Digital Media Academy Digital Media Academy Tue, 07 Dec 2021 20:14:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Digital Media Academy 32 32 What does a typical Tech Accelerator lesson look like? Thu, 04 Nov 2021 00:27:28 +0000 Continue reading What does a typical Tech Accelerator lesson look like?]]> Most classes begin with ‘Connect’. The Connect stage could include questions on key content from previous learning, a relationship or community building activity, or an inspirational image or quote that sparks thinking. In any case, the brain is activated from the start (no student should be kept waiting task-less while tech issues are resolved or the attendance register completed!)

Lessons then continue with ‘Apply’ – interactive instruction, modelling or analysis led by the instructor in collaboration with the students. An example would be a section on kick drum compression in a Music Production lesson. After this, learners will actively ‘Demonstrate’ what they’ve learnt through creation and skill development. We then have a short comfort break.

Learners then share what they have been developing and receive peer- and tutor “feed-forward” (that’s our word for feedback, but we like to think about the next actionable step!). All learners are involved in giving and receiving, and the use of accurate terminology is encouraged throughout.

Learner-led project time then continues, informed by the “feed-forward” received. The instructor checks in regularly with each learner, awarding a Shout-out to any learner highlighting a desired professional trait.

Finally, in preparation for the next session, learners’ understanding/skill in the next session’s topic is diagnosed. (The specific content and challenge level are adapted accordingly before the session.)

Class dismissed!

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Overcoming barriers to successful STEAM Technology Integration Mon, 27 Sep 2021 21:42:49 +0000 Continue reading Overcoming barriers to successful STEAM Technology Integration]]>


Rana Sabbidine, Principal at Makassed ABAT College

One such school is Makassed Ali Bin Abi Taleb College (ABAT), an elementary, intermediate and secondary school located in Beirut Lebanon. Rana Sabbidine, the Principal of the Makassed ABAT College, partnered with Digital Media Academy to provide students with further opportunities to learn new skills, solve real-world problems, and help teachers integrate technology skills into their core subjects.

At that time, Rana’s school was going through many challenges including great distress following from the tragic explosion in Beirut earlier in the year, as well as the sudden need to shift to online learning due to the pandemic. DMA’s support teachers at ABAT were able to deliver high-impact lessons with easy-to-implement classroom resources. We had astonishing reviews!

Another school that we have recently partnered with is SRI KDU Klang, located in Malaysia. The teachers at SRI KDU Klang mentioned that they did not feel equipped to incorporate certain technology-required activities in their classes such as design and coding. However, through having access to DMA’ accessible STEAM curriculum they felt that they themselves had learned the skills necessary and were willing to use certain design software with their students.

“My students loved the graphic design and entrepreneurship courses. They have really enjoyed collaborating on projects, critiquing each other’s work and gaining new skills. For example, in the graphic design course, students (ages 7, 8 and 9) created a faculty logo for me; so we get to use this platform to create hands-on projects that benefit our school as well! Students really enjoy all these challenges.” – Vickneswary Muinyan, teacher at SRI KDU Klang


There are many barriers that schools face while trying to integrate technology-integrated STEAM curriculum in their classes. These barriers can be summarized in three categories:

  • Lack of vision and leadership
  • Lack of infrastructure and systems
  • And lack of accessible STEAM curriculum.

In this blog post, I highlight what contributes to the lack of accessible technology integrated STEAM curriculum, and how we as educators can move through these barriers.

While designing a STEAM curriculum, the educator should consider their students, the context that students are situated in, and accessibility factors. An accessible STEAM curriculum should be:

  • Designed to deliver real-world, 21st-century industry skills (ie. coding, design, robotics, digital storytelling, etc)
  • Regularly updated and in line with global education trends
  • Designed to work in both synchronous and asynchronous learning models
  • Customizable and can be easily integrated into the core curriculum

Here are two curriculum design approached to keep at the top of your mind as consider how to integrate technology skills into your curriculum:

1. Flexible delivery model

2. Universal learning design.

Flexible Delivery Model:

A flexibility-first mindset will ensure students and educators are ready for whichever format is required for delivery. These formats include:

(a) self-guided by students (100% asynchronous)

A self-guided delivery model allows students to go at their own pace, practice self-directed learning at a pace that is suitable to their needs, interests, and passions.

