“The online platform was detailed and well organized, allowing us to go at a reasonable pace. Yes, there was a lot of material, and you had to read quite a bit. And that does require you to be self-motivated. But it was well worth it in the end. I have a graduate certificate from a highly reputable university and I got the experience I need to pursue my love of digital animation.” – Bryan Hilversum, Digital Media and Design Online Graduate Certificate, Spring 2017
As a self-trained web animator, Bryan Hilversum knew he needed to get up to speed on using the Adobe Creative Suite platform if he were going to further his skills in animation. UConn’s Digital Media and Design Online Graduate Certificate Program fit the bill perfectly!
Sometimes, you find out what you really want to do in life after you’ve already invested in a college degree. At least, for Bryan Hilversum, that’s exactly what happened. He had earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 2014. But a year later, when he found out about UConn’s Digital Media and Design Online Graduate Certificate program, he quickly realized that the skills he could gain would enable him to make a living pursuing his love of animation.
Bryan Hilversum, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Business & Technology from the University of Connecticut (UConn), was already working full-time when he found out about UConn’s Digital Media and Design (DMD) Online Graduate Certificate program. “I was so bummed out that I didn’t hear about the program until the summer of 2015, when I had already been out of school for a year. Some of my friends had majored in DMD, and I was wishing I had done something like that while I was still in college,” recalls Bryan, who currently works as a Solutions Specialist at Verizon Wireless in Hartford, CT.
Exactly what he was looking for
Bryan decided to research online DMD courses. When he came across UConn’s program, he knew it was exactly what he was looking for. As he notes, he had a fairly solid technology background, but wanted to expand his creative side, specifically in motion graphics and web design. And of course, he wanted to learn Adobe Creative Cloud, today’s gold standard design environment for all things digital. Says Bryan: “I have always loved animation and during my undergrad years, I taught myself how to use Adobe Flash Professional. But at that time, cartooning was just a hobby. I knew I’d need a lot more experience to turn my hobby into something that I could do as a profession.”
A “reel” hands-on experience
Bryan began the program in the summer of 2016, finishing the fourth—and final course—the following spring. The first course, DMD 5000: Creative Digital Fundamentals, turned out to be one of his favorites. As Bryan notes: “We not only learned how to use After Effects, but Photoshop and Premiere as well. The course was very hands-on. We had to create short videos that would eventually become a reel of videos. Each week, we’d learn something new, for example how to create a background or how to stretch and move an object. We’d also have to explain exactly how we created the video, so that the professor was sure that our coding had been done correctly. Today, I feel very confident in my ability to use these tools.”
In fact, since graduating from the program, Bryan has teamed up with a friend who owns a green screen technology company and occasionally contracts him to help create short movies for the company’s clients. “For example, we might be asked to create a fun 30-second video with a mom and dad as reindeer and the kids in the sleigh, combining real images with animation,” he explains, and adds: “My job is to come up with ideas and create the assets, something I wouldn’t have known how to do without having gone through the program.”
Learning to create the code
Bryan also thoroughly enjoyed the second course, DMD 5070: Introduction to Web Design I. Says Bryan: “To understand web design, you must understand the core elements behind the design. And that involves coding. Sure, you can click around pre-rendered assets, but you’re not learning anything. Anyone can click and drag. In the web design course, we learned how to create the code ourselves,” says Bryan, who adds: “The professor assigned us to an online interactive coding platform with a progress meter that measures how well you’ve learned the material as you advance step-by-step through the tutorials. It was fun and really helped me track my progress.”
What about the online platform? Did it provide a robust environment for learning? In Bryan’s words, HuskyCT/Blackboard was “Awesome! The platform was detailed and well organized, allowing us to go at a reasonable pace. Yes, there was a lot of material, and you had to read quite a bit. And that does require you to be self-motivated. But it was well worth it in the end. I have a graduate certificate from a highly reputable university, and I got the skills I need to pursue my love of digital animation.”
The last course, DMD 5720: Digital Media Analytics, opened Bryan’s eyes to video marketing. “Television advertising is a dinosaur. It used to cost millions for big motion picture companies to create TV ads. Now people like me, with some skills and experience, can create content.” And that’s exactly where Bryan sees his career headed. “There’s big money in creating animation for video marketing. Eventually, I’m hoping to be a position where I can do what I love and make a good living as a professional digital animator.”