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  • Boy Scouts of America Earn Special Merit Badges at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) celebrated the third year of its partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with a special event offering scouts the chance to earn merit badges in the visual and performing arts.

    Through NYFA, boys and girls from local scouting dens were given the opportunity for special merit badges in Game Design, Filmmaking, Photography, or 3D Animation, through one day of hands-on intensive training at the New York Film Academy. In the morning, scouts attended classes with NYFA instructors, where they learned the basic rules of their selected craft and began to formulate the stories they wanted to tell. By the end of the day, each scout had completed a project and earned a new badge.

    The partnership between BSA and NYFA began with NYFA Service Learning Manager Paul McKenna. A native of Burbank, CA, McKenna got the idea for the partnership after reading about a similar program at Harvard. As a father and a scout leader, McKenna explained that many titans of the entertainment industry got their start in programs like the Boy Scouts.

    “Both David Lynch and Michael Moore began making films when they were in the scouts,” McKenna said. “Giving these kids an opportunity today could lead to a life-long passion.”

    Throughout the day, local scout leaders worked with NYFA instructors to help guide the scouts through the process. Assistant Scout Leader Paul Chiaravalle remarked, “The scouts are really enjoying this. … In scouting, we try to balance both outdoor and technical skills. It’s really nice of NYFA to provide this opportunity.”

    Scouts who chose the Filmmaking or Photography tracks at NYFA were taken to the Universal Backlot, where they shot a short film or learned to take portraits against a world-famous backdrop: the European set, which included storefronts, old houses, and even a train station.

    The student filmmakers were ultimately responsible for making a three-minute silent film. In teams of four or five, scouts took turns acting, directing, and filming their movies. Photography students learned how to work with light and shadow and were encouraged to explore the dynamic range of natural light. Framing was also heavily emphasized.

    At the end of the day, parents were invited to attend an award ceremony. Each scout received a certificate with his or her name on it in addition to their badges, which would be received at a later date. The scouts cheered for one another as they received their awards and celebrated their full day of storytelling through the visual and performing arts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Universal Studios, The Boy Scouts of America, and our instructors, who helped make this event possible. Congratulations, scouts!

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  • Celebrate Women’s History Month at the New York Film Academy

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    This Women’s History Month, which also includes International Women’s Day on March 8, the New York Film Academy joins the conversation on gender inclusivity with an updated Gender Inequality in Film Infographic as well as a full slate of events across its campus locations.

    From International Women’s Day industry panel events to film screenings and raffles, check out NYFA’s calendar of Women’s History Month activities, below, and join us on campus in Los Angeles, New York City, South Beach, and NYFA Australia, Gold Coast. And on social media, we’ll be shouting out to many of the Women of NYFA — alums who are doing incredible work in the community, in the entertainment industry, and beyond.

    New York Film Academy Women’s History Month events will include:

    Los Angeles

    MARCH 7 – Stand Up for Women Comedy Night

    Host:

    • Lisa deLarios – Lisa has toured the country featuring for Zach Galifianakis, Paul F. Tompkins, Anthony Jeselnik, and Maria Bamford among others. She was showcased on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and has been a frequent guest on Doug Loves Movies.  

    Featured Comedians:

    • Laura House – Laura is a headlining comedian who has performed on HBO, Comedy Central, NBC, and starred in MTV’s Austin Stories. She written on the Emmy-winning shows Mom and Samantha Who, BAFTA-winning Secret Lives of Boys, as well as Nicole Byer’s Loosely, Exactly, Nicole, The George Lopez Show, Mad Love, Blue Collar TV & more.
    • Jackie Kashian – Jackie is a comic whose new album, I Am Not The Hero Of This Story, was the #1 comedy album on iTunes and Amazon. She is in the 12th year of her podcast The Dark Forest and has a new podcast on the Nerdist Network called The Jackie and Laurie Show.
    • Jena Friedman – Jena is a comedian, writer, filmmaker and political satirist who recently appeared on Conan. Her Adult Swim special Soft Focus with Jena Friedman aired in February. She has been a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman. ​
    • Annie Lederman – Annie was the co-host of We Have Issues on E! and has been a cast member on Chelsea Lately, Girl Code, @midnight, and Impractical Jokers.
    • Kate Willett Kate tours nationally and internationally, has been featured on Viceland’s Flophouse and Comedy Central’s This is Not Happening, and recently taped a Netflix special.
    • Vanessa Gonzalez – Vanessa was recently voted “Best Stand-up Comic” in the Austin Chronicle readers’ poll, and created and stars in the Mas Mejor web series Ms. Vanessa.
    • Jessica Sele– Jessica is a stand-up comedian who tours across the country, and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and SF Sketchfest. She was written about in HuffPost.
    • Ellington Wells – Ellington is a filmmaker and comedian who hosts the monthly stand-up show Blackberry Jam, and has worked on television shows such as Insecure, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Baskets.

