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Google Wallet & The Costanza Connection

A new Google app seeks to change the way you keep up with your personal data. A recent Google commercial is promoting the app with an homage to a 1998 episode of Seinfeld.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKGptWtzeaU&feature=player_embedded

Seinfeld’s George Costanza, with a wallet thick enough to induce spasms of lower-back pain.

In the new commercial, we see Jerry Seinfeld’s friend, George Costanza, approaching a street-corner utility pole on which an ad is posted. George takes a phone message and number from the notice, it reads, “Make your phone your wallet.” George struggles to place the take-along tag from this ad inside his monstrously overstuffed wallet. He stresses and strains until the wallet finally just explodes in the street, with shrapnel-like pieces of paper flying off in a thousand directions. The ad ends by stating, “Goodbye, wallet. The phone will take it from here.”

A New Way to Do Business?
Google Wallet intends to replicate your traditional wallet, electronically.  All of a person’s credit card info would be displayed within the Google Wallet app. In addition, it might carry coupons too.

It would work like this: Say you walk into a store and find something you want to buy, like soup. At the check-out counter you pass by a scanner-like device that utilizes what Google calls “near field communication.” You would take your phone and lightly bump it against the NFC scanner. Your transaction would be instantly processed and your purchase is complete.


Eliminating the need for a wallet? The reality is not that far away but will require some retail renovation. 

NFC-enabled credit card terminals are still rare by retail standards — they are available at hundreds of thousands of locations, but regular credit cards are usable at tens of millions of locations worldwide. It works with MasterCard account holders (who may have a Citi or PayPass card) Visa too has just got onboard, but if you happen to be one of the millions who use Visa, you’ll have to buy a Google Prepaid Card to take advantage of the app.


The technology requires some retailers to update their current barcode-scanning equipment. The Wallet app also requires that your phone remain switched on. If your phone should lose power, no soup for you!

While Google’s Wallet app can enable cash-free shopping, retailers must also adopt the payment terminals and process. And Google Wallet won’t immediately replace your leather one since people still use wallets and purses to carry other important cards (like car and health insurance) and cash, and that’s not really likely to change any time soon.


Using the Mastercard Pay Pass and Google Wallet. 

Comedy, Thy Name is Costanza
TV has given us some great conniving characters over the years. But none was ever more scheming or bizarre than George Costanza. He enriched nine seasons of Seinfeld with a treasure trove of personality quirks and enough anxieties to keep a team of psychiatrists busy.

Where Jerry was controlled and deadpan, George was anything but either of those things. He got mad (often), he shrieked and raged, and he screwed up his face in anger until a large vein would become visible in his forehead. He was really, really good at getting mad. One of the many kinks in George’s personality was illustrated in Season 9, Episode 12, “The Reverse Peephole” (which originally aired on January 15, 1998).


Portrayed with absolute manic intensity by Jason Alexander, George essentially played Daffy Duck to Jerry Seinfeld’s Bugs Bunny.

In the episode, George developed back pain because he is carrying around an overstuffed wallet— a regular men’s cowhide wallet that has been filled way beyond capacity. It’s crammed with so much junk that the wallet can’t even be folded.

Despite the pain the wallet inflicts upon him every time he sits down, George remains steadfastly loyal to his wallet. Jerry compares the wallet and George’s burger. “You know, you’ve got more cow here than here.” George defends his use of the wallet, calling it an organizer and a friend. Seinfeld flatly replies, “Well, your ‘friend’ is morbidly obese.” What was so important in George’s wallet? Mostly old coupons, some Irish money and some hard candy.


Face it, George, your ‘friend’ is morbidly obese. Maybe it’s time for a Google Wallet.

In spite of being off the air for 13 years now, Seinfeld has remained relatively fresh and still exerts an influence on the popular culture. Many of the show’s sayings have entered the American language and are now recognized parts of speech. Reruns of the series still air in syndication throughout the world.

If you’re interested in learning story development and filmmaking, Seinfeld is a great to way to see master storytellers in action. Often called a show “about nothing,” it was almost exactly opposite of that. Seinfeld is about everything, and how the stray details of our lives can become the topics of conversation, and how those details overlap with the details of other people’s lives.

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posted by Phill Powell in App Development,News Blog and have No Comments

The Greatest Back-to-School Movies of All Time

Headed back to school? Looking for a movie to get you in the mood, or bring you closer together with your new class or roommates? No worries, we’ve rounded up the best “back-to-school” films of all time:

Election (1999)

What’s It About? A student and teacher go head-to-head for control of an Omaha High School.

Why It’s Great: The film stars two great actors – Matthew Broderick plays Jim McAllister, a level-headed high school history teacher while Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, a human dynamo with ambition to burn – and features some of the funniest high school moments you’ll ever see on screen. Ranked by critics and entertainment publications alike as one of the funniest film based around high school, it’s perfect for back-to-school. The story? Tracy Flick is running unopposed for the high school student election. McAllister, who wants to see Tracy face a challenger (and then some), talks popular varsity football player into running against her. The rest of the film follows Flick and McAllister as they go head-to-head, again and again.

Trivia: Look for the Apples, which foreshadow major events. Matthew Broderick’s role reversal; in Election he plays a teacher while Broderick skipped school as a student on the lam in the 1986 film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Back to School (1986)

What’s It About? A millionaire goes back to college and ends up teaching the students and teachers a thing or two.

Why It’s Great
Iron Man’s Robert Downy, Jr. stars as a New Waver with a multi-colored “Flock of Seagulls” haircut. But what really makes Back-to-School great: Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield plays Thornton Melon, a successful clothing store chain owner. Upon a visit to his son’s university, Melon begins worrying that junior is bombing out, so Thorton decides to enroll. Want to shake up your university? Then watch how it’s done, by a pro.


“Yeah, I took out an English teacher. That didn’t work out at all. I sent her a love letter… She corrected it!” BMOC (Big Millionaire on Campus) Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) talks with fellow classmates.

Dangerfield turns the entire university system upside-down. He hires NASA scientists to help him with his Astronomy homework, he gets help from author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (who makes an actual cameo) with a book report. From renovating his dorm room into a luxury pad to the epic parties he throws, Thornton Melon is a master at work. Dangerfield, who was one of stand-up comedy’s all-time greats, also co-wrote the story for Back to School, which ensures the one-liners never stop.

Trivia: Dangerfield helped mentor young comics, like Sam Kinison who plays Professor Terguson – but up-and-coming Jim Carrey, also was considered for the role. He was ultimately considered too young by casting directors.

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

What’s It About: A college fraternity stirs up trouble at college.

Why It’s Great: It features one of the greatest all-time comedy scripts and director John Landis’ Animal House still slays audiences whenever it plays. It is the ultimate college comedy – just as Caddyshack is the ultimate golf comedy.


John Belushi plays Bluto. Belushi flew between Oregon (where Animal House was shot) and New York during filming, as he was still a key player on Saturday Night Live.

The story? It’s 1962 at Faber University and fraternity rush is in session. But this year, university dean Vernon Wormer wants to shut down the loudest, most obnoxious frat house on campus: Delta house. However, the Deltas won’t go quietly or without a fight, even after the evil dean places the house on “double-secret probation.” John Belushi achieved instant screen immortality as “Bluto” Blutarsky, the loudest and most obnoxious Delta of them all. More classic comic moments than can be inventoried in an entire blog. “This situation requires a really stupid and futile gesture,” says Otter (Tim Matheson). Bluto: “And we’re just the guys to do it.” Boy, are they ever.

Trivia: Harold Ramis (Egon from Ghostbusters), co-wrote the film, and based many of the jokes on his own college experiences. When it debuted, this early National Lampoon-branded feature broke the bank (earning $141 million). It was made for only $2.7 million.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

What’s It About: Napoleon Dynamite, what’d you think it was about? Gosh!

Why It’s Great: Long before Glee started making high school misfits feel warm and understood, this film celebrated the King Kong of nerds. Preston (Idaho) High School student Napoleon Dynamite…his name all the funnier because it sounds like it should belong to a double agent out of a James Bond film…oozes nerdiness from every pore.


A nerd for the ages: Napoleon Dynamite has skills. “You know, like nunchuku skills, bow-hunting skills, computer hacking skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.”

With his perpetually dulled expression, monotone voice and must-have school accessories (Trapper-Keeper notebook, a pants pocket full of cafeteria tater tots and the action figures he dangles from a string off the back of his school bus), Jon Heder was born to play this role. As Napoleon Dynamite progresses, it’s revealed that he’s surrounded (both at home and at high school) by others who are just as goofy, although sometimes in different ways. It’s incredibly quotable (“I’ve caught you a delicious bass,” “Pedro offers you his protection”) and has a unique Rogue’s Gallery of wigged-out characters. And just when you think Napoleon has been out-nerded by his older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell), then his Uncle Rico (Jon Gries) appears and the competition really begins.

