News from HQ
Digital Media Academy today announced a special partnership with AAA Reality Games, the publisher of the “Echo’s Revenge” books has agreed to provide every student camper enrolled in DMA’s cutting-edge camps a free digital copy of Echo Hunt: The Ultimate Game, by Sean Austin.
“We’re excited to have this relationship with AAA Reality Games,” said DMA Director of Marketing Vince Matthews. “Since the ‘Echo’ series are solidly founded on the same STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) principles that DMA teaches.”
With more than a decade of experience running summer technology camps for kids and teens, Digital Media Academy offers expert instruction in wide range of tech topics. Kids and teens learn digital filmmaking, game design, programming, robotics, music production, Web design, digital photography, app development and more—and all having a great summer camp experience too.
The “Echo’s Revenge” series is authored by Hart Getzen (through his pseudonym Sean Austin). The books blur the lines between story, reality and games. For more information on the “Echo’s Revenge” series, or to purchase visit the Echo’s Revenge website.
America knows and loves Kool-Aid. The sweet, sugary drink has been a part of every kid’s life at some point. Its pitchman is a tubby, oversized glass pitcher. Soon you’ll see him as you never have before. Kool-Aid is giving Kool-Aid Man a Hollywood Visual Effects makeover. Lots of classic animated characters like Kool-Aid Man have been getting CGI updates to their image—like Fred Flintstone and Mickey Mouse. The new Kool-Aid Man is expected to be more lifelike, as well as more tech-savvy and kid friendly.
According to Kraft Foods Group, which now owns the brand, America’s iconic red glass pitcher will become more active and socially responsible—in an effort to make the brand more appealing to the nation’s moms, the product’s biggest supporters.
Kool-Aid Man has become fully plugged-in; he surfs the Web, and even has his own Kool-Aid Man website. Kraft is making Kool-Aid cool again. In one upcoming TV commercial, Kool-Aid Man will be pumping iron at the gym and buying flowers. In another ad, he “interacts with neighbors” instead of breaking through their walls. An improved and expanded vocabulary will keep our beverage buddy from resorting to his trademark “Oh yeah!” when chatting with neighbors.
Today Kool-Aid Man’s Facebook page has more than 60,000 likes and the Kool-Aid drink is a childhood staple. But it’s the 1970s and 1980s commercials Kool-Aid produced that made the product and its mascot legendary. The commercials highlight the hulking red glass pitcher smashing through walls (and causing significant property damage). This bad reputation got Kool-Aid Man ranked sixth on Time magazines Top 10 Creepiest Product Mascots. Digitally rendered or not, there’s no doubt that Kool-Aid Man is a pop culture icon with an impressive resume:
Learning How to Master CGI
Whether it involves reviving an enduring advertising mascot like Kool-Aid Man or making special effects movie magic, jobs involving how to create visual effects make up a large portion of the entertainment industry. This summer, go behind the scenes and discover how they make Hollywood visual effects at a Digital Media Special Effects Academy.
It’s a big job to make the new Kool-Aid man commercials. It takes a cast and crew of professionals. Once the live action is shot using motion tracking, editors work to composite video and perform color correction. Some of the commercial may be shot using green-screen techniques and then 3D effects are created and added. In the end, we get a rebooted childhood hero that will bring us a pitcher of refreshing Kool-Aid, no matter what obstacle is in his path.
It’s one of the most anticipated movies of the year and this Tuesday its director will host a Live Google+ Hangout to promote it. Ender’s Game, based on the book by Orson Scott Card, is the story of a young man enlisted to help Earth fight off an alien invasion. The film stars relative newcomer Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley and is set for release on November 1, 2013. A preview for the film just went online:
Back in Space
The trailer doesn’t show much but it certainly gets us excited (maybe because it’s the first time since Star Wars Harrison Ford has returned to space?). The book is a significant piece of science fiction; it’s even on the U.S. Marine Corps’ recommended reading list for new cadets for its “lessons in training methodology, leadership and ethics.”
