In today’s world, many students are slaloming down a mountain of student debt as they finish college, only to land at the base of another summit they must ascend: grad school.

They might not know what they’re studying in college yet, but these DMA campers can already say they’ve worked on a professional music video!

Who knows if whatever academic major you declare actually turns out to be your true calling? There has been no opportunity to experience this ambiguous path before committing to one of the biggest decisions of your life – until now.


In response to the growing need for immersive learning, DMA has developed new experiential learning like nothing else in the world – DMA Studios: Film Production. It’s a two-week, full-immersion experience, where students serve as the film and edit crew for a real-world client.

DMA Studios is led by industry professionals, giving students a one-of-a-kind filmmaking experience. We travel around the Bay Area on field trips and location scouting, hire real actors to direct, use industry-standard camera equipment from Canon, and much more.

DMA Studios students filming on location at Pomponio State Beach, in beautiful Half Moon Bay, Calif.

In last summer’s DMA Studios: Film Production course, students successfully completed a music video for Pacific Disco, an electronic music duo from Oakland, Calif. We went on location to Pomponio State Beach to capture the majority of the beautiful images.

We directed the talented Chelsea Elise, a dancer and actress, on location at the beach, at DMA corporate offices and in front of a green screen to create the floating effects for the film.

The students set up professional lighting scenes, laid track for dolly shots and captured stunning HD images with the Canon C300. The students helped shoot and edit this professional music video in just two weeks’ time.

Find Your True Calling in Filmmaking

DMA Studios Instructor Tyler Winick discusses filmmaking & visual effects with his students.

Famous directors didn’t get to be where they are overnight. Creative storytelling is a labor of love and it can take years to find your voice. We all start with an interest in something, find out we really love it and want to turn our passion into our profession.

But sometimes you don’t get what you expect. You may be better suited as a camera operator instead of a director. Maybe you’ll love color grading footage to give films a stylish look…or you really love visual effects that enhance a motion picture.

In DMA Studios: Film Production, you’ll get a chance to experience a variety of different roles, guided by true professionals who make their living from their craft.

Here’s the video of the project created by last year’s DMA Studios students!

What will we create in DMA Studios this year? Stay tuned for more info! It’s sure to be an epic experience. I hope to see you there!

DMA instructor Tyler Winick is a San Francisco Bay Area creative producer, with more than ten years of industry experience and his own company – Winick Media which also showcases his vast experience as a music producer. In addition, he also served for six years as creative coordinator for The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. This will be Tyler’s eighth great season teaching filmmaking at DMA!

Whether it’s using Canon projectors to light up tutorials on the big screen, pairing C300s with cine lenses for the budding cinematographer’s perfect setup, or shooting our DMA Studios: Film Production class in 4K with the high-powered 1 DC DSLR, Canon is behind the magic that makes DMA’s filmmaking classes an amazing learning experience.

What do you get when you mix teen creativity with Hollywood-level cine lenses from Canon? Amazing shots found only in DMA’s film courses.

Keeping Up With Canon

Canon wouldn’t be Canon without producing such amazing quality. It’s one of the reasons DMA has decided to put Canon cameras in the hands of our students, year after year.

“The relationship that Canon has built with Digital Media Academy is a great example of the focus Canon has on creating pathways to young storytellers and image makers,” says Canon Education Business Development Representative Aaron McNally. “Digital Media Academy’s dedication to providing cutting-edge education to a young audience was a perfect fit for us.”

We want our students to start practicing the craft of filmmaking at a young age, whether it’s with DSLRs or by making documentaries. The best way to do that is to expose kids to the best possible industry equipment, which they might not otherwise be able to access.

DMA filmmaking instructor Travis Schlafmann has been using (and teaching with) Canon cameras for the last 13 years.

Stepping Stone To Success

Travis Schlafmann, one of DMA’s advanced filmmaking instructors for 10+ years, is inclined to agree. “As a professional filmmaker and commercial video producer, I have used Canon lenses and cameras for the last 13 years,” Schlafmann says. “I was thrilled when DMA partnered with Canon.”

DMA has served as the stepping stone for hundreds of students entering into film schools. Many students take a DMA filmmaking course prior to attending college in order to get hands-on experience.