Trivia: Napoleon Dynamite showed nerds have box office muscle; this modest $400,000 film earned $46 million.

Grease (1978)

What’s It About: A pair of students who fell in love over the summer come to grips with seeing each other daily in school.

Why It’s Great: Grease is the original high school musical. And must be considered among the best back-to-school movies, because it’s set during one complete school year in 1959, starting with the end of summer vacation and plowing forward until graduation in late spring. Beyond that, Grease remains a blast of pure energy, still fun to watch more than three decades after its massive box office run.


Audiences continue to bond with Grease, the Grease Sing-A-Long is now a yearly standard at many outdoor music festivals.

The story? Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton John) fall in love during summer vacation, then find each other attending Rydell High that fall. Will Danny and Sandy stay together? Few expected the screen version of the hit Broadway musical (which ran for nine consecutive years and numerous revivals) to hold up as well as it has, but director Randal Kleiser’s movie perfectly captured the show’s infectious energy and all the cameo appearances from actors and actresses who were actually TV and movie stars during the movie’s time period are a hoot.

Trivia: At least three money-making hit songs came from the catchy soundtrack, including Frankie Valli’s title song.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Guillermo del Toro at Comic-Con 2011: Digital-Age Renaissance Man

He may be the greatest director you’ve never heard of. But you should definitely make note of who he is, because you’re going to be hearing a lot about the “Digital-Age Renaissance man” known as Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro will be appearing this week at Comic-Con in San Diego, and while he may not be as well known as directors J.J. Abrams or Steven Spielberg, he’s just as influential – and is certainly someone to watch in the future.


“Boo!” For the Fantasy/Horror sleeper hit Pan’s Labyrinth, director Guillermo del Toro put his personal touch and imagination into every frame of the film, including the creation and visual design of this character, the Pale Man.

All Eyes on Del Toro
Guillermo del Toro – much like his contemporaries Peter Jackson and Robert Rodriguez - is one of a new breed of filmmakers that can’t be categorized. Del Toro dabbles in all sorts of media, including movies, games and comic books. As a gamer, del Toro reportedly enjoys playing Half-Life and BioShock. As a sketch artist, he keeps huge volumes of drawings; he even used these to help him design the creatures and environments for his 2006 masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth.


One-man production crew: del Toro.

This week, this Digital-Age Renaissance man will be addressing crowds of fans at Comic-Con 2011 in San Diego. What will he talk about? No one knows for sure, but he could speak about any of the following projects, since he’s involved with all of them:

    • Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (opening Aug. 26). Del Toro co-wrote and co-produced the film.
    • Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated film version of The Hobbit. Del Toro co-wrote the script .
    • Disney’s The Haunted Mansion 3D remake. Del Toro is co-writing, producing and directing it.
    • He’s the co-author of a trilogy of vampire novels (including the already published The Strain and The Fall).
    • He’s overseeing the creation of a new videogame called Insane, expected for 2013 release.

 

Exploring a Passion for Film
Guillermo del Toro has been seriously making movies since the 1980s (he started by helping out on film sets as an eight-year-old, back in Mexico). You can trace del Toro’s success back to the moment when he discovered his creative passion and then dedicated himself to mastering the craft of film.

When it was released, Pan’s Labyrinth was compared to some of the greatest fantasy films ever made – such as The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Del Toro’s most critically acclaimed film combined fantasy and war into a powerful and unique modern fable. Pan’s Labyrinth topped many critics’ polls as the best film of 2006, and when the film played at the Cannes Film Festival, the crowd saluted it with a standing ovation that lasted 22 minutes. The film captured three Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Makeup) and won the Best Picture award from the National Society of Film Critics. In addition to the great critical success of Pan’s Labyrinth, he’s also made a number of great action and horror films, such as Blade II, Hellboy (I & II) and The Devil’s Backbone.


Part fairy tale, part war film. Pan’s Labyrinth took a unique concept and blended it with amazing special effects.

Do you have a passion for filmmaking? Then follow your dream. There are plenty of ways: Take a course in movie making from professional filmmakers. Online courses can be good sources of information too, although the best training occurs when an industry veteran is at your side, passing along their real-world experience.

At Digital Media Academy’s Stanford Filmmaking Summer Camp, students learn how to make digital movies from the pros. The program is taught by professional filmmakers, and daytime activities include real production meetings (just like Hollywood studios have) and shooting a movie. Evening activities can include taking in a movie premiere like real Hollywood filmmakers do (such as the special pre-release screening of the new Harry Potter that DMA’s Stanford campers recently attended). So now, are you ready to make a movie?

