DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

The Joy of Teaching Final Cut Pro

By James Alguire, Lead Final Cut Pro Instructor, DMA @ UC San Diego

I’ve been teaching Final Cut Pro courses at DMA for about 4 years now.
Each time I teach a class, I am challenged and grow as a teacher and also as a Final Cut Pro user and editor.

Final Cut is such a robust program and since I’ve been editing on it since version ONE (we are now up to SIX),
I have watched it grow and offer even more tools for my work.

What’s great about teaching new and existing FCP users is that there is always a question of ‘How do I do this?’, and sometimes, I’ve never had to execute said question, so as a group we figure it out together!  I love collaborating with my students in that regard.  And sometimes I watch their projects and get inspired in my own work. (Another great benefit to teaching!)

I also love working with ‘mature’ students who are adapting to a new platform: Sometimes an Operating System – Sometimes a new program.
I love the moment when they are able to execute an edit and they get very excited and want to show me their work!
This always reminds me of my first films, when I found the ‘right’ cut, I always wanted to share it with as many people as possible.

At the end of the day, editing for me is about telling a story.  Choosing the right ‘frame’ to cut upon is sometimes essential to telling that story.
FCP is a tool that we learn  and I embrace the challenges of helping new and current editors learn their tool to better tell their stories.

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Documentary Filmmaking : Learn How to Make a Documentary Film

My name is Matthew Levie, and I’ll be teaching Documentary Filmmaking again this summer. I’m a professional editor, and feel free to browse my web site to see what I do.

Last year’s Documentary Filmmaking class was a fantastic experience for me as a teacher. The students included:

• a businesswoman from Boston,
• a sociologist from Japan,
• a teenager from France,
• a flight attendant from Miami,
• a scientist from Texas,
• and a teacher from South Carolina

Imagine what you could learn from a group like that!

Here’s a small snippet from the course. Since I’m an editor I can’t resist an example of phenomenal documentary editing. Have a look at the following clip, from the documentary Carrier, about the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWBH0XSp0Ec

So first, one of the pilots introduces the idea that everybody on the carrier needs to do their job correctly, at the right time, for the carrier to function properly. And that sets off this montage of flight deck operations, set to—wait, can it be?—the “March of the Wooden Soldiers” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

Notice how similar motions are grouped together—there’s a beautiful series of circular motions, for instance. And at the end, somebody declares “it’s like a ballet.” Which makes perfect sense, since the filmmakers have already make that perfectly clear from a visual standpoint! But then they extend the metaphor to other areas of the ship, particularly the people feeding the ship and cleaning it up.

This is actually an important priority of the filmmakers: making the viewers understand that an aircraft carrier isn’t all about the planes and the flight deck, but that there are people greasing the cables and cleaning the toilets as well. And they’ve done a great job of conveying that visually at every opportunity.

Want more? Well, you’ll have to come to Stanford. Not a lot of people regret spending a week in Northern California, and I’m sure you’ll learn a tremendous amount and enjoy yourself as well!

Browse the Documentary Film class syllabus here.

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Film Camp. Watch a Stop Motion Movie made at DMA Summer Camp with Skittles!

See what teens made at Digital Media Academy film camp this summer in Chicago!

This video was made by shooting hundreds of individual JPEG photos and piecing/editing them together in Final Cut Pro. This was made during DMA Film Camp in Chicago this past summer in the Teen Film Editing and  Filmmaking Course. Learn how to make a movie like this at a DMA course this summer!

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

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Final Cut Studio Integration: Post Production Immersion

Final Cut Studio 2

Every summer for the past several years, I have taught the Final Cut Studio Integration course for Digital Media Academy on the Stanford University campus. It is always an incredible week, and I’m already looking forward to this summer’s class.

It is a 5-day class in which we touch upon all the major applications in Final Cut Studio, and there for all the major aspects of post-production: Final Cut Pro for editing; Color for color correction; Soundtrack Pro for audio sweetening, sound design, and creating music; Motion for creating motion graphics and effects; DVD Studio Pro for designing and authoring DVDs; and finally Compressor for delivery video for broadcast, web, DVD, and phones.

