Digital Design is sometimes referred to as Multimedia Design, but all it means is that you’re designing something digitally on a computer instead of actually creating the project with your hands and physical tools. Digital Design can range from a product that’s printed out, to a presentation done on a projector or Website, but it’s often a video editing project that involves special effects that help the artist make a creative animation.
Since digital design jobs are common at advertising companies, it’s vital that your technical computer skills are every bit as good as your communication skills. A client can be in any state or even any country, so just a basic understanding of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, and email won’t be enough to help you see a project to its completion. In today’s world, Skype or other audio and video conferencing software is a must, and while one design firm might use one product listed below, a different employer may ask you to know something else on the list, which is why a designer’s education never ends. On top of all of this, deadlines are everything, so it takes someone who can adapt quickly to unforeseen events.
Windows Live Movie Maker (Microsoft)
So what’s the bare minimum that you need to know about video editing? It doesn’t get much easier than Windows Movie Maker, and if you just want to connect clips together and add an audio track and some transition effects, then this is the product for you. The best part isn’t that it’s free, it’s that it’s already on most computers! Windows Movie Maker usually comes bundled in Windows XP and Windows Vista. However, it’s worth noting that the new version – Windows Live Movie Maker – isn’t compatible with some older versions of Windows.
Apple iMovie (Apple)
For those of you who have a Mac and don’t have the option of getting the product mentioned above, iMovie is what you need. Depending on which Mac product you have, iMovie may come bundled with it for free, but for handhelds it often costs around five dollars. Don’t worry though, from everything I’ve heard, (and more importantly, from everything I’ve seen) iMovie is the better video editing software of the two for simple projects or beginners.
Premiere Pro (Adobe)
If simply splicing together footage was enough, then digital design would be a much simpler industry! Think about it: how many TV commercials do you see that are just recordings of someone talking? That’s why most employees need to know more advanced software like Adobe Premiere Pro, which lets them add a multitude of special effects. To reach the program’s full visual potential it’s recommended that users also obtain Adobe After Effects. These are available for both Mac and Windows users, although there are certainly plenty of alternatives out there that are just as well respected.
Video recordings and extensive special effects can go a long way in the industry, but what happens when you need to create something in 3D? ZBrush is a program that allows users to sculpt 3D clay in a way that brings astonishingly realistic results quicker than most of its competitors can boast. However, since it’s incredibly specialized in modeling that means its weak spot is animation.
If you want an immobile 3D creation for a spectacular looking still image, then go with ZBrush. If you want to create a 3D object or scene, animate it, possibly add physics effects, and then composite it to have it seamlessly merge with a real scene you’ve recorded on video, then go with Autodesk’s 3ds Max, and then use Autodesk’s Toxik to bridge your assets from one program to the other. For more information on this product, check out my introduction to Toxik.