Take the two hottest things in the movie business: super heroes and Pixar (In case you missed it, Inside Out had the biggest opening ever for a non-franchise film), and put them together. Now what have you got?

Sanjay and his super team will be coming to theaters this Thanksgiving.

Sanjay’s Super Team is the latest short film from Pixar. The animated short will precede Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur in theaters on November 25, 2015.

…a kind of ancient, Hindu version of The Avengers, with the gods appearing like superheroes.
– Sanjay Patel, Director

This is one in a long line of Pixar Animation Studios short films. The film premiered on June 15, 2015 at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France and has animation fans excited.

Directed by Sanjay Patel, whose childhood inspired Sanjay’s Super Team, the movie follows a young Indian boy who struggles with life at home. Patel sees it as, “a kind of ancient, Hindu version of The Avengers, with the gods appearing like superheroes.”

The setting of the film is inspired by the Lido Motel, an old Route 66 motel his parents bought and Patel worked at when he was a young boy.

Moviemakers use Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling as a guide for animated moviemaking. Patel is a supervising animator and storyboard artist at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. He pitched the idea for the short to Pixar execs in summer 2012.

Pixar knows how to create 3D computer animation and it shows in the wide range of subjects that Pixar brings to life. The company’s animation styles are also highly influential.

Patel is making a name for himself outside of Pixar as a very busy artist and designer. Sanjay Patel’s website hosts some amazing projects, like the children’s book Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth.

Chances are you’ve heard of Google I/O, the annual software developer conference that showcases the newest tech from Google each year. But what about Google I/O Youth?

Students posted comments on how they would use technology to create the future.

Now in its second year, Google I/O Youth hosts an open and diverse learning experience, blending science and creativity to empower young people so they can share their unique and innovative perspectives and create a better future for our rapidly-evolving world.

Google I/O Youth provides interactive learning experiences for young participants (ages 9-14) and encourages them to create art and test out ideas on their own computer programs.

Cool Events from I/O Youth
On the second day of the Google I/O 2015 developer conference, more than 200 students participated in the exclusive, invite-only youth event. Digital Media Academy was on the list of lucky guests.

This half-day tech wonderland experience encouraged students to explore and challenge themselves by breaking components down and building them up again, better than before.

Keynote speaker Astro Teller, head of Google’s research lab Google X, shared with students some of the newest “science fiction” solutions that Google will be coming out with. He also encouraged students (who are living in a critical time for self-discovery and self-esteem) not to see their own mistakes as flaws, but instead to shift their viewpoint and see those mistakes as opportunities for improvement.

Astro Teller, head of Google X research lab, tells students about the “science fiction” solutions Google is creating for the future.

The event was MC’d by Ryan Germick, head Google Doodler, who got the students up on their feet and stretching in unison, thanks to a Google Doodle celebrating Japanese calisthenics.

Students were able to participate in three prepared activities. First, they did some hands-on programming, using LEGO Mindstorms EV-3 robotics kits to create robotic rovers that traversed a specially designed model of a lunar landscape.

With tools provided by Google’s initiative Made with Code, students also had a chance to design and program a dancing Yeti, which was a huge hit.

Later, during a special screening with a mentor from Pixar, students got a chance to learn some basics of going on adventures in animation through storytelling. They then created stories, recorded voiceovers and presented spooky Scooby Doo mystery cartoons utilizing Google’s new animation app Toontastic. After the screenings, participants were treated to an award ceremony, where DMA students won for “Best Voiceover” and “Scariest Short”!

Student-built LEGO rovers trek across a mock lunar landscape at Google I/O Youth.

DMA at Google I/O Youth

DMA brought 16 students to Google I/O Youth, and all of them had a blast at this rare opportunity to further their education and experience with technology.

Isabel Eidel is enrolled in DMA UCLA’s Academy for 3D Modelling and Visual Effects, and her interests lie in filmmaking as well as working with computers. She took a flight with her dad all the way from Phoenix, Arizona, in order to attend the Google I/O youth conference!

Likewise, Henry Gray, a DMA Stanford Minecraft modding student, is similarly inspired and has Google at the top of his list for dream jobs. He was even able to talk to Teller about his ideas for the Google self-driving car.

For those who missed it, there’s still a chance to get incredible hands-on learning in technology at Digital Media Academy. With courses starting this month, register soon before you miss the window for an amazing tech-filled summer!