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

The Beatles and The Birth of The Music Video

Today’s instant pop phenomenon world makes it difficult to comprehend just how incredibly popular The Beatles really were.

But no musical act of any kind has ever been bigger, had such a lasting and far-reaching impact – and nobody has since generated the incredible excitement that The Beatles did during 1964, when they exploded onto the American scene. The group’s stranglehold on American musical tastes was powerful and immediate; at one point during 1964, the band charted four of the Top Ten singles being played on the radio. The Beatles were everywhere.


Innovative director Richard Lester brought “The Fab Four” to the big screen in 1964.

Music and Film
The Beatles were not only omnipresent in every form of media of the day, but they were also re-inventing every form of media – like no other artist before them. It was inevitable that The Beatles would star in a feature film. The band’s first movie, A Hard Day’s Night, was the group’s best. It was also a ground-breaking mixture of music and film and what many consider to be one of the inspirations for modern music videos. A Hard Day’s Night remains a cinematic treasure – not only because it was an inside look at early Beatlemania, but it brought music and pop star images together in an entirely unique way. This was all presented as a superb comedy loaded with fresh cinematic ideas all courtesy of director, Richard Lester.


The Beatles were huge celebrities when filming began. The crowd chasing The Beatles at the railway station at the beginning is made up of real fans actually chasing the Fab Four. The scene was recently recreated for the opening of The Beatles Rock Band videogame.


Paul McCartney greets a fan during the filming of Hard Day’s Night.

A Hard Day’s Night took the film world by surprise. No one had any idea it would be that good. Critics were stunned, and reviews almost completely positive. Critic Roger Ebert noted the film’s long-standing influence. “Today when we watch TV,” he wrote, “And see quick cutting, hand-held cameras, interviews conducted on the run with moving targets, quickly intercut snatches of dialogue, music under documentary action and all the other trademarks of the modern style, we are looking at the children of A Hard Day’s Night.” Suffice it to say that anyone interested in learning how to make music videos really must see this film.

Director Richard Lester is one “old school” director who would have probably felt right at home in today’s fast-paced cinema. His work on A Hard Day’s Night suggests he would have loved the flexibility and freedom that Final Cut Pro X offers. Many of today’s most respected filmmakers, such as the Coen brothers (True Grit) and Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather), have spent time learning how to use Final Cut Pro. Apple’s Final Cut software is both flexible and easy to use.

The Beatles have always been at the cutting edge of media, if they were still making films and videos today they’d be most likely making music videos and producing them using state-of the-art editing software like Final Cut.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Ferris Bueller Turns 25: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”

It wasn’t a movie that overwhelmed you with its plot: a popular teen tries to outwit his high school principal, ducking class and other responsibilities for a glorious, what-the-heck day with his best friends. Nonetheless, John Hughes’ 1986 teen classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” had so much offbeat charm that nobody ever seemed to mind its simplicity.


Hughes, the director of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, made a career out of 80′s teen-angst comedies.

The film’s many, many fans are now celebrating Ferris Bueller turns 25. Released on June 11, 1986 the movie influenced countless films with its wit and character. For fans of the film, Ferris is not only teacher of life’s lesson but a student as well. In the end the film isn’t so much about skipping out on life and responsibility but to take a chance every once and while and enjoy it.

10. Location, Location, Location Part of the fun of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is its whirlwind tour of Chicago. Actual locations included Wrigley Field, the Sears Tower and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The parade that Ferris single-handedly takes over is the town’s Von Steuben Day Parade.

Meet Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago.

9. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? While the movie starred Matthew Broderick a nasally nerd named Ben Stein nearly stole the show, Stein played the Economics teacher with the personality of a sleepwalker. Stein voiced the movie’s most quoted line, turning a class roll call into numbing torture. Stein has since been a recognizable presence in movies and television commercials, as well as being a political pundit – a role that makes total sense. Why? His first job was writing speeches for President Richard Nixon back in the early 1970s.

8. Famous Fans Fans of the film include filmmaker Kevin “Clerks” Smith, Simon “American Idol” Cowell and Justin Timberlake, each of whom has listed the movie as their favorite film of all time. Another fan, Charlie Sheen, also made a brief appearance in the film as bad boy. Funny how life imitates art.

