DMA Central

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Animation: Putting Imagination into Motion

This is the first in a series of profiles on DMA courses and instructors. Our first profile focuses on the art of animation. Digital Media Academy offers a wide range of courses in animation. From beginning cartooning to 3D animation with Maya, DMA offers professional instruction in digital arts and brings students face to face with today’s most vibrant art form, digital media. 

Course: Animation

Instructor: Geoffrey Beatty

Education: University of the Arts; Philadelphia, PA (Major: Animation)

Professional Portrait: A freelance animator and designer of world-class expertise, Geoffrey Beatty began his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s cutting-edge Media Lab, developing animation for MIT research projects into AI and robotics. Founder and coordinator of the Animation program at Philadelphia University (where he still teaches), Geoffrey has also lent his talents to creating powerful interactive museum exhibits, as well as character-based web-interactive projects and web-to-TV convergence properties. He also leads workshops on 3D animation for instructors, media professionals and kids – and remains one of only a handful of Autodesk-Certified Instructors in Maya, the leading 3D animation software program.

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“This could very well be the most exciting time to be learning animation.”

Geoffrey Beatty, Animation Instructor, at Digital Media Academy’s Computer & Digital Arts Summer Camp ought to know. He remembers back when he was a college student majoring in Animation, before technology triggered a revolution in animation. Back then, he and his classmates had to hand-render designs and shoot them on 16mm film, which was then carefully hand-cut with razor blades and assembled with splicing tape, with the final, edited product loaded onto reels. In other words, lots of slow and tedious work.


Maya, the movie and video game industry standard is used in the Digital Media Academy studio classroom.

Fast-forward to today, and not only are computers everywhere, but the same animation software used by professionals is available to students at reduced cost, or sometimes even through a free Internet link. Not only that, but now you have the ability to instantly share your creation with the world, either through a YouTube video clip or downloadable game mod. So access to animation software is easier to obtain and there are more ways to get your creative vision across to a mass audience. So now the question becomes: How do you sift through all these choices without growing totally overwhelmed? And how will you learn to really harness the power of this complex software?

That’s where DMA’s Animation program comes to the rescue. DMA instructors such as Geoffrey Beatty know not only the latest versions of the leading software that’s involved in creating great animation, but they also bring real-world professional experience to class sessions. As artists themselves, they understand what’s involved in taking a unique creative vision and translating it into animated form. They know how to get the best efforts from students, by actively encouraging their growth as animators. “I love the intense, hands-on approach of both the Professional and the Teen DMA classes,” Geoffrey reports. “This allows me to work closely with the students to create the best possible work – work they can be proud to show their colleagues, families and friends.”


Teens and Pro Series adults experience learning all of Maya’s powerful animation capabilities.

DMA’s Animation program is offered at the Kids Adventures, Teen and Professional levels. Beginning-to-intermediate students will learn basic animation principles, including character animation using pre-built rigs. Instruction for students at the Teen and Professional levels contains special emphasis on Autodesk Maya, the industry standard software for 3D animation. It’s an amazing tool that can unlock whole new worlds of imagination, and there are few instructors in the U.S. that can claim to have as much experience with the program as Geoffrey Beatty.

“I started using Maya more than ten years ago,” he recalls, “And since then I have used it to animate games, a television pilot, broadcast promos, museum exhibits and augmented reality graphics. I never would have imagined – back in school with the light tables and room-sized animation camera – that I would get the chance to create something as cool as this.”

Bring to life video game or comic book characters with animation. DMA offers computer and visual arts summer camps and courses in both traditional hand-drawn art as well as digital animation. Learn more or register for a summer camp by visiting Digital Media Academy.

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posted by Phill Powell in 3D Modeling,Maya,News Blog and have No Comments

DMA's Maya Certification Program – An Accelerated, Immersive Experience

DMA’s Maya Certification program centers on its series of 3d modeling and animation courses. These courses are broad and deep and tackle some of the most complex problems and powerful tools in Maya, Autodesk’s industry standard software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and visual effects. From a beginning of how to create basic shapes in Maya I, to a finalized piece with finished facial animations, body rigging, and narrative based story  – the Digital Media Academy series of courses provides an intense submersion into the Maya toolkit and workflow.

Paul Randall and Karen Laszkiewicz – who attended DMA at Stanford University as part of a partnership with NOVA this past summer – in collaboration with other students at animation summer camp created the sample project displayed below.  Both Paul and Karen were among the Digital Media Academy attendees who tackled all four courses back to back.  The amount of technical information was huge.  The requirements to process and apply the information were quick.  And the necessity to work as a team came as an extra spice to the mix.  Paul and Karen were integral parts of a diverse team that included participants of varying ages, abilities, gender, and nationality.  They both kept learning, kept producing and working with the team through the deadline to create the final piece seen here.