Join director Gavin Hood, producer Bob Orci and star Asa Butterfield at 1 pm PT (4 pm ET) on May 7th to get the rundown. And in the meantime, check out the official Ender’s Game website.
A movie like Ender’s Game blends technology, space and special effects in a unique way. From the Battle Room simulations to the shots of ships in space, it takes a team of artists with years of experience to realize the director’s vision. No matter if you’re wanting to learn how to make a movie or add special effects to a movie, you can start your career in the film business with a week of movie camp like DMA.
When last we reported about Google’s much-anticipated new product, Google Glass, the search-engine company was still working out some final tweaks. But now it’s a year later, and the wait is ticking down.
For anyone who isn’t aware of the basics about Google Glass, the device is a microcomputer attached to a thin pair of eyeglasses that don’t contain the typical pair of glass pieces. Instead, one small lens is positioned over the wearer’s right eye. The microcomputer projects a heads-up display—kind of like Tony Stark’s HUD in the “Iron Man” movies—over a portion of the wearer’s field of vision.
The HUD’s functionality is voice-driven, because Glass (as Google refers to it) uses bone-conduction technology. It also features a smartphone-like interface, but instead of speaking to Siri, the wearer issues a command, such as “OK, Glass…Take a video,” and the microcomputer shoots the footage you want. Or takes a photo. Or translates a foreign phrase for you. Or gives you travel directions.
Easier to Join the CIA?
As of mid-April, Google had finished production of the Glass Explorer Program devices—a small-batch of prototypes that have now been issued to Google-selected individuals who applied to serve as test users of Glass. Google is interested in analyzing their various experiences wearing Glass, and discovering if there are any tweaks that should be made to the product before Glass finally hits the consumer market, which is scheduled to occur sometime between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.
Entry into the Glass Explorer Program wasn’t easy, or cheap. Interested persons had to submit a message via Google+ or Twitter of 50 words or less explaining why they wanted to join the test program. Those who were selected to participate then had to agree to travel to a Google Glass event in New York City, San Francisco or Los Angeles in order to pick up their Google Glass prototype. Finally, users had to also fork over $1,500 for the device—an amount significantly more expensive than the consumer version that Google is readying.
But the hoops and hurdles don’t end there. The Google Glass terms of service for the pre-release trial program spelled out just how seriously the manufacturer is taking project secrecy. “You may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person,” it reads. “If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google’s authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.” (In other words, better not lend your Glass prototype to that buddy of yours, or you could be out $1,500.)
Specs: Beyond the Looking Glass
It’s difficult at this point to report on the specs for Google Glass, because the specs that have been released apply to the prototype models being evaluated in the Glass Explorer Program. So while these specs are likely to be pretty close to what’s released to the consumer market, we can’t guarantee there won’t be tweaks made before the product is mass-launched. But here’s what we do know:
Technology You Can Wear
Google Glass is just another example of the incredible new trend known as wearable tech. Other examples include Apple’s new iWatch, which will soon be joined by wearable-tech jackets and other technology-enhanced garments and accessories.
Students in Digital Media Academy’s Advanced Java for Minecraft & Android camp discover how to develop cutting-edge games for the Android™ platform, the same one that supports Google Glass. Campers also learn advanced programming techniques for Java™, one of the leading programming languages, as well as how to get the most from today’s hottest game: Minecraft®. It’s a combination course packed with fun and discovery. Come join us this summer at one of DMA’s fantastic tech camp locations!
What a difference a couple of years can make. It was only Summer 2011 that Netflix, riding high as the nation’s premier video-streaming service and DVD rental provider, made a colossal marketing error. The company decided to split its subscription service into two separate plans—a move that would cost most Netflix users extra fees each month. The resulting backlash from angry consumers was immediate and severe, with many users dropping their Netflix subscriptions in protest. Within a few months, Netflix bowed to the intense consumer pressure and returned to its original subscription plans.
