Author: Helen Kantilaftis

Why Xbox’s Gamescom 2015 Conference Felt Like E3 Part 2

Xbox's Gamescom 2015 Conference

If there’s one annual trade show that has every gamer counting down the days until it starts, it’s the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Here is where we are bombarded by an amazing amount of all things games: new reveals, gameplay demos, first looks at the next-gen consoles, and more. Of course, there’s another trade fair that, since it’s inauguration in 2009, has been attracting even more attendants than E3.

We’re talking about Gamescom held annually in Cologne, Germany. This year, plenty of exhibitors were present to show off their latest titles, including the three industry giants: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. From Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, to Square Enix and Activision Blizzard, there was also no shortage of publishers and developers giving people hands-on experience with their games.

Of all who came out of this notable event, however, none made more of an impact than Microsoft. After already delivering a great press conference at E3, few could have expected the Xbox conference at Gamescom to be so packed with awesome news and reveals. It won’t be enough to send the Xbox One skyrocketing in terms of sells, but we’re confident that Sony is kicking themselves for not doing the same at Gamescom this year.

The following are the biggest announcements from Microsoft’s strong showing:

Our First Look At Quantum Break

Arriving on April 5th, 2016 as an Xbox One exclusive, this title has been promised to offer all the time-bending action we could hope for. Judging by the gameplay trailer shown, it looks like it is shaping up to live up to that promise. While the visuals look as stunning as you’d expect from a trade show trailer, it’s the use of time manipulation that has gamers excited. Freezing enemies and zooming between cover at incredible speeds, although not the most innovative concepts, look great in this game. Here’s hoping the end product lives up to the trailer.

Crackdown 3 News

Now officially called Crackdown 3, this anticipated title will feature “100% destructible environments,” as well as cool transforming vehicles. The demo shown gave us a glimpse of the destruction by having one of the cyborg police officers decimating enough buildings to cause several other skyscrapers to crumble. Crackdown 3 is set to release in 2016.

Killer Instinct Season 3 Announcement

Another season for the Xbox One exclusive fighter has been announced, bringing with it new stages, characters, and other content in March of next year. One of the more exciting reveals was the introduction of one of the Battletoads as a playable character; an announcement that perfectly coincided with the release of Rare Replay on the same day. A trailer of the buff amphibian in action was shown.

Scalebound Will Have 4-player Co-Op

We finally got our first glimpse of this Xbox One-only title being developed by Platinum Games. As one would expect from Hideki Kamiya and his team, the gameplay involving colossal creatures and allied dragons looks sharp and impressive. Of course, it was the announcement of 4-player co-op that makes this anticipated title all the more intriguing.

Halo Wars 2 revealed

We’re pretty sure no one saw this coming. Despite the original Halo Wars receiving high review scores and praise, developer Ensemble Studios was disbanded almost immediately after its release. The developers behind the Total War series and Alien: Isolation are making this surprise title, set to launch in fall of 2016 for both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.

Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Launch Date

Perhaps one of the most thrilling announcements at Microsoft’s E3 2015 conference was backwards compatibility. Those who have been anticipating this awesome feature will be happy to know that it is only a few months from being made available. More than one hundred games are promised to be available at launch, and countless more arriving later. The announcement that all future Xbox 360 games with gold titles will also be backwards compatible on Xbox One, not to mention free DVR functionality also arriving this November, was extra icing on the cake.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

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Five Tips For Exhibiting Your Game At Events

Exhibiting your video game

The thought of showing off your game in a crowded setting, and actually interacting with people looking to catch a glimpse of your project, can be both exciting and intimidating. This isn’t about social anxiety issues or just chatting with fellow gamers, it’s about presenting something you’ve poured all your blood, sweat, and tears into over the past few months or even years. Since each event can be your one and only chance to impress people who otherwise may not hear about your game, it’s easy to see why exhibiting can be a nerve-wracking ordeal.

But like job interviews, high school oral reports, or any event requiring public speaking, preparation and practice can make all the difference. Even though every game event and trade fair is different, which means one or more surprises can come your way, the following are a few tips that could help you put on a good showing and grow your loyal fan base in a fun and unique way.

1. Do Your Booth Cost Research

If you want to chat with gamers and promote your game to possible buyers, you’re going to need a booth. You’ll definitely want to do plenty of research and planning before investing in one simply because every event varies. While a booth at a local gaming event may cost you next to nothing, even a small 10×10 at Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) might be several hundred, or even a couple thousand, dollars.

Also worth mentioning is that you should prepare for other expenses as well, especially since every venue is different. For example, some places offer free electricity while others require that you pay to use it. You can imagine how trying to demo your game without any power will go.