    March 8 – International Women’s Day: A Perspective on Women in Entertainment: Industry Panel Discussion

    Moderators:

    • Mike Civille
    • Lydia Cedrone

    Panelists

    • Dea Lawrence – CMO of Variety
    • Kelly Gilmore – Sr. VP Marketing at Warner Bros.
    • Barbara Bain – 3 time Emmy Winning Actress
    • Jeanette Collins – Producer/Writer: Big Love, Drop Dead Diva, Suddenly Susan
    • Winship Cook – Producer: K-19: The Widowmaker, Sound the Crossing,Family Plan
    • Valorie Massalas – Casting Director/Producer: Back to the Future 2 & 3, Indiana Jones, Total Recall
    • Ronnie Yeskel – Casting Director: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Curb Your Enthusiasm  
    • Elvi Cano – Executive Director EGEDA U.S.
    • Lisa Guerriero – Camera operator: Suicide Squad, Mad Men, Mission Impossible, Fight Club

    New York City

    FEB. 28,  6:30 PM EST – Heroin(e) SCREENING & Guest Speaker Event

    • Exclusive screening of Oscar-nominated Netflix short documentary Heroin(e) with the film’s editor and special guest lecturer Kristen Nutile.

    MARCH 5-6 – Women’s International Film Festival Raffle

    TBD – NYFA Women in Film Screening Series

    • Further details coming soon.

    MARCH 21 – Women in VR: Chat with Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council & NYFA Instructor Caitlin Burns 

    • Further details coming soon.

    Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council & NYFA Instructor Caitlin Burns

    South Beach

    March 21 – NYFA Women in Film Screening and Q&A

    • A screening of the 2016 drama Hidden Figures
    • A Q&A led by South Beach Filmmaking chair Maylen Dominguez

    March 21 – NYFA Women in Film Industry Panel

    • An all-woman panel featuring Rhonda Mitrani, Susie Taylor, Maha McCain, Elli Ventouras, and Giorgia Lo Savio

    NYFA Australia, Gold Coast

    March 8 – International Women’s Day Film Series

    • A screening series of films focused on female protagonists, including The Color Purple, Joy, Thelma & Louise, and Whip It.

    For updates on Women’s History Month events at the New York Film Academy, and to join us for International Women’s Day, be sure to follow us on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram

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  • New York Film Academy Narrative Theory Students Explore IMAX VR Centre

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    The Narrative Theory Course is a part of the New York Film Academy’s Game Design curriculum. The class focuses on storytelling methods in gaming. Virtual Reality (VR) provides an entirely new way of looking at how to tell stories. Without the control limits of a two-dimensional screen the ability to direct a player’s eye-line is no longer an option. A whole new set of rules has to be developed. This new frontier of technology brought NYFA students to the IMAX VR Centre in Hollywood, CA.

    For many students, this was their first experience with VR. “I had a really great time at the VR Center,” said student Kamen Marinov. “The moment I put those Oculus ‘goggles’ on my head I felt this strange feeling — that I was inside someone else. It was like I was seeing through another person’s eyes. It felt odd at first, but when I got used to the visuals and the game mechanics I had an amazing experience.”

    Students were able to experience a ton of games that are new to the market. The new “Justice League” game based on the Warner Brother’s film allows players to drive the Batmobile or take out Steppenwolf’s lackeys with Cyborg’s arm cannon. This is just one of the many games currently on display. Set up in an arcade style, students can could jump into several cinematic worlds including “John Wick,” “The Mummy,” “Deadwood,” and the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises.

    Some students choose to play two first-person shooters “Raw Data” and “John Wick.” Jeffery Lay found the experience both taxing and informative: “In ‘John Wick,’ I was hiding behind a bar, watching my six, as enemies come from everywhere. A big vase covering an area of my view-making forced me to me lean around it, or jump to shoot over it, even though in reality, nothing is there.” 

    “VR had a lot more movement than I expected,” said Lay. “I probably changed between standing and crouching about 50 to 100 times in a row.” 

    Nathan Hales wasn’t just having fun. He learned a lot. “The level of immersion offered by virtual reality is really something that one cannot explain but must be experienced,” said Hales. “I felt like I was living within these virtual spaces. I was cutting down robots in ‘Raw Data,’ instead of the usual extra degree of separation offered from a traditional TV or computer monitor setup. Moving forward with the knowledge I gained from experiencing the capabilities and limitations of virtual reality, I can now envision games for the medium.”

    This is important because VR is a hot commodity in the entertainment industry. Since Nonny de la Pena’s VR project in immersive journalism entitled “Hunger in Los Angeles” premiered at Sundance 2012, there’s been a lot of buzz around the future of VR, yet there were many unanswered questions about the possibilities the new technology held at the time. Facebook set a new precedent when it acquired Oculus Rift in 2014. Since then, we’ve seen the development of both VR recording technologies and creative endeavors rapidly accelerate.