(b) facilitated by teachers in a classroom or delivered remotely (100% synchronous)

In the fully synchronous model, students can interact with the teacher(s) and with other students). Teachers act as co-learner, coach, or guide on a student’s journey of creative discovery.

(c) a hybrid model (Synchronous + Asynchronous delivery).

In a Hybrid model, both synchronous and asynchronous models are used depending on the context of the classroom and the teacher’s style of classroom facilitation

Universal Design For Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for learning is a framework that is very applicable to our new ways of learning and teaching in the post-Covid era. The UDL framework originated from the universal design movement in the fields of architecture and product development, with the main goal of designing learning experiences that are inclusive of the needs of all students. To get a better understanding of this framework, it helps to take a closer look at some misconceptions around it. The word universal might suggest that UDL is about finding one way to teach all students. But the UDL framework aims for the exact opposite of the one size fits all approach.

The goal of UDL is to use a variety of teaching methods to remove any barriers to learning. It’s about building in flexibility that can be adjusted for every person’s strengths and needs. That’s why UDL benefits all learners.

UDL can be defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design”. UDL applies this general idea to learning that curriculum should be designed to accommodate all kinds of learners.

In summary, UDL provides Three Basic Principles:

  • Provide Multiple means of representation: to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,
  • Provide Multiple means of expression: to provide learners alternatives
  • Provide Multiple means of engagement: to tap into learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.

UDL calls for taking advantage of the power and customizability of modern technology to deliver, by design and flexible instructional practices directly within the core instructional curriculum. The UDL approach to curriculum is very compatible with technology-integrated STEAM curriculum. An example of a simple UDL integration can be to display content in many formats such as text, still images, sound, moving images, or any combination of these so that students can choose their preferred mode of learning. You can refer to one of the articles that we have shared with you in the newsletter to learn more about UDL.


In this blog post, two approaches to curriculum design were reviewed. There are many more solutions that we as educators have come up with and use every day and we will cover these solutions in future posts. The pandemic has created many opportunities for educators to take on a more creative approach to their teaching.

The pandemic has created many opportunities for educators to take on a more creative approach to their teaching. We aim to promote new ways of working; new possibilities!

Our hope is to highlight the new possibilities through engaging in more conversations with educators around the world in the coming months and share our findings with you.

Happy teaching,


Untitled design (4)-1-1

Bahar Khazei

Education Lead – Digital Media Academy

Bahar is the education lead and K-12 partnership manager at Digital Media Academy. She is also a certified educator in British Columbia, Canada. Her role at Digital Media Academy (DMA) allows her to work directly with DMA partner schools and help educators and school administrators better incorporate technology courses into the school curriculum.


1. Barriers to Integrating Technology. Retrieved from
2. Challenges and solutions when using technologies in the classroom – Arizona State University, Access through:
3. Hall, T. E., Meyer, A., & Rose, D. H. (Eds.). (2012). Universal design for learning in the classroom: Practical applications.

ProQuest Ebook Central

4. Kelly, D. (2015). Overcoming Barriers to Classroom Technology Integration. Educational Technology, 55(2), 40-43.
5. Aagaard, J. (2017). Breaking down barriers: The ambivalent nature of technologies in the classroom. New Media & Society,
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Virtual Tech Camps: A Success Story of Virtual Learning Mon, 27 Sep 2021 21:17:42 +0000 Continue reading Virtual Tech Camps: A Success Story of Virtual Learning]]>

“Summer has come around but the Pandemic is not over yet. What can my kids do?” This was a question many parents were asking earlier this year. Despite things changing quickly with vaccination rates increasing, many governing bodies had not made a call on whether in-person summer camps would be allowed or not.

In Winter 2020, Digital Media Academy launched its first Virtual Tech Camps to allow for Applied Technology Education to continue during the Pandemic. A significantly high interest and participation rate in Virtual Tech Camps was the greatest evidence that Post-pandemic learning will definitely look different. According to an article by the World Economic Forum written in April 2020: “education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. Research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase retention of information, and take less time, meaning the changes coronavirus have caused might be here to stay.”

Today, I explore why Virtual Tech Camps are here to stay:

1. Highly Developed Digital Literacy in Students = Desire to Learn Online

It was incredible to see how digitally literate our students already were. Since the start of the Pandemic, students were forced into participating in virtual learning. Students did not have a choice in this matter. However, unlike us adults, students are very used to communicating and interacting with people virtually on social media, online games, etc. Using their already developed online-social-skills, students quickly made friends during Virtual Tech Camps. It was such a beautiful thing to see friendships blossom despite the physical limitations.