It wasn’t Netflix’s greatest moment. However, since that time, Netflix has been racking up one savvy financial move after another, and now finds itself in prime strategic position. As of March 2013, Netflix had total numbers of 33 million subscribers, and its leaders have spoken of growing the Netflix audience to two or three times that number of subscribers. Here are some of Netflix’s latest moves:
The Move to HTML5
Netflix recently announced its plans to eventually change its Web-based video playback from Microsoft’s Silverlight plug-in to HTML5. Prompted in part by Microsoft’s announcement that it would no longer support Silverlight after 2021, Netflix has been looking for a new playback strategy. It’s time for a change anyway, say many industry observers, who note that Silverlight has some reputation for providing choppy playback. The move to HTML5 will likely happen slowly and be implemented carefully.
Double Your Pleasure
Netflix has announced another plan designed to improve the video-streaming experience, especially for families with many members. Netflix’s new $12 monthly plan takes the existing arrangement—with each account being able to run two video streams independently—and doubles the number of video streams to four. So for 50 percent more in monthly fees, subscribers can get twice the amount of streaming video.
Netflix Original Programming
Not content to simply handle film and television content made by other creators, Netflix announced in March 2011 its intention to produce original content for use on Netflix. So far, six Netflix productions have begun or been announced:
Viewing the Big Picture
Netflix’s push into original programming is already making money. The company estimates that it has attracted 2 million new subscribers because it’s now making content that can’t be seen anywhere else.
Netflix now finds itself in a commanding position. Individual shares of Netflix stock have soared past the $200 mark. In fact, if you had purchased Netflix stock on January 23rd of this year (at $103 per share), your stock value would have now doubled because of Netflix’s dramatic climb. In another statistic that shows how fortunes change in the entertainment industry, Netflix now has more subscribers than premium channel HBO.
Digital Filmmaking for a Video-Streaming World
Netflix’s business model works because of one thing: the American public’s healthy appetite for entertainment. The entertainment industry—particularly the world of movies—will remain a viable source for employment opportunities, especially for creative professionals who can bring a strong skill set and genuine enthusiasm to their work.
Each year, kids and teens across North America head to some of the greatest college campuses to explore their passion for digital arts and the technologies that empower them. They’re attending Digital Media Academy tech camps and discovering how to turn their creative vision into filmed gold. Students in DMA’s Academy for Hollywood Visual Effects receive a premium, two-week film-camp experience. The Academy focuses on the art of digital filmmaking with an added concentration on special effects and high-end post-production polish. Join today’s digital revolution in film—with expert instruction at one of DMA’s tech camp locations.
News from HQ by Vince Matthews
Just a few decades ago, rocket launches were big news. As recently as the late ’90s, people gathered around televisions and made treks to Cape Canaveral to watch the Space Shuttle break through the Earths’ atmosphere. Sadly, since the Space Shuttle program has been retired and NASA has retooled its space program, space exploration hasn’t been front-page news—and launches are rarely highlighted, even by NASA.
To Infinity & Beyond!
Today NASA is offering a rare opportunity for you to watch a rocket launch live. The launch will be visible by the naked eye as far north as Cape May, New jersey, and south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If you’re hoping to watch the launch locally, officials request onlookers view the take-off from Assateague Beach.
The rocket will launch from one of NASA’s lesser-known launch facilities on Wallops Island, Virginia.
The two-stage Antares rocket is 131 feet tall and will carry a mock 8,300-pound payload, or “mass simulator” to duplicate the weight of real cargo. NASA estimates that there’s a 45 percent chance of a successful launch—weather permitting. “Low clouds are the primary concern for a weather violation,” NASA officials said.
Built by the Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, the Antares could pave the way for future unmanned flights to destinations like the International Space Station. That is, if the launch is successful. Rocket launches are notoriously unpredictable: Orbital Sciences halted engine tests on Saturday to replace a faulty valve. If the launch does need to be rescheduled, NASA will try again sometime between April 18th and 21st.