    Overall, the day was a rousing success. The New York Film Academy would like to thank IMAX VR for giving our students an opportunity to glimpse the future of gaming.

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  • Maya in 60 Minutes with Craig Caton

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    NYFA instructor Craig Caton joined the NYFA Games team on an episode of “Schooled!” and held a crash course on Maya…and dragon physics. The key points of takes us through the steps of animating a dragon, putting it through a flight cycle and running it through Unity for a final polish.

    Using a dragon rig from Skyrim, Craig animated an 18 frame loopable flight cycle. One of the keys to making the animation look natural is understanding how a dragon moves and the basic laws of physics. For example, when the dragon is flapping its wings upwards the outer wings would actually be pointed downward (dragon physics!). The technical term for this movement in animation is “overlapping animation” and becomes a fundamental element in making even basic animation look realistic.

    Another useful tip we learned was that we shouldn’t be too concerned with symmetry when it comes to animating flapping wings. A common, novice mistake is to try to make the wings move in perfect symmetry when, in nature, birds do not flap their wings in perfect symmetry. A rule of thumb to keep in mind is that nature is rarely perfectly symmetrical.

    You can learn more tricks of the trade by viewing the episode in its entirety here:

    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv

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    October 5, 2017 • 3D Animation, Game Design • Views: 1081

  • NYFA Los Angeles Celebrates it’s Fall 2017 Graduates

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    On Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, the New York Film Academy congratulated another graduating class as they crossed into the next stage of their professional careers. Three ceremonies were held throughout the day to accommodate the more than two hundred students who have now completed their education at NYFA.

    Many students spent the previous day at Warner Brother’s Studios screening their final films on the backlot. The occasion is always an emotional one. Warner Brothers is a Hollywood institution that has been home to some of the greatest names and films in the entertainment industry.

    Families were able to gather for photos before the ceremony began. A NYFA backdrop had everyone looking red carpet ready. When it was time for parents to take their seats, students formed neat rows as they filed into the building.

    This year’s commencement speakers ranged from a Hollywood star, a casting director who worked closely with Stephen Spielberg, and a producer/writer for several of the greatest television shows ever made. Each speaker had a copious amount of advice to give to the graduates. A common theme to all the speeches was that the students should learn from the speaker’s own mistakes so they could do even better in their own careers.

    New York Film Academy | Acting School Graduation

    The first speaker to grace the stage was Valorie Massalas, casting director extraordinaire. Her credits include “Indiana Jones,” “Chaplin,” “Total Recall,” “Alive,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Back to the Future II” and III. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on “Annie.” She is a new inductee into the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    Massalas spoke directly to the actors about how the industry has changed since she began her career. The most disturbing change to Massalas is the rise of the social media actor. These are Hollywood hopefuls who have never taken an acting class but have 20 thousand or more followers, and they are being cast in major motion pictures because the heads of studios believe they can put audience members into seats.

    “I’m sharing that with you because it’s disturbing to me that you spend all your time training like you’ve done, with these beautiful people, honing your craft, but if you don’t have social media numbers you could lose a job to somebody who does,” Massalas said. “It’s important for you to be aware of that because it’s just part of our world today. It’s not going to go away, In fact, it’s going to get worse.”

    It wasn’t all bad news. Certainly, some of the changes would be favorable for the next generation chosen to run Hollywood. Social media is also giving other creatives access to the tight-knit entertainment community. “When I was first starting out you didn’t have the kind of access that you have today with social media,” Massalas said.

    “The most important thing you must always remember is that you are the president of your own company. You have to be prepared to run your business like the president of a company. If you’re not doing that, you’re failing your career because nobody is going to run your business better than you.” Massalas warned students.

    New York Film Academy | Film School Graduation

    The second commencement speaker to take the stage was actor Joshua Helman. Helman’s credits include some of the biggest action films of the last ten years including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Jack Reacher.” He’s also been prolific in television starring in HBO’s “The Pacific,” the mini-series “Flesh and Bone,” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Wayward Pines.”

    Throughout Helman’s hilarious speech, he blended solid life advice with anecdotes from his time getting started in the industry. He began with a bit of advice he had learned from a teacher. “When I was in acting school, a singing teacher told me that the most valuable things an entertainer has to offer the audience are vulnerability and generosity. And not only have I never forgotten that, but I found it to be true.” He concluded this thought saying, “Come back to vulnerability and generosity. It will never be wrong. Find the stuff that challenges you, the truth that scares you, and offer it up to the world with joy.”