2. International Barriers Broken Down

Thanks to the virtual class setting, students were able to connect with peers from all over the world. We had students join us from Canada, USA, India, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Turkey, Netherlands, Bahamas, Bermuda, Switzerland, South Korea, Singapore, UAE, Brazil, Estonia, Italy, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Spain and Germany. What a list! This to me is an example of a path towards achieving more equity in education: the barriers broken down so that students from all over the world can access the same quality of education. It is also a privilege to be working for a company which promotes equity in learning by providing scholarships to students. For example, DMA handed out around 1,000 scholarships last Summer.


3. Increased Access to industry experts and authentic learning for students

According to The Economist , the virtual setting has “opened doors to economic opportunity, social mobility, and personal and professional development.” The fact that your physical location does not limit the opportunities you’re provided with is an incredible thing. The possibilities are limitless, whether it be inviting a local artist or an internationally renowned Director, both can be done over remote conferencing tools, thanks to the technological advancements which allow for these events to take place. An example of this during Virtual Tech Camps was a Masterclass with Roy H. Wagner ASC . Students were able to meet with the multiple Emmy Award winning Cinematographer from the comfort of their homes.


4. Face-to-face Instruction Provided

There are so many self-paced courses out there, but why is there still a preference for face-to-face group classes? Humans are social creatures. We need human interaction and feedback for effective learning. Even as adults, we struggle to continue a self-paced course when it’s purely up to us. There is great value in knowing that another human is on the other side, ready to answer questions and to give feedback. The value is increased even more by the fact that the person on the other side of the screen is an industry professional.

5. Applied Technology related skills = Future!

If you have not read the statistics that almost half of the jobs that exist now will be bound for automation, now you have! This means that we need to change the way we educate the next generation of workforce and decision makers. We need to empower students to deeply understand how machines work. Michael MacDowell highlights the importance of teaching learners the ability to rigorously transfer their learned skills and knowledge to solve real-world problems. For example, in the case of automation and using machines, educators should emphasize teaching students how to use their gained tech skills to innovate and come up with solutions in their field of interest.

(find out more about this concept in his book Teaching for Transfer or his talk on Youtube ). 


At DMA, we strive to support our students to be able to rigorously transfer the knowledge and skills they gain through our programs. And what are these skills, you may ask? Look out for our future Blog Posts on 21st Century Skills to come!


Okay, so you may be wondering how the above topics may be relevant to you as a reader. If you are an Educator reading this, you can advocate for more Applied Technology related courses/clubs in your schools. Check out our website which can serve as a great starting point for you to begin teaching Applied Technology courses. Additionally, check out our last blog post which has many great tips on how to go about teaching these courses!


If you are a Partner School with DMA and would like more guidance around how to successfully deliver our courses in person or virtually, please send us an email at


If the mentioned categories do not fit you but you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you care about our next generation and what they are being taught. You can advocate for them by using your voice, whether that be talking to the leadership team at the school your kids/nephews/nieces go to or voting for someone who really cares about empowering students to be prepared for the changes and challenges of the future.

Juhee Kim

Education Lead – Digital Media Academy

Juhee is the Education Lead and drives student programming at Digital Media Academy, which includes running our renowned Tech Camps. She is also a certified educator in British Columbia, Canada. Juhee has been teaching in the classroom for the past 5 years at various capacities. She has called at least 3 different countries her home so far and is passionate about diversity and equity in the classroom.


“ The transformation imperative: Education New ways of learning .” The Economist.

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Coding on the Southside Fri, 24 Sep 2021 20:44:04 +0000 Continue reading Coding on the Southside]]>

Coding on the Southside

Hey, what’s up, everyone! My name is Andrew Malo. I am an early childhood educator and a DMA veteran. You may have seen me teaching the little kids the past 6 summers at the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Duke, or University of Texas – Austin! I’m going to talk to you about one of the schools I taught Kindergarten in – Wadsworth STEM of Chicago Public Schools!

We all love to code! Just a mile south of the prestigious University of Chicago stands the neighborhood of Woodlawn on the south side of Chicago. Woodlawn is a place that has seen troubling times since the 1960s. Population decline, lack of resources, and general community welfare are often lacking. In neighborhoods such as these, schools are a beacon of light to the community and what is being taught in the school can be, as Nelson Mandela puts it, “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” One of the elementary schools here in Woodlawn is putting an emphasis on coding to change their students’ world.

