If you want to know what a society values — how its people truly see the world around them — just watch their superhero movies.

Instead of a single nemesis, today’s superheroes often face countless enemies. (Image: Marvel Entertainment)

Superheroes got their start in the 1930s and 1940s, originally as beacons of perfection. Their challenges, while requiring superhuman abilities, ultimately proved easily defeatable. Their obstacles and fears were mostly external. Little could actually get in the way of their success. They were, for all practical purposes, without flaw.

Then, in the early 1960s, a comic book writer and publisher named Stan Lee began shaking things up in the comic book world. His Marvel Comics characters were flawed, like the rest of us. They were emotional, got sick, had friends and loved ones they often disappointed, and were vulnerable to the world around them.

With Marvel’s revolution in psychological realism, a superhero no longer had to be a perfect example of justice, strength or power. Rather, superheroes became those who, in spite of their internal struggles, in spite of being downtrodden, were able to persevere. Superheroes became more like us.

Like every form of pop culture, superheroes evolve. With the problems our world faces today (be it unemployment, climate change, war, terrorism or poverty), it has become apparent that we can longer do this on our own.

With all of today’s problems, we don’t need a superhero. We need superheroes.

overthehill-superheroesThe superheroes of yesterday would have a hard time facing today’s challenges. (Image: Bryan Lee)

Generation We: Duty Over Glory
Superhero teams, collaborations and crossovers are nothing new. But what is new is their huge popularity with millennials. For millennials (people now in the 15-35 age range), the world seems a lot darker than when we were younger.

As teens and young adults, we’re beginning to see the earth we’ve inherited, and it isn’t as friendly, pretty or healthy as it used to be. There’s a reason our superhero movies have gotten darker, grittier and based on much higher stakes than those from the days of old.

While recent advances in technology are extraordinary compared to what our parents (and especially their parents) experienced when they were growing up, these advances don’t make up for the fact that our planet is hurting and many vital resources are running low.

We’re collectively beginning to notice. And we’re collectively realizing this problem is much bigger than anything we can do on our own.

It’s this disturbing new reality that many of today’s most popular superhero movies are addressing.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
The message: We must look back at the faults in our past in order to create a better future. (Image: Marvel Entertainment)

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a telling story of what millennials are facing today. With the help of Professor Xavier and Kitty Pryde, Wolverine goes back in time and teams up with other past X-Men in order to prevent the Sentinels from destroying all mutants, and ultimately, humanity.

While we can’t travel back in time, this film brings to light the question of looking at history to see where we went wrong. By traveling to the past and stopping an otherwise inevitable apocalypse, Wolverine and his team of mutants were able to save the world.

Instead of traveling back in time, however, millennials must look back and see where the problems resided in order to find a solution for our future.

Guardians of the Galaxy
You don’t have to be a perfect superhero to be the perfect superhero for the job! (Image: Marvel Entertainment)

The Guardians of the Galaxy are a group of characters from different walks of life. Forced to come together in order to survive, they aren’t afraid to do a little bad in order for good to prevail.

One character that truly embodies the millennial’s “Generation We” mindset is Groot.

Groot is a vastly intelligent being who struggles with communication due to the stiffening of his larynx. Every sentence sounds like, “I am Groot” to those who don’t understand his language.

For someone who struggles to communicate with the people around him, Groot is passionate about and protective of those who call him a friend.

Without the sacrifice of Groot (a living, breathing, plant-based entity), all of the Guardians of the Galaxy would have been destroyed. It’s as if Groot is a metaphor for the way the earth has been sacrificing itself for humanity. In this sense, we need to look at the world as if it were one of us and fight for it as much as we would fight for a loved one.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron
It takes the whole team to stop the robot apocalypse! (Image: Walt Disney Company)

In the latest installment of the Avengers franchise, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and the other Avengers fight the terrorist group Hydra and take Loki’s scepter.

Upon finding an AI inside the scepter, Stark and Banner believe it will help Stark’s “Ultron” Global Defense program. But it is discovered that Ultron actually has sentience, and it becomes obsessed with destroying humanity in order to save planet earth.

It isn’t until warring sides realize Ultron’s plan for human erasure that they all come together to fight for a common belief: Human life is precious and needs to be protected.

Captain America: Civil War
Captain America wouldn’t trade his team for all the Vibranium in the world! See him in action May 6, 2016. (Image: Marvel Entertainment)

These days our problems are more than one superhero can handle.

Take Captain America: Civil War, for example, which has just announced its cast list. Once, Captain America was the embodiment of American military might. He was stronger, faster and quicker to bounce back than any of his enemies.

But one person can’t do it all, not even Captain America.

In the next installment of the Marvel universe, Steve Rogers puts on his suit and shield to lead a new team of Avengers in the protection of humanity. After an incident that causes much collateral damage, the Avengers are left fractured, but must come together to save humanity.

Fantastic Four

It’ll take some fantastic individuals to defeat Dr. Doom starting August 7, 2015! (Image: Marvel Entertainment)

The newest installment of the Fantastic Four series, coming out August 7th, fits right in with Generation We. In the official trailer, Dr. Storm claims that “this is our chance to learn more about our planet, and maybe even save it.”

The four must come together in order to prevent the planet from facing an otherwise inevitable doom (Dr. Doom, that is). When the entire planet’s safety is in question, it takes more than one individual. It takes a fantastic team of four superheroes (and countless regular citizens) in order to save it.

Create The Next Superhero Movie
Filmmakers have a unique opportunity to broadcast their ideas to millions of people. Do you think you could be the voice of an entire generation?

With the proper training, you too could create a film that not only entertains, but educates and opens the eyes of everyone who watches. Sign up for a course in digital filmmaking and visual effects so you can create the next superhero movie!

Today, almost half of all live-streaming video traffic on the Internet comes from one place. No, it isn’t the NFL or even YouTube; this traffic is generated by Twitch.tv. Twitch is now one of the Internet’s most visited sites, just behind Netflix, Apple and Google.

Watch live streams and record your session to share your high score with your friends on Twitch.tv.

So what is Twitch.tv? Twitch is a streaming video service that’s all about video games. Watch user videos, playthroughs and e-sports competitions while you stream your own game sessions for anyone to view. Owned by Amazon.com and headquartered in San Francisco, Twitch has become one of Silicon Valley’s top innovators since its 2011 launch.

After its first month on the Web, Twitch had collected a user base of more than 8 million gamers…and those numbers haven’t slowed. Currently Twitch.tv has over 60 million active streamers, with the average user spending 1 hour 45 minutes watching content each day.

Get Started with Twitch.tv

So how do you broadcast your game session using Twitch? Follow the guide below and start streaming today:

  1. Create a free account at Twitch.tv.
  2. Download the free Twitch app on your Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
  3. Link your Twitch.tv account to the Twitch app on your gaming console.
  4. Activate Twitch on your gaming console by visiting Twitch.tv/activate and entering the security code.
  5. Select “Broadcast” from inside the Twitch app and start sharing your game session.

Make Money Playing Games

Twitch.tv’s gamers are dedicated to gaming…and for good reason. Much like top YouTube contributors, Twitch’s most popular gamers monetize their channels in return for a nice paycheck at the end of the month. With the ability to charge viewers for subscriptions, earn gamer tips and receive ad revenue, Twitch’s top gamers are making some big bucks.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 comes ready to go. Press the SHARE button on the controller to start broadcasting your game session.

While game designers & developers tend to get all of the recognition, Twitch.tv shines the spotlight on gamers. With the rise of competitive gaming and the climbing number of broadcasts, Twitch has redefined sports in the Digital Age.

Did you know you can even broadcast your very own games? That is, if you know how to code, of course. Learning to code is easy when you have a professional there to help you along the way. The Academy for Game Programming provides students with the skills and hands-on instruction that they need to #createthenext best-selling video game. Learn how to program using Python and C#, then bring your ideas to life with Unity. There is no limit to what you can create at DMA – sign up today!

When Photoshop 1.0 first hit store shelves in 1990, no one (including creator Thomas Knoll) ever thought that it would become the household name that it is today.

The humble beginnings of Photoshop 1.0, the application that sparked a design revolution.

Twenty-five years later, people are still learning how to use Photoshop for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal. There are whole sites and Photoshop how to techniques dedicated to the software. There’s even a Photoshop Battles subreddit, where users can submit photos to a wide community of Photoshoppers and await the results.

Photoshop is a worldwide phenomenon.

The Evolution of Photoshop
Millions of users later, Photoshop has become synonymous with digital imaging by enabling artists to create their visions in the digital realm. The application has become a staple in the world of fashion design and modeling, as well as the photography, art and design industries, making Photoshop one of tech’s most powerful tools.