The test flight of the 13-story Antares rocket will be its first and NASA’s live stream of the rocket launch will begin at 1 pm PDT (4 pm EDT). The flight will take the rocket 160 miles above the Earth .
It is Rocket Science!
Parents whose kids who have their eyes on the stars should consider sending their kids to a space camp – or better yet, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) tech camp that offers kids a chance to explore all that science has to offer.
What exactly is the Facebook phone? That’s been the question lately in social media circles. Today, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg cleared things up in a press event in Palo Alto, California. But although there was a Facebook phone to announce, Zuckerberg was quick to mention that Facebook itself did not have any desire to get into the computer hardware business. “We’re not building a phone,” he announced to the eager, then stumped crowd. “We’re not building an operating system.”
“What would happen if our phones were designed around people, not apps? Today our phones are designed around apps, not people. We’re going to flip that around.”
-Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Instead, Zuckerberg showcased what he called Facebook’s “home on Android.” It’s a new version of Android specially enhanced to support Facebook functionality, and it will operate via an HTC smartphone also announced on Thursday—named “HTC First™” and available through AT&T. The phone (which will be available in black, white, pale blue, or red) will retail for $99.99 with pre-orders already being taken on the AT&T website. Expect it in stores on April 12th, which is also the official launch date for the “Facebook Home” interface.
The HTC First phone—described by HTC as the “ultimate social media phone”—was optimized to support Facebook Home, the new interface operating on the Android platform.
Facebook Home, while developed specifically for the HTC First™ phone, can be used with certain other existing brands and models: Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2, and HTC’s One X and One X+ phones. Facebook Home will also work with two models yet to be introduced: the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4.
The HTC First™ is loaded with Facebook Home, as well as other features designed to help its users enjoy their social media experience even more:
• Chat Heads This let you chat with friends without interruption, while you continue to run additional apps. The feature overlays small chat bubbles over the app shown on screen. Press a bubble (which displays a small pic of your friend) and it opens a text message or a Facebook Messenger conversation.
• Cover Feed Equally cool is Facebook Home’s lock screen, or “Cover Feed.” This indicates what content your circle of Facebook friends is sharing. See something you like? Join in by swiping on the screen, or you can make comments about posts rights from this Cover Feed.
• Super-Sharp Display The HTC First™ delivers 1280 x 720p resolution. The phone’s 4.3-inch super LCD screen promises astounding clarity with 341 pixels per inch.
• Your Kind of Screen Because the HTC First™ lets you stream news feed images from your friends, your home-screen display is constantly changing and updating itself. It keeps up with what your friends are doing.
• Compact Size The HTC First™ measures in at almost 5 inches long and approximately 2.5 inches wide, and HTC is quick to note that the phone’s trim width makes it less than a half inch wider than the average credit card.
• Under the Hood The HTC First™ has a Qualcomm 8930AA, dual-core 1.4 GHz processor that runs the Android 4.1 OS. And although the available capacity varies, the total storage on the phone is 16GB.
• Get the Picture This is a social-media phone, right? So you’re going to want to take lots of pictures to share with your friends. The HTC First™ packs a 5 MP camera that has a BSI sensor and offers 1080p Full HD video recording, for capturing life’s moments that just have to be shared.
• Apps at a Touch The HTC First™ lets users group all their favorite apps in one place. The App Launcher then lets you trigger those apps, with a single tap of the screen.
For Facebook, it was a day to demonstrate that the company will not be content to rest on its accomplishments. It plans to branch out into other arenas, but do it in its own way. “What would happen if our phones were designed around people, not apps?” Zuckerberg asked. “Today our phones are designed around apps, not people. We’re going to flip that around.”
The only thing cooler than surfing today’s expanding wave of technology is getting to go behind the scenes and see how it all works. That’s what kids and teens all across the U.S. and Canada will be doing this summer, at Digital Media Academy tech camp locations.
