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!
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.
We are now in our third week of summer 2009! As of this week, we have four locations up and running across the country, including Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, UCLA and The University of Texas at Austin. The University of California at Irvine ran for two weeks, June 22 – July 3, focusing on filmmaking courses for both teens and adults. Next week, four more locations will be launched, including Brown University, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego (UCSD) and our first ever international location, The University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
DMA students include adults, teens and kids as young as seven years old. At each age group, a variety of courses are offered, including movie making, video game creation, robotics, animation and web design. Summer 2009 also features several new courses, including Adventures in Cartoon and Comic Creation for kids ages 9-13 and Junior Adventures in Digital Art and Movie Making for kids ages 7-9. Among our new teen courses is the very popular Music and Video Production course, taught in conjunction with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Students in this class use the latest audio, video and music gear to create their own songs and music videos! Stay tuned for more features on each of these new courses!
All DMA courses are project based, so students are going home every Friday with their very own portfolio of project work. In the coming weeks, we will feature many of these projects, as well as profile some of the students whose creativity is filling college campuses nationwide!
All courses are taught by professionals with classroom teaching experience and/or experience in the industry, so students are learning from the “masters” themselves! Please check out our instructor biographies to learn more about our teaching staff.
Spots are still available at several locations. Please call 866-656-3342 for course availability!
“DMA gave me a solid footing for my future,” said Albert Frates, a former DMA camper who knows his future includes creating digital media. “I was only fourteen when I started coming to DMA…but the experience opened many new doors.” Albert spent three summers at Digital Media Academy, along the way, he met and made new friends. We recently caught up with Albert to talk about his DMA experience.
What courses/camps did you take at DMA?
I took a Maya Introduction with Adam Watkins, I knew very little about Maya…In less than a week Adam had brought the class out of the unknown, and into what I would call my first experience at a professional level.
How did it help or inspire you?
(DMA) opened many new doors and other aspects of media, like film, animation, TV, games, web design. The following school year I worked on projects for my school. Doing live event recording such as graduation and sporting events. That was just the beginning. Later I entered a film into a student film festival.
What other software did you learn? And how did you use what you learned?
Using Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro, I created a festival winning film. When I went back to DMA in the summer of 2007, I took courses that focused on After Effects (video motion graphics, and compositing) and a Hands on Digital Filmmaking camp. I recommend both of those courses, by the way.
How did the DMA experience help prepare you?
Because of the tools and concepts learned at DMA I was fluent working in a professional environment at the age of sixteen. When the opportunity came up I was able to tackle it.
Can you explain how?
After DMA, I met up with a producer on a school trip in Seattle who was working on live events for DECA. After talking to him briefly during a seminar he had invited me to come check out the production backstage. I got to sit in on, and at one point help out with the production. After that I was offered an internship at the end of the show for the next conference in spring. None of this would have been possible without Digital Media Academy.
Anything you’d like to share with someone considering attending DMA?
It’s never to early to start achieving your goals, especially with DMA. Plus, the friends and connections you make at Digital Media Academy are one of the best parts. The people that attend DMA share the goals and interests that you do.
Thanks Albert, we wish you much success in the future!
By Chris Platz, Lead 3d Game Art and Design Instructor, DMA @ Stanford University
After last week’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, I realized that we are indeed in a new Renaissance, and most of us don’t even know it. The current convergence of social networks, virtual worlds, and games is connecting people world wide faster, and in new ways that are mind boggling.
The research going on in the two departments I work in at Stanford has opened my eyes to many of these new paradigm shifts on the Web. The current group I am spending the most time with is the Stanford Humanities Lab shl.stanford.edu
This is where society meets art, meets technology. Our new open source 3D virtual world platform Sirikata is being developed so that anyone can build a networked virtual environment, and use it for what ever they like.
The other research going on the the Computer Science Department, Graphics group, is also truly amazing. Tools that allow for anyone to build a great avatar will soon be available. A few Ph.D. students have a rendering system that rendered over 12 BILLION polygons realtime, and with 6 simultaneous users in that networked environment! Incredible advances.
What does all of this mean for me as an instructor? By next year we’ll have a virtual classroom environment in 3D, with people logged in from all over the world. Inside people will be able to upload their 3D models and textures directly from their favorite 3D package, and we’ll build worlds, games, whatever, together and be able to talk with Voip. All of this will happen with dynamic lighting.