For more than 15 years, Final Cut Pro has remained the independent filmmaker’s editing system of choice. Its clean interface and intuitive mechanics make for a streamlined post-production process that is hard to find elsewhere. Need proof? Check out these hit movies made with FCP:

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
The Final Cut Pro editing system met Director Jared Hess’ tight budget requirements and helped him deliver a hit. (Image: Fox Searchlight/Paramount Pictures)

John Heder starred as Napoleon Dynamite in the art-house comedy of the same name. With a next-to-nothing budget and no way to hire additional editors to cut the film, Final Cut Pro became the obvious choice for director Jared Hess and producer Jeremy Coon. They edited Napoleon Dynamite in Coon’s apartment, using a $6,000 Macintosh loaded with Final Cut Pro. More than $46 million later, Napoleon Dynamite became a lasting cult classic that helped define a new era of teen-angst comedy.

Corpse Bride (2005)
Tim Burton edited the film using FCP, and shot it using Canon DSLR cameras.

Who says Final Cut Pro can’t help bring animated characters to life? Filmed using the Canon EOS-1D Mark II DSLR, Burton’s grim musical featured his usual dark sense of humor along with many of his regular actors, including the voice talents of Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp.

The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Matt Groening’s hit television series made its way to the big screen with a little help from Final Cut. (Image: Fox Studios)

After years of waiting (seven, to be exact) and more than 100 rewrites, Homer, Marge and the rest of the family became a part of Hollywood history, thanks to Final Cut Pro. FCP was used for the film and has also been used for scenes from the TV show.

Enchanted (2007)
Giselle is about to become a princess when her dreams of meeting the perfect prince become a reality. (Image: Disney Studios)

The film payed homage to classic Disney productions (although you’ll find more Disney easter eggs in Frozen). Edited using Final Cut Pro, Enchanted blended animation with live action to create a magical Disney experience.

The Social Network (2010)
Final Cut Pro helped The Social Network win three Academy Awards. (Image: Columbia Pictures)

Academy Award winner for Best Film Editing, David Fincher’s The Social Network immediately caught the attention of audiences around the world. Based on Mark Zuckerberg’s experiences when creating Facebook, The Social Network exposed the controversy that surrounded the building of a social-networking platform.

Focus (2015)
Focus was produced completely with Final Cut, including its titles. (Image: Warner Bros. Studios)

Editor Jan Kovac used a few versions of FCPX 10.1.x for Focus – the Will Smith/Margot Robbie con-artist film. Originally, Focus was shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but filmmakers used Final Cut to re-frame the film to 1.85:1, which they felt better suited the movie.

Michael Matzdorff, Kovac’s first assistant editor, was so impressed by the editing process that he wrote Final Cut Pro X: Pro Workflow: Proven Techniques. Focus is also the first studio film to use FCP X.

Other films that have used Final Cut? True Grit and Zodiac.

For a quick, inexpensive and comprehensive editing suite, Final Cut Pro is the choice of editors around the globe.

Making the Final Cut

From animated projects to live-action epics, Final Cut Pro has helped critically acclaimed directors and editors bring their films into the spotlight. With hands-on instruction from industry experts, you can learn how to edit a film using Final Cut Pro. So what are you waiting for? #CreateTheNext indie blockbuster this summer at Digital Media Academy.

Walt Disney practically built the animated feature-film genre. In 1937, he released the very first full-length animated feature film in theaters. It was a fairy tale about a girl who meets a colorful band of woodsmen. Critics called it “Disney’s Folly,” because no one believed anyone would sit through a 90-minute cartoon. You know the movie as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. At the time, it was the highest-grossing film ever.

In 2013, Frozen once again helped Walt Disney Studios claim the world record for the highest-grossing animated motion picture of all time and inspired artists around the world interested in 3D modeling and animation.

Part of what gives Frozen its magic is the film’s nods to classic Disney films and other cinematic themes. Did you catch these magic moments?

1. Rapunzel Meets Anna
The world of Disney’s Tangled (2010) is apparently just a kingdom over from Arendelle. Catch a glimpse of Rapunzel as she makes her way through the crowd during Anna’s royal crowning ceremony.

2. Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy
In a reference to the BBC mini-series Pride and Prejudice, Anna stands in front of a painting depicting the the story’s main characters, Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy.

3. Recreating Classic Art
Jean-Honore Fragonard’s classic painting The Swing is recreated in Frozen when Anna strikes a similar pose during her “For the First Time in Forever” performance. 

4. Hidden Mickey
Just like in Disney parks, Frozen hides the company’s mascot throughout the film. When Anna goes to Oaken’s shop, look for the hidden Mickey on the bookshelf.

5. Olaf Parodies Classic Sunscreen Trademark
As Olaf recalls “In Summer,” his favorite time of the year, a parody of the classic Coppertone sunscreen advertisements can be seen on the beach as a seagull tugs the bathing suit of a sand-made snowman.

6. Princess and the Frog’s Tiana Makes a Cameo
Princess Tiana travels back in time from 1920s New Orleans to visit the Frozen universe. Standing amongst the crowd in the kingdom of Arendelle, the Princess and the Frog (2010) star can be seen in the distance. Look closely or you’ll miss her.