    Helman also wanted to prepare students for the reality of how long it can take to start a career. “You have to prove yourself and that can suck. It means working a day job, it means losing sleep, and it means facing long stretches of seemingly infinite time when you feel like you are going nowhere. That is par for the course. Each of you, if you’re not an insane person, is going to want to give up at some point…”

    But, Helman amended, there’s a way to survive the hard years. “You can make peace with it if you never forget that you are doing it in order to do the job that you love and that (entertainment) is your real job.”

    New York Film Academy | Producing School Graduation

    The final speaker of the night was Cherie Steinkellner. She is perhaps best known for producing the multi-award winning television show, “Cheers.” She also wrote for such groundbreaking shows as “The Jeffersons” and “Who’s the Boss?” Finally, she wrote for and produced the Disney animated series and feature film, “Teacher’s Pet” starring Nathan Lane.

    Steinkellner takes issue with the adage, “Those who can’t-do, teach.” “I don’t believe that to be true,” she said. “I think those who can’t-do, learn. Which is to say, if you find yourself to be an irresistible force up against an immovable object, if you find that you can’t achieve something, instead of fighting the same darn thing, consider that the point isn’t to step over that obstacle. Maybe the point of the lesson is: What can I learn from this?”

    With that thought in mind, Steinkellner also wanted to make sure students didn’t think that graduating meant their best days were behind them. She closed out her speech stating,

    “When I was in school, in the seventies, people would say to me these are the best years of your life. I hated that. School is short and life is long. You will never forget the years that you have spent here at the New York Film Academy. I haven’t forgotten the years that I spent in college. Please, trust this elder. The good stuff is all ahead of you. Let’s see what you make. Let’s see what you do. Let’s see your ‘weird.’ Congratulations on your graduation and welcome my friends to the best years of your life.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Joshua Helman, Valorie Massalas, and Cherie Steinkellner for taking the time to speak with our students. We’d also like to congratulate all of our incredible students on their graduation. We hope to see you back here soon, telling the next generation your success story.

    MFA in Acting:

    Vicente Almuna Morales

    Ainur Rauilyevna

    Alejandra Gonzalez

    Vincson Green II

    Haoran Li

    Elizabeth Otaola Cortina

    Nanli Wang

    Chaoyue Zhao

     

    BFA in Acting:

    Melissa Abugattas Lozada

    Reya Al-Jaroudy

    Ratnavali Anderson

    Ira Calilung

    Whitney Cheng

    Abbilyn Chuha

    Jennifer Anne Cipolla

    Briana Davis

    Joseph Ekstrom

    Michael Furlough

    Emmanouil Giamas

    Maria Manuela Gomez

    Anes Hasi

    Christian Elijah Leighty

    Nina Madzirov

    Phillip McNair

    Bethany Rhiannon Daisy Milner

    Rebecca Momo

    Alessio Mongardi

    Analisa Moreno

    Vanessa Rene Nuevo

    Chunxiao Ouyang

    Trinity Page

    Fernando Peralta

    Zachary Thomas Perry

    Raven Ramos

    Maurice Roberson II

    Simran Sangian

    Billy Xiong

    Ming Jie Yang

     

    AFA in Acting:

    Tia Blackwill

    Corinna Camero

    Melissa Celikovic

    Jassen Charron

    Gregory James Drake

    Kurt Alexander Eberle

    Andre Forrest

    Aaliyah Jones

    Wadley Sterlin

    Travis Nevin Tendler

    Robert Tevlin

    Danielle Torck

     

    MFA in Producing:

    Mazen Aleqbali

     

    BFA in Producing:

    Ruddy Cano Hernandez

    Nyshon Ferrell

    Carlos Gonzalez

    Chor Kei Hui

    Brandon William McCarthy

    Thandiwe Mlauli

    Gilma Edith Montecer Lore

    Sagar Patel

    Angel J. Pitre

    Sim Sagiroglu

    Peijun Zou

     

    AFA in Producing:

    Mengying Sun

     

    MFA in Photography:

    Amal Alahdal

    Dania Saud Altalhi

    Pamela Garcia-Aguirre

     

    BFA in Photography:

    Rushank Anil Agrawal

    Brenda Cantu

    Tanya Gawdi

    Kingi Kingibe

    Ziomara Ramirez

    Wen Tao Tu

     

    MFA in Documentary:

    Sultan Sulaiman Aljurays

    Camilla Elisabeth Borel Rinkes

    Amira Hamour

    Ashley Danielle Harris

    Yuan Li

    Kristin Lydsdottir

    Huda Abdulsalam Moraidikha

    Maria Carolina Sosa Andres

    Guangli Zhu

     

    MFA in Cinematography:

    Jhonny Fabian Garcia Sarmiento

    Rafael O. Rivera

    Maria Sevilla

    Manuel Velasquez Isaza

     

    MFA in Film:

    Joud AlAmri

    Gerald Albitre

    Mahfouz Maeid M. Alzahrani

    Almaz Amandossov

    Dias Azimzhanov

    Yang Bai

    Alma Baimuratova

    Rushikesh Bhadane

    Beatriz Cabrera Figuerez

    Xiaoyue Cao

    Yue Chen

    Moataz Ezzat Elsayed Gamal Elbahaey

    Boise Badilla Esquerra

    Efrain Santiago Fierro

    Anuja Ganpule-Sheorey

    Zesheng Gao

    Mariia Gerasymiuk

    Di Hang

    Amber A. Harris

    Jacob Houghton

    Oboatarhe Ikuku

    Runjie Ji

    Annu Kapil

    Gabriela Ledesma

    Jian Li

    Yitong Li

    Yixin Liang

    Gengru Liu

    Zichen Liu

    Michael Louka

    Kendra McDonald

    Rachel Gebrael Meguerdijian

    Maria Mitkovskaya

    Sonakshi Mittal

    Aditya Rajendra Mohite

    Amanda Molefe

    Rima Mori

    Dina Najialdaies

    Vibhav Vinayak Nayak

    Kevin Nwankwor

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Hiroki Ohsawa

    Derek Parker

    Ana Camila Parra Bernal

    Yuntong Peng

    Rene Rodriguez

    Francia Romero

    Guoqiang Sheng

    Yu Sheng

    Savannah Sivert

    Jourdain Antoine Smith

    Julien Supplice

    Mohitha Vankima

    Shashank Narendra Varma

    Chenyi Wang

    Tixiao Wang

    Zheng Wang

    Erxuan Wu

    Yuzuan Wu

    Lijun Yang

    Meng Yu

    Xiankai Zhang

    Xiaoxiao Zhang

    Xiwen Zhang

    Rui Zhu

    Xuerong Zhu

     

    AFA in Film:

    James Bonfiglio

    Peter Farquhar

    Casey Swing

    Zhen Wang

     

    MFA in Screenwriting:

    Jean-Baptiste Hakim

    Keaton Kaplan

    Kobus Louw

    Aida Marie-Louise Noujaim

     

    MA in Screenwriting:

    Kwang Jin Chai

    Rosa Falu-Carrion

    Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

    Roberto Tapia

     

    BFA in Screenwriting:

    Nick Davis

    Nawaf al Hoshani

    Felix Martinez Autin

     

    MFA in Game Design:

    May Alotaibi

     

    BFA in Game Design:

    Cody Fowler

    Min Han

    Alecksandar Jackowicz

    Mario Monaco

     

    MA in Film:

    Mina Abrahim

    Vedang Bhatt

    Dhriti Borah

    Julian Andres Bueno Sanchez

    Maurice Cassidy

    Jaya Prasad Chitturi

    Xingyue Dai

    Abdallah ElDaly

    Jiawei Gao

    Giunel Ismaiylova

    Abebowale Johnson

    Melissa Johnson

    Vicken Joulfayan

    Chenyang Li

    Mengke Li

    Xi Lin

    Yilin Liu

    Haixiao Lu

    Hin Lam Allan Ng

    Yu Qiu

    Srikanth Navarathna Raju

    Jose Mario Salas Boza

    Kongpob Sangsanga

    Elizabeth Soto-Lara

    Sukrut Shirish Teni

    Jianyu Wang

    Yu Wang

    Jiaxing Wu

    Sipei Wu

    Xueqing Wu

    Siqi Xiao

    Qingjing Yan

    Zain Zaman

    Chen Zhang

    Yiyun Zhang

    Yang Zhou

     

    BFAin Film:

    Ryan Adams

    Sara Ait Benabdallah

    Fawaz Saleh Al-Batati

    Basil Alamri

    Abdullah Saleh Alawaji

    Hani Alqattan

    Ayman Ahmed Alzahrani

    Jascha Bellaiche

    Rolf Niklas Martin Berggren

    Ambre-India Bourdon

    Tammy Cook

    Jose Guilherme Correia Jr.

    Antonio Gassan Darwiche

    Rumena Dinevska

    Gabriel Erwin

    Cirenia Raquel Escobedo Esquivel

    Jiaqing Ge

    Daniel Ivan Gonzalez Ramirez

    Oliver Granö

    Kartikye Gupta

    Akira Hayakawa

    Anton Hermawan

    Nuria Stella Hernandez

    Dongyan Jiang

    Yudi Jiang

    Autumn Joiner

    Joanna Krawczyk

    Henrique Kraychete Freire

    Gabriel Legua

    Xuejiao Liu

    Zhuangzi Liu

    Ana Catalina Loret de Mola

    Mario Mazzarella

    Eric Milzarski

    Nikola Nikolovski

    Varunn Pandya

    Konstantinos Pateronis

    Vladislav Petrov

    Celeste Pillay

    Katherine Pinkston

    Albert Theodore Pranoto

    Anastasia Reinhard

    Alejandro Rojas Melo

    Brooke Schulte

    Richard Selvi

    Denis Semikin

    Muhamad Ashram Shahrivar

    Shiyi Shao

    Jiajin Song

    Michael Tharp

    Hary Johann Tuukkanen Itriago

    Santos Verdia-Cross

    Tiange Wei

    Assem Yedgey

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  • NYFA Instructor Felipe Lara Discusses the Formula to a Successful Video Game

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    New York Film Academy game design instructor Felipe Lara was a guest on NYFA Games’ “Schooled!” where he spoke in depth of the elements that contribute to making a successful video game.

