February 19, 2008

Miami Ad School from a Student's Perspective

Guest Post by Michael Weiner

Where do I start? How bout at the end? I’m in Boulder, Colorado taking classes at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Yup, CP+B. I know, right? How did I get to take classes at one of the top agencies in the world? Quarter Away, that’s how. The Quarter Away program is the biggest benefit to attending Miami Ad School. The education at MAS is great, but the key they provide you to the world is second to none. Of course, like anything, you get out of the program what you put in. You may work with people who don’t care as much as you do and don’t work as hard but you just have to work through it.

I’ll get back to QA at MAS in a bit. For now, let’s get down to basics. There are a few full time schools throughout the world that you can attend for your first year at Miami Ad School. (Hamburg, San Francisco, Minneapolis) The flagship school is located just about dead center on South Beach. Don’t get too excited though, you’ll only get to the beach a few times per quarter. Also, life is pretty expensive on the beach and very trendy. The social life is great there (obviously) but only in between assignments.

First quarter and most of second quarter are fairly easy and filled with a lot of fundamental and application classes. Unless you test out, which a lot of people do and I recommend being technically sound before you attend. Learn CS3 before you get to school and you’ll save yourself three months and thousands of dollars, plus, you’ll get that many more concepting classes.

All of the teachers are industry professionals and are very energetic and willing to work with you whenever you need to. I’ve even become friends with most of my teachers. It’s amazing what a beer after class can do for you. My circle of friends now includes ADs, CWs, GDs, and CDs from some of the best agencies around. The school is run like an agency in the fact that the teacher serves as your CD and you work with a partner most of the time. That helps to prepare you for the real world, if you consider the advertising world the real world.

Guest speakers are brought in every week from around the world and stay the week to teach a class. These speakers are beneficial to everyone in school and amazingly helpful for the students who are in the class (TIR, Teacher in Residence). The contacts that you make as a student in TIR are priceless and cannot be duplicated at any other school.

After a year at your “home school” (sometimes less than a year for the whiz kids) you can go on Quarter Away where you can attend classes or even internships at some of the finest agencies and schools throughout the globe. Just a few sample locations are: Australia, Dubai, London, and New York City. We’re not talking about little rinky-dink agencies…DDB, BBDO, Saatchi, and anywhere else you can think for the most part.

Some of the QA locations are very competitive when it comes to selection so you have to be on top of your game. Life is all about connections and school is no exception. Do good work, get to know as many people as possible, and you too can be a future Cannes Titanium Lion winner like me.

Overall, Miami Ad School has provided me with a great education and, maybe more importantly, has provided me with the most valuable connections I could wish for. Of course, it’s expensive and your loans will put you in a deeper hole than the alcohol and drug abuse you will inevitably fall into in South Beach (kidding) but it’s an investment in yourself. As long as you’re one of the students who are there to work hard and do nothing but your best, your investment will pay incredible dividends. Did I mention I’m in classes at CP+B in Boulder? Come on now.

Go to MAS, enjoy TIR, go on QA, and you’ll be more than OK.

Matthew Weiner's blog can be found here

February 15, 2008

Cool Tools: Zamzar

Okay, where the hell was Zamzar two weeks ago when I needed to convert some image files? Here all along and no one told me about it? Curse you all.

Need a PDF file converted to doc, html, odt, pcx, png, ps, rtf or txt formats and can’t do it yourself? Want to use jpgs as a Windows icon or a thumbnail? See a video on YouTube that you want to save to your computer in another format? Is it too time consuming to do it yourself (never mind that some of us have incompetence issues)? Zamzar does it for you – it’s a handy little tool which essentially serves as a translator for documents, images, music, video and other formats.

It comes in four flavors: free, basic, pro and business, each with escalating features. The free service gives you 100 MB and 5 free conversions; the pay services offer larger file size and file conversions, online storage, file management, security and customer service. You can use the service online or download a toolbar button (which is incredibly useful when surfing sites and finding files that need to be saved to your computer). Depending on the traffic on the site at any given time, uploads and downloads may take some time – obviously free service users aren’t prioritized as highly so it may take a little while for your files to be completed.

The site’s mascots are big, ugly multi-colored chameleons – very apt, and much nicer than the alternative. The company’s name, Zamzar, is based on Samsa (Gregor Samsa), the name of the character in Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” who transform into a cockroach.

Great service – check it out and let me know what you think.

February 8, 2008

Cool Tools:

Invariably it happens that when I find a website that I think is uber cool, I discover I’m way late to the party. My sister has a t-shirt that says “What you like, I liked five years ago.” This more or less sums up my recent internet discoveries – I tell people excitedly about a service or site I’ve found and I get this response: “Where have you been? Under a rock?” My favorite recent reaction: “You work in new media? Really?” Yes, but I have to work on the business side so it’s not always hip or glamorous, but it pays the bill. Hmmph.

Take for instance. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of this site (or used it). Yes, yes, thank you. Now you and your smug hand can sit down and shut up., as its name implies, is a site that offers stock photos – but for way less than sites like Corvis. They’re one of the pioneers of the micropayment model for stock images – pictures can cost as little as $1 and go up to $20. They also offer video clips ranging in price from $10 to $50. iStockPhoto was founded in 2000 and was acquired by Getty Images last year, but its management insists that nothing about its low fee model will change.

It’s free to sign up and downloads are a cinch. The site has a library of 2.7 million images so it’s likely you’ll find something you want, and the content is top notch. I was looking for photos of “saffron” for some logo work I want done and the site returned a nice collection of very high quality images from which to choose. When you’re on a budget (or you can’t even afford a budget!), it’s a great source for your creative work.

February 1, 2008

Over $1 Million Awarded In 2007 Online Video Contests

According to data from video contest clearinghouse, 192 video contests with cash prizes were featured on the site in 2007, with prizes totaling $1,095,425. Read the full story Here