7. Home Alone In the film, Ferris’ pal, Cameron, lives in an modernist house. Later, in a jaw-dropping scene, a vintage 1961 Ferrari GT250 (really a modified MG sports car) is driven directly into the iconic residence. It’s not a set but a real house. Use Google’s street view to see how it looks today: 370 Beech Street, Highland Park, IL 60035. Ferris’ house isn’t actually in Chicago, it’s in California: 4160 Country Club Drive, Long Beach, CA.


Edward Hopper’s 1942 masterpiece, “Nighthawks,” co-starred in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

6. Classic Art Ferris made taking in a museum cool. The famous paintings shown in the movie’s Art Institute of Chicago scene included the iconic diner painting “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper and Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist,” as well as works by Matisse, Jackson Pollock and Marc Chagall.

5. Music Makes A Movie “Ferris Bueller” contained a mixed bag of offbeat tunes, from the Beatles’ manic “Twist and Shout” to Wayne Newton’s lounge classic, “Danke Schoen” to New Wave cuts from the 80s, like Yello’s “Oh Yeah.” The blend of songs was so offbeat (and probably a licensing nightmare) that no official soundtrack album was ever released. Why? Sadly, Director John Hughes said he felt it would have had no commercial appeal and didn’t work as an album.

4. Big Screen Blockbusters Make Good TV After the movie’s surprising success, NBC rushed a television series based on the concept into production. Only thirteen episodes aired. A young actress named Jennifer “Friends” Aniston played Ferris’ TV sister. (In the film, the same role was played by Jennifer Gray, she would later become a star in another 80s classic: “Dirty Dancing.”)

Ben Stein shot to stardom on the basis of one line.

3. Script Supervisor At the time “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was nearing shooting, a looming writer’s strike threatened to halt production. So Director Hughes, eager to get his script finished before the strike began, hammered out the script – in less than one week.

2. Connect With The Audience Part of what made “Ferris” unique is the way Ferris speaks directly to the audience. Although certainly not the first movie to employ this technique, it’s probably one of the most memorable. (Way back in1966, Michael Caine became a star in the original “Alfie” by doing the same thing. Ray Liotta also talks directly to the audience in “GoodFellas”.) Even today, this technique (called “breaking the fourth wall“) is only used rarely in film, although it’s been turning up in plays since theater’s early origins.

“Life moves pretty fast…”

1. Ferris Makes Bank Instantly beloved upon its release, “Ferris” has become even more respected over time. “Entertainment Weekly” magazine named it number 10 among “the 50 best high-school movies,” while film channel Bravo listed it as number 54 among “the 100 funniest movies.” In 2000, readers of “Total Film” magazine voted the movie the 23rd greatest comedy film of all time. And “Ferris” delivered big-time at the box office: Made for around $6 million, the movie earned more than $70 million in its domestic release. Not too shabby for cutting class.

When John Hughes passed away in 2010, he left behind a personal body of film work that defined “teen” movies, with a filmography that included hits like “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “Weird Science,” as well as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” A multi-talented writer and director, Hughes coupled his passion for filmmaking with an unbeatable set film production skills. Are you an aspiring filmmaker looking to sharpen or develop your movie-making skills?

This summer, Digital Media Academy will be teaching Digital Filmmaking Summer Camps and courses using Final Cut Pro, the industry standard among editing software. Take a week-long or three-day certification course or a film & video production course and start your career as a filmmaker.

Cover Final Cut Pro from all the angles – everything from an overview of the software all the way through advanced editing courses that put you in the editor’s chair. See for yourself why legendary filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Walter Murch and the Coen brothers use Final Cut Pro – John Hughes may have even used it if Final Cut were available when he was shooting “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,Featured,News Blog and have No Comments

Film & Video Production: A Constant State of “ACTION!”

Course: Film & Video Production

DMA Instructor: Neal Dhand

Education: The University of Chicago (Major: Interdisciplinary Studies, combining Film Theory and English Literature). Master of Fine Arts degree: Rochester Institute of Technology; Rochester, NY (Major: Film and Video Production)

Professional Portrait: Filmmaker Neal Dhand has six short films and several music videos under his belt (like his video for the band SPiN, which aired on the Fuse Network). But now the writer/director’s credits also include “Second-Story Man,” his first full-length feature film. Since March, it’s been playing the festival circuit throughout the U.S., scoring good reviews and being chosen as an Official Selection at the Indie Spirit, Cinequest and 360-365 film festivals – and prompting discussions of a distribution deal. Neal demonstrated his versatility by helming “Second-Story Man” as the film’s director, co-producer, co-writer and co-editor. He also has impressive teaching credentials, having served as an adjunct lecturer at Ithaca College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester. A dedicated student of cinema’s past who’s working hard to become part of its future, DMA Instructor Neal Dhand is definitely someone who’s going places.