DMA is where you can discover how to create cutting-edge content especially for the Android OS, one of today’s hottest operating systems. Students in DMA’s Google® Android™ Game Development with Unity® camp learn how to use powerful Unity® software to help them create game assets and manage game-development work flow. They also discover scripting and programming using Java™. Make this summer count by mastering cool new skills at DMA!
Looking for a technology trend that’s about to catch fire? Try wearable tech. It’s the next big thing in technology and it’s expected to explode during the next 18 months.
Apple has been experimenting with wearable fitness devices for years, including the 6th generation iPod nano, which included a pedometer and Nike fitness app—and could be worn like a watch. The idea may seem like science fiction, but in reality it’s already science fact. Look no further than Google, which is developing a set of glasses that will replace your smartphone. Apple believes in wearable tech, too—so much so that it’s betting on a device that’s been branded in the media as “the iWatch.”
Apple’s Not-So-Secret Project
With a 100-strong staff comprised of engineers, developers and marketers—and led by Apple’s design chief Jony Ive—Apple has big hopes for the iWatch. The iWatch has been rumored for some time and according to Bloomberg, the “wristwatch-like device may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad.” An Apple wristwatch might also incorporate Siri and other features, like maps.
The Pebble Smartwatch is an E-paper watch for iOS and Android. The watch syncs with the user’s smartphone and can show incoming calls, messages and other notifications.
Available for $150, the watch can tell you about an incoming call, shoot you a text or Tweet—and all without having to dig through your pockets or backpack for your smartphone. It’s not an Apple product but it does show off what could be possible with wearable tech.
Apple created a watch before, with the 6th generation iPod. It could be worn as a watch and featured more than 15 different watch faces. Apple and watch fanatics (including us at DMA) snapped up the tiny devices and still sport them as timepieces.
Back to the iWatch: Not much is known about Apple’s new device, except that it is currently in development. Tech insiders say the watch may incorporate Siri, so voice commands could have people talking to their wrist like comic-strip detective Dick Tracy, while Bluetooth functionality would sync it with your smartphone.
Apple’s been exploring several watch designs, including one that might include curved glass or wrap a screen around your wrist. Apple patented a slap-band (above) which could work with a flexible display. (Image: US Patent Office)
It’s also rumored that there may be health-monitoring features, which a slap-band form would definitely work to support. Your heart rate may be displayed on the device when you wear it during a morning jog, or you could have an app that applauds you after every quarter mile. Finally, powering the watch would be a version of Apple’s iOS.
No release date or price point has been announced for the device, but Apple might want to get something on the calendar in the way of an announcement pretty soon since it isn’t the only manufacturer working on wearable tech. Samsung and even Blackberry are said to be far along in their respective development of a “smartwatch.”
Developing for iOS
As Apple introduces more products that are powered by the iOS and the App Store, learning how to develop apps makes more sense all the time. iDevices like the iPad and iPhone are some of the most popular mobile devices on the planet—and the apps that power them are here to stay.
Learning to make apps isn’t as hard as you think and with the proper guidance, you can create an app to do almost anything.
An app development camp like Digital Media Academy gives kids and teens the chance to get professional instruction and hands-on experience developing apps. Who knows? Your child may already have an idea for a pedometer app that could be the next App Store bestseller.
Each year, the New Media Consortium (NMC), an international community of experts dedicated to educational technology, releases its latest research on emerging technology and how it impacts education. The NMC looks at new or coming teaching methods enabled by technology, as well as potential educational challenges created by that technology.
This year’s Horizon Report, which summarizes NMC research and findings, sheds some fascinating light on the major trends occurring at the intersection of education and technology. As usual, the Horizon Report ties each trend to a particular timeframe.
Happening Now: Tablets and Massively Open Online Courses
The 2013 Horizon Report starts by noting trends that are either already taking place or will begin to occur within a year:
• Tablets Tablet computers are now everywhere, including the classroom. The Horizon Report notes that tablets are impacting education by providing a more interactive and portable alternative to textbooks, which too often contain outdated information.
• Massively Open Online Courses Turn on your TV and you’re bound to see a commercial for an online university, which use Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) to reach students located around the world. MOOCs were first popularized when Stanford University decided to offer its “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” class free of charge via the Internet. Hundreds of thousands of students signed up, and universities everywhere immediately understood that MOOCs were going to shake things up.
Coming Soon: Game-based Learning, Big Data & Analytics
Next up—the ed tech trends that will take place in two to three years:
• Game-based Learning Good news for every student who’s ever wished that class could be more like playing video games. In the near future, game-like elements will become part of how information is presented to students. (Gamification was discussed extensively at the recent Stanford MediaX Conference, where it was forecasted to also have an influence on business and even government.)
• Big Data & Analytics The Horizon Report pointed out the coming importance of metrics, which are already reshaping modern business practices by providing a way to calculate things like Return on Investment. For the world of education, analytics will play an increasingly significant part in designing personalized education for students. No longer will educators have to structure their courses to cater to the lowest common denominator. Instead, because of the wealth of support data, educators will be able to shape the curriculum to fit each individual student.
Down the Road Apiece: 3D Printers and Technology You Can Wear
The DMC even used its crystal ball to predict ed tech trends four to five years out:
• 3D Printers 3D printers (which can output user-designed objects molded from plastic) are poised to revolutionize manufacturing the way digital has revolutionized media. These amazing new devices even received a recent mention in President Obama’s State of the Union address. Like digital media, 3D printers offer more flexibility during the design process. Just as a child can now create and release video content without ever leaving her mobile device, soon she will be able to use a 3D printer to produce Monopoly tokens that actually look like her own family members, or design a flashlight perfectly shaped for her own hand.
• Wearable Technology Before long, technology will be something you wear. In fact, an early example of wearable tech may be released this year, if Apple decides to unveil its much-anticipated iWatch. Regardless, wearable tech is definitely on the way; soon our jackets will be lined with battery packs, and much of what we wear will become part of our cloud presence.
See the Future Now!
The DMC’s Horizon Report proves that technologies once considered science fiction will soon become as widespread as smartphones. No wonder that smart, creative young people are eager to see the future—and start defining their own futures. At Digital Media Academy, kids and teens get to explore cutting-edge STEM subjects through awesome tech camps in subjects like digital filmmaking, programming, game design, animation, robotics, music production, app development and Web design.
In DMA’s Engineering & Programming with Arduino camp, for example, students learn how to build and program their own robot using the popular Arduino platform. While they’re having fun, they’re also mastering useful skills in software and mechanical engineering, as well as how to program with Java™. DMA combines STEM learning and technology in a revolutionary way. Join us this summer!
Digital Media Academy is the recognized leader in summer tech camps for kids and teen tech camps. What makes DMA different? Professionally developed, cutting-edge tech camps crafted around today’s hottest tech subjects—like game design, app development, programming and animation (just to name a few).
For kids and teens who desire a career in digital arts, DMA offers guidance and direction through hands-on education—with instruction provided by industry professionals and technology educators who have worked directly in the subjects they teach.
A Blueprint for Success
A program as strong as Digital Media Academy doesn’t happen overnight, or by accident. DMA was founded more than a decade ago by seasoned technology educators from Stanford University. And since its beginning, DMA has provided a far richer tech camp experience than any other.
DMA focuses on quality, carefully managing each location and staffing each camp course with the right instructional staff. Unlike other tech camps, DMA maintains separate staffs to provide top-notch course instruction during the day as well as attentive management of super-fun recreational activities during the evening.
This summer, teens in DMA’s 3D Game Modding for Minecraft® camp will get to find out how the world’s most popular online game works…and how they can control it themselves.
DMA strives to deliver a world-class experience in every aspect, so it’s not surprising that DMA has been featured in The New York Times and has even been named one of the world’s top ten summer camps by Worth.com. But the best praise of all comes from students, who credit DMA with giving them a life-changing experience, and their parents, who see the lasting educational value DMA provides for their kids.