DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

The megapixel myth : Take great Digital Photos

Skimboarder shot on 6MP camera

Skimboarder shot on 6MP camera

One of the most frequent questions to settle before coming to Digital Photography and Photoshop I is: what kind of digital camera should I choose?  The answer depends on your objectives and comfort with camera technology.  If you are a hobbyist, you’ll probably focus your attention on DSLRs: those traditional-looking cameras that accept different lenses and provide an optical viewfinder through which to compose your shots.  The pocket point-and-shoot alternative is generally more  travel-friendly and affordable, although there is considerable overlap in the latter regard among high end point-and-shoots and entry-level DSLRs.

One measuring stick commonly employed when comparing models is the number of effective megapixels (MP) of the image sensor.  All things being equal, it would seem reasonable that a 12 megapixel camera  would resolve an image twice as well as a 6 megapixel model but, in fact, the comparison depends on additional variables.  If the optical precision of the 12MP camera is not commensurate with the power of the sensor, actual improvement over the 6MP camera may be nominal.  Even though the greater number of pixels will yield a larger croppable area, insufficient sharpness can render the results a wash. The smaller the size of the pixels and, therefore, the greater their density, the greater potenital for stray data, known as noise, and poor detail in low-light shooting situations. The image of the skimboarder was shot with an older 6MP camera yet reporoduced sharp enough to earn a full page spot for July in the 2009 Tidelines calendar. In this case, the quality of the lens was more important than the number of pixels.

For detailed side-by-side comparisons and actual image samples, I recommend dpreview.com Regardless of the form factor you choose, consider investing in a camera that shoots images in the RAW format.  While Photoshop CS4 can employ many of the same enhancements on JPEG images, you’ll truly enjoy the full power of the application with images shot in RAW.

Learn more about Digital Photography and Photoshop 1 class or register now.

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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 for Kids. Cool stop motion video made between film projects at summer camp!

Kids learn how to make a movie at summer camp!

This is a project the Digital Media Adventures film class (movie making and special effects) made in between movie projects this past summer at DMA summer camp in Michigan. Somehow they managed to shoot these hundreds of photos and stitch them together in Final Cut Pro as a fun project in between the two other short films they made in one week!  This is truly a great film camp experience for kids.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Lo8BW0MMPc

Learn more about DMA’s Film and Computer Camps for Kids

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posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

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)

Digital Media Academy Inspires Teen to Pursue Video Game Design Career

Andy Hoffman is currently a junior at Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston, Texas and will be graduating in the Spring of 2010. Andy has known since he was 10 years old that he wanted to find a college that would allow him to get a degree in Video Game Design and allow him to go into the gaming industry.

The following is an interview with Andy. Read showcasing how Digital Media Academy inspired Andy and helped him acquire great skills that will allow him to pursue his passion.

DMA: How old are you?

Andy: 17

DMA: How many summers have you been attending DMA?

Andy: This will be my fourth summer.

Andy has taken the following game creation courses at DMA:

In summer of ’09 he is taking Web Design and Flash Scripting for Game Design.

DMA: Which DMA location did you attend?

Andy: Stanford University. I enjoy the campus environment, it’s very easy to get around and a relaxing environment.

DMA: Prior to attending DMA, did you know what career path you wanted to take?

Andy: Somewhat. The main issue that prevented me from deciding to go into game design prior to attending DMA was the practicality of it.

DMA: Describe your experience at DMA.

Andy: In the past three summers I’ve learned a lot and had fun doing it.

DMA: How has DMA helped you in deciding what you would like to do when you “grow up”?

Andy: Meeting other kids with similar interests, and the instructors and speakers who came and spoke to us about the game design industry really inspired me.

DMA: Do you know which University you would like to attend?

Andy: Through the help of DMA and my high school counselor, I found several incredible options that are considered prestigious in the game industry. I’ve now narrowed my search down to Savannah College of Art and Design, Ringling College of Art and Design, Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at Dallas, and University of Southern California. SMU offers a 5 year program that includes a masters degree as well.

DMA: What stands out the most for you from your time spent at DMA camps.

Andy: Being in high school, but living on a college campus for a few weeks out of the summer doing what I will hopefully be doing a year or two from now when I’m actually in college.

DMA: Describe the quality of the facilities, computers, instructors, etc.

Andy: Beyond expectations.

We also got a chance to talk to Andy’s mom, Joni Hoffman.

DMA: As a parent, please describe your experience with DMA.

Joni: My son Andy has been interested in Video Game Design since he was 10 years old. He attended several local video game creation computer camps offered in Houston. We found that Andy knew more than the instructors, even at a young age. He would ask questions they simply could not answer. We soon learned that Andy needed a more serious and rigorous program than what we had locally. I was thrilled to find DMA. It has been an incredible experience for Andy.  This summer will be his 4th summer and unfortunately his last. He will be a senior. However because of DMA he is pursuing a degree in Video Game Design. The portfolio he has created from what he learned at DMA has helped him become a serious candidate for scholarship money at several universities that offer Video Game Design as a degree.

DMA: Do you feel that DMA is your typical camp? Explain.

Joni: NO. Living on the Stanford campus was an incredible opportunity.

DMA: Do you feel that DMA has opened your son’s eyes to know which career path he wants to pursue?

