Digital Media Academy

Words from the Instructor – An Introduction to DMA Studios: 3D Animated Short Film Production

Hello there! Glad you found this post because I have some cool stuff I’m super excited to share with you especially if you like animated movies or playing video games…So that’s like everyone, right? Well, I’ve made a class where you can create your own animated short!

But first, I’ll introduce myself real quick. My name is Austin Broder. I’m an instructor and curriculum developer with DMA. I’m responsible for designing the 3D Modeling and 3D Character Animation with Maya courses. I’ve also been teaching with DMA for over 8 years, and actually got my start in 3D animation with them. Since then, I’ve worked professionally creating 3D animations and explored cool opportunities like going to Pixar, meeting famous animated film directors and legendary animators and also…well, basically just having a blast working collaboratively with the most awesome people making animations.

Teaser for a short film I’m working on called Pure.

Now back to the subject at hand. You like animated movies, you like video games, and you want to learn how it’s done but you’re not sure where to start. Well, Digital Media Academy offers the best courses for young adults to rapidly learn what they’re passionate about. In our teen courses, students join us for a week and learn tons of information and gain more experience in that time than anywhere else. In my opinion, there’s nowhere better to jumpstart an interest or potential career for a teenager.

A clip from one of our previous DMA: Studios projects, “Cheezy” (Summer 2017)

However, what if you’ve already taken one of these courses and want something more? That’s why I came up with a class that could be that next step. Enter DMA Studios: 3D Animated Short Film Production!

What is DMA Studios?

DMA Studios: 3D Animated Short Film Production is a unique experience unlike anything that is offered anywhere else. It simulates my favorite part of the animation experience; working as a team in a real animation studio, just like Pixar or Dreamworks. We show up on the first day, ready to form our team and get to know each other. We then produce our own original short film from concept to completion. This is real-world career experience and you get a well-rounded education unlike in any other scenario.

A look at the animatic from a previous DMA: Studios project, “The Scientist’s Dog” (Summer 2017)

You’ll learn about how to write and edit a story, how to make engaging storyboards, how to make a better animatic, concept art, modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, lighting, rendering, and so so so much more. Hidden between those lessons are more lessons on bigger picture ideas, such as how to manage a project, how to stay inspired, how to work in a group, and gain a better understanding for the entire process.

Team Effort

If you’ve ever seen the credits for an animated movie, you’ll know that it is a huge collaborative project, and so that’s how we approach this experience as well. There are many specialties to dip into and students are never expected to be locked down to one. We take turns encouraging each other to go outside our comfort zones and congratulating each other on our successes and learning from our failures. Having a team that you can count on for their support ends up being an experience that creates very close friendships and promotes growth we don’t necessarily expect from an educational environment. For a lot of people, working collaboratively can be an intimidating or unappealing experience. It’s completely understandable and I do my best to accommodate people who feel that way, however an actual career in animation will require compromise and humility and this is possibly the coolest, most fun, and best place to learn how to navigate those issues. I’ve had several students who felt this way going into it, and every one of them left the class as part of something bigger and with a smile on their face. We go into this project as a team, we conquer obstacles as a team, and we succeed as a team.

The team behind “Cheezy” on our visit to Pixar Animation Studios.

Can I Take this Course Again?

Absolutely! As an instructor, one of the most fascinating and challenging aspects of this course is that no two classes are alike. Every class is made up of people with different tastes who come up with different stories which present different technical and storytelling challenges. Each time you come back, it’s going to be a completely different experience. Each time you return, you’ll be bringing back more experience to help your team. And every time, you’ll leave with a brand new portfolio piece and more job experience. Which also brings up a great point…what do you have to show for all this hard work?

A Career Springboard

Whether your intention is to gain training, pursue a career, or just to have some cool stuff to show off, you’ll be leaving this course with literal armfuls of material. Throughout the course, we have a long list of story pitches, several writing drafts, pages and pages of concept art for characters and props and environments, more storyboards than you can carry, several stages of animatics, character and prop turntables, lighting tests, textures, and much more. That’s not even including your final film.

Colette working on storyboards and concept art for “Cheezy”.

With a single swing, you’ll have enough material to fill out an entire portfolio and also have a unique experience that looks fascinating on a resume or college application.

So to recap…

This course is for those who have taken one our Maya courses or has previous experience and wants to continue to build on what they’ve learned. If you haven’t taken one of those introductory courses, definitely check them out! You’ll learn about the entire process of making an animated short film. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people, and build something that you can be super proud of. Do not miss the chance to be a part of this, it is a life-changing opportunity. I’ll see you this summer!

Austin Broder

Austin Broder is a curriculum developer and instructor at Digital Media Academy. When he isn’t busy teaching 3D modeling, you can find him creating exciting new projects at Animation Redefined.

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