“Having the opportunity to use Canon’s professional filmmaking equipment has allowed DMA students to create amazing projects while learning on the best equipment in the industry,” Schlafmann adds.

This experience enables students to study filmmaking in a real-world, project-based format which gives them a taste of professional-level film and video production. Because of this, many former DMA students have gone on to the best film schools in the country and are now pursuing their dreams by working in the film and video industry.

DMA Studios: Film Production instructor Tyler Winick encourages students to make their ideas come to life through the camera.

Inspired By Canon

“It’s truly inspiring to see the talent and creativity such young students have these days, but having great ideas and making something great are two different things,” says Tyler Winick, DMA Studios: Film Production instructor. “At DMA, students get the opportunity to experience what it means to MAKE a great idea come to life. And to me, that’s what it’s all about.”

Like Schlafmann, Winick has been working with DMA for many years, and continues to return summer after summer because he believes in DMA’s mission to get more students interested in high-quality, creative filmmaking.

Whether they’re interested in photography or filmmaking, DMA courses allow creativity to flow through high-quality cameras, prepping teens for a camera-oriented career.

The Ultimate Partnership

All of this is due in part to the partnership with Canon, ensuring our students are using the highest quality hardware in the professional world, getting them ready to take on leadership roles on production sets once they complete our camps.

“Canon is 100 percent committed to being an active partner with Digital Media Academy. We are immensely proud of the partnership we have with DMA, and look forward to working with it for years to come.” Canon’s McNally adds. “It’s a relationship built for success.”

From extreme sports to family vacations, Lily, the the first-ever “throw-and-shoot” camera, is about to change the way we use drones.

Meet Lily, the first “throw-and-shoot” camera, which follows a tracking device worn by the user for continuous aerial coverage. (Image: Lily Camera)

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.

The Specs

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.

In the evolution of cameras, Lily rises to the top while tracking your movements for the perfect shot. (Image: Lily Camera)

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 microphone-equipped tracking device fits inside a waterproof wrist case, and both come standard with Lily. (Image: Lily 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!

Travis Schlafmann is one of DMA’s lead filmmaking instructors. Travis who graduated from the UCSC film school, has been spending his summer’s at DMA teaching future filmmakers the craft of movie-making.

Travis Schlafmann takes a moment to explain a shot to students in DMA’s film camp.

Schlafmann’s first film was a 30 minute snowboard and skateboarding film. “I traveled to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado to premiere the film.” said Schlafmann, “It was such an incredible feeling to have my work up on the big screen and evaluated by my peers.” A filmmaker with years of real-world experience, Travis has worked in a variety of production settings, with both live-action and extreme sports.

Courses You Can’t Find in College
Speaking of extreme sports action, DMA’s action sports filmmaking camps were developed specifically for teens. Schlafmann explains, “The idea for these courses came out of a conversation I had with DMA’s Director of Curriculum, Dave Livingston. He asked me if there were any filmmaking courses that I wish I could have taken in college that weren’t available.”

While there are college courses that teach film theory and production, Schlafmann explains there aren’t many that include actions sports cinematography and editing techniques. “I thought it would be so cool to have taken a video production class with curriculum that taught these techniques. The classes were born out of that and they’ve been a huge success.”

In these film camps, students learn how to plan, shoot and edit an action sports film, to produce their own action sports videos. At the end of the week at the student showcase, filmmakers get the chance to premiere their film on the “big screen”, in front of classmates, family, and friends. Students accomplish so much in just 5 days while having so much fun!

Check out a couple of videos created by a camper named Evan in the Skateboarding & Filmmaking camp back in 2008:

In this instructional video, we’ll be showing you some great features of TextEdit that can increase your productivity.

Here’s a recap of the keyboard shortcuts we cover in this video:

Cmd-T: Fonts Window

Cmd-Shift-W: Wrap to Page

Cmd-Shift-T: Toggle Plain/Rich Text

Cmd-R: Toggle Ruler Bar

Hold Option to Select Rectangular Blocks of Text

Shortcut to a Great Future
This summer, kids (ages 6-12) and teens (12-17) are learning programming and other useful computer skills at Digital Media Academy. With more than 20 locations across the U.S. and Canada, DMA tech camps are in full swing right now! But there’s still time to sign up for some tech camps. Check the website for information about courses availability!

