Shooting great pictures requires a photographer’s eye. But to make it as a professional photographer, you need even more than that.
Fortunately, DMA photography instructor Kenneth Chan has all the talent and training he needs to please clients and inspire students. Plus, he’s always up to the challenge of creating interesting new types of imagery.
After training his creative eye and teaching photography classes for years at Stanford University (his alma mater), he started his own photography company. Kenneth Chan Photography specializes in dramatic portraits, breathtaking landscapes and action photography.
Kenneth is also the Lead Instructor and Curriculum Developer for Digital Media Academy’s introductory and advanced photography courses. We asked him about his experience and his approach to teaching:
What’s your background?
My two passions are photography and teaching. I’ve been an instructor at various levels of higher education, including as a Stanford University photography instructor. I also work as a professional photographer and have my own photography business: Kenneth Chan Photography.
I always loved playing with new cameras and figuring them out. Doing that forces me to think about my teaching material and teaching techniques – but it also helps me to be more creative in my art, as well. This gives me a lot of experience I can use to inspire my students.
In this way it works on all levels. And by the end of the week, I’ve learned as much as an instructor as I expect my students have. At Digital Media Academy, I have the unique opportunity to do what I love…on an even more meaningful level.
In DMA’s digital photography courses, Chan teaches his students about the importance of nuance and the application of technical skill – like he used in the above image, showing the San Francisco Bay Bridge from along the Embarcadero. (Image: Kenneth Chan Photography)
What’s your approach to teaching photography?
Once students have been introduced to their cameras, the most important part of the week is getting out there and shooting. Since it’s a photography course, we can look at beautiful images, we can talk about theory all day long, but at the end of the day it’s really about getting out there, exploring the campus and creating amazing images.
My students have been exploring the idea of a “photographic series,” which is basically a theme that they’re going to follow for a day or even the whole week. I’m always impressed what the students come up with when they really put their minds to it.
Some of them involve high action; they go out and create dramatic portraits of all the friends that they’re making here. Others create intricate detailed shots of small items that might have been overlooked. But when they create a whole series and bring that in, you really have to respect and admire their attention to detail.
How does DMA prepare students for high school, college and the working world?
I believe in the intensive 40-hour course that we have over the summer. It allows students to dig down deep and learn quite a lot about the subject matter at hand. They get to walk out at the end of the week with lots of great work that they can show their friends and family and use to build their own professional portfolios.
DMA’s 40-hour intensive curriculum provides students with the experience they need if they ever want to pursue photography as a career.
– Kenneth Chan, Lead Instructor and Curriculum Developer for DMA’s Introduction and Advanced photography courses
DMA’s 40-hour intensive curriculum provides students with the experience they need if they ever want to pursue photography as a career, job or even just a passion. I can state that throughout my career as an instructor – from high-school through to college – sometimes what we’re able to cover in 40 hours of focused time is actually more than what your typical semester-long course can cover.
It’s so much fun when you can focus on students who are here to learn and who are devoted to the task of trying new ideas and new projects. It’s also super-refreshing to see how many people are so excited to be here, are ready to learn something new, are eager to innovate, and create something in their field.
I fully believe in the DMA mission of providing a creative space for students to learn in such a hands-on, intensive environment. Every year I come back to DMA I’m so grateful that I’ve done it and so happy in what I see the students accomplishing.
What’s your favorite memory of camp this summer?
My favorite memory of this summer is trying to come up with a group project with my students for one of DMA’s beginning photography courses. We really wanted to create a unique photo. So our idea was to come up with a scene where we were all going to be in the photo together at different times and composite it in Photoshop, so we could create some special effects as well.
We actually won the Photography Contest that week at DMA!
From extreme sports to family vacations, Lily, the the first-ever “throw-and-shoot” camera, is about to change the way we use drones.
Drone cameras have given photographers and videographers a new way to view and capture the world around them, but learning to fly them often requires a lot of time, skill and patience.
While the new perspective gives operators a chance to shoot in a way that would otherwise be impossible, it leaves them stuck on the ground controlling their camera. But not with Lily.
Lily is the future of personal drones. This autonomous-controlled drone allows its user to capture high-quality photos and videos from above as it follows a tracking device worn on the ground by the owner, as if you were being filmed by a hot air balloon.
With a multitude of functions/views, digital gimballing, image stabilization, fixed focus, and slow-mo capabilities, Lily is just as versatile as it is innovative.
And true to its billing, it is truly “throw-and-shoot.” The user simply tosses Lily into the air and the drone automatically rights itself and starts climbing to the desired vantage point.
In the promo video (see below), a kayaker even chucks a Lily into a river before the plucky drone rises out of the whitewater and heads upward.
Price: $499 (pre-order)
Length & Width: 10.29 in (26.1 cm) x 10.29 in (26.1 cm)
Height: 3.22 in
Weight: 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
Battery: Built-in lithium-ion battery (20-minute flight time), 5A charger (2-hour charge time)
Min/Max Altitude above head: 5 ft (1.75 m) to 50 ft (15 m)
Max Distance from User: 100 ft (30 m)
Video Resolution: 1080p 60 fps / 720p 120 fps
Video FOV: 94º
Video Format: H.264 codec, .mp4 file format
Photo Resolution: 12 MP
Memory: 4gb micro SD (provided) and an external memory card slot
Sensors: Accelerometer, three-axis gyro, magnetometer, barometer, GPS, front-facing camera, bottom-facing camera
The Tracking Device has a built-in lithium-ion battery with 4-hour battery life and micro USB charging, and comes with a waterproof wrist case. Inside it has an accelerometer, barometer, GPS, microphone and vibration motor.
Plus, with the Lily companion app (available on iOS and Android), you can change camera settings, create custom shots, and Edit and share content you’ve captured. If you want to see Lily in action, check out the amazing video below.
Summer Vacation Filmmaking
Shot by Brad Kremer, known for his advanced digital filmmaking in the the snow-sports community (he’s also filmed for Red Bull, Ubisoft, Nike and the X-Games), the video shows Lily keeping up with legendary Finnish snowboarder Jussi Oksanen.
It then follows a kayaker down some rapids (proving the waterproof shell works by lifting off with ease from the surface of a river) before taking video and photos of a family on summer vacation.
While anyone can use Lily, editing that footage into an extreme sports video or family keepsake like the video above might take a little additional know-how.
If your child has ever shown interest in filmmaking, DMA offers camps where industry professionals teach students digital filmmaking with DSLRs from Canon and show them how to edit their footage with Final Cut Pro. There are even a few courses that combine sports and technology, like the video above!
If you want to know what a society values — how its people truly see the world around them — just watch their superhero movies.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Create a free account at Twitch.tv.
- Download the free Twitch app on your Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
- Link your Twitch.tv account to the Twitch app on your gaming console.
- Activate Twitch on your gaming console by visiting Twitch.tv/activate and entering the security code.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The Event Editor in MMF2.
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.”
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!