The class is designed for students who already have a working knowledge of Final Cut Pro, and now want to extend their craft by learning the rest of the applications in Final Cut Studio. In the class every student creates their own project which they move through the post production pipeline: color correcting their edited video, enhancing the audio, adding titling and effects, and finally creating a professional DVD menu to showcase their work.

If you have been using Final Cut Pro – or plan to be learning it soon in another class – and you want to learn how to leverage the full power of Final Cut Studio – check out this class. It’s a challenging, demanding class – but it’s also a great deal of fun and very rewarding.

Check it out here.

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Using Training Courses for Art, Web, Film, Print, Marketing : Improving my business!

Written by Artist / Designer Robert S. Lindsey : DMA Alumnus

WOW! I had an amazing and intense learning experience at DMA! From the moment that I stepped onto the Stanford campus I new that this event would change my life forever. Digital Media Academy gave me the ability to create my own website (www.bettermurals.com) and portfolio. After returning for multiple years I have been able to design all my new art on my iMac that I bought through DMA for an amazing discounted price.I don’t wast any time or supplies when I am working on my art due to my expertise with Photoshop and Flash

Last summer I spent a week invested in learning Final Cut Pro and mastering my HD camera so that I can introduce streaming video onto my site with time-laps promos of my murals. This video technique has been a feature that my clients love. Clients can now see how I work, and my company has the professional, impressive edge that I need in this economy.

I actually spend most of my time in front of my Mac. If I am not designing… I am designing. I am also a partner in the very successful marketing and  design firm : www.redefinedesign.com. We specialize in building and maintaing company identities and ongoing branding through various medias: web, print, interactive, promo, etc… Our ground breaking relationship plan is specifically designed and tailored to each client. I am signed up for After Effects courses this summer and we are sending a few of our designers to get some training with DMA’s Pro courses.

Robert Lindsey : Art and Design

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Hands-On Digital Filmmaking: Collaboration is Key! Film Camp

By Katy Scoggin – Lead Instructor Hands On Digital Filmmaking for Teens

Last August, I taught Hands On Digital Filmmaking for Teens at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The class was a really successful exercise in collaboration and one of the highlights of my summer. I think everybody realized during that week that what you can accomplish as a group is a lot bigger than what you can create on your own.

It took me a lot of years to realize the value of teamwork. As a high school student, I loathed group projects because they always meant the same thing: I would end up doing all the work for several people. What a drag.

Since becoming a filmmaker, though, I’ve learned that teamwork is not about a bunch of slackers and the over-achievers who pick up after them. Real teamwork is about getting a bunch of creative minds together, bouncing ideas off one another, distributing work evenly and according to different folks’ strengths, and eventually coming up with a project that is bigger—and far cooler—than what any member of the group could have created alone.

That’s what my Philly students did last summer in the film camp course. They began by working individually on script ideas, which they later pitched to the class. Everybody got really excited about one student’s thriller idea. The story is about a girl who reveals the identity of a serial killer by posting a video of his latest murder on YouTube. After developing the script to suit everyone’s taste, we cast the project with some of our more performative members and broke the script down according to location.

Everyone who was interested in shooting—including the actors—had the opportunity to get behind the camera. Other students learned how to slate each take as camera assistants; lock the set down and watch for oncoming pedestrians as production assistants; and hold the boom pole as sound recordists. Everybody always had a job to do. And if each individual hadn’t held his or her own weight, we would not have completed the movie in such a short time span.

They say each movie is made three times: First you write it. Then you shoot it. Then you edit. After our two-day production period was over, we hunkered down and started to put the movie together. If you’ve ever written a paper, you understand that editing is basically rewriting. It’s the same in the cutting room: once you put the images you’ve captured into order, you can reorder them in a thousand different ways. Finding the best way to tell a visual story is one of the most challenging and, ultimately, most gratifying aspects of filmmaking.