DMA attracts kids literally from all over the world who have a similar passion and interest. Andy has had roommates from the UK, Canada and France.  These same kids may even reconnect someday once they are in the real world pursuing their dreams of being in the gaming industry.

DMA: Would you recommend DMA to others?

Joni: Absolutely

DMA: Anything else you would like to comment on about DMA?

With the state of the economy, many “stable” degrees no longer offer a guarantee of landing a good job after graduation. It’s more important than ever to pick from degrees that are going to have jobs available. The video game industry is booming and probably only going to get stronger. I think Andy is fortunate that his passion for this industry has great potential for a very successful career as an adult.

I truly believe that DMA helped shape Andy’s future and his DMA experience has definitively given him a competitive advantage in the college admissions process. Not to mention he had a blast. Kudos to the staff and counselors at DMA!

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posted by Lara in News Blog and have Comments (2)

Parents and Children enjoy DMA's Summer Training Courses and Summer Camps

DMA offers fun and creative learning for the whole family!

Have you ever wished that you could attend a summer camp just like your children? Well now you can. This summer, Digital Media Academy’s adult, teen, and kids summer programs will allow both you and your children to learn the latest in creative technology. And while youre busy producing digital movies, creating web sites, or designing games, you’ll also get to share in your child’s learning experience-first hand. Imagine what dinner conversations will be like instead of the typical, So what did you do today?”

Digital Media Academy: Creative Technology Immersion

The Digital Media Academy provides adult learners, including teens and kids, college students, K-20 educators, and industry professionals with a weeklong learning experience in a summer retreat or camp environment. In addition, participants can earn 4 quarter units of Stanford Continuing Studies credit. Courses include 3D Animation, Web Design, Strategies of Game Design, and Digital Video. Digital Media Academy attracts award-winning instructors such as Ben Waggoner (“world’s greatest compressionist”), New York School of Visual Arts’ Steve Adler, and veteran ABC producer and best-selling Final Cut Pro author, Tom Wolsky among others.

Learning for the whole family! DMA Summer Camps and Learning Courses

Summer Courses for Adults

Computer Camp for Teens

Computer Camp for Kids

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posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

Digital Media Academy's Renowned Summer Camp Offers Spring Special : Summer 2009 Classes For Kids Camps, Teen Camps and Adult Courses

 Digital Media Academy is recognized as the premier summer camp for youngsters, teens and adults. The whole family can enjoy learning the latest digital art and media techniques from top instructors in an encouraging project-based environment using state-of-the-art equipment.

Palo Alto, CA  March 1, 2008 — Digital Media Academy is recognized as the premier summer camp for youngsters, teens and adults. The whole family can enjoy learning the latest digital art and media techniques from top instructors in an encouraging project-based environment using state-of-the-art equipment. The 5-day courses for kids and teenagers can be taken individually or combined for multi-week certifications at prestigious college and university campuses that includes University of Chicago, Stanford University (San Francisco area), Harvard (Boston), George Washington U. (Washington, D.C.), U of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Brown (Providence, RI), Dartmouth (Hanover, NH), University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), UC San Diego, UC Berkeley and more. At DMA, your child will be taught how to design and create video games, movies and websites, while developing lifelong passion and skills that translate directly to careers in design, engineering, computer science, and more.

DMA has something for each member of the family with its diverse offering of courses. Digital Media Adventures summer computer camps cater to ages 7-13, with day and residential camps in robotics, game design, web design, filmmaking and cartoon and comic creation, taught by professionals and teachers with a passion and talent for inspiring young minds.

Learning at DMA Summer Computer Camps and Tech Courses

Teen summer tech courses for ages 13-18 are offered at beginning to advanced levels with an optional residential pre-college experience. New for 2009, DMA has partnered with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus (www.lennonbus.org) to offer a music and video production course that is sure to attract students from around the world. Adults can take professional level courses in film, web design, photography, animation and more.

What better summer experience than channeling your family’s creativity and passion for video games and technology into an exciting educational experience? DMA is offering a Spring special discount off each 2009 course for everyone who registers by March 31, 2009. Visit www.digitalmediaacademy.org for details.

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posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

Z-Brush "The Lastest craze in Game Design"

Thinking about becoming the next big game designer? DMA’s Advanced Video Game Creation class is a must for anyone serious about learning the advanced techniques that major studios are using. Don’t just take my word for it – check out this interview with Epic Games talking about the new Gears of War 2. They Explain how they used Z-Brush in their production pipeline to create the incredible detail you see in the games.

Epic Games Interview – Gears of War 2

perna_marcus

___________________________________________________________________________________

Next-generation game production tools and techniques

This advanced video game production class integrates the big three applications of next-generation gaming technology. Topics covered include digital sculpting with Pixologic’s ZBrush and advanced digital painting and texture mapping with Adobe Photoshop. You’ll learn essential techniques for creating architecture, characters, creatures, vehicles and pick-up items. We’ll also teach you industry techniques for normal mapping, grunge-color maps and specularity maps are also emphasized.

The course features in-depth discussions on unifying game designs using fine art principals such as color theory, layout compositional design, form and structure, as well as other techniques to expand your understanding of the art of game design. We’ll study game play and level flow techniques, with each student continually testing and refining their creation in a group setting. On the last day of class, we’ll spend a game day play-testing and critiquing our designs.

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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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posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have No Comments

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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