Photoshop has come a long way since its initial release in 1990. With more than 13 major version updates over 25 years, Adobe has transformed the application into the most intuitive design tool available. One of Photoshop’s strongest advantages lies in the dedicated team constantly working to evolve the platform.

We want to challenge the next generation of designers and artists, photographers and moviemakers to dream even bigger.

Adobe believes that today’s creators can #CreateTheNext masterpiece. Alex Amado, Adobe’s senior director of creative and media, stated, “We want to challenge the next generation of designers and artists, photographers and moviemakers to dream even bigger, and we’ll help them get there.”

Experts revisit Photoshop version 1.0 for a trip down memory lane.

After 25 years of Photoshop, Adobe continues to improve and innovate the application that has come to define graphic design. Watch the video above to see Photoshop experts ditch the Creative Cloud and struggle as they revisit Photoshop 1.0 in all of its original glory. Want to take a test drive? Visit the Computer History Museum and download the source code today.


This enemy character for the game Gears of War 2 was made using ZBrush. (Image: Epic Games)

If you’re interested in becoming a 3D video game or character designer, the first thing you want to do is learn how to use the tools of the trade. One of those tools is ZBrush.

What is ZBrush?
ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool that lets artist paint, texture and model 3D computer objects.

ZBrush uses a proprietary “pixol” technology that captures all the information an artist needs to create character or object including color and lighting information.

How is ZBrush different from other 3D modeling tools? With ZBrush, users actually sculpt their objects like traditional artists might use clay or stone. Introduced in 1999 at SIGGRAPH by Pixologic Inc., today ZBrush is used by everyone from Electronic Arts to Disney to produce characters and objects for video games, movies and television.

Next-Gen Production Tools and Techniques
“I rely heavily on ZBrush to render anything organic in an environment,” Kevin Johnstone is a Senior Artist for Epic Games, the company behind the video game mega-hit Gears of War. “(ZBrush) give(s) most of my mechanical hard surface models a degree of weathering and damage so I can avoid making things look too manufactured or unused.” Learn how Epic Games used ZBrush to create Gears of War.

3D artist David S. knows how to put ZBrush through it’s paces, his work is showcased on the ZBrush community Sculptcrazy. (Image: David Varady Szabo)

This advanced production tool is capable of producing anything from rocks to people and it does it with ease.

Learning how to use 3D modeling software like ZBrush starts by getting the right training – and those best practices are taught by DMA. It’s important to get the right start, why? Artist who pick up bad habits or workflow spend more time re-learning correct and industry standard methods.

Using Pixologic’s ZBrush and learning advanced digital painting and texture mapping with Photoshop® can help make you a professional digital artist. Knowing techniques for creating architecture, characters, creatures, vehicles and other objects are essential. Techniques for normal mapping, grunge-color maps and specularity maps are also important.

To create the incredible detail you see in the games, DMA teaches both fine art principles such as color theory, layout compositional design, form and structure, as well as other techniques to expand your understanding of the art of game design.

Games like Legend of Princess really show off what you can accomplish with Multimedia Fusion 2.

Multimedia Fusion 2, is just one of the pieces of software Digital Media Academy uses to teach kids how to create a video game in DMA’s video game design camps. If you’re starting to explore game designing, there’s no better place to start than Multimedia Fusion.

Connecting with Computers
Computer programming languages are used by programmers to communicate with computers. Learning how to program is very similar to learning a new language—you also have to learn how computers “think” so you can effectively give the computer instructions.

Teaching a programming language to 8-12 years olds is difficult (and boring), but you can still teach kids the concepts of programming in a fun and exciting way. In fact, that’s what Multimedia Fusion 2 (MMF2) allows DMA to do! Students learn the main concepts of game design without having to learn to code. That way, when, and if they pursue computer programming at a later age, they’ll already understand many of the basic concepts of programming and be well on their way.

Making Media with MMF2
Because of the versatility that Multimedia Fusion 2 provides, it’s easy to create a wide range of games and multimedia. And once you’ve got down the basics, you can create games for iOS, Windows, Android and XNA. But there are several reasons why you should develop your first game on MMF2:

1. A Complete Toolbox. MMF2 provides everything you need to create and the interface is easy to use and understand.

2. A Creative Sandbox. No matter what kind of game you want to create, a puzzle game, a side-scolling actioneer or 2D platformer you can create it all in MMF2. Even businesses use MMF2 to create applications for customers and employees.