2. Plan For Comfort, Food, and Water

These events tend to last all day, which means you better toss on some comfortable external foot coverings, aka, shoes. Wear something comfortable for clothes as well, but still try to look presentable (no pajamas or anything like that). And, of course, bathe.

You’ll also want to bring along plenty of water so you stay spirited. While most venues have concession stands and such to buy food, try bringing something you can whip out and eat quickly so you never have to leave your booth. It’s hard to promote your game while dehydrated and hungry, especially when either of the two make you cranky, tired, etc.

3. Bring Swag and Promotional Material

Flyers are a cheap and effective way of increasing the chance that someone who walked by your booth actually remembers that your game exists. At most events there are tons of games to check out, which is why giving passersby something physical that they can look at later, or share with others, is a very good idea. Just make sure to plan appropriately, since you don’t want to carry a heavy amount of flyers only to not even use half of them.

People also love little things like buttons, pens, fridge magnets, etc. When it comes to buttons, they aren’t too expensive and can be made to be very attractive and interesting. You can add your company logo, a main character in you game, and so on. The same goes for t-shirts, although these are much more expensive than the aforementioned freebies.

4. Avoid The Last Minute Changes

There’s nothing more devastating than fixing one small problem the night before (and test it) only to have your game crash every time someone tries to play it. If you happen to have a few small bugs in your game, don’t sweat it. It’s better that players run into these small bugs and know they’re playing an early version of your game than if they can’t play it at all due to constant crashing.

While you’re at it, make sure to note any glitches and bugs you notice while people are checking out your game. Since Wi-Fi and internet isn’t always reliable, and cell phones can run out of battery, we recommend you bring along a good old-fashioned notebook and pen. Again, it’s your call if you want to try and actually fix any bugs during the trade show and risk destabilizing your game entirely.

5. Prepare Phrases and Answers To Questions

People are much more likely to not only play your game, but also purchase it in the future, if you talk to them. This doesn’t mean reciting the same monologue to every person that walks by. Instead, come up with a few phrases you plan on saying throughout a conversation that will make them interested in playing your game. Since you’ll be meeting a ton of different types of people, pay attention to the things you say that catches their attention or turns them off.

You should also expect several common questions that include when your game will release, on which platforms it will release, how much it will cost, etc. No matter what they ask, use it as an opportunity to upsell something else about your game. If someone asks if you’re porting your iOS game to Android when you have no plans of doing so, be honest, but also mention what platform you do plan on taking your game onto next.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

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Stage vs. Screen: What’s the Big Difference?

Comparing Stage/Theatre Acting with Screen/Film Acting

Laurence Olivier, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Marlon Brando, Judi Dench, Paul Newman…

The list of actors goes on and on, but what do they all have in common? Each of them started as a stage actor but is better known for being an Academy Award-winning film actor. Clearly, using these actors as examples leads to the conclusion that the acting skills learned in the theatre can translate to film. Put another way, acting is acting, whether you are on stage or in front of a camera.

However, there are key differences between the stage and the screen that need to be understood. Moving between theatre and film can be equated to a painter who moves between acrylics and watercolors. The painter is still a painter, but the medium has changed and, therefore, the process will change.

For an actor, knowledge of the difference in the environment, venue, and script between theatre and film is crucial to becoming a double-threat.

Environment: The Theatre and the Film Set

Theatre is a nurturing art form. The best of theatre productions have adequate rehearsal time, cast bonding, and time to experiment with the director before opening night. Stage actors become familiar with their roles slowly and by the time they perform publicly, they have practiced dozens of times.

In contrast, film sets are chaotic places packed with specialized, high-paid artists. For an actor, this presents several challenges. For one, you will receive very little, if any, rehearsal time. For another, depending on the size of the role, you may not receive any direction. Films hire actors under the assumption that they will come to set performance-ready.

Preparation is vital in both theatre and film, but the process of preparation is vastly different. In addition, the pace of filming pressures actors to hit their performance quickly. Theatre actors, especially, may find the pace of a film set to be jarring, so be extra prepared and flexible when new to film.

Venue: Where’s the Actor? Where’s the Audience?

The literal difference in physical location between theatre and film is one of the greatest obstacles for actors who are transitioning into a different medium. It is often said that theatre actors are “big” and film actors are “natural.” This is a result of the venues in which the actors perform.

In a theatre, actors and audience are separated by a distance ranging from a few feet in a small black box to hundreds of feet in a large auditorium. Everyone in the audience needs to see the action and hear the dialogue on stage, so theatre actors must exaggerate their movements and speak loudly to bridge the gap.

