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From High School Summer Camp to Cinematographer for the Stars

By Karen Thurm Safran

Jeremy Jackson, a student at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, enrolled in a Digital Video Production summer course at iD Tech Camps UCLA location. At this weeklong, hands-on technology summer program for ages 7-17 located at universities nationwide, Jeremy developed an understanding for shooting, editing, and creating special effects using Adobe software.

Jeremy's father, an animator for Disney, inspired his son at a young age with a passion for filmmaking and CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). Since perfecting his skills at camp, Jeremy attends Hollywood movie premieres as the cinematographer for 16 year-old Fred Medill, the host of "Fred TV." A series with informative interviews of celebrities in motion pictures and television, and star athletes, "Fred TV has taken Hollywood by storm. Jeremy can be seen at many Hollywood premieres behind the camera as Fred interviews celebrities.

While having used Adobe software for school projects, Jeremy never used Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects to create special effects for a movie until attending iD Tech Camps. Along with classmates, Jeremy created high-end special effects and learned advanced compositing and cinematography. Many of the effects that they created have been used in popular Hollywood movies. While a completely new program for Jeremy, After Effects quickly became a favorite.

"You can do everything with After Effects, from making it rain to making a guy freeze in mid-air," said Jeremy while describing his camp movie The Majority Report- A movie about the powers of good vs. evil. Jeremy and his classmates used an effect which caused three fleeing men to freeze in mid-air, before resuming running.

During camp, Jeremy's movie premiered at Family Showcase. "Everyone watching the movie was very impressed by the quality of the special effects my son's group was able to create in just one week," said Jeremy's mom, Meredith Jackson. "The movie was a hit and I think we've watched it 100 times since then!"

Students like Jeremy use digitized footage in Adobe After Effects to add special effects like chroma key. They composited multiple layers of video to give the footage different effects. The software is so user-friendly that even a teenage camper like Jeremy can easily add impressive lasers and fire using plug-ins.

"It's exciting teaching campers how to composite layers within their digital movie," said Jeremy's instructor, Kevin Painchaud, owner of a Hollywood-based production company whose movie "NTV-1 had a sellout crowd for their screening at the Hollywood Film Festival. "Jeremy's passion for filmmaking poured out of him each day, inside and outside of the classroom. He just really wanted to learn everything there was to know about filmmaking and caught on very quickly," said Mr. Painchaud. It looks like the next Steven Spielberg may have just gotten his start!

As for now, Jeremy continues to accompany Fred to Hollywood premieres, getting experience shooting the stars. Someday he hopes to be a Cinematographer for motion pictures, just like his mentor from camp, Mr. Painchaud.

About The Author
Karen Thurm Safran writes for iD Tech Camps which is the nation's leading and most recommended summer technology camp. They offer day and overnight camps in weekly and multi-week sessions for kids and teens ages 7-17. They are hosted at premiere universities including Stanford, Princeton and MIT and include video game creation, digital video, programming, robotics, Flash animation and more. iD Tech Camps website is

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