In our digital film class, we decided to keep things collaborative through to the end: Each student picked one scene to edit, after which we cut the entire story together. At the end of the week, when we screened our short film for parents, I think everybody was happily surprised to see how much they’d been able to accomplish as a group in just one short week. The experience was a great one, and I look forward to having more like it this summer!

Learn more about DMA Teen Film Courses and Summer Computer Camps

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Apple Motion Special Effects Tip with Instructor Mark Spencer

 Mark teaches Motion Training Courses (FCS 101) at Digital Media Academy,  is a Bay Area editor, and has written several books on Motion. Mark has also taught the Final Cut Studio Integration course at DMA.  Mark’s website is an amazing resource for tips and inspiration in using Final Cut Studio.  

Mark Spencer gave us a Motion tip at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco where DMA teamed up with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to offer hands-on computer workshops. This video was shot on the bus. Check it out!

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Video Compression for Producers and Editors : How Big is It?

Written by Jeff Sobel of the John Lennon Bus

A video producer often needs to be able to estimate the size of a video file before that video has been recorded, imported or exported.  Do you need a magic crystal ball to predict how large a video file will be before you hit that Export button?  Nope.  You just need a 5th grader’s grasp of basic math.  Here’s how:

Let’s take the example of exporting a video using Apple’s Compressor which comes standard with Final Cut Studio 2.
The first thing you should know is that digital video is encoded at a certain datarate, commonly called the bitrate.  Higher bitrates generally produce better quality video (less “pixelation” or graininess) but will create larger files.  You need to be sure that you choose a bitrate that’s high enough to achieve satisfactory quality but not so high that the video can’t be streamed on the web, downloaded in a reasonable amount of time, emailed, or however you intend to get it to your audience.  Compressor has presets which are great starting points for making this decision.

The screenshot below shows Compressor’s stock presets for iPodiPhone, and AppleTV:

You’ll see that there are two different presets for iPod/iPhone.  The 1st is “h.264 video @ 600kbps” and the 2nd is “h.264 video @ 1500kbps”.  Now, it’s safe to assume that the 2nd preset will produce better quality video, but how big will the files be?  Let say we have a 2min long video and we’re hoping to compress it to a small enough filesize to be able to email it.  Will the 600kbps setting do that for us?  Let’s figure it out.

The 1st thing you need to know is that “600kbps” stands for “600 kilobits per second”.  Now, we’re all pretty used to hearing about kilobytes, megabytes, even terabytes.  But what’s a kilobit?  A bit is the smallest piece of data there is.  We represent bit with a lowercase b and byte with an uppercase B.  All you need to know is:
There are 8 bits in a byte.  
There are 1024 bits in a kilobit.  
There are 1024 kilobits in a kilobyte. 
There are 1024 kilobytes in a megabyte.

It’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem at first.  It’s just like measurements you make in a kitchen.  You know, 16oz in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon, etc…

So let’s figure out how big our 2min video is going to be after we compress it using the 600kbps preset in Compressor:
600kbps / 8 = 75 kilobytes per second
75KB/s * 60 = 4500 kilobytes per minute
4500KB/m / 1024 = 4.4 megabytes per minute

Our 2min video is going to be about 9megabytes when exported with this preset.  Small enough that you might be able to email it.

Now what if we compressed it using the AppleTV preset?  That’s a 5mbps bitrate (5 megabits per second) so:
5mbps * 1024 = 5120 kilobits per second
5120kbps / 8 = 640 kilobytes per second
640KB/s * 60 = 38,400KB per minute
38,400KB / 1024 = 37.5 megabytes per minute

At this setting our 2min video will be about 75 megabytes.  Much larger.  But it’s going to look much better as well, even on an HD TV.

In our next installment we’ll talk about how you can estimate how much disk space you’ll need before capturing or importing your footage from a video camera.

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Learning Apple Final Cut Pro, Logic and Motion : How do I remember?

