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Expect the Best With Digital Media Academy Summer Camps

What can you expect from a Digital Media Academy Instructor?

  What are the summer camps like?

By Ben Jaffe, Instructor

As a regular instructor for several companies around the San Francisco Bay Area, I believe it is important to ensure that every class I teach is different from the last. Even if I teach 5 consecutive classes on CSS, each class has a completely different set of students, each with different skill levels and interests. In many training centers, often classes really do end up exactly the same. Many instructors I have worked with simply plod along, following the curriculum word by word, line by line. No deviations, and no excitement. Of course, as a student you can ask questions and take advantage of their expertise in the field. But that experience doesn’t make for an interesting class. You may learn the topic, but it’s not fun.

It is certainly important to have guidelines and curriculum for a class so every class matches or exceeds a certain quality baseline. But what really brings a class to life is enthusiasm and flexibility. The instructor and the students both need to have fun, or it will be monotonous.

Digital Media Academy hires passionate and enthusiastic instructors for their classes. Just as importantly, DMA also allows their instructors quite a bit of flexibility with the course curriculum. Some of the best classes I have ever taught were classes where we went off the beaten path, attacking a project that nobody in the room had ever tried before. Last year, I taught Flash Actionscript Class for Teens at Stanford. After a few days, we voted on a game to work on together. We ended up making a playable version of Connect Four in Flash. Not only was it the first time any of my students had programmed Connect Four, it was the first time I had too!

Because Digital Media Academy hires only the best and most competent staff and instructors, we can go places with our classes that other companies cannot. Having taught with many computer training companies over many years, I truly do feel Digital Media Academy has something very unique. When you take a class with DMA, you don’t leave with a curriculum mindlessly stuffed into your brain. You leave with knowledge, confidence and a fulfilling experience.

I hope to see you this summer at Digital Media Academy!

If you’ve had a fulfilling experience at DMA in previous summers, feel free to join the conversation and leave a comment below!  Read one of our summer camp success stories!

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Make Your Brain Grow at Digital Media Academy!

Written by Seamus Harte from the John Lennon Bus

Visit http://www.digitalmediaacademy.org to find out how to grow your digital brain.

Visit http://www.digitalmediaacademy.org/give to sign up for your chance to win a trip to one of the many digital media camps happening this summer.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw7LF_RorSw

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Cartoon Creation with Toon Boom Studio

At the core of all types animations – cartoons, videogames, movies – are “keyframes.” Keyframes are what allow animators to move characters to different positions, essentially, it’s a “keyframe” that animates Bart Simpson, a Lego videogame character or computer generated monster in a Harry Potter movie.


Lego video game cut scenes are animated using keyframes. 

Keyframes: Bringing Art & Imagination to Life To bring a character to life, you need the same ingredients as real life. Motion. Keyframes change the still images – for computer rendered characters, keyframes simplify animation by allowing animators to modify a character or object quickly over an animation cycle. Instead of manually drawing a new pose every single frame individually, keyframes get rendered characters from one point of action to another. The alternative is frame-by-frame animation; think making a flip-book, and redrawing the character on every page.

Draw to Life: Frame By Frame In Adventures in Cartoon Creation, young animators learn how to make cartoons  and are taught frame-by-frame animation – the same methods used to create the classic Disney cartoons using Toon Boom Studio. Toon Boom Studio has an copy feature built in to help with this kind of animation. It outlines the drawing from the previous frame, and gives you a reference of the position of the next frame’s drawing. Animators certainly didn’t have it this easy back in the ’70s!

Lighting: In the Shadows Shading characters is easy too. In the picture below, the darker shading on the left side of her face was created with the shading tool. Adding shadows for characters is as easy as dragging and dropping a shadow in. The shadows even automatically update. Once we put the shadows in, we don’t have to worry about them anymore. We can even draw with gradients, instead of plain colors. Check out the star in her hair. It’s a smooth ramp from orange to yellow, and gives the character a subtle touch of realism.

toonboom-drawing

Toon Boom Studio has an animation studio-full set of features, like shading and lip-syncing.