Films, on the other hand, use a camera to eliminate the distance between performer and observer. The presence of the camera, lights, microphones, special effects, and music all serve to enhance a film actor’s performance, so no embellishment is needed. Cameras pick up every twitch, infliction, and subtle pause that an actor has and on film, the actor’s goal is to replicate reality. Speak to the other actors as you normally would and gesture as you normally would.

Script: Shakespeare Doesn’t Write Movies

When audiences attend a play, they know what to expect because plays are performed repeatedly and scripts are publicly available to read. Think about how many times Romeo and Juliet has been performed around the world; thousands upon thousands of times, to the point that the story is a cultural icon. Such knowledge creates an expectation in the audience. They want to see and hear the story that they are familiar with and they will tolerate very little change.

The beauty (and difficulty) of film and television is that the scripts are being produced for the first time. There are no past performances to be compared to and the audience has no preconceived notion of what the characters should look and sound like. This gives film actors more freedom in performance. No one knows if you flub a line or forget some blocking. The only thing that matters on camera is a realistic performance.

Many of the best actors started in the theatre and made the switch to film and television later in their careers. The techniques, skills, and experiences garnered as an actor in one medium can translate nicely into the other. However, understanding the unique characteristics that distinguish the stage from the screen is necessary to guarantee an actor is prepared.

 

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How To Use Social Media To Do More As A Broadcast Journalist

Social media and broadcast journalism

Social media provides multiple platforms for promoting a TV or radio station, its programming, and its on-air talent. Social networks are also great places to engage with viewers and get new story ideas. However, recent trends show journalists are finding new ways to do even more with social media.

Using Facebook Comments to Reduce Trolling

As journalists, we’re all committed to free speech, and we want to know what our audience thinks. But we’ve all probably seen some version of this social media disaster: A TV or radio station posts a story on its website, and before you know it, readers are hurling all-caps obscenities at each other. Or maybe there’s one anonymous poster who keeps spewing abusive hate speech in the comments section.

How do you encourage healthy debate while avoiding these problems?

According to a recent Washington Post article, some news organizations resort to shutting down comments on some or all topics, but many broadcasters find the majority of comments are too helpful to dismiss.

An alternative is to require posters to use their Facebook account to share their opinions. When the Huffington Post chose this route in December of 2013, its director of community later told the Washington Post that they had a large reduction in trolling and spam, and an uptick in more intellectual debates.

Keep in mind that while requiring Facebook comments can help reduce trolling and abusive comments, it won’t get rid of them entirely. A determined troll can always make a fake Facebook account, and some people aren’t shy about arguing with strangers as themselves.

That’s why you should never put up a post and forget about it. Someone from your news organization should be monitoring the comments section of all your posts.

Also be sure to engage with your audience. Ask commentators questions about their responses, and, if necessary, post reminders that abusive language or spam will not be tolerated. Most trolls, spammers and flame-war inciters will move on if they see that your organization’s site or social media platform is actively monitored by staff members. If they don’t, you can quickly remove posts that violate your company’s comment policy.

Maintain interest in a story by adding questions to the comments section several times a day. Examples include: “Many of you have commented that {subject of story} responded inappropriately in this situation. What would you do differently? Do you think he/she should apologize?” Or, “We’ve noticed a lot of comments that the city council is focusing on the wrong issues. What problems do you wish they’d address instead of this one?”

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

How to Use Social Media for a 21st Century “Voice of the People” Story

“Voice of the People” packages are a great way to keep viewers engaged, by sharing their friends’ and neighbors’ opinions on a topic. This format is a great way to localize a national news story, especially if you work at a TV station in Podunk and its unlikely the president will return your calls for an interview about the latest bill he signed.

However, if you’ve spent any time working on “Person on the Street” segments, you’ve probably run into some problems—especially if you work in a smaller market.

You walk up and down the street or shopping mall with your camera and try to get people to talk to you, but many of them are in a rush to be somewhere else. Others are happy to be interviewed, but when you ask them about the economy, they babble for five or six minutes about Kim Kardashian’s latest hairstyle. The next person wants to know why your station doesn’t do a story about how their bowling league just won five games in a row.

Often, the only people you can get a usable soundbite from are the retirees who drink their coffee at the same table in the food court every day, which is great for your first “Voice of the People” segment. But your news director wants comments from different people for each story, so next week you’re back to square one.

How are broadcasters dealing with these challenges?

In today’s world of social media, the latest trend is to take Facebook or Twitter comments about a topic or previous package and use them for “Voice of the People” segments. This allows you to share comments from people who were too busy to be interviewed on the street, as well as those who are simply camera shy or worried how they’ll look on TV. Most reporters find they get a wider variety of viewer comments online than in person.