Written by Seamus Harte of the John Lennon Bus

A lot of the time when I’m out and about on the streets of these United States curious folks come up to me and ask, “Hey Seamus, remember this past December when you stayed at a bed and breakfast in San Francisco and trained with DMA instructors for 3 weeks to get your certifications up to date with all the Apple Pro Applications you use on board the Lennon Bus?”, and I say, “Yes! How could I forget the best month of my life!!” and they say “Yes, how could you!!” and I say, “I don’t know, that’s what I just said” and they say “Right!!”, and then they go on with, “so I was wondering…How did you possibly manage to stuff all that information in your head in such a short period of time?” so that is when I tell them this…  I used gFlash Pro.

gFlash Pro is an iPhone Application that allows you to create and review digital flash cards so you can study and quiz yourself wherever you are. It’s rockin’ a stellar 4 star rating on the iTunes App Store. It allows you to create a Google Spreadsheet using Google Documents and then access that information on your iPhone through gFlash Pro in the format of a flash card.

So this is how I personally put that process to work.

I created separate Google Spreadsheets for each of the courses we took during the 3 week period:

FCP 300: Advanced Techniques in Final Cut Pro 6
Logic 101: An Introduction to Logic Pro
Logic 301: Advanced Techniques in Logic Pro
Motion 101: A Comprehensive Study of Motion 3

Within the individual spreadsheets I input all of the review questions for each course. I input the question in column A and the answer in column B. I repeated this process until I had input all of the review questions for each course. I then shared the document with all gWhiz Mobile Users allowing it to be used by anyone that has access to gFlash Pro to brush up their knowledge of the programs.

The instructors that worked with us from DMA (Digital Media Academy) were amazing. They took us deep into the programs and really showed us how to utilize the tools to their fullest potential. Having the ability to review all of these lessons in the palm of my hand is an amazing feature of the iPhone. I constantly quiz myself while I’m on the bus and moving from place to place to make sure I am always at the top of my Pro Applications game.

I’ve made my set of flash cards available for everyone to use on gFlash Pro. You can get gFlash on your iPhone by visiting the iTunes store and downloading the application. Once you have the application on your phone simply touch the icon “Download”. Once this is selected you will be prompted to select the source you wish to download from. I have made my flash cards available from the gWhiz Catalog so select “Download” on that option.

You can then select over hundreds of different card sets to study from. I have listed mine as below:

DMA/LENNON BUS: Logic Pro Level 2
DMA/LENNON BUS: FCP 300
DMA/LENNON BUS: Motion 101

I hope this helps some of you brush up on your Pro Application user skills. Remember if you are getting ready to take a certification test these suckers will be your new best friend.

Thanks for checkin’ it out.

- uncle seamus jr.

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Designer Templates for Final Cut Pro and Motion

Students, customers, and colleagues have been asking me for years to design templates for Motion and Final Cut Pro. I always resisted, because I didn’t want to do it unless I could do something that would really stand out.

Over the past several months I have been working with Ripple Training and a professional design team to do just that.

I am very proud to announce the immediate availability of the Ripple Training Designer Templates for Final Cut Studio. These professionally designed templates, which work in either Final Cut Pro or Motion, allow you to create top-caliber show opens, title sequences, and bumpers for just about any project. Not only are they beautifully designed; each template also comes in four different color palettes so you can match the style of your show without needing to modify the template. Plus, every template comes in 13 different formats, including HD, SD, and DV; NTSC and PAL; and multiple frame rates and resolutions. So you’ll be able to match the template to the media format you are using, whether it’s Red, DVCPRO HD, HDV, XDCAM HD, XDCAM EX, Uncompressed 8-bit, DV-CAM, or mini-DV.

Of course, if you want to modify the template, you can – and these templates come with over 2 hours of instructional videos that provide tips and tricks for modifying and getting the most out of the templates, whether you use Final Cut Pro, Motion, or both.

We are offering this template package at an extraordinary introductory price for a limited time. To see the templates in action, watch parts of the instructional videos, and get all the details, check them out here.

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