Lip-Service
Toon Boom Studio has a lip-syncing engine built in too. This lets you record an audio track and sync the lips of our characters to fit our recorded dialog. This helps take the monotony out of lip-syncing. Animators get pretty excited when they make a character speak, and the software does the hard part for you.

File Compatibility
Toon Boom Studio works with file formats that animators already use – import to Adobe Illustrator vector files, Flash .swf’s, all kinds of raster image formats, video formats, and sound formats. This means that animators or cartoonist can use almost any source material that they want to animate. Artists who use Adobe Illustrator can even bring their work right into Toon Boom Studio, with no loss in quality, and no conversions!

If you’re ready to learn how to make cartoons then Toon Boom Studio is for you.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Art & Animation,News Blog and have Comments (2)

Adventures: Kids Learn Web Design and Flash

I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I teach Game Design and Web Design.

I love teaching Web Design to 9-13 year olds. One of the best parts about DMA’s Adventures Web Course is the software we use. We teach the kids how to use Adobe Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver. We use Photoshop to create and modify graphics, and we take some of these graphics into Adobe Flash to add movement to them. Finally, we use Dreamweaver to build a full website and upload it so they can share it with friends and family.

We see Flash files everywhere on the web. YouTube uses a flash player, and most web banners and online games are created with Flash. Dreamweaver is used to build and manage websites of almost any scale. Photoshop is used for image modification and preparation. Virtually every image in every print publication has been modified with Photoshop. It is even used to prepare graphics for videos!

Our students learn how to use the same tools that the pros use. Photoshop, Flash, and Dreamweaver are the industry standards for graphics, animation, and site design. After taking our course, many students continue using the software to create websites and media. Middle schools and high schools often have a few licenses of the software. Knowing these applications gives anyone a distinct advantage in the job market.

When I first learned about Photoshop, I was in 9th grade. I took a multimedia class, and we covered Photoshop in moderate detail. There suddenly were so many possibilities open to me, and so many fun projects to work on. I impressed my family by creating realistic-looking photo compositions, and eventually made my way into video. Now, I do graphics, animation, video and audio work as a profession. It only took that brief introduction to pique my interest. The seed was planted. But the job I enjoy most is teaching, because in every class, there is a chance that one kid might latch onto what I teach them, and blossom.

I hope to see you this summer at DMA!

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Adventures: Kids Learn Video Game Creation

I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I teach Game Design and Web Design.

On the surface, the Game Design class may look somewhat straightforward. But it’s much more than simply creating fun games with our students. In our classes, we also teach important programming concepts, which can be the foundation for a future programming career.

Game Building can be frustrating for somebody who has never done it before. As games become more and more complex, the instructors are there to help them understand how to build their games well. Programmers call it “extensibility.” Here’s an example of how students encounter this in DMA’s Adventures Game Design class:

A few days into the week, we usually start working on an RPG game. The player controls a character who interacts with bystanders in the game to get information or collect items. The students quickly discover how frustrating it is to program actions for every single bystander in the game individually. The same goes for other objects in the game, such as allies, enemies, keys, coins, and projectiles. It’s much easier to group them together, and make a rule saying, “Whenever the character talks to any bystander, run this action.”

3d Game Design Making Video Games at DMA

Extensibility is not the only programming concept that we teach to the kids. They learn the importance of game planning, bug testing, and proper pacing to effectively meet deadlines. They also develop an understanding of variables, and an introductory understanding of object-oriented programming. Instead of lecturing to the students, we let them discover and understand the concepts by themselves, with guidance.

Most importantly, we teach the kids programming concepts without them even realizing it! If they pursue a career in computer science or game design, they will already understand the importance of extensibility, testing, planning, and pacing. Though it may seem like just another fun summer course, every student gets much more out of it – skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

See you in the Summer!

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have Comments (3)