There are many different ways to use social media comments for “Person on the Street” stories. Some broadcasters use the VO/SOT style, where an anchor reads the comments while video rolls. You can also add comments to a package that includes in-person interviews with the subject or an interested party. A national story can be localized with network video and comments from local viewers.

When using social media comments, the usual journalistic principles apply—you want to show all sides of the story, not just one. Try to pick comments from different sides of the issue. If possible, show a variety of reasoning for each opinion—“I’m opposed to this tax because it hurts low-income workers”; “I’m opposed to the tax because I think the city is going to waste it on the wrong things”; “I’m opposed to the tax because I’m still waiting for the last one to benefit my small business”.

Mining Social Media for New Story Ideas or Angles

Monitoring your station’s posts on social media and its website not only helps to discourage trolling, it also gives you the opportunity to see what your viewers care about. This can provide ideas for new stories, or new angles on an old story.

Obviously, you have to take social media comments with a grain of salt, and you don’t want to waste time chasing down every lead. That guy who claims he was abducted by space aliens and met Elvis on the spaceship shouldn’t be taken seriously, but the next poster might have an interesting point about a current topic.

If someone appears to have a legitimate point about a news topic, it might be worth spending a few minutes researching it. Also pay attention to what concerns viewers the most. Is it a particular clause in a new law that most people find problematic? What’s the biggest complaint about each candidate running for office?

Keep these tips in mind when monitoring your station’s social media presence and website. You never know when an award-winning story idea is going to pop up in the comments section.

 

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Trend: Leveraging Social Media For Broadcast Journalism

Utilizing Social Media to Improve Broadcast Journalism

For years broadcast journalists have used social media to announce new stories or new information on a previously covered topic, generate interest in live TV broadcasts, engage with viewers, and even get tips on breaking news. But today’s ever-changing social media landscape increasingly offers even more opportunities for news reporters.

Taking Charge of Comments

Many broadcast news sites have adopted a policy of only allowing Facebook Comments, which requires audience members comment via their Facebook profiles. The main reason for this switch is to discourage trolling and inappropriate comments. While broadcasters want viewers to share their opinions, comments that are offensive, clearly intended to invoke a flame war, or are excessively profane can drive viewers away from a social media post in a hurry.

The idea behind limiting comments to Facebook profiles works on the assumption that people are less likely to start screaming insults at each other when everyone knows who they are.

This works for some news sites, but there are drawbacks. A seriously invested troll can always make a Facebook account under a fake name. Another downside is that some viewers might want to post anonymously about deeply personal topics, like health problems or sexual assault.

Monitoring Website and Social Media Chatter is Key

A recent Gigaom article noted that trolling is often influenced more by the tone of early comments to a story than the method for allowing comments.

It went on to suggest that while using Facebook comments is not harmful to a news site, assuming that doing so relieves the broadcaster of the duty to monitor its comments page is.

The most important thing to remember is that someone from the news organization should monitor social media comments on all platforms—Facebook, Twitter, the station’s website—on a regular basis. Not only does this help discourage trolling and out-of-control arguments, it can also provide new story ideas or angles.

A New Take on “Person on the Street”

Monitoring social platforms is also integral to another way broadcasters are doing more with social media: Updating the “Person on the Street” or “Voice of the People” story.

“Person on the street” interviews have been around since they were called “man on the street” interviews, and the basic premise hasn’t changed. In the past, reporters would visit a busy public place, like a street or shopping mall, and wander around, asking strangers if they’d like to comment on a current news topic.

In a perfect world, the reporter would get a wide variety of soundbites from a diverse cross-section of the local population.

Obstacles in Traditional “Person on the Street” Stories

This isn’t a perfect world, however, and this method of finding subjects for “Person on the Street” stories doesn’t always result in the hoped-for wide variety of subjects.

Often, people on the street are in a hurry to get somewhere and don’t have time to talk to the press. Others are camera-shy or having a bad hair day. People who are eager to be interviewed sometimes have an agenda to push, or go off on an unrelated tangent. Journalists sometimes find that the same three or four people always want to be interviewed, but no one else does, and “Voice of the People” packages need different subjects for each new topic.

Using Social Media to Find New Inspiration

Thanks to these challenges, it’s no surprise that many broadcasters are using social media as their “street.” It’s increasingly common for package tags to include one or two Twitter comments on the issue. Reporters may even include social media comments from previous coverage of the story in a package or interview.