I’ve worked in schools all over – Japan, Chicago, rural New Mexico, and St Louis – and Wadsworth has the most interesting and effective coding and robotics programs I’ve seen in the public education system. They have a FIRST LEGO League team, along with programs centered around various programming languages, and schoolwide support of coding activities such as Hour of Code and Pi day (3/14!). And it isn’t done with financial resources but by the dedication of the administration and teachers who believe that code is important to these students’ lives and futures.

Wadsworth STEM competes in the FIRST LEGO League.

“Coding teaches these kids to persevere. You might not get it right the first time, or even the second, but eventually, you’ll get it (sic) exactly what you want, how you want it,” says Mr. Reese Hobbs, Integration Specialist and Team Leader for the Wadsworth FIRST LEGO League Team. Hobbs and others at the school give the weapon of education to change the world of these students’ through the systematic methods of programming. By the way, last year, Wadsworth’s team won first place at the Illinois State FLL competition for perseverance!

Beyond the intelligent benefits of learning to code (i.e. learning about how things work, logical thinking, makes math fun, etc.) there is a very real benefit to learning it – jobs. Every job sector, from energy to accounting, will incorporate more and more code-related jobs in the future. Many feel it will become as essential to learning as literacy, mathematics, and science. Luckily for the kids at Wadsworth, they have the weapon of code available to them to become apart of and shape the changes of the future.

And that is the future of education. Like the awesome classes DMA offers over the summer, more and more public and private schools are picking up on the importance of computer literacy and incorporating code into daily curriculum. It’s exciting, engaging, and super encouraging for our future!

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New Headsets Promise to Make VR More Accessible Fri, 24 Sep 2021 20:43:23 +0000 Continue reading New Headsets Promise to Make VR More Accessible]]>

New Headsets Promise to Make VR More Accessible

The Oculus Quest promises to offer high-quality VR experiences without expensive PCs or bulky sensors.

Virtual Reality has had its ups and downs over the past few years, with many people criticizing the high price-tag and inconvenient hardware requirements of high-quality headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Newly announced headsets hope to address this issue and promise to deliver a cheaper, more portable, and higher-quality VR experience.

One of the biggest factors that influence the quality of a VR headset is how many Degrees of Freedom (DOF) it has. The maximum possible DOF for any VR headset is 6 – 3 degrees of freedom for rotation (turning your head or hands), and 3 for translation (moving your head or hands forwards, backwards, up or down).

The Google Cardboard, and any other VR headset that runs off of a mobile phone, is 3DOF. This basically means that all they can detect is head rotation, but not movement. So you can use 3DOF VR to look around at a cool underwater world or to play a game without real-world movement, but you won’t be able to take a step forward to inspect an object or duck to avoid a projectile.

Developing for Google Cardboard is a great first tool to learn how VR worlds work. However, higher-end headsets offer 6DOF experiences, which are much more immersive. In these experiences, your head movement is completely tracked, and you can walk around the room, really becoming immersed in the virtual world. Something like Google’s Tile Brush, a VR painting app, only works with 6DOF headsets.

Tilt Brush is an example of an app that can only work with 6DOF headsets. Source: Google

The problem with 6DOF headsets is that they require external sensors and need to be plugged into an expensive gaming PC to work. This takes a lot of time to set up, is not at all portable, and is too expensive for someone just starting out in VR development.

But this issue may be solved by the newly announced Oculus Quest, which is said to be capable of offering high-quality 6DOF VR experiences, without the need for an expensive PC or bulky sensors. These headsets could make it much easier to share VR with friends, and to show people what high-immersion VR looks like, without lugging around a massive computer and extra equipment!

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Five Best 3D Modeling Softwares for Beginners Fri, 24 Sep 2021 20:42:35 +0000 Continue reading Five Best 3D Modeling Softwares for Beginners]]>

Five Best 3D Modeling Softwares for Beginners

Animation and visual effects are awesome. Although sometimes we forget that someone has actually created every single creature, monster, and background. So many different industries are using it that the animation industry is booming and talented artists are in high demand. If you’re interested in getting started in 3D art and animation, here’s a peak at some of the awesome programs for beginners to check out. These all have free educational versions to go and practice with.