DMA Courses: Video Production, Final Cut Pro and After Effects

DMA Campus Locations: Harvard, Drexel and Swarthmore

___________________________________________________________________

Filmmaking has never been bigger, more complex or more thrilling. And if you ever wanted to learn film production, you’ve never had a better time to do so. DMA Instructor Neal Dhand can tell you all about the excitement that accompanies making a movie, because he just directed a full-length feature film that’s now getting lots of notice on the festival circuit. After that, who knows? Perhaps his movie, “Second-Story Man,” will be coming soon to a theater, DVD or a video-stream near you. (Visit www.secondstorymanmovie.com for info.)


Film director and DMA Instructor Neal Dhand makes a point while shooting his new feature film, “Second-Story Man.” The tense crime drama involves would-be bank robbers, and was shot on location in upstate New York.

As he has in past summers, Neal will again be teaching DMA courses in Video Production, Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Each course involves a whirlwind of activity, and that suits the filmmaker fine. “I like the DMA’s energy,” he says, “And the energy the students bring to it. It’s a great combination of fun and technical know-how. In past years, some of my favorite parts have been when we’ve gotten really creative and experimental with film techniques.”

Neal’s formal training in film (including a Master’s degree in Film Production) makes him the perfect instructor for DMA’s digital filmmaking courses. He understands the key components of filmmaking that make movies work, which he lists as “great acting, interesting camera moves, tight editing, and beautiful sound and music.”

His DMA courses are hardly dry “Film Theory” classes, either. Students enrolled in Neal’s courses receive hands-on instruction in actually holding and operating a movie camera. In addition to shooting film, students learn how to cut and assemble footage using Final Cut, the industry standard in editing software. Young Spielbergs-in-training also get instruction in directing – including directing short scenes as well as directing scenes for use with special effects. Because, let’s face it – no modern course in film production would be complete without training in the creation and use of special effects. In Neal’s classes, students use After Effects to explore green-screen/compositing techniques – the same special effects that allow movie stars to do the impossible and appear to be posed against any kind of background you can possibly imagine.


Shooting any kind of modern studio-quality film requires state-of-the-art equipment and professional personnel. DMA’s Film Production programs show you the ropes and help get you started creatively.

As Neal explains, imagining’s the easy part. “A ‘green screen,’ is used for many shots. Using software like Final Cut Pro and After Effects, our goal is to take away the green background and replace it with something else. We want to make it look like our characters are somewhere else entirely. This isn’t as easy as it might sound. We need to pay careful attention to things like costuming and lighting. Then, once we have everything set up, we go in and ‘key’ the shot to get rid of that green background.”

It’s tricky technology, but green screens and After Effects can give directors an infinite number of possibilities when shooting. “The fun things about shooting and trying effects like this are all the possibilities,” Neal says. “If we want, we can place the characters anywhere, as long as we can either find that place ourselves, or find an image of it somewhere.”


These days, film directors have to be as comfortable working in front of a computer as behind a camera. As shown in this production still, director Neal Dhand checks a shot via a laptop.

Digital Media Academy students get to experience the possibilities first hand when they take the creative ride of their lives in DMA’s filmmaking summer camps and two-week filmmaking academies. As DMA Instructor Neal Dhand puts it, “The film industry is dominated by people who know both ends of filmmaking: behind the camera, in front of a computer…and everywhere in between! We’ll be experiencing some of all of that, this summer.”

Tailor-made for young talents who have a love of movies and are eager to master actual production techniques now, DMA’s programs vary by age and prior training. But no matter your level of interest and experience, there’s something for every type of aspiring filmmaker at Digital Media Academy.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Film Camp for Teens. Watch a Movie made this year at DMA's Summer Camp.

Teens get the full film camp experience at Digital Media Academy summer camps and week-long courses.

Watch a movie created by teens in the Filmmaking course at University of Pennsylvania DMA camp this past summer. All teen students in the class played a part in writing the movie script, storyboard the movie scenes, acting in various shots around campus, filming with high quality cameras, directing the scenes, editing music for the video, and editing the video in Final Cut Pro on their own Apple computer.

This video is just one example of the creative movies that are created by teens at Digital Media Academy’s summer film camps. Enjoy the suspense-filled movie a group of DMA film students made entitled… “Re-Encountered”

All summer camp courses for teens

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

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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posted by Instructor in News Blog and have Comment (1)

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