    The very first points that need to be identified are:

    1. Who is your player?
    2. What are your goals?

    Once you have determined the answers to these questions you can work on the elements

    There are four major, sequential elements that contribute to this success:

    • STAND OUT: Your audience needs t be aware of your game to play it. The best way to create awareness is to find a way to stand out.
    • CONNECT: Games that create a connection with their players are games that have players keep coming back to them.  Once you establish the theme you can establish the values and mechanics of the game. For example: if one of the values of your game is courage then chances are your character will be facing some big monsters or bosses.
    • ENGAGE: When games engage their players will keep them playing for a while. Generally, the longer players stick around the more profitable the game becomes: there are more chances to monetize, more chances to get subscriptions, more chances to get recommended to friends, etc. This involves what Felipe calls the engagement loop: a mix of short and long-term goals that contribute to making a player feel fully engaged thus, continue to play the game.
    • GROW: Finally, the game needs to find a way to scale or grow its player base through community, user-generated content, etc.

    You can see the full episode here:
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv

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    October 4, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 938

  • NYFA Spotlight: Gina Theresa on Women in Games and Motion Capture Acting

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    Gina Theresa Williamson (aka Gina Theresa) was once considered a rarity; she is a woman in the video game industry. She is also a host on New York Film Academy’s Twitch Channel where she highlights her professional experiences. Most recently, Williamson interviewed other women who work within the game industry for a month-long series entitled “Women in Games.”

    NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith interviewed Williamson via email to discuss her career in a traditionally male-dominated industry and what she wants women to know about gaming. This interview was edited for clarity and length.

    Gina T Williamson | NYFA Games Host

    NYFA: Was motion capture the first job you had in the industry? If motion capture wasn’t your first job what were you doing to earn money? How was your first day on the job?

    Gina: God no. My first job in LA… I worked as a dog groomer. It was awful. I was average at best. I hate being average. Plus, the two-legged clients were insane.

    I spent a couple years fine-tuning my creative work before I found motion capture. I was painting in broad strokes before I moved to L.A. As a kid and through my late teens, all I wanted to do was entertain people. Then I went to a conservatory for acting in New York, and it became, “I want to be an actor!”

    Once I moved to Los Angeles, I realized that refining my goal would be necessary to pursue a career in this industry. So many people come to LA expecting to become an actor overnight. There are millions of actors in this city. The more I dialed into what excited me about the craft, the closer I got to my current career path in motion capture.

    Motion capture blends so many of the things I love most; including entertainment, acting, technology, and of course, video games. Simultaneously, I was being exposed to fields of study I had not previously explored. Voiceover work, for example, was a totally foreign concept to me, but it played to my strong suits. I like to joke that my mutant-power is memorization. You certainly need it in performance capture where a 300-page script is average.

    I also have an absurdly strong imagination. I live in my own world 90% of the time. Make-believe is a big part of my inner life. On top of that, I’ve always wanted to pursue action-based work, but I was not interested in full-fledged stunts. The combination of these traits drove me towards motion capture. It allows me to explore many avenues of acting and provides a freedom to play that cannot be found anywhere else in the gaming industry.

    NYFA: When did you fall in love with gaming?

    Gina: I mean… my first console was an Atari.

    NYFA: What were some of your expectations as you entered the world of motion capture? Which proved to be true? Which proved false? How?

    Gina: Motion capture was so new to me and is still considered to be the relative wild-west of the entertainment industry. I didn’t have any expectations. I did, however, make some cringe-worthy faux pas when I first began. In fact, I still make mistakes. I’m still a baby to all of this. I just do my best not to criticize myself too harshly if I do something totally dumb. The only way to figure out what works is through the process of elimination, you know?

    NYFA: There are a lot of conversations surrounding the reality of being a woman in the gaming industry, especially since the controversy of 2014’s GamerGate. What is something you would like young women who are looking to enter this industry to know?

    Gina: I want them to know that the industry landscape is changing. It isn’t the boys club it used to be. Women are heavy hitters in every aspect of the gaming industry from production to consumption. However, there is still a ways to go.