1. Substance Painter

Substance Painter is taking over the world of 3D model and asset texturing. When you’ve made a model it starts out all grey and you have to paint in textures. In the past you’ve had to paint textures in Photoshop and put them on your model. Then if anything didn’t match up you’d have to go back and forth between Photoshop and your 3D modeling software. The process was not intuitive or artist-friendly at all.

Substance Painter is changing all of that by making texturing much more fun. Using a new type of rendering called PBR (Physically Based Rendering) all the attributes of the materials match real-world physics. Sounds intense, right? Don’t worry, you don’t have to understand physics to benefit from this amazing program. Actually it’s makes it much simpler.

In the past, if you wanted certain parts of your model more or less shiny you would have to make the shine separate from the color. Everything was isolated and confusing. But in SP, you can create materials based off of 4 main attributes (Color, Height, Roughness, and whether it’s Metal or not) and it’s all right there. You can turn on or off any of those channels depending on your needs.

So if you wanted some polished steel, just set Color to grey, Roughness to 0% (so it’s smooth and shiny), and Metallic to 100%. Then you can paint that material wherever you want it. Need some scratches? Then you can make a brush that’s just negative Height and carve away. Need some dirt/grease in the nooks and crannies? SP can automatically find where the dirt or grease would settle using intelligent masks.

It’s an incredible tool and Allegorithmic posts tons of learning materials online for free. So go check it out.

  • Super fun and intuitive way to create textures
  • The ability to create, mask, and layer materials
  • Immediately feedback and seeing what the model looks like with your textures.


To Download:

To Learn:


2. Autodesk Maya

Here’s the big one. Autodesk Maya is industry standard tool for just about everything 3D and one of the most powerful tools to have in your arsenal. In an industry with so many different skill sets (Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Animation, Cloth Simulation, Lighting, Rendering, OH MY) It’s gained popularity by being good for almost everything.

While potentially intimidating at first glance, it actually becomes intuitive very quickly. In our 3D Modeling and Character Animation courses, we cover a huge portion of the program, however it’s not vital to know every tool in the program. That’s why we focus on the most important tools for you to have the creative freedom to create whatever’s in your mind. Even now, after over 10 years working with this program, I’m discovering new features and tricks.

This program is awesome for developing games due to its integration with Unity and Unreal. Taking our classes can kickstart a career in games.

So now we know about Maya being used in animated movies, video games, but that’s not all. It’s also used extensively for movies and visual effects, check out the screen on the left.

And it’s doesn’t even end there. With an ever-growing industry in VR and AR, as well as mobile games, medical visualization, and more, there’s a huge demand for people who know how to use Maya, and most people don’t get formal training until college. Get a step ahead of the rest at Digital Media Academy.

  • Highly flexible program with many strengths
  • Used in almost all professional environments from film to tv to games
  • Full of useful tools and features that are constantly getting updated.


To Download:

To Learn:


3. Autodesk Mudbox

Next on the list is Mudbox. Mudbox specializes in fast and intuitive digital sculpting and painting. Basically a big fun sketchpad to try out character ideas in 3D. I specifically call it a concept sculpting tool for my students because it’s so easy to pick up. you can create all the characters and creatures you can imagine.

Once you’ve created that sculpture, you can then paint it. Mudbox doesn’t have tools as robust as Substance Painter for painting, or as precise modeling tools as Maya, but in terms of the ability to show an idea rapidly, it’s very useful.

Now let’s talk NEW FEATURES. Previously, a model had a specific surface construction of four sided squares, and you were limited by this construction (called Topology). If you needed more detail to sculpt for instance a nose, you’d have to subdivide the entire model adding detail not only in the area of the nose but across the entire model. This uneven distribution of detail could result in a lot of frustration if you wanted to add detail on one part of the model but the other half was already at 10 million polygons.

So when Mudbox released version 2018.2, they included a feature called Dynamic Tessellation which allows you to forget about all that technical jargon of Topology and polygons and just lets you sculpt. While other such as zBrush and Blender have had these tools for a while, it’s still a welcome late addition in Mudbox.

  • Super fast and intuitive
  • Dynamic tessellation allows creative freedom
  • Ability to handle millions of polgyons


To Download:

To Learn:


4. Unity

Unity is the most used game engine, especially for indie game development, so it’s an incredibly valuable tool. It supports a massive number of platforms, there’s a huge community, and tons of tutorials. It offers fully featured 2D/3D game engines and much more. If you are interested in getting started in game development, this is the tool to check out.

With a vast wealth of tutorials on how to make 2D platformers, you could easily create your own side scroller like Cuphead.