7. The Marshmallow Man
Frozen’s snow monster has no problem destroying an ice kingdom, but it does have a problem with name-calling. In one scene, the snow monster is referred to as “Marshmallow Man,” in a reference to the 1984 classic film, Ghostbusters.

8. Dancing with the Birds
Olaf’s dance routine during his performance of “In Summer” is a nod to another classic Disney film: Mary Poppins (1964), which also features animated cartoon characters.

9. Sugar Rush Racer Treats
The Kingdom of Arendelle is known to host extravagant feasts with unique entrees. After taking a closer look, it becomes clear that this tray of truffles resembles another set of Disney characters, the video game characters of Wreck it Ralph‘s Sugar Rush Racers (2012).

10. The Melting Monster 
Stick around after the credits to catch a glimpse of the melting Marshmallow Man as he slowly begins to melt away.

It’s one of the most popular animated series in the history of morning television. The Emmy-Award-winning animated series Disney’s Duck Tales debuted on September 18, 1987, ran three seasons and clocked 100 episodes.

Based on characters created by Disney animation legend Carl Barks, Duck Tales featured Scrooge McDuck, the “world’s richest duck” and his great-nephews: Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Known for its many pop culture references including Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, Duck Tales even spawned a best-selling video game that was so popular it recently received a re-mastering treatment for the Xbox 360, Wii U and PS3. (Image: Disney Animation)

New Disney XD Series
Now comes news that the television series will also get a reboot. Disney announced an all-new Duck Tales series will be coming to Disney XD in 2017.

Duck Tales has a special place in Disney’s TV animation history. It drew its inspiration from Disney legend Carl Barks’ comic books and through its storytelling and artistic showmanship, set an enduring standard for animated entertainment,” said Marc Buhaj, Senior Vice President of Programming and General Manager for Disney XD, as he made the announcement about the new series. “Our new series will bring that same energy and adventurous spirit to a new generation.”

The new series will star the same beloved characters as the old: Scrooge McDuck, his great-nephews (Huey, Dewey and Louie), Launchpad McQuack, Donald Duck, Duckworth, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica DeSpell, Poe, Ma Beagle, the Beagle Boys, Mrs. Beakley, and Webbigail Vanderquack.

Legendary Inspiration
Carl Barks worked at Disney as an in-betweener. Basically, he would fill in the animation between the key frames. In 1937 he moved over to the story department at Disney and his story idea for a robot that gives Donald Duck a bad haircut got made into the cartoon Modern Inventions.

This 1937 cartoon marked the beginning of Carl Barks’ influence on the medium.

Drawn to Animation
While it was Carl Barks‘ 1940’s Donald Duck comic books that inspired the Duck Tales series, it was Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men” of Disney animation who established the principles of animation.

At DMA, we’re huge fans of Duck Tales and can’t wait to see a new animated series. In the meantime, we’re going to start making cartoons at camp this summer in Adventures in Animation and firing up Duck Tales: Remastered on our Wii U.

Super Bowl commercials have become almost as popular as the big game itself. The coveted Super Bowl commercial spot has itself become a tradition over the past few decades. Whether you enjoy watching football or not, the Super Bowl has something for everyone, thanks to the excellent (and often hilarious) commercials.

This year it will cost you $4.5 million to get you a 30-second spot on TV during the Super Bowl. Here are past MVP commercials, famous for their high quality and comedic value.

Doritos Time Machine (2014)

As a promotional event, Frito-Lay decided to allow their fans to make a Doritos commercial for the Super Bowl. After receiving countless submissions of varying quality, Frito-Lay was sent Doritos Time Machine, a 30-second short about a young boy and his dog, who are looking for a quick snack.

The Force (2011)

We have all pretended to be our favorite superhero (or villain) at one point or another. Volkswagen’s Super Bowl commercial depicts a young Star Wars fan dressed as Darth Vader as he struggles to harness the Force. Hopefully, this commercial will be enough to hold you over until the new Stars Wars breaks box office records.

Parisian Love (2009)

When you have a product that advertises itself like Google’s search engine, you don’t need to run commercials or put up billboards. But in 2009, Google decided to air a commercial during the Super Bowl. Consisting of simple screen recordings, Google has showed us how an individual has used Google to make life-changing decisions on his quest for adventure.

Carrier Pigeons (2008)

Instead of drone delivery, this commercial brings back the idea using carrier pigeons to move their product and it doesn’t seem to be going too well. Want to create cool CGI effects like the ones you see here? Check out our 3D Modeling & Animation summer camps at top universities throughout the U.S. and Canada and start creating this summer!

