DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

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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Extreme Sports Filmmaking Courses : Film Camps

There are a couple reasons why one of my first blogs is about DMA’s Action Sports & Media Combination Courses (Skate Boarding & Filmmaking / Surfing & Filmmaking). The first reason is that this is where I got my start with filmmaking. Upon Graduating from the UCSC film school, my first completed film was a 30 min snowboard and skateboarding film. I traveled to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado to premiere the film. It was such an incredible feeling to have my work up on the big screen and evaluated by my peers. The second reason why I write about these courses is because that is what I am working on right now. In fact I my house is covered with snow and I have been getting some amazing footage.

The idea came up for these courses when Dave Livingston – DMA’s Director of Instruction – asked me if there were any filmmaking courses that I wish I could have taken in college that weren’t available. Immediately, I thought it would be so cool to have taken a video production class with curriculum that taught actions sports cinematography and editing techniques. The classes were born and they have been a huge success. In these classes we teach students how to plan, shoot, edit, and produce their own action sports videos. At the end of each course the students even get the chance to premiere their film on the “big screen”, in front of classmates, family, and friends. It is really just awesome what they accomplish in 5 days while having so much fun!

Check out a couple of videos that one talented student Evan created while taking one of our DMA’s Action Sports & Media Combination Courses.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgJV5YPnVew
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMOaIKhz6lg
Until next time,

Travis Schlafmann

DMA Instructor/ Cinematographer & Editor

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Gender Equity in Education

ggI recently read a report commissioned by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation called Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail Our Children. The report is a follow up to their first report, How Schools Shortchange Girls. While the report acknowledges that schools have made progress in providing an equitable education for both boys and girls, some concerns still remain.

The report examines several areas, including how many girls are taking math and science classes, the use of technology among girls, risk issues and preparedness for the workforce. I found the issue of technology use among girls to be particularly interesting. As the report mentions, “Girls make up only a small percentage of students in computer science and computer design classes. The gender gap widens from grade eight to eleven. Girls are significantly more likely than boys to enroll in clerical and data-entry classes, the 1990s version of typing, and less likely to enroll in advanced computer science and graphics courses.”

This concerns me, especially since more and more jobs and careers involve the use of computer technology. As the report says, “A competitive nation cannot allow girls to write off technology as exclusively male domain.”

The report makes several suggestions on how to alleviate this concern. They primarily target teacher professional development, stating “teachers need guidance on how to use classroom technologies to advance the dual goals of excellent and equitable education.” The word that stands out to me in this statement is “equitable.” While we as a society have long recognized the effectiveness of technology on learning in the classroom, how many of us see it as an issue of equity? This is a powerful idea.

Having myself taught in an elementary school classroom, I can attest to the difference between technology being introduced in the primary grades (such as kindergarten or first grade) compared to older grades (such as high school). The earlier technology is introduced into the classroom, the more equitable the access. Walk into any first grade classroom, for example, and you will find kids feeling free to participate in any activity. The later technology is introduced into the classroom, the wider the gap. Hence why there are fewer girls than boys enrolling in high school computer science classes.

However, if more middle and elementary school teachers began using technology in the classroom, imagine how the gap would narrow and how many more girls would have equitable access. To do this, we need district administrators, principals and teachers to see the value in professional development for teachers. We need to see more teachers at annual conferences like the Computer Using Educators (CUE) Conference in Palm Springs or online at webinars hosted by organizations like T.H.E Journal, a publication that focuses on technology implementation in K-12 schools and districts. Or what if across the country, computer classes hosted by the Digital Media Academy became a meeting place for teachers to inspire each other with ideas for reaching students through technology?

Because our courses are offered for Stanford University Continuing Studies units, many of our locations, like Stanford University, The University of Texas at Austin, or Darlington, South Carolina, are already annual meeting places for teachers. Many are taking classes like Web Design, Digital Filmmaking and Storytelling Bootcamp, Final Cut Pro (film editing), or Digital Photography and Photoshop. What would be greatly encouraging, however, is to see our programs be not just a meeting place for some teachers, but a meeting place for all teachers. An investment in each teacher’s professional development has a multiplying effect. Imagine the power that would be unleashed every September if teachers, refreshed and retrained through the summer, walked into classrooms all over the country with new ideas on how to apply technology into their everyday curriculum. As a society, we may actually move towards equity in education. And as the AAUW Educational Foundation wisely notes, “equity is the key to excellence in education.”

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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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    Girls and Technology … and DMA

    When I was an engineering student over ten years ago at the University of Illinois, I was often one of a few girls in classes of 50 to 100 students.  I knew every girl in each graduating class of my engineering program.   We rallied around each other, aware that the low representation of girls in our engineering classes was possibly, though unintentionally, discouraging young girls from pursuing technical fields of study.

    Now that I am working for a company focusing on providing creative, computer-based experiences for kids and teens, I am grateful to see that my experience as an engineering college student is no longer the norm.  Increasingly, girls are exploring new areas of interest.  Last summer, we had over 300 girls take classes here at the Digital Media Academy, in areas like filmmaking, web design, video game creation, robotics and animation.young-girl-in-class

    The most popular courses taken by girls, both in our Teen program and in our Adventures program, were filmmaking courses.  In fact, across all of our locations, Hands-on Filmmaking for Teens averaged 42% girls and 58% boys at both beginning and advanced levels.  In some weeks, the number of girls actually exceeded the number of boys!  At a younger age, our Adventures in Movie Making and Special Effects course, for kids ages 9-13, averaged 32% girls and 68% boys.  The most popular class for girls in our Adventures program was Adventures in Web Design and Flash, which averaged 47% girls and 53% boys.

    Taking a closer look at what courses girls are choosing, there are some common themes.   Both filmmaking and web design, while deeply technical, are also very relational and creative areas of exploration.  Our filmmaking courses are designed to have students work in groups, from creating a storyboard to post-production editing.  The experience is very relational, and the end product is a film that communicates and expresses the group’s creativity.  Our web design courses also serve a similar purpose.  While the work itself is less group based, the end product is an individual web site that distinctively communicates each student’s creative expression to the world.

    Perhaps these common themes can help make some of our other classes more popular to girls.  Historically in our summer camp program, the ratio of boys to girls in classes like video game creation and robotics is 10 to 1.  What can be done to make these classes more attractive to girls?teen-girl-at-computerAre the topics, inherently less a vehicle for communication, less attractive to girls by nature?  Or, in video game creation, are there different types of games that may be more appealing to girls?  Or, like my engineering classes in college, are these classes less attractive simply because of the historically lower representation of girls?

    Whatever the answers to these questions, we will continue exploring and will certainly do our best to make all of our DMA experiences meaningful to boys and girls alike!

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