The Boulder Digital Arts Story
A decade ago, award-winning Boulder filmmakers Bruce Borowsky and Zach Daudert looked around them and saw wasted opportunities. New software and technology was transforming and advancing the way directors created, edited and produced new films, yet no traditional school in Colorado offered classes by instructors who were fluent in the new media. On the other hand, Borowsky and Daudert knew plenty of colleagues who used the technology but there was nowhere to bring them together.
"We worked with world class-instructors who were traveling the country teaching this technology but had nowhere to teach them here," Daudert remembers.
Borowsky and Daudert pooled their resources, contacted their friends and planned a small party with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a free workshop on Final Cut Pro editing software. They figured their colleagues could stop by, do some networking and pick up some software pointers. The casual get-together they organized turned out to be a standing-room-only bash attended by 125 people.
The success of the event, held Feb. 24, 2004, inspired them to create Boulder Digital Arts. In keeping with the relaxed feel of their inaugural gathering, Boulder Digital Arts hosted parties, film screenings and affordable classes, creating a social club and trade school where colleagues could compare notes, do business and meet others in their field. Borowsky, Daudert and their colleagues hosted classes that downplayed academic theory and focused on practical tricks of the trade from leading local professionals. In addition to video production, BDA's class offerings grew to include digital photography, web design, social media and other digital disciplines.
"Through the courses and events, we were trying to get the talented people we worked with to think of themselves as a community," Borowsky says.
Today, Boulder Digital Arts hosts more than 200 events each year, including as many as five evening and weekend classes each week. It runs a high-tech classroom and meetup space in East Boulder and a competitively priced production studio in Boulder. More than 500 members teach, learn or network at Boulder Digital Arts. It's a hub for new media professionals looking to hone their craft and newbies looking to break into working with technology. There's no comparable, or comparably priced, organization between Chicago and Los Angeles.
"Theory is wonderful but a lot of the creative world is a trade," Daudert says. "It's about practicing and expanding your skills, and the technology you're using is always changing."
With its new Transitions Training Certificate programs, Boulder Digital Arts offers in-depth courses designed for professionals looking to reinvigorate or change their careers. Students in each course spend a week in Boulder learning from leaders in new media in a hands-on environment. A student in the digital video class can walk in on Monday knowing nothing about shooting a video and walk out on Friday knowing the essentials of shooting, editing and producing the finished product. The courses cost as little as $1,200 a fraction of the price of most similar software classes or advanced degree programs. With its initial Transitions offerings filling up quickly, Boulder Digital Arts is making Boulder a national hub for digital training and career reinvention.