This should all trickle down to K-12 education, and allow children to start building virtual environments to express themselves, learn, and communicate in such a manner that they will far surpass us old folks by the time I see them in my DMA students in college classrooms. They already know more than I do in many ways, and I love the collaborative learning that goes on when generations come together around new technologies.
We’ve all been there, watching a film when an amazing special effect blows your mind – leaving you to wonder how did they do that? Well, several years back, I started asking fellow editors and educators this very question – and again and again I heard the same response: After Effects. Want to motion track? After Effects. Want to green screen? After Effects. Want color correction? After Effects. Want an intergalactic light saber fight scene with explosions and an amazing 3D camera move? After Effects.
I started to see a trend . . .
Satisfied with this answer – I happily downloaded the free 30-day trial of AE (that’s After Effects for short) from Adobe’s website. However, my initial enthusiasm soon waned, well, plummeted actually. Almost immediately after launching AE, I had a common new user experience – I will politely dub “After Shock”. To explain, as a full-time teacher of Adobe software for years, I had taught literally thousands of people how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and/or Premiere Pro. Some would even say I’m bit of an Adobe zealot: I’ve beta-tested new releases, done workshops all over, and even trained new Adobe employees through the Digital Media Academy. Indeed, when it comes to Adobe software no mysterious button, workflow, or special effect is safe from my twisted desire to know everything an application can do.
But here was After Effects, and it appeared to be a different animal entirely. I must confess, I was a grown man . . . and I was afraid.
Like most who experience such After Shock, I did my best to poke around and bend After Effects to my will – but with little success. For those comfortable with other Adobe apps, there are some truly strange and downright spooky moments to be had when first looking at AE – for example, creating a new project does not involve a settings menu, there is no razor tool to cut clips with, there are over 200 effects each with a range of adjustments allowing for literally millions of possible combinations . . . and seemingly as many shortcuts. Clearly, this was not my beloved, intuitive Photoshop.
So given the choice of abandoning the AE quest – or to stubbornly plod on – I looked at every AE website I could find, read every book I could get my hands on, watched DVD tutorials, took a class with my fellow Adobe Ed Leaders, and even bothered contacts at Adobe for more info. It was not always a smooth journey, my friends, but along the way I came to three important conclusions:
1) AE is just as amazing as they say.
2) AE can be easy to learn – if approached the right way.
3) I could have realized #2 a whole lot sooner.
Essentially, in looking back at my AE travails, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I slowed down my own progress by forming some common AE misconceptions. So for those of you just setting out with AE (or hoping to someday), I hope this list of “5 Beginner After Effect Tips” might make your experience much better – and possibly save you a few months of your life:
5 Beginner After Effect Tips
1) Know your DV basics first. As a longtime editor, this was the only thing I had going for me when I started with AE – and probably the only thing that kept me going early on. Basically, if terms like 24fps, interlacing, NTSC, or compression are entirely new to you, help yourself out by visiting some useful websites that define such basic DV terms and concepts:
For just the bare bones of DV, you can start with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_video#Technical_overview
For the hardcore user, checkout the extremely thorough DV primers on Adobe’s site: http://www.adobe.com/motion/primers.html
2) Know what After Effects is (and is not) for. Think of AE as a dedicated special effects application for individual shots and short animations – and here’s critical part- you typically perfect these shots in AE and then export them to your preferred editing application. In other words, AE is a great enhancement to (but not a replacement of) your editing software. This paradigm shift is really important– because AE is not really designed to: capture footage, make a bunch of tight cuts, work with transitions, etc. as you would with Final Cut, Premiere Pro, etc. Because AE is dedicated to special effects, it is appropriately different in many respects and truly does have a logical structure and workflow. Embrace these differences (and the rationale for them) and you’ll be far less likely to fall into the common trap of thinking “why doesn’t AE work like my editing software?”
3) Know just enough of the AE keyboard shortcuts to be dangerous – and realize that this does not mean that many. While certain shortcuts are essential to AE, most are simply there to save you from a deep dive into the pull down menus and an extra click or two. Do not feel that you need to know a hundred of these to be an AE editor. By learning 10-20 of these clever little guys, you’ll soon adapt to a new way of editing – and find yourself having a much better time. To get you going, here are 10 shortcuts that I particularly like (and that took a while to discover):
When getting started:
With a new project, import a video clip, and drag it to the comp timeline. This is often preferable to creating a composition first because it auto-creates a new composition that matches the chosen video clip’s duration, scale, frame rate, and pixel ratio.
When making edits in the composition timeline:
Page Down moves the current time one frame forward
Page Up moves the current time one frame backward
; toggles the view to a full zoom in or out at your current time.
Ctrl + [ trims the “in” point(s) of the selected layer(s) to the current time - and as you might expect it has a twin . . .
Ctrl + ] trims the “out” point(s) of the selected layer(s) to the current time.
Ctrl +D duplicates selected layers or effects
Ctrl + Shift + D duplicates and cuts a layer at the current time. It’s as close to a razor tool as you will find in AE.
U shows only the keyframed attributes of a selected layer.
Alt + Drag selected keyframes stretches (or squeezes) the distribution of selected keyframe groups uniformly. This can save a ton of time when retiming a complex multi-layered effect.
4) Start simple, and I mean super simple. With all that you can do in AE, it’s tempting to try to make first project something colossal. So while making an HD sequel to the movie “300” (green screen and all) is certainly do-able in AE, it would lead to more than a little frustration for a newcomer. (Not that I’m speaking from experience . . . ahem). Try experimenting in a standard definition project with a few foundational elements – 3d space, keyframing, text animation, camera moves, etc. and you will have a much easier (and more fulfilling) sense of what can eventually be done on the grand scale.
5) Take a class (and yes, this is a shameless plug . . . but hear me out). The incredible range of AE means that its structure has a corresponding range of complexity – which can be tricky to figure out. To this end, I am all for books, web tutorials, DVDs, etc., but there is simply nothing like project-based, hands on training. Moreover, having learned differing approaches from so many AE experts over the years, I have worked hard to come up with a streamlined approach to learning AE that is enjoyable, easy, and avoids the mistakes that so many of us have made when first starting out.
Looking back, I’ve come a long way from my initial day of After Shock, but I am proud to say that After Effects is now my favorite application to use – and to teach. Even though I took the long way to get there, I am now proud to have clients pleased with AE results - and students creating with some of those the same special effects I first fell in love with on the big screen.
Hope to see you at DMA this summer,
Congratulations to Stephen Smith of Palm Springs Unified School District for winning this years raffle for free tuition to the Digital Media Academy! Stephen can choose from any of our pro series professional development courses at Stanford University, Ojai, UC Irvine or UC San Diego.
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!
News from HQ by Philip Harding
Written By Ben Waggoner
Wow, the year just keeps skipping past; this post has been on my to-do list for a month now. And my video compression classes are approaching at a rapid pace, with signups for Digital Media Academy @ Stanford University already open!
These classes are among the highlights of my year. I never learn faster than when I’m teaching, particularly when I get the great students that attend the sessions. Skill levels vary widely, and the course is designed to accommodate that. But everyone’s got something unique they’re trying to do, whether it’s a supervisor of a high-volume compression department getting up to speed on new formats, or an educator incorporating videos of marine animals into the classroom. And it’s those real-world projects where the rubber meets the road. The focus of the classes is on hands-on art, science, and craft of video compression. It’s all about how to get the best results out of real-world content with real-world workflows, within all the real-world constraints we have to operate under.
” When Microsoft was recruiting me back in 2005, one of my top requirements was that I keep on teaching these classes, with full freedom to cover the formats and technologies that matter, even if competitive with our own. It was an easy sell – they understand the value of me understanding everything. And of course, now that VC-1 is a SMPTE standard and Silverlight is getting H.264 support, the era of proprietary media formats is over anyway. So while we’ll certainly spend time with VC-1, WMV, and Silverlight, we’ll also cover MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Flash, DVD, Blu-ray, Ogg Theora, and other formats and players based on class interest.
Class time is roughly split between lectures/demos and hands-on time doing projects. Each student gets their own workstation loaded with the latest and greatest compression software and related tools.
And I really encourage students to bring along some of their own content and projects, particularly one’s they’ve been having trouble with. Nothing beats that kind of variety of real projects to teach the tips and tricks of our craft.
Stanford University: August 10-14
This is the one that started it all; 2009 makes it a full decade since the very first 2-day class I did for the Stanford library science department on authoring QuickTime for education . We’ve been doing the current week-long format for eight years now. The program that ran that class evolved into the Digital Media Academy, which now runs a very wide variety of classes. My 9 year old son came along last year to take a great LEGO Robotics course the same week. He and James Clarke (who took the class) really hit it off; the three of us can deliver quite a whirlwind of nerdish intensity.
Since it’s a one week intensive, it works as a destination class; we get people flying in from around the world. On-campus dorm rooms are available (and quite nice; I stay in one), with other lodging options available, and a meal plan.