“Hey Kid, Catch!” (1979)

Known as one of the most iconic Super Bowl commercials to ever air, Coca-Cola’s heartwarming ad starring Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle “Mean Joe” Greene seems to make every top Super Bowl commercial list around.

#CreateTheNext at DMA This Summer
Students at Digital Media Academy’s Filmmaking & Visual Effects courses work in production teams as they plan, produce and edit short films and creative projects of their own. Taught by top industry professionals using the latest Canon cameras and Apple workstations, DMA filmmaking camps will help you gain the skills you need to #CreateTheNext Super Bowl commercial or award-winning film.

“DMA camp was a blast! I can’t wait to go back next summer and take the 3D camp.”

Name: Lillie A.
Age: 12
Hometown: Spring, TX
Future Occupation: Animator, Film Director
Course: Adventures in Cartoon Creation
Campus: Cartoon Camp at Stanford

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.

What can you expect from a Digital Media Academy Instructor?

  What are the summer camps like?

By Ben Jaffe, Instructor

As a regular instructor for several companies around the San Francisco Bay Area, I believe it is important to ensure that every class I teach is different from the last. Even if I teach 5 consecutive classes on CSS, each class has a completely different set of students, each with different skill levels and interests. In many training centers, often classes really do end up exactly the same. Many instructors I have worked with simply plod along, following the curriculum word by word, line by line. No deviations, and no excitement. Of course, as a student you can ask questions and take advantage of their expertise in the field. But that experience doesn’t make for an interesting class. You may learn the topic, but it’s not fun. Read more

Learn 3D Modeling

3D Modeling by Vince Matthews

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s an age-old question, and one people ask themselves, believe it or not, well into their 40’s and 50’s. Today, computer imagery plays a major role in entertainment and even business.

From online games to super hero blockbusters like Batman, computer generated characters, environments and animation are what hold our attention. Today, it’s pretty easy to start dabbling in 3D modeling. Off the shelf and developer provided tools allow games to be modded, to add your favorite shirt to a character, or even put your face on a famous hockey player or video game fighter.

Modeling Your Future
3D modeling and animation put fantastic worlds and characters at our command. Learning 3D modeling can be the first step to a career as a game designer, a creative director or a film producer. For a technical field like 3D modeling, a four year college can be expensive, especially if you’re looking at a very technical field like 3D animation and want to have access to the newest tech.

That’s where DMA comes in, sure it’s possible to learn on your own, but learning from a professional is the smartest path. So is getting hands-on experience with the the latest hardware and software, like Maya, or 3D Studio Max. Before you know it, you could be pushing polygons around to animate the next Shrek. Or creating a video game level, or wonderful random abstract whimsical thing.

Digital Media Academy gives you a chance to get the experience and get it from expert educators who been studying and practicing what they teach for years. Teachers who will answer all the questions you can throw at them without investing in 4-5 years at college. (That’s not to say a one-week summer camp takes the place of a four-year education, on the contrary, DMA can help you get ready for a four year school or provide the skills you need to help you get a job.)

Software like Autodesk Maya and 3D Studio Max brings professional quality tools to independent artist, hobbyist, and the student with an interest in animation. Maya 3D modeling software is the industry standard for creating 3D characters and objects. Maya is used in the game, film, television and tech industries and computer generated imagery is a standard in almost every form of media.

3D animator and modeler Adam Watkins teaches a class at DMA’s UT Austin location.

What’s Your Experience?
In my experience as a Digital Media Academy instructor and university professor, I have seen more and more students showing up to class with prior experience creating 3D models and animation. These student artists are usually self-taught, having picked up whatever lessons they could find online and in print.

I experienced this myself when I was first learning Maya. I had first worked in Softimage and 3D Studio Max, and I had practically taught myself 3D modeling through manuals and online tutorials. (To a certain extent this method works fine, but professional instruction teaches best practices and professional techniques.) To learn Maya I thought I would go through the same experience, and was on my way to doing that when the company I worked for hired a Maya professional to come in for a few days and get our team of 3D animators up to speed on how to model, rig, and animate a character. (Yes, it’s true, even professional 3D modelling artists can benefit from Maya workshops.) I learned more in those two days than I had learned on my own in the past two years.

Not only was it personalized instruction, but I had never had someone tie it all together into such a well-organized workflow. Things made sense and were directly relevant to the 3D modeling task at hand. Now all the bits and pieces of the online tutorials and book chapters came together like puzzle pieces falling into place.

And not only was that time productive, my future self-directed learning in Maya was made more valuable because I was able to put it into the solid framework established during that 3D modeling training session.

Modeling a Career Path
Do you want to become a professional 3D animation artist? If so, you’re beginning a long and rewarding journey. My best advice? I highly recommend you take the time to get started on the right foot with some quality instruction. Digital Media Academy offers great courses to learn how to create and animate using Maya.