This project is based on a story from a children’s book and due to time constraints does not have voice over or final render.  That said, in this format you can see the scripted words (for voice over) and the skeleton (rigged, model) and other directional tools.  The important thing to remember is that Paul and Karen started with no experience in 3d or Maya and after 20 days of class were able to produce this.  Digital Media Academy will get you started on your new career path!  The skills they departed with will enable them to pursue the field of 3d art, modeling and animation as a viable career path.  What are you interested in learning with Maya?  Is it time to learn new skills to be competitive in today’s employment marketplace?  Why not learn new skills and have fun too at Digital Media Academy’s Maya summer camp?  Please join the conversation, and leave a comment below! 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy_0KU6mUj0

Looking for more information on Maya Certification?  Please click here:  Maya Certification   Which Digital Media Academy location will work best for you?  Take a look!  Please click here:  Digital Media Academy Adult Training Locations.

 

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

Thoughts on last summer's Maya classes…

By Geoff Beatty, Lead Maya Instructor – DMA @ UPENN

One of the most rewarding parts of teaching is opening doors for my students.  At the beginning of each class, I literally unlock the door to the computer lab, turn the lights on, and lead my students in.  But in a more meaningful sense, I enjoy being the one (or one of many) who introduces them to a new medium, a new set of tools for creating imagery and telling stories.  The part of that experience that is especially gratifying is seeing my students making connections between their respective backgrounds (e.g. illustration, music, graphic design) and this newfound world of 3D modeling and animation.

Last year, during DMA’s Maya sessions at the University of Pennsylvania campus, I had the wonderful opportunity to teach an amazingly diverse group.  Among that group, there was the middle-aged illustrator from the midwest, learning a new skill.  There was the recent art school graduate with a graphic design degree.  There was the home-schooled high-schooler with an interest in visualization.  And there was the teenage musician and composer with a talent for digital imagery.

Each person brought a unique sensability and focus to their study of Maya.  And I can truly say that by the end, there were just as many unique 3D creations.  The characters, environments, and animations they made each reflected a personal vision.  And this is what I consider the strength of both the software, Maya, and the type of course I was teaching at DMA.  My duty as an instructor was two-fold.  First, I introduced students to the basics of the software.  This included both the explicit features and the implicit workflow, which is the proper process and sequence for using those features.  Secondly, I attempted to build on that foundational and common knowledge by guiding each student to a point where they could begin to use that tool to fulfill a personal interest or vision.

Maya Training Courses

This ends up being the point at which I grow too as a 3D artist and instructor.  DMA courses bring together such a variety of students that it ends up being an antidote to the homogeneity common to most 3D classrooms.  I learn new things every time I interact with my students.  My experience last summer was so gratifying in that respect that I couldn’t turn up the chance to teach again.  I look forward to opening doors, turning on lights, and having my students do the same for me.

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posted by Instructor in News Blog and have No Comments

Learning Maya made simple

By Dave Bittorf, Lead 3d Modeling and Animation Instructor, DMA @ UC San Diego

Learning Maya can really open some doors for you in the world of 3D, animation, and special effects.  This will be my 3rd summer with DMA and I love how streamline the curriculum is.  Here is a quick overview of the Maya I and II courses.

maya8-5_flexshot_3d_3in_web-copy

MAYA I : Introduction to 3D Modeling
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Maya has become one of the foremost 3D packages in the film industry. Participants in this Maya I training course will explore the Maya interface, workflow and production pipeline. The course includes an in-depth analysis of the modeling and texturing process. The class will also introduce students to basic rigging, blendshapes and other character animation functions.

During the course, you’ll use many of Maya’s high-end modeling tools to create a fully modeled, textured, lit and rendered interior set design. You’ll also construct a game character and a higher-poly organic head. And you’ll do basic rigging for a pre-built character including blendshape (for facial animation) setup and use these rigs for basic character animation

MAYA II : 3D Character Animation
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In this Maya training course, you’ll learn the advanced features of Maya’s animation package. We’ll explore the dope sheet and graph editor in depth, and learn about keyframes and how to manipulate them to create believable motion. Many of the basic tenets of good animation will be covered to help you understand the difference between motion and believable physics and weight-based animation.

During the course, you’ll create multiple animation projects, including custom rigs utilizing techniques like IK, spline IK, custom skinweights and custom character control systems. These projects (including illustrations of stretch & squash, the whip principle, secondary motion and anticipation/action/follow-through) will be output both as playblasts and portfolio-ready rendered clip.

I hope you can join DMA for an amazing Maya learning experience this summer.

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posted by Instructor in News Blog and have No Comments