Direct Action Media Academy's Use of iClone:
Evoking Student Creative Thinking and Empowering Futures

Direct Action Media Academy, Inc. (DAMA) is a nonprofit community based program committed to the mission of decreasing the drop-out rate among students in North Carolina, USA. We do this by expanding student minds and providing them the technological training to prepare for a brighter future, and by involving them in our national mentorship program and empowering them to complete and share advanced media projects to enhance the overall cultural experience within the region.

Purpose: How and Why the 'Who Am I'– video was Created

To inspire and assist in student advancement, we've outlined these requirements in each After-School Module:

• Media - Applied Software - Choose a new multimedia software application to learn (iClone, Digital Sound/Music, etc.)
• Interactive/Software Web Evaluation - Develop an inspirational storyline and assign specialized media responsibilities based on everyone's interests.
• Team Project - Work as a team to produce a positive, empowering community service message.

This group of six high school students wanted to address self-esteem and self-determination. They developed a storyline, assigned production roles, goals and deadlines. Through online tutorials and DAMA mentors to learn each new software. They were all particularly excited about learning iClone-Reallusion because it allowed each of them the freedom to apply every other new multimedia software that they recently learned (i.e. - digital music/sound, digital photography/video editing and data entry.) Each student used the Reallusion Tutorials on YouTube to animate each other and create this video.

Case Study:

Using the thought processes of the world's leading thinkers and speakers on creativity and innovation, like Oscar Micheaux (1884 - 1951 USA), W.E.B. Du Bois (1868 - 1963 USA), Dr. Shirley Jackson (1946 USA); and more recently Sir Ken Robinson (UK) and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson (USA), we successfully established a learning enhancement methodology that encourages progressive learning in disenfranchised communities. It explores the components of this established paradigm: The diversity of intelligence as it parallels social influence, the power of imagination and creativity, and the importance of challenging our own capabilities. In order to promote a more exciting and beneficial learning environment, our students were encouraged to learn various technological disciplines and apply them to non-technological interests. For example, if a student loved poetry, then we encouraged them to use professional writing and editing software. In addition, they expanded upon their writing even more by implementing digital photography, music and audio along with animation to create a dynamic production. The overall goal was to continue learning new disciplines, create an individual project utilizing the technological advancements of today's applications and challenge their resolve while maintaining their original creative interests.

Through the creative process, our students naturally interacted and shared their advancements with fellow students. This in turn, led them to identifying and embracing the benefits of an assigned team project that was communicated during their individual orientations. This collaboration's criteria were to use multi-media to create a presentation for the community. By first establishing the individual's interest then moving-on to a team-oriented interest that served the interest of the overall community - there left no room for polarized thought or creative stagnation. Each project was developed by the students' collaborative efforts in their respective chosen technological disciplines/interests and then shared with the community. Some community projects included self-esteem building and individual/community motivation for change and success. The students would come together and choose their group project outlining their respective duties and goals typically based on their acquired disciplines, strengths and weaknesses as they, themselves, determined. They would then use their individual skills to create a project that was both entertaining and thought-provoking. These students showcased the new disciplines that they had learned, embraced the entire process of beginning and completing a project and, finally, they created a project that brought awareness to community-building, individual motivation and resolve.

Through this process mentors shared their professional and technical knowledge, assisted them with conventional school work and provided a safe and respectful environment. Using iClone as a software resource proved effective in the education and preparation of our youth as well as the advancement and strengthening of our community.

"I've been using iClone for years because it is such a user friendly application that features every aspect of cinematography (camera movements and focus, lighting effects, animated emotions and facial expression, sound editing, costumes, etc.) and translates well with most post-production software. It is unlimited for storytelling and our students recognized this immediately. It was a great benefit to their other educational pursuits, as well. It introduced them to and strengthened their interest in technology overall which they applied to every aspect of their school curriculum. In a county that had over a 50% drop-out rate at the time of this case study, all of our students GPA's went up and not a single drop-out occurred. “- John Kennedy McCray - Media Director

Direct Action Media Academy is committed to our mission of connecting youth with production-oriented, self-empowering and progressive technology, technology that will advance their creativity and intellect to new highs. IClone is an ideal, cost-effective alternative for establishing this.

“We must continue to look toward technology and the many applications now available to fight against the educational abasement of our youth. Learning should not be resented, but embraced as a tool for success and creative intervention. Simply, those who enjoy learning will continue to do so.” - Monzell Dunlap - Program Director

Without doubt, today's youth are technology driven. From movies, videos, ipods, the web, games, cell phones and on... it is clear that their passion, focus and social development is directly affected by every aspect of media - positive and negative. We provide positive self-development, community outreach, social models and awareness by having students commit to their futures through their overwhelming object of focus - media.

For additional 'Best Practice' research for which we have modeled the iClone aspects of our program:

• Several youth-led initiatives of young people's involvement in media (Published by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
• The role of a Montessori teacher’s inclusive approach to education that fosters a feeling of connectedness to all humanity, and encourages their natural desire to make contributions to the world. (Published by Worldwide Montessori Journal)
• Observations on the evolution of media networks on how funders, media makers and nonprofit organizations in the U.S., and the world have increasingly formed teams to produce highly strategic, often interactive, but still richly storytelling media. Propelling this teamwork has been a combination of new technologies, changing funder strategies in which funders have often taken the initiative in designing projects, and the awareness of nonprofit organizations exemplifies that media is central to any strategic objective. Films and videos that are persuasive and provocative, and that are designed to be tools within a wider campaign will be part of the opinion-shaping process and of information-gathering. ("Media for Social Change: Partnerships" by Patricia Aufderheide, professor/director, Center for Social Media, American University)

iClone Artist: John Kennedy McCray
YouTube Channel: 2bfilms Channel

Reference: I've done hundreds of projects utilizing iClone over the past 5 years and would be honored to give testimonial of how it has assisted me professionally to create innovative videos. I've done several more projects for the music and industry, other nonprofits, commercial advertising, web sites and more.  If you are interested, please feel free to contact me.