SkateWorks and are raffling off a board AND free spot in our upcoming Skateboarding and Filmmaking Camp for Teens.

Digital Media Academy + SkateWorks

Or if you’re an experienced boarder and have made videos in the past, you’ll be able to kickflip your vids to an entirely new level. This year’s class at Stanford is taught by taught by SoCal’s visual fx and skateboarding master Nick Guth with UCSC grad and extreme sport junkie Travis Schalfman.

As with all our camps, you have the choice to get a taste of the college life by sleeping at Stanford’s campus each night or come for five action-filled days. Regardless, you’ll wrap the week with a dynamic vid … and there’s even a rumor the Skateworks Team will showcase their gravity-defying talents in an exclusive session for the class.

But if you’re not in the Bay Area this summer, there’s no need to despair. Digital Media Academy also offers the Skateboarding and Filmmaking Camp at UCLA, UCSD, George Washington University and Harvard, while SkateWorks’ brand-name boards, decks, trucks, wheels, and apparel are available for shipment across the country from their website.

Classes are filling up, be sure to register for our raffle before June 18 !

[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Digital Media Academy at UCLA provides more than just summer camp fun!

By Michelle OGrady

Summer is fast approaching and in sunny Los Angeles that means more time to do the things your kids love. Digital Media Academy courses at UCLA provide the perfect mixture of fun and education! Families looking for a summer sleepaway residential camp in California love the University of California (UCLA) American summer camp experience!

The addition of some great new teen programs such as our Action Sports & Media Combination courses allows our teen camp participants to enjoy skateboarding while learning practical skills in filmmaking. Digital Media Academy’s Action Sports Filmmaking and Skate Boarding and Filmmaking at UCLA will also give your child the leg up in today’s competitive job market!

With the ever-growing industry in Action Sports in Southern California, Digital Media Academy at UCLA will be able to provide an advantage to anyone who is thinking of pursuing a career in that field. It’s a great way to get started on your new career choice using some of the hottest technologies. Students will be able to learn cutting edge cinematography techniques and editing footage that your teen films while they visit a real life action sports event.

Register for this or explore any of the other great courses here:  UCLA Summer Camps

[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Shooting and Editing From Soup to Nuts

My classmates and colleagues and I have a particular way of speaking to each other when we discuss film and filmmaking, and after three years of film school the language we share is fairly rich and fairly idiosyncratic.  One of the expressions we like to use is “from soup to nuts,” which means from beginning to end (back in the early 19 somethin-or-others, a meal at a restaurant started with soup and ended with nuts).

How long is the movie, from soup to nuts?

How much is the camera package going to cost, from soup to nuts?

Wow!  She took first prize at Sundance!?  How much did she win, from soup to nuts?

You get the idea.  You’ll notice that the three examples I gave all have to do with money.  That’s because, to be perfectly honest, film school is an expensive endeavor.  I’m sure I speak for all my classmates when I say that we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  We’re doing what we love, we’re getting better at doing it, and we’re surrounded by people who support and believe in our work, and we know that once we enter the professional filmmaking world we probably won’t be in such a comfortable environment.  That’s not to say, though, that everything about filmmaking is prohibitively expensive.  The actual equipment one needs to make a film, from soup to nuts, is very affordable.  Chances are, you already own the major components.  They are:

A video camera:

Most new video cameras shoot onto memory cards.   The new handheld, consumer grade cameras yield a really impressive image, and they shoot in HD, but cameras that shoot on standard definition mini-DV are great, too.  They’re just as easy to use, they have all the ports necessary to edit footage, and the fact that you’re shooting onto tape gives you the added security of having actual masters, meaning a tangible copy of the original footage you can archive.

A computer with at least 100 gigs of hard drive space:

For the Digital Filmmaking for Teens courses we use Apple computers because Final Cut Studio, the editing and finishing software we teach, only runs on Macs.  I personally have a MacBook Pro with 4 gigs of RAM, and it edits High Definition footage like a champ.  Before that, though, I had a PowerBook G4, and if I didn’t start getting professional editing work that requires a more robust processor I’d still be using it.

For now, a computer with a lot of hard drive space, at least 100gigs, will suffice.  But once you start getting serious about your film projects, you’re going to want to invest in an external hard drive.  Something in the 250 gig range is perfectly acceptable.  Just make sure that the drive spins at 7200 rpm and that it has a FireWire port (as opposed to just a USB port).  Glyph hard drives are really reliable and come with a great warranty.  Here’s the drive that just about everyone at NYU used during first year.  You’ll notice that it works out to less than a dollar per gig:

Glyph Hard Drives

Editing Software:

We teach Final Cut Studio at Digital Media Academy, and it is in my opinion the best editing software on the market today.  The interface is very intuitive because most of the editing is done on the timeline; you trim the clips, move them to where they belong in the story, and before you know it you have a movie.  Final Cut Studio comes with the programs Color (a great color correction tool), Compression, Live Type, and DVD Studio, which is such a powerful program that I’d pay up to $500 dollars for it if it were sold separately.

Blank DVD’s:

To screen your movie!  Look for bundles of DVD-r; they also work great as back-up storage media.

And that, from soup to nuts, is what you need to make a movie:  a camera, a computer, editing software, and blank DVD’s, and much of this equipment can be purchased at DMA at a considerable discount.  In my classes, I make it clear that the important part about making a movie—the writing and storytelling—is free.  It’s entirely within you.  Now, with cameras, computers, and editing software at such reasonable prices, the expensive part isn’t all that expensive, either.

I am teaching DMA’s Digital Filmmaking for Teens courses at Harvard and Brown University this summer. 

[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

The 10 Best Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers

By Seamus Harte

The 10 Best Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers. That is the title of the article I stumbled upon surfing the web for a graduate program that provided a Master’s Degree in Documentary Filmmaking. That is also where I found Digital Media Academy’s Documentary Filmmaking Camp. It was sitting in between Stanford University’s Documentary Film Department and UC  Berkeley’s School of Journalism (two schools you may have heard of). Of course Duke, University of Florida, NYU, and George Washington were some other schools tossed in the mix.

Now, we aren’t offering a Master’s Degree to attend our filmmaking camps, but we are offering top notch instruction. The article highlighted Digital Media Academy’s ability to provide a “quick but comprehensive taste of the craft.”

Maybe you graduated high school and you’re thinking about attending a 4 year college to pursue a career of movie making, perhaps you should check out this camp and get a head start on making your passion your career.

Perhaps you are looking to change careers but nervous about diving right into a school.

Or maybe you are a filmmaker and you are just looking to sharpen your tools.

Why spend your time and money with big schools and uncertainty when you can attend a Digital Media Academy camp and discover what new path you want to head down.

Check out the rest of the article here:

Check out the Digital Media Academy Documentary Filmmaking Camp here:

[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments