What do you want to be?
“One day I want to be an animator or a movie director. I love anything has to do with a computer and I am always drawing, so this camp was made for me! My dream job would be to design animation for DreamWorks!”
What did you learn at DMA?
“At camp I learned how to animate my drawings. Before this I was trying to use stop motion photography and it took forever! I got Toon Boom Studio® for my birthday and have been animating ever since. It’s awesome to see my drawings move around!”
What was your most memorable camp moment?
“One of my most memorable moments at camp was the first time I saw my thoughts come to life. I was so happy! My first film was pretty simpIe but it was a start and it was funny. I also made some good friends at camp that I am still in contact with today!”
Are you hoping to attend DMA camp next summer? If so, what campus and which program will you select?
“I plan to return to DMA next summer. I want to take the 3D animation or moviemaking course. I also want to return to the Stanford campus. It’s beautiful and I’m planning on going to school there one day!”
Aspiring young animators who want to learn how to create cartoons don’t have to wait to be old enough for visual arts school. Digital Media Academy’s animation camp and cartoon camp give kids a chance to create the next Spongebob Squarepants or Bugs Bunny while exploring and learning about technology and art.
I like watching the Academy Awards as well as anybody. There’s the glamour of the Red Carpet, the Oscar predictions about “Who Should” and “Who Will” win, and the wild unpredictability of live television. This year’s telecast did not disappoint.
When Music by Prudence won the Oscar for Documentary Short Film, a woman “pulled a Kanye” – rushing onstage, grabbing the microphone from Director Roger Ross Williams and launching into a speech of her own.
I was horrified. This was the only Oscar award I actually cared about. I had heard Prudence sing last January when DMA helped bring the band Liyana to Stanford University. In 2009, through its partnership with The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, the Digital Media Academy hosted and sponsored a Liyana concert at the Stanford Bookstore. I found both their music and their story uplifting. I hoped this Oscar nomination would draw attention to Liyana and the plight of the disabled in developing countries. Instead, Liyana’s 45 seconds in the spotlight was hijacked by an unidentified woman in purple.
Liyana is a musical group from Zimbabwe that started as a class project. Each member of the band faces extreme physical challenges. They met at the King George VI School & Center for Children with Disabilities in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. King George is a haven for disabled youth in a country where disability is misunderstood and despised. The school’s life-changing work is funded largely by donations from abroad.
The HBO documentary chose to focus on lead singer, Prudence, the only female band member. But each member of the band – Marvelous, Tapiwa, Farai, Energy, Honest, Vusani, and Goodwell – has an inspiring story. Each has overcome discrimination. Each testifies to the beauty of the human spirit. Each proves that giftedness defies disability.
Liyana means “it’s raining.” According to Williams, in Zimbabwe, rain is considered a gift from God. When the band is on stage, they’re “raining,” sharing that gift with the world.
By now, much has been written about the woman who stormed the stage. No doubt there are two sides to every story, and this story is a colorful one. Elinor Burkett is the film’s co-producer. She says she came across Liyana in Zimbabwe and introduced Director Roger Williams to the project. They later had a falling out over creative direction of the film.
She takes umbrage at the reference to Kanye West, saying her name was called as an Oscar recipient, and she felt entitled to speak. She claimed the director’s mother tried to impede her progress to the stage with her cane. Burkett has adamantly defended her actions, explaining that she only stepped in when the director failed to properly acknowledge the subjects of the film.
Ironically, it was her rudeness, rather than her speech, that has drawn attention to the band. This unfortunate producer-squabble-gone-public has become a blessing in disguise.
Roger Ross Williams was given a chance to repeat his acceptance speech on Larry King Live. Exposure for the film has increased exponentially. Many more people will now tune in to the May 12 debut of Music by Prudence debut on HBO2.
So here’s to Academy Awards show drama. Bring on the cane-blocking and microphone-grabbing antics. May the hubbub draw greater attention to Liyana and bring an outpouring of support for the King George VI School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Programming by Philip Harding
Digital Media Academy (DMA) is a nationally-recognized organization offering hands-on learning experiences in a broad range of digital media technologies. First and foremost, DMA is a technology education company whose core business is summer camps for kids and teens. DMA also offers certification for adults and “Pro-Series” courses.
Founded in 2002 by educators formerly from Apple Education and technology experts from Stanford University, DMA is best known for its premier summer programs hosted at prestigious university campuses, like its robotics camp at Stanford University, technology camp at Harvard University and film camps at the University of Chicago – just to name a few. In addition to its summer programs, DMA provides on-site training to schools and companies and offers workshops at its training facility in Los Gatos, CA.
The DMA Difference
Prior to becoming an instructor for DMA, Tyler Winick took a course with Digital Media Academy, “I took some DMA courses and was amazing by the experience. I learned so much so quickly and was able to immediately apply my knowledge in the classroom and in the field with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.”
With hands-on learning using the same tools and technology as industry professionals and training provided by technology experts, DMA offers a world-class learning experience.
At Digital Media Academy’s Academy for Music & Video Production, students compose and record an original song, mix and master it, and create a music video and DVD to accompany the music. At DMA tech camps, students use the best software tools for the job. First, let’s talk a bit about mixing music in Logic Pro, the audio software DMA uses.
Logic Pro is one of the industry-standard audio software packages used in recording studios. Logic is easier to learn than many of the other programs, but it is just as versatile and powerful.
Mixing & Mastering
There are several steps to recording a song. First, you write the song, and decide what instruments will play which parts. Then, you record the parts, and input those parts for the software instruments. After that, you mix and master the song.
Mixing is mainly just setting the volume levels of different instruments so they sound good together. When you go to a concert, the engineer standing in front of that huge board somewhere in the back-center of the audience is the sound mixer. In that case, the mixer only gets one shot at mixing it right, since they are mixing a live show. Recording studios are great because we have plenty of time to get the song to sound exactly the way we want it to sound. (And if something sounds entirely wrong, we can just re-record it!)
We can also use automation to simulate live mixing. If we have a guitar solo, we can push the guitar’s volume slider up to make it louder, and then pull it back down after the solo is over. Automation lets us do this automatically exactly the same, every time we play our song.
Tricks of the Trade
There are other tricks we can use. When we record an artist playing or singing a part, we call that a “take.” We usually record several takes so we can get the best one. If none of them are perfect, we can actually stitch multiple takes together and use the best parts from each take. For example, if the guitarist botched one chord, but the rest of the take was perfect, we can substitute in a chord from another take to fix it. Logic makes splicing clips together very easy. In the project pictured below, we had two substandard takes, so I used different parts of each take to create a better one. (You can hear the song at the bottom of this post).
We can also add Equalization to a track. “EQ” lets us change the volume of specific ranges of frequencies. In other words, if the vocalist’s track sounds “muddy,” we can boost the higher frequencies and take down the lower ones to increase the clarity of the voice. If we have a high-pitched whine in the background, we can take out just the offending frequency.
Here are some examples of problems we can fix by mixing the song. I recorded this song with musician Misha Byrne. For all three examples, we’ll play the unmixed version before the mixed version, so you can compare them.
In the first clip, listen to the volume levels. The vocals get a bit quiet on “Maybe I’ll never see…” Then in the second clip, you may notice a high-pitched noise in the background. Also, the “t” in the word “heart” gets lost in the unmixed clip. In the third clip, notice the error in the guitar playing on the last chord. In the mixed version, I spliced in another recording of Misha playing that chord correctly to make it sound better.
Where Music and Video Come Together
I’ve only mentioned a few of the tools recording engineers and mixers use to arrange and mix songs. They are all covered in DMA’s Academy for Music & Video Production: Come Together, which is co-sponsored by the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. There is so much to learn, and this class gives every student the knowledge they need to get started in both audio and video production.
Misha Byrne is a singer, guitarist and songwriter in Queensland, Australia.
In the Cartoon Creation class, we’re using Toon Boom Studio to teach animation techniques, this software is very flexible and fun to use.
At the core of all animation are “keyframes”. We find them in other animation applications, video apps, compositing apps, and even audio editing applications. Keyframes are what allow us to move our characters, animate them, change the lighting, move the camera, and make their lips move. Without keyframes, there would be no movement or change. In other words, we’d just be working with still images without keyframes, and that’s not nearly as much fun!
Keyframes simplify animation by allowing us to modify our drawing over time, instead of manually drawing every single frame individually. Animating with keyframes is kind of like cutting out your character from paper and pushing him around the table. He moves smoothly, and you can reuse objects you have already drawn. The alternative is frame-by-frame animation; this is like making a flip-book, and redrawing the character on every page.
We also cover frame-by-frame animation. This is how they made the classic Disney cartoons. Toon Boom Studio has an onion-skinning feature built in to help with this kind of animation. It outlines the drawing from the previous frame, which gives you a good reference for the position of the next frame’s drawing. Unfortunately, animators didn’t have it this easy back in the ’70s!
Toon Boom Studio has many powerful drawing tools built in. Even things like shading are easy to manage. 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.
Toon Boom Studio has a lip-syncing engine built in. This lets us record an audio track and sync the lips of our characters to fit our recorded dialog. Toon Boom Studio takes the monotony out of lip-syncing. We get to make the character speak with our voice, and the software does the tedious part of the process for us! That’s pretty exciting!
One of the most exciting things about Toon Boom Studio is its compatibility with file formats that animators already use. We can import Adobe Illustrator vector files, Flash .swf’s, all kinds of raster image formats, video formats, and sound formats. This means that we can use almost any source material that we can find to animate. Do you know any artists who use Adobe Illustrator? You can bring their work right into Toon Boom Studio, with no loss in quality, and no conversions!
And even more exciting is the export formats. Believe it or not, the projects you create in our course can be exported to Adobe Flash files! Flash is the industry standard for animations on the internet, so this is extremely exciting. This means that everyone with the Flash player installed can view your animation. (98% of computers with internet have Flash installed, so that’s a big deal!) You can put your animations online for the world to see, or to share with friends and family! You can also export your animations to video, for use in a DVD, or a video project.
I’m very excited to see this Cartoon Creation class offered this summer. We get to create dynamic and rich animations that we can share with anyone and everyone, and our animations will play on almost any computer. It’s a blast!
Hi! I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I want to give you a closer look at Adobe Photoshop CS4. We use Photoshop for image creation and modification in our Web Design class.
Photoshop is the industry standard for image manipulation and creation. It’s even become a verb! “That looks Photoshopped!” Usually we use that term to describe photographs that look like they have been modified. Photoshop is good for many other purposes too. In this case, we’re looking at a simple header for a website that we’ve created in Photoshop.
A header goes at the top of your website. Often, it is an image that includes elements related to the site. For example, if we are making a site about different kinds of ducks, we might make the header image look like a pond and put ducks in it!
On the far left of the above image, we can see our tools stacked vertically. We cover all the tools, but focus on the most important ones. On the right, we have several panes where we can modify the image in different ways. There are also pop-up windows that you can access in various ways, shown below.
This can all seem very overwhelming. Photoshop is an extremely deep application, which is why it is the standard for image manipulation in several industries (film, photography, print, etc). As complex as it is, with the proper guidance, it can be easy to learn even for young children. It’s much like a car. For example, you don’t need to know how to change the oil or replace the tires in order to get gas at a gas station. And you don’t need to know how to install a spark plug in order to change the oil. As with most things, people learn Photoshop modularly, piece by piece.
There are always different ways to accomplish things in Photoshop. Everyone I know takes a slightly different approach. We teach the kids several techniques for getting different effects, and with guidance from us, we let them take the route that is most fun for them. Your child can learn basic and some intermediate techniques in Photoshop, create graphics for an incredible website, build the website, and add animation, all in a week at DMA!
I hope to see you this summer!
Hello! I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I want to give you a closer look at Adobe Dreamweaver CS4. We use Dreamweaver for creating the web site layout in our Adventures Web Design class.
Dreamweaver is what we call a “WYSIWYG Editor” (stands for “What You See is What You Get”). This means we get to see our design as we create it. Before tools like Dreamweaver, we had to write HTML markup to create web sites, and didn’t get to manipulate it graphically. Here’s the Design view in Dreamweaver:
The Properties bar (across the bottom) is where we set up links, text styles, bold, italics, and change the sizes of items like images and tables. The panes on the right are for managing files, uploading to our website, and managing the CSS. When we edit in Design View, Dreamweaver is actually writing the HTML code for us.
At the very beginning of the class, we teach the kids some basic HTML. We actually build a simple webpage, coding it by hand! This helps the students understand what is going on behind the scenes, and how to fix things manually if anything goes wrong. It’s good to be able to look at the code to see what’s really going on. This is Dreamweaver’s Code View:
That HTML code is what our computers actually download when we are browsing the web. They read the code, and render out a graphical page for us to read.
After covering HTML, we talk about site design, then start on our own websites. As we create graphics in Photoshop, we integrate them into our sites. We also create a Flash animation, and add that to our site. Some students might even build a Flash animation to use as the header. (The header is the bar across the top of the page, with the website’s title).
After we build our site, integrate our graphics, and add our Flash animation, it’s time to test our sites and upload them to the internet. We test the links on our pages to be sure they all work, and upload their web pages to DMA’s web space, for friends and family to see.
After this course, your child will know how to use Photoshop, how to make simple animations in Flash, and how to put it all together into a web site. At the end of the class, the students go home with a web address for their website, and a DVD with all of the original files they used to make their content. This means that if they get access to the software (perhaps through their school), they can continue work on their web site!
I hope to see you this summer!
Last summer I signed my my son up for 1 week at DMA. He ended up going for 3 weeks. He loved the sessions and kept wanting to do more. The staff was so friendly that my son couldn’t wait to get to camp in the morning. He has been talking about his DMA experience ever since and can’t wait to go back this summer and learn more. This was by far the best summer program that my son has ever had!
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!
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.