Or go crazy like these developers at No Matter Studios and create a 3D adventure game where you get to fight giant monsters.

But that’s not all. Unity has also recently become a favorite for filmmakers and animators as a platform to tell stories. Many animated films are being created in game engines for the ability to either engage with the audience more or for the benefits of being able to see your film rendered in real time. Some examples are SonderAdam, and Mr Carton. Read more about it here.

They’re also exploring and combining VR with animated short films, such as Son of JaguarPearl, and more on the Google Spotlight Stories channel or download the app on your phone.

So there are many uses for Unity and we offer different courses to teach you to start creating the projects that interest you. Check out our offerings to find the class that’s right for you.

  • Approachable and intuitive game engine
  • Lots of community, tutorials, and support online
  • Many different uses, including 2D/3D games as well as VR and animated film production


To Download:

To Learn:


5. Blender

Another crowd favorite for independent developers, Blender is a very powerful free and open-source software that does absolutely everything 3D and more. Having gone from pretty good to incredible in the last several years, Blender is a big contender against a lot of the larger more expensive 3D animation softwares out there. When looking at job listings in the 3D animation industry, you’re almost guaranteed to see Maya as a required skill, but if you ask the artists there, you might find some people who will rave about how great Blender is.

So what’s so great about Blender? It’s a free software, it must be worse, right? How much do I have to pay to unlock all the actually useful tools? Well, actually, Blender is 100% free and artists swear by its tools and functionalities. A lot of people say it’s more intuitive in a lot of ways.

As a matter of fact, one of the new features in the recent Blender 2.8 release is a new UI and “Blender 101” theme to help new users get acquainted to the software.

They’ve also had a new real-time renderer called Eevee that they’ve integrated that looks quite impressive. It is a great way to see how your model looks with lighting and texturing with rapid feedback.

First you see what animators are used to seeing (solid colors) before sending it to render for minutes at a time to see a final image, followed by a view of the new Eevee real-time renderer, showing you much closer to what the final image looks like.

There’s also a very cool tool called the Grease Pencil tool that provides a really cool 2D animation tool set that integrate the best of 2D and 3D.

But that’s not all, they’ve got great tool sets for modeling, texturing, animation, lighting, rendering, simulation, game creation, video editing, and more. Check out their features page to read more about any of those specific categories.

  • Extremely versatile
  • Supportive community and extensive tutorials
  • $$$ Free.. $$$


To Download:

To Learn:



So there’s a list of some of the best and most free 3D animation software for beginners. I’d suggest just going on YouTube and searching for more information about the ones that look most interesting to you. Also, if you’re looking for a great place to kick start your 3D animation knowledge, there’s nowhere better than Digital Media Academy’s summer course offerings. We get skilled industry professionals to guide you through making your own original projects and help get you ahead of the game.

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Social Benefits of Digital Media Academy Fri, 24 Sep 2021 20:41:37 +0000 Continue reading Social Benefits of Digital Media Academy]]>

The modern world is changing faster than any one person could possibly comprehend. With how fast the world is moving it’s important to develop the skills necessary to keep up. Digital Media Academy can give its students the STEM skills but our camps offer a value beyond the technical. Our camps offer students a chance to be more than just designers, developers, programmers, engineers, animators, musicians, filmmakers, and creators.

Digital Media Academy offers a collaborative learning environment. While students are working on their projects they are actively engaging with other students, forming bonds and learning complex concepts together. By the time class is over each student has a network of friends with similar interests who can become lifelong friends.

The ability to communicate effectively and work as a team are skills the market deems invaluable, especially in the internet era where constant communication has become the norm. Students will learn to work and communicate with students from beyond just their neighborhood. Our camps welcome students from all over the world. Digital Media Academy tech camps are the perfect place to learn STEM skills as well as other cultures and make friends from places half way around the globe. While students are building these bonds and making friends, they are simultaneously building a professional network for a future career.

Together students will overcome the problems that arise when they work in a project-based environment. Learning from failure and building up resiliency as well as the ability to think critically about problems with a group teaches students to be ready for whatever challenges life can throw at them.

Digital Media Academy isn’t just the best place to learn STEM skills. It’s also an incredible opportunity to build friendships, develop critical life skills, and learn to communicate more effectively in the modern world.

