After a five-year hiatus, the Digital Media Association of Alberta (DMAA)'s New Media Awards are back and "mediaFRESH."The provincial new media association has relaunched its annual industry recognition event under the above moniker, which is "designed to capture the essence of vibrancy and innovation in the Alberta (New Media) industry," says awards chair and DMAA director Bryan Traynor. "It's also a fresh approach to the marketing and communication."Traynor regards the resurrection of the awards as a rebirth, re-sprouting, and reseeding - appropriate themes for springtime - but also he also says it takes into consideration the dynamic nature of this ever-changing industry. "It's a new house that's being built so you have to go thought the startup process again," he says. The awards were last held in 2002 in Calgary and 2001 in Edmonton prior to that. Since then, the nature of the submissions and awards categories has also significantly changed according to Mark Ruthenberg, DMAA director and GM of Calgary's foundlocally.com."In 2001, the awards we primarily for integrated products such as DVD and Web design," says Ruthenberg. "In 2002, it expanded to include specific types of content creations such as digital photography, digital print and digital music and time-based elements such as video and animation."Some of this year's categories include Best Interactive, Best Designer, Best Promotional, Best Mobile/Wireless, Best Animation, Best Static Imagery, Best Contribution to Industry and Best Aboriginal Creativity, just to name a few.Overall, there will be 30-plus awards in three divisions, as well as three separate "divisions" in some of the categories: high school, post-secondary, and professional. A full breakdown of the categories and divisions can be found at http://awards.dmaa.ca/pages/categories.php."We want to showcase the work that's being done in Alberta," says Traynor, who is also an instructor in technical communication at Calgary-based Mount Royal College. He stresses the reciprocal importance of involving high schools in the events: to show students that the new media industry is indeed vibrant, and to demonstrate to the industry that there is a pool of emerging talent.The winners will be selected by a panel of eight judges, many from outside the province. While Traynor and Ruthenberg couldn't put a figure on the final number of entrants to date, the panel of judges is already gearing up for the selection process. The awards gala will be held on May 3 at Calgary's Ross Glenn Hall. Traynor says the organizers had hoped for the awards to be broadcasted simultaneously in Edmonton, but logistics and resources didn't allow for it this time around, but will hopefully next year.Traynor also hopes that the timing of next year's event will coincide with the Canada New Media Awards (CNMA), held each year in Toronto. "We would really like to reciprocate and build stronger ties" with the CNMAs, he says.Certainly, the return of the awards has the backing of many in the industry. Ken Bautista, president and executive producer at Edmonton's award-winning HotRocket Studios, says the DMAA Awards are critical. "Awards are important to any industry," he notes, adding that DMAA Awards in particular create awareness for Alberta's digital media sector on the world stage and show that the province's economy goes far beyond natural resources, but also showcase Albertan talent and raise the awareness of the provincial association."With globalization, awards are also on an international stage we can showcase what Alberta has to offer," says Bautista. "There is a lot of stuff happening here industry development market access programs....Having the awards again, it can build on the momentum that's been growing."As an example of the hot talent available in the province, Bautista points to George Georgeadis, president and creative director of Calgary's Dreamgazers Interactive, who was recognized as one of 20 people to look out for in 2007 by GAMES Magazine. And the awards also help prove to domestic audiences and students interested in a career in interactive media that Alberta is a viable destination."Here in Alberta we have a pool of producers, artists and entrepreneurs that are coming up with world-class products and solutions...and we need to recognize and support their development," Bautista says, adding that "places like Bioware need people," and would like to hire locally if possible.Bautista further adds that creating awareness for the industry is one of DMAA's primary goals, including highlighting the fact that interactive media is omnipresent and integrated into many industries, such as education and healthcare. "By showcasing the best and brightest, it's good for the economy in Alberta," he says.