3. No Experience Required. You don’t need to know how to write a single line of code, and most people can grasp the basics of MMF2 within an hour.

4. Community Support. MMF2 has a large community of users that support new and veteran users alike.

Game On!
Every game has graphics and objects that move around the screen. Normally, a programmer would write the code to get those objects to move, but when you’re using MMF2, you can focus on the concepts of designing great games instead of writing code. MMF2 gives you lots of creative options.

MMF2: Frame EditorMMF2 allows users to lay out the graphical elements of their game quickly and easily. In this Breakout-type game, a user chooses how objects will move (in this case how the ball will bounce).

MMF2’s Event Editor is another way to interact with your program. Here, you program the “brains” of your game. The Event Editor lets you program without writing a single line of code. Technically speaking, you are creating “conditionals” in this window. Whenever this happens, do that. For example, line number 9 says “If the number of lives reaches 0, then restart the application.” By creating lists of these conditionals, we can create complex and interesting games that our students can be proud of! Multimedia Fusion 2 games will run on any Windows computer.

MMF2: The Event EditorThe Event Editor in MMF2.

I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I teach Game Design and Web Design.

On the surface, the Game Design class may look somewhat straightforward. But it’s much more than simply creating fun games with our students. In our classes, we also teach important programming concepts, which can be the foundation for a future programming career.

Game Building can be frustrating for somebody who has never done it before. As games become more and more complex, the instructors are there to help them understand how to build their games well. Programmers call it “extensibility.” Here’s an example of how students encounter this in DMA’s Adventures Game Design class:

A few days into the week, we usually start working on an RPG game. The player controls a character who interacts with bystanders in the game to get information or collect items. The students quickly discover how frustrating it is to program actions for every single bystander in the game individually. The same goes for other objects in the game, such as allies, enemies, keys, coins, and projectiles. It’s much easier to group them together, and make a rule saying, “Whenever the character talks to any bystander, run this action.”

3d Game Design Making Video Games at DMA

Extensibility is not the only programming concept that we teach to the kids. They learn the importance of game planning, bug testing, and proper pacing to effectively meet deadlines. They also develop an understanding of variables, and an introductory understanding of object-oriented programming. Instead of lecturing to the students, we let them discover and understand the concepts by themselves, with guidance.

Most importantly, we teach the kids programming concepts without them even realizing it! If they pursue a career in computer science or game design, they will already understand the importance of extensibility, testing, planning, and pacing. Though it may seem like just another fun summer course, every student gets much more out of it – skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

See you in the Summer!

In our Summer Digital Media Adventures Program for kids (9-13), we offer two Video Game Creation Programs. We cover several media and game-creation tools, and spend a lot of time in Multimedia Fusion 2. In this video, I’ll create a Pong Clone to show you the basics of MMF2’s interface. Unlike computer programming, MMF2 is more graphical and straightforward, and you can see direct results as you shape the game. Computer programming is much more abstract, but the basic concepts of programming are present in MMF2. In our Video Game Creation class, we teach students about game balancing and collaboration, and how to reach a deadline with a glitch-free game. In the advanced course, we go into how to manage games that quickly get very large, and how to build them well from the start. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

My name is Matthew Levie, and I’ll be teaching Documentary Filmmaking again this summer. I’m a professional editor, and feel free to browse my web site to see what I do.

Last year’s Documentary Filmmaking class was a fantastic experience for me as a teacher. The students included:

• a businesswoman from Boston,
• a sociologist from Japan,
• a teenager from France,
• a flight attendant from Miami,
• a scientist from Texas,
• and a teacher from South Carolina

Imagine what you could learn from a group like that!

Here’s a small snippet from the course. Since I’m an editor I can’t resist an example of phenomenal documentary editing. Have a look at the following clip, from the documentary Carrier, about the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

So first, one of the pilots introduces the idea that everybody on the carrier needs to do their job correctly, at the right time, for the carrier to function properly. And that sets off this montage of flight deck operations, set to—wait, can it be?—the “March of the Wooden Soldiers” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

Notice how similar motions are grouped together—there’s a beautiful series of circular motions, for instance. And at the end, somebody declares “it’s like a ballet.” Which makes perfect sense, since the filmmakers have already make that perfectly clear from a visual standpoint! But then they extend the metaphor to other areas of the ship, particularly the people feeding the ship and cleaning it up.