    I was one of thirty women at a “Women in Games International Mixer” at E3 this year. The room was packed with men. Some of these men would actually cut in front of me in line at the “Women in Games Mixer. “

    However, things are changing. Many companies have active inclusivity departments where women aren’t just relegated to the animation sectors. There are women techs, women game designers, women producers, directors, senior marketing analysts, coders, and QA leads. There are many more opportunities for women in this industry than there were even ten years ago. I only see it getting better. Any woman interested in entering this industry should be willing to fight a little, get your foot in the door, and be persistent.

    NYFA: How does someone prepare for a career in motion capture?

    Gina: Become a conscious observer of life around you. Watch, not just how different people move, but how they move when they’re angry, or happy, or hungry, or distracted. Pay attention to animals and try to bring their physicality to your movements. Practice while doing housework or exercising.

    Seriously, if you want a full body workout, pretend you’re a bear for ten minutes. Don’t pick just any bear, make it specific. Go be a mama grizzly facing off against the big alpha male who just moved into the territory and is hell-bent on killing her cubs. (If this seems oddly specific, it’s actually from source video I used for a mocap project.) Quadrupedal movement is brutal, especially while maintaining as much fidelity to the animal as possible.

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on? What was your most challenging world?

    Gina: In general, I’ve found the most challenging projects to be the ones where I’m working with non-humanoid movement. Anytime I have to slither, crawl, glide, fly, or wriggle it is a challenge. You feel like you’re grounded, but then you see the data or the playback on the reference cameras and you’re like, “Oh, I could have done that differently,” or “I could have been more specific.” But that’s the beauty of it as well, right? Just like every creative endeavor, you are always working, always growing, always failing. I’ve learned to love my failures.

    Gina Williamson | NYFA Games Motion Capture

    NYFA: Have you ever played a game where your motion capture work was featured? What was that experience like?

    Gina: I have played my friends’ characters in different games. That experience is always awesome. The more games you play, the easier it is to spot your colleagues. Everyone has a specific way of moving.

    It happened recently. I was playing a demo and I thought to myself, “Dang, that person looks so familiar.” I looked it up and sure enough, it was a buddy of mine. One time, I learned a friend of mine was the boss in a game that took me hours to beat. It put a strain on our relationship.

    NYFA: You recently teamed up with NYFA’s Twitch channel to produce a month-long mini-series about Women in Games. What made you want to do this partnership and what are you hoping to bring to viewers?

    Gina: Actually, we just wrapped this week. It’s been an incredible experience. I’m thankful that I had the ability to go to NYFA and say, “Hey, I have this idea!” They were 100% behind me from the beginning.

    NYFA had approached me earlier in the spring and asked me to start producing more after a live motion capture panel I had put together, but I declined, thinking “What on earth do I know about that kind of thing? I wouldn’t know where to start!” Well, you start at home. Meaning, you start with the things you love, the things that hold a big significance for you. It makes the long hours and challenges and time crunches way less daunting. It’s why I worked seven days a week for the past month, making sure deadlines were met and scrambling to put out fires when they’d spark up.

    The feedback I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. I had such a huge response, including tip-top industry pros, thanking me for putting together something like this. In my pitch email, I stated clearly: “The purpose of this series is not to shout feminism from the rooftops, but rather to promote visibility; I want to show that there are women- successful, powerful, influential women- in every single aspect of our industry.”

    The series has done that, and more. It has offered true master classes by some of the top people in the field. Infinity Ward, Freeform Labs, and Riot rounded out the month, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

    So great was the response, from all corners of the industry, that I plan to have a regular “Professional Spotlight” show once a month. Not just for women, but for any number of the gaming professionals who wanted to be a part of the show. Folks from Sony, EA, Naughty Dog, Riot, and Blizzard have been so supportive and enthusiastic about the inclusiveness that I can’t wait to see where things go from here.

    Gina T Williamson | Women in Gaming

    NYFA: Which women were you most excited to talk about?

    Gina: All of them. I mean it. I definitely freaked out when Infinity Ward opened their freaking motion capture studio to me. I got to stand on their stage and do a range of motion tests. That was the highlight of my career. On a personal level, that was the winner for me.

    On a professional level, though, I really couldn’t choose a favorite moment. The fact that we have archived video of these women giving master classes is mind-blowing. Every now and then, I feel like we are graced with the presence of mind to be aware of a milestone moment in our lives as it’s happening. That’s how I felt throughout this series. It marked a lot of firsts for me and was challenging on many levels, and I can’t say it was anything but a success. For that, I am truly humbled and grateful.

    NYFA: What’s up next for you?

    Gina: DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS! I wrote an e-mail to my boss, Chris Swain, Chair of the Game Design Program here at NYFA, while in the midst of producing the Women in Gaming series, with an idea for an awesome program for October and he OK’d it!

    We’ll have celebrity players, full-out roleplaying, gratuitously bad jokes, and hopefully some genuine creepiness. It’s a great cast and a great story, so I think folks tuning in will have a ton of fun with it. Considering Dungeons and Dragons is the basis for the majority of the most popular games we have today, I felt like it was a fitting honor to dedicate the Halloween month to Dungeons and Dragons and some of its scariest campaign settings like the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Dragonlance, and of course Ravenloft.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Gina Theresa Williams for bringing her unique taste and style to our Twitch channel. Be sure to check out NYFA’s Twitch every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 PM PST.

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    October 2, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 1755

  • NYFA Game Design Students Play-Test “Warhammer 40K” at Games Workshop

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    On August 28 students from New York Film Academy’s Game Design program took a trip to playtest a new version of the table-top miniatures game, Warhammer 40k. The version the students tested has not been released to the public. Along with their instructor, John Platten students were invited to test the Warhammer 40K game with developers of the game and provide creative feedback.

    Warhammer 40K Play through | New York Film Academy

    When asked why it was important for the class to test Warhammer Platten said, “Games Workshop has been successfully blending complex narratives with miniatures gameplay for years.  As our class focuses on the intersection of story and mechanics, we played a game of Warhammer 40,000 to explore how the grimdark science fiction universe of the property creates a more engaging experiencing than simply following a ruleset.  For our class, story matters because it provides a context for gameplay that can fire the imagination.”

    Created by Games Workshop, “Warhammer 40k” is a table-top fantasy game where the players can play as humans, elves, dwarfs, and even the undead in a seemingly never-ending war. 40K finds players in the 41st millennium of a century’s long war. Created in 1983 the game has seen several updates, new additions, and storylines.

    NYFA Game Design Play Warhammer 40K

    In Warhammer, the setting is dark but the payoff in the adventure players are able to experience is vast. Here’s a brief description of the world the players are dropped into:

    “To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.”

    NYFA Game Design Visits Games Workshop

    Each time Warhammer is played it is different than the last time. New players might be surprised to discover that there is an entire galaxy and a timeline, which can be daunting for beginners. But the rules aren’t much different than most role-playing games (RPG) and once gameplay starts is relatively easy to pick up the game.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Games Workshop for letting our students provide feedback on the design of their upcoming game. Warhammer 40K is now available for pre-order here.

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    September 27, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 1632

  • Brandii Grace Discusses Inclusiveness in Video Games

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    Brandii Grace is a game designer, writer, producer, programmer, educator and general pioneer of the gaming industry. She was also the Chair of the LA chapter of the International Game Developers Association which, among its many endeavors, fights for change in the industry by identifying and speaking out on key issues.

    She joined the hosts of NYFA Games on Twitch to discuss inclusivity in video games. The discussion began by discussing a core concept: what is inclusivity?

    “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance”– Verna Meyers 

    Brandii expertly navigated the distinctions between various forms of diversity and inclusion explaining:

    • Exclusion: Diversity is neither valued nor accepted
    • Tokenism: Diversity is valued but not accepted
    • Assimilation: Diversity is accepted but not valued
    • Inclusion: Diversity is valued and accepted

    She went on to point out that when a video game features a diverse cast of characters it will tend to be more profitable. The reason is fairly simple: if a player feels represented, identifies with one of the characters they will tend to play and spend more, and recommend it to their friends – see Bioware’s “Dragon Age” and “Mass Effect” series, or Blizzard’s “Overwatch.”

    This concept of inclusivity is applied to the workplace as well. A more diverse team of developers tend to generate games that are:

    • “70% more likely to capture a new market
    • 45% more likely to improve market share
    • 70% more likely to implement a marketable idea”

    If you’d like more information about inclusivity in the entertainment industry, be sure to check out our post on gender inequality in film.

    You can see the entire episode on Inclusiveness in Video Games here:

    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv

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    August 25, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 940

  • VR and AR Crash Course with pioneering developer and NYFA instructor, Aaron Pulkka

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    NYFA instructor, Aaron Pulkka is a pioneer in the virtual reality and augmented reality having created groundbreaking projects going back to his days creating Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride as a Disney Imagineer in the 1990s. He has been leading cutting edge projects in the space ever since. He is now leading creative development for the much anticipated series of VR/AR amusement parks for Two Bit Circus funded by Intel Capital among other investors.

    Like all of the NYFA Games’ instructors, Aaron is a working game developer in industry and chooses to teach at the school on top of his professional practice.

    Aaron appeared on the NYFA Games’ Twitch Channel to create three awesome videos in which he explains

    • the history of VR and AR
    • the current state of VR and AR including a hands on explanation of the hardware platforms
    • a crash course on VR Game Design

    Check out Aaron on NYFA Games Twitch here:

    (Virtual) Reality Check – Part 1 | Schooled with Aaron Pulkka
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv
    (Virtual) Reality Check – Part 2 | Schooled with Aaron Pulkka
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv
    VR Game Design Crash Course! with Aaron Pulkka
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv

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    August 18, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Game Design • Views: 826