This can help reporters develop new questions. For example: “Many of our viewers expressed concern about how this new legislation will affect our city’s small businesses, Mr. Mayor. How do you respond?”

The Ideal Solution for Small-Market “Voice of the People” Packages

“Voice of the People” is an ideal option for small-market reporters trying to offer a local view on large, national stories.

Instead of wandering a shopping mall and interviewing the same three or four people about a different topic every week, the small-market reporter can pull opinions from the station’s Facebook post on a subject. Many people who don’t have the time or desire to be interviewed on the street will take twenty seconds to type a comment about a topic they find interesting.

Social media is also a treasure trove of new story ideas or angles. You don’t want to chase every lead, and the internet is littered with inaccuracies. However, some comments on a station’s website or Facebook posts can reveal a related story or a new perspective on an issue.

Click here for more on how broadcasts journalist can do more with social media >>

Four Keys For Increasing Mobile Video Consumption

How to increase mobile video consumption

Formerly a place to watch shorter video clips, the mobile market has exploded in the past few years. With mobile ad spending comprising 37% of all digital ad spending, and mobile viewers devoting almost 60% of their tablet viewing time to videos that are at least 10 minutes long, the mobile environment is increasingly important to broadcast journalists.

Better Technology Means Better Mobile Viewing

As phone screens get bigger and better (many new phones offer 1080p HD for video streaming), viewers are more willing to watch longer pieces, including news packages from local and national sources. This results in improved ad revenue for the source, and often increased social media exposure as audience members share the stories they just watched on their cell phones or tablets.

For this reason, it’s important to capitalize on the mobile market. The best way to do this is to ensure video packages are optimized for mobile viewing.

Is Your Organization’s Website Responsive to Mobile?

Most broadcasters’ websites now have a unique video landing page for mobile visitors. This removes some of the clutter on a regular desktop-optimized page, allowing viewers to easily browse videos. When viewers access a responsive site from mobile devices, the page contracts to fit their screen.

You can make sure your organization’s site is responsive by accessing it from a mobile device. Does it load slowly or with errors? Are any links or videos cut off? Do you have to scroll left or right to finish reading a line of text? Are some links so small you can barely read them, and have difficulty clicking on them even with a stylus? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might want to talk with your IT person about improving the mobile site so viewers will want to return.

Encode Videos to Ensure They Play on Mobile Devices

Make sure your videos are encoded to play on mobile devices. Nothing frustrates an on-the-go viewer more than clicking a link and getting an error message instead of the news story they wanted to watch.

There are two types of encoding that work well for mobile devices. One is long-form video, which is ideal for videos that are more than four minutes long. Since most news packages are much briefer, short-form encoding is more appropriate. MP4 is the preferred file type for short-form encoding, but some journalists find the WMV format is easier to compress.

When choosing a player for your responsive mobile site, experiment to see how your video will look in different formats. Ideally, video size should be device-agnostic, meaning all your content should be visible whether viewed on a small device or a big-screen TV.

Choose Attractive Thumbnail Shots

The thumbnail that appears on a video link, also sometimes called a splash screen, should entice viewers to click the link and watch your video. This is important for any digital video, but especially so for mobile. Large, bright images attract the eye and are easy to see on a small screen. Bold images are just as attractive to desktop viewers, so there’s no need to have separate splash screens for your mobile videos. Avoid shots with lots of small details, which may show up as a blurry blob on a 4-inch screen.

To make your station’s splash screen unique and easily distinguished from other stations, you can add a logo or call sign. Try to find a place where it’s out of the way of the main action in your pictures (a corner or a thin strip at the top or bottom of the screen usually works). The station’s logo shouldn’t be huge, but it should be colorful and easy to see. If at all possible, try to place your logo in the same position on every splash screen.

Remember Call-to-Action Buttons

Check your mobile site periodically to make sure call-to-action buttons are easily visible and large enough to click with a finger or stylus. Call-to-action buttons can be used to encourage viewers to sign up for an email list, follow the station’s weather blog, or enter a sponsor’s contest.

The same is true of social media links—it’s very common to find that these are undersized on mobile pages. Encouraging viewers to follow your organization on social media helps maintain interest in the station, so make sure “follow us” links are easy to see and click, and that they redirect correctly from your mobile page. Setting them to open in a new tab of Chrome or other mobile browsers makes it easier for viewers to get back to your page after visiting your social media links.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here. [/su_note]

The Importance Of Optimizing Video Content For Mobile Devices

Optimizing your videos for mobile use

Audiences for both local and national news are increasingly getting news from mobile devices, as shown in a 2014 Pew Research report. According to the research, in 2013, 82