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Digital Media Academy’s Approach to Animation Courses Fri, 24 Sep 2021 19:55:14 +0000 Continue reading Digital Media Academy’s Approach to Animation Courses]]>

If I were to give you a stack of post-it notes and say, “Make a flip book,” would you have any trouble figuring out how to do it? Probably not! If that sounds like a fun way to burn an hour, you’re in the right place!

My name is Austin, and I’ve been teaching animation at Digital Media Academy for nearly a decade now! A huge reason why I have been doing it for so long is because of my passion for inhibition-free creativity. If you are anything like me, creating flipbooks fulfills a fascination with creating motion.

There was a time when I wanted to use more sophisticated tools such as computer animation. Although the principles are the same, the technical boundaries made it more like navigating a maze than the intuitive creativity I felt making flipbooks.

That is the reason why I developed a whole approach to animation for our Character Animation with Maya course. I utilize three checklists to help keep the approach simple and actionable.

New Scene Checklist

The items in this checklist set the stage for the animation course we offer. See the list down below.

1) First, create a new scene and check the “selection filters” (turn options to select anything other than controls)
2) Then, check “show menus” (only show polygons + NURBS curves, aka controls)
3) Next, reference your rig (an un-editable way of bringing it into the scene)
4) Then, create a window layout so you can see the final shot and move around the scene (this will make it easier to manipulate the rig)
5) Lastly, you save a version!

This list includes loading your character puppets, or rigs, in a non-destructive way. Some of the other items on this checklist help us avoid common issues with breaking the machinations of the puppet. With the help of the checklist, we set up our windows to make sure we can see what the final animation will look like. Setting up our windows also gives us room to select and manipulate the puppet efficiently and effectively.

Animation Checklist 

The following checklist is our “Animation Checklist.” This is where a lot of the magic happens! In 3D animation, even the most simple characters can have upwards of 100+ controls, so making sure all of those are accounted for and moving appropriately together can become an overwhelming task. That’s why I’ve kept this as a straightforward, three-step checklist.

1) First, select your intended frame
2) Second, pose your character and set a keyframe
3) Lastly, loop back to the beginning until your animation is finished

This checklist helps you keep things simple and organized, so it feels more like a flipbook!


animation courses

Character Animation with Maya


Pose your Character

The third checklist is just breaking down that second “Pose your character” step. When posing your character, sometimes moving one control affects another. This can make you repose a part you might have already posed before. This can get frustrating, so I’ve set in place a specific order to help get you to your intended pose as quickly as possible.

1) First, pose your center of gravity or root control
2) Then, the feet and knees
3) Next, the spine which consists of hips and chest
4) Then, the neck and head controls
5) Lastly, we pose the arms, doing the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and finally, fingers

Doing the steps above will help produce more expressive poses. If we fail to focus on the steps above and say, focus too much on the arms, our character might look like a popsicle stick with some of those wild, inflatable, roadside tube guy arms.

Another example of what can occur if we fail to do the steps above is that we can accidentally pose the arms first and then move to how his spine is posed. This can ultimately undo some of our work.

However, if we follow the steps above, we work our way through just like an algorithm, looping back through until we arrive at an expressive and professional looking pose!

Explore Animation Courses with Digital Media Academy 

Following these checklists won’t make you a master, only practice will do that. However, it does help you get to the point where practice becomes more natural, more intuitive, and most importantly, more fun and freeform just like a flipbook. If you’re interested in breathing life into a character and exploring animation, be sure to sign up for some of our animation courses before space runs out!


animation courses

Our animation courses are perfect for students interested in art and creative storytelling.

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Digital Media Academy x Ableton Contest Winner – LGiselle Fri, 24 Sep 2021 19:50:46 +0000 Continue reading Digital Media Academy x Ableton Contest Winner – LGiselle]]>

Digital Media Academy x Ableton Contest Winner – LGiselle

This past summer 15-year-old Leticia R., also known as LGiselle, won the DMA x Ableton Music Creators Contest. Her song, titled “Marble CAKE”, is a remix of Shawn Wasabi’s Marble Soda. Any student taking our Music Production courses were able to submit their final project song for consideration to win the prize of an Ableton Push, one of the latest instruments developed by Ableton to put the power of music making and creativity at our students’ fingertips. Each of our students in Music Production courses was able to use these during the course to craft and produce their tracks. At the end of the summer, a group of instructors and judges at Digital Media Academy and Ableton listened to the hundreds of submissions and picked Leticia’s final project track as an incredible example of the creativity that all our students bring to their projects.