This is actually an important priority of the filmmakers: making the viewers understand that an aircraft carrier isn’t all about the planes and the flight deck, but that there are people greasing the cables and cleaning the toilets as well. And they’ve done a great job of conveying that visually at every opportunity.

Want more? Well, you’ll have to come to Stanford. Not a lot of people regret spending a week in Northern California, and I’m sure you’ll learn a tremendous amount and enjoy yourself as well!

Browse the Documentary Film class syllabus here.

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!

Andy Hoffman is currently a junior at Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston, Texas, set to graduate in the Spring of 2010. Andy has known since he was 10 years old that he wanted to find a college that would allow him to get a degree in Video Game Design and allow him to go into the gaming industry.

The following is an interview with Andy. Read how Digital Media Academy inspired Andy and helped him acquire great skills that have allowed him to pursue his passion.

DMA: How old are you?

Andy: 17

DMA: How many summers have you been attending DMA?

Andy: This will be my fourth summer.

Andy has taken the following game creation courses at DMA:

In summer of ’09 he is taking Web Design and Flash Scripting for Game Design.

DMA: Which DMA location did you attend?

Andy: Stanford University. I enjoy the campus environment, it’s very easy to get around and a relaxing environment.

DMA: Prior to attending DMA, did you know what career path you wanted to take?

Andy: Somewhat. The main issue that prevented me from deciding to go into game design prior to attending DMA was the practicality of it.

DMA: Describe your experience at DMA.

Andy: In the past three summers I’ve learned a lot and had fun doing it.

DMA: How has DMA helped you in deciding what you would like to do when you “grow up”?

Andy: Meeting other kids with similar interests, and the instructors and speakers who came and spoke to us about the game design industry really inspired me.

DMA: Do you know which University you would like to attend?

Andy: Through the help of DMA and my high school counselor, I found several incredible options that are considered prestigious in the game industry. I’ve now narrowed my search down to Savannah College of Art and Design, Ringling College of Art and Design, Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at Dallas, and University of Southern California. SMU offers a 5 year program that includes a masters degree as well.

DMA: What stands out the most for you from your time spent at DMA camps.

Andy: Being in high school, but living on a college campus for a few weeks out of the summer doing what I will hopefully be doing a year or two from now when I’m actually in college.

DMA: Describe the quality of the facilities, computers, instructors, etc.

Andy: Beyond expectations.

We also got a chance to talk to Andy’s mom, Joni Hoffman.

DMA: As a parent, please describe your experience with DMA.

Joni: My son Andy has been interested in Video Game Design since he was 10 years old. He attended several local video game creation computer camps offered in Houston. We found that Andy knew more than the instructors, even at a young age. He would ask questions they simply could not answer. We soon learned that Andy needed a more serious and rigorous program than what we had locally. I was thrilled to find DMA. It has been an incredible experience for Andy.  This summer will be his 4th summer and unfortunately his last. He will be a senior. However because of DMA he is pursuing a degree in Video Game Design. The portfolio he has created from what he learned at DMA has helped him become a serious candidate for scholarship money at several universities that offer Video Game Design as a degree.

DMA: Do you feel that DMA is your typical camp? Explain.

Joni: NO. Living on the Stanford campus was an incredible opportunity.

DMA: Do you feel that DMA has opened your son’s eyes to know which career path he wants to pursue?

DMA attracts kids literally from all over the world who have a similar passion and interest. Andy has had roommates from the UK, Canada and France.  These same kids may even reconnect someday once they are in the real world pursuing their dreams of being in the gaming industry.

DMA: Would you recommend DMA to others?

Joni: Absolutely

DMA: Anything else you would like to comment on about DMA?

With the state of the economy, many “stable” degrees no longer offer a guarantee of landing a good job after graduation. It’s more important than ever to pick from degrees that are going to have jobs available. The video game industry is booming and probably only going to get stronger. I think Andy is fortunate that his passion for this industry has great potential for a very successful career as an adult.

I truly believe that DMA helped shape Andy’s future and his DMA experience has definitively given him a competitive advantage in the college admissions process. Not to mention he had a blast. Kudos to the staff and counselors at DMA!