Learn more about Digital Media Academy Film Camps for Teens in this video. See what teen students are saying about DMA summer technology camp programs. DMA summer camp students get the opportunity to act as a producer, screenwriter, actor / actress, director, scout, art director, digital video editor, and more! This is a truly amazing tech learning experience. 

Digital Media Academy also offers similar Film Camps for Kids and Filmmaking Courses for Pro Adults in addition to the Teen Film Camps.

Learn more at

Make a movie at Digital Media Academy Film Camp for Teens!

I have had the pleasure of being able to attend, direct, assist, and co-instruct all levels of DMA’s filmmaking programs, but I just wanted to talk about the youth film camp programs for a moment. We’ve seen a lot of girls very interested in the film industry and these film camps. Both guys and girls get the chance to work in a real world film set and get a taste of the movie making action.  Teen and youth students get the opportunity to create their own movie from scratch during the 5 day summer camp. The class starts with brainstorming creative story ideas and actually writing a movie script. Throughout the week-long bootcamp style filmmaking course students are able to write the script, act in the scenes, scout out shooting locations, shoot the film, edit the video with a pro level app like Apple’s Final Cut Pro, and produce their own DVD to take home. What a week! 

DMA students get to act as a producer, screenwriter, actor / actress, director, scout, art director, digital video editor, and more! This is a truly amazing experience. 

teen film camp - Making a Movie

I have a lot of great memories across many of our university campuses with a green screen, mic boom, or extra camera trying to get in one last video shoot for the film camp. These film courses are always fun and creative. The learning experience is hands-on and directly duplicates being on the set making, acting, and directing a Hollywood picture. The camera equipment, audio equipment, lighting kits, and computer & software technology is always the best available.

Digital Media Academy also offers similar Film Camps for Kids and Filmmaking Courses for Pro Adults in addition to the Teen Film Camps.

Do you know about the Maya training courses and video special effects courses that are being taught at Digital Media Academy? Learn 3d video game design, animation, character modeling, and more at DMA’s summer computer training sessions at prestigious universities and schools around the United States and Canada. DMA offers separate programs, summer computer camps, and digital art & technology camps for adult professionals, teens, and kids.

The video below talks about some of the exciting tech concepts students learn at DMA (wait until the end!)

Check out some of the 3d, video game, animation, modeling, and special effects courses taught at DMA:


3d Game Design Courses and Summer Camp Experiences for Teens:

  • 3D Video Game Creation I – Level Design with Maya
  • 3D Video Game Creation II – Character Design with Maya
  • 3D Video Game Creation I – Level Design with 3ds max
  • 3D Video Game Creation II – Character Design with 3ds max
  • Advanced Video Game Creation with 3ds max, Maya and ZBrush

    Professional Level 3d Game Design Computer Training:

  • 3D Game Art and Design with 3ds max
  • Also, check out the Maya Training Courses: 

  • Maya I – Introduction to 3D Modeling 
  • Maya II – Introduction to 3D Character Animation
  • Maya III – Advanced 3D Character Animation
  • Maya IV – Creating an Animated Movie

    3d Game Design Computer Camps for Kids:

  • Adventures in 2D & 3D Game Creation : Ages 9 – 13
  • Adventures in Advanced Game Creation : Ages 9 – 13       

  • Mark Spencer is a Bay Area video editor who literally wrote the book on Motion. He is the author of several works on the subject, such as Apple Pro Training Series: Motion Graphics and Effects in Final Cut Studio 2 and Apple Pro Training Series: Motion 3. “I am a big Motion fan,” he says. “And use it extensively for text treatments, animated elements and DVD menus.”

    Putting Motion into Action
    Mark is also an instructor at Digital Media Academy, where he teaches Motion training courses. Mark has also taught Final Cut Pro tech camps while at DMA.  

    Mark’s website is an amazing resource for tips and inspiration in using Final Cut Studio.  