Ableton Push

Ableton Push, the latest music-making instrument from Ableton.

Leticia first started making music in GarageBand but just couldn’t make her songs sound the way she wanted. She eventually got Ableton for her birthday but struggled to learn the intricacies of all the tools available to her. To help Leticia reach the next level, her parents signed her up for the Electronic Music Academy at Stanford. The first week of the Academy course is Electronic Music Production with Ableton, an introductory Ableton course designed for beginners and experienced musicians. Leticia was able to learn the ins and outs of Ableton while creating a variety of tracks, remixes, samples, and drum beats. During week two, Leticia took Audio Engineering & Songwriting, an advanced course meant to refine music production for final release. During this course, she began work on “Marble CAKE”, fine-tuning her track. After Leticia’s two weeks at camp, she was able to create a number of tracks and focus on the final production of “Marble CAKE”. We are stunned by the result and congratulate her for her incredible talent and desire to learn.

Leticia is just one of many students who deserve this praise. All our students who take a Music Production course show dedication to their craft and a desire to learn. If you would like to learn modern music production workflows and create incredible tracks of your own, check out all of our Music Production courses offered this summer!

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Inventing In The Forever-Changing Digital Space Fri, 24 Sep 2021 19:49:46 +0000 Continue reading Inventing In The Forever-Changing Digital Space]]>

Inventing In The Forever-Changing Digital Space

Technology is the key influence on entertainment. At the beginning of time, we as a species have been entertained by story telling, and have since been on a search for the best means to share our stories with the rest of the world.

What began as sharing stories around a fire has evolved over time, from first books and newspapers, to then radio and television, to computers, and now—smartphones.

YouTube, the online video publishing site that everyone on the face of the earth has watched at least one video from, was created when I was in the 5th grade. And the first iPhone ever released came out when I was in the 7th grade. Before that time, the phrases, “YouTube it” and “I’ll pull it up on my phone” did not even exist!

Now, today 98% of the Generation Z (those born after 1997) population owns a smartphone (GlobalWebIndex), and on average, one-third of all Gen-Zers watch at least one hour of YouTube videos a day (NOLA Media Group).

In less than 15 years, the way we as people consume content has changed dramatically. And, as technology continues to evolve, so do the ways we entertain ourselves. For example, the invention of television took the spectacle of the theater, and brought it into the comfort of our own homes. With technology forever evolving, the question becomes, “What will become the new television?”…

I had just finished working in the writers’ room of the Tracy Morgan TBS comedy, The Last O.G. when I got word about a very interesting and unique fellowship program being offered by Instagram and Buzzfeed. The concept of the fellowship: to educate storytellers on Instagram’s new vertical video platform, IGTV, and fund a variety of vertical video pilots to premiere on the platform. All the videos posted to IGTV would be presented in a 9×16 aspect ratio— the same aspect ratio of a smartphone screen.

I was so fascinated about the concept of the platform, and confused about how it would work. All my life I believed movies were filmed horizontally— in 16×9— like how you see them in the theaters or on TV. Filming any other way just seemed weird and different. However, I always get excited about breaking the rules, so I sent over a treatment for the program I wanted to produce, and my producing partner and I were accepted into the fellowship. Within weeks we were working in Buzzfeed’s LA office to write and produce the show!

There were so many challenges to filming a show vertically that we had never dealt with before. First, we had to create a stage for our show, and realized that our stage would be viewed from top-to-bottom in our video, as opposed to left-to-right. So, we worked on creating a stage that would be fun and exciting from top-to-bottom as opposed to side-to-side. This process also taught me how to edit videos vertically, which was a very unique, but fun experience.

Our program, entitled “What’s Up North”, premiered internally for Instagram and Buzzfeed in early March, and will premiere publically online in early April on the Instagram handle, @WhatsUpNorthTV.

YouTube uploaded its first video when I was ten years old. Now, 15 years later, 300 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded to the site every minute! Apple sold roughly 1.4 million iPhones in 2007. Today, over 200 million iPhones are sold a year (Statista).

Technology is ever evolving, and therefore, so are the ways in which we create and share stories with each other. The most popular video service of 2030 likely doesn’t even exist today. Which means that we as creators should always be forcing ourselves to think differently and create what hasn’t been created before.

Vertical video may possibly be the future of how we watch videos on our smartphones. And after that, who knows what will follow?

You are the ones who will decide!

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