    Mark gave us a Motion tip at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco where DMA teamed up with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to offer hands-on computer workshops. This video was shot on the John Lennon Education Tour Bus, and covers the topic “How to Use Motion to Create Background Elements.” Mark tackles the following topics:

  • Using the content library
  • Replicating shapes and images
  • Adding animation to pre-built shapes and images
  • Using the Transform tool on images
  • Setting the key frame

    Put Your Future into Motion
    This summer kids and teens will discover the world of video production at Digital Media Academy’s tech camp locations in US and Canada. DMA offers programs for all age levels and interest areas:

    For kids ages 8 to 12, DMA’s Adventures in Filmmaking & Special Effects camp gives them a great first taste of the moviemaking process. Students cover a wide range of topics, including post-production editing with Final Cut Pro®.

    Teens ages 13 to 17 will be thrilled with the cool FX they get to create in DMA’s Visual Effects for Filmmaking camp. This intro to visual effects covers both in-camera special effects, as well as green-screen techniques, layering, basic compositing, keyframing and more.

    And for the teen who can’t get enough film production, DMA’s Academy for Hollywood Visual Effects is packed with two weeks of digital filmmaking that touch upon all technical aspects of the production process.

    If you’re interested in studying film production this summer, DMA tech camps are the perfect place to watch your creativity soar.

    Learn more about DMA instructor Mark Spencer.

    Written by Jeff Sobel of the John Lennon Bus

    A video producer often needs to be able to estimate the size of a video file before that video has been recorded, imported or exported.  Do you need a magic crystal ball to predict how large a video file will be before you hit that Export button?  Nope.  You just need a 5th grader’s grasp of basic math.  Here’s how:

    Let’s take the example of exporting a video using Apple’s Compressor which comes standard with Final Cut Studio 2.
    The first thing you should know is that digital video is encoded at a certain datarate, commonly called the bitrate.  Higher bitrates generally produce better quality video (less “pixelation” or graininess) but will create larger files.  You need to be sure that you choose a bitrate that’s high enough to achieve satisfactory quality but not so high that the video can’t be streamed on the web, downloaded in a reasonable amount of time, emailed, or however you intend to get it to your audience.  Compressor has presets which are great starting points for making this decision.

    The screenshot below shows Compressor’s stock presets for iPodiPhone, and AppleTV:

    You’ll see that there are two different presets for iPod/iPhone.  The 1st is “h.264 video @ 600kbps” and the 2nd is “h.264 video @ 1500kbps”.  Now, it’s safe to assume that the 2nd preset will produce better quality video, but how big will the files be?  Let say we have a 2min long video and we’re hoping to compress it to a small enough filesize to be able to email it.  Will the 600kbps setting do that for us?  Let’s figure it out.

    The 1st thing you need to know is that “600kbps” stands for “600 kilobits per second”.  Now, we’re all pretty used to hearing about kilobytes, megabytes, even terabytes.  But what’s a kilobit?  A bit is the smallest piece of data there is.  We represent bit with a lowercase b and byte with an uppercase B.  All you need to know is:
    There are 8 bits in a byte.  
    There are 1024 bits in a kilobit.  
    There are 1024 kilobits in a kilobyte. 
    There are 1024 kilobytes in a megabyte.

    It’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem at first.  It’s just like measurements you make in a kitchen.  You know, 16oz in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon, etc…

    So let’s figure out how big our 2min video is going to be after we compress it using the 600kbps preset in Compressor:
    600kbps / 8 = 75 kilobytes per second
    75KB/s * 60 = 4500 kilobytes per minute
    4500KB/m / 1024 = 4.4 megabytes per minute

    Our 2min video is going to be about 9megabytes when exported with this preset.  Small enough that you might be able to email it.

    Now what if we compressed it using the AppleTV preset?  That’s a 5mbps bitrate (5 megabits per second) so:
    5mbps * 1024 = 5120 kilobits per second
    5120kbps / 8 = 640 kilobytes per second
    640KB/s * 60 = 38,400KB per minute
    38,400KB / 1024 = 37.5 megabytes per minute

    At this setting our 2min video will be about 75 megabytes.  Much larger.  But it’s going to look much better as well, even on an HD TV.

    In our next installment we’ll talk about how you can estimate how much disk space you’ll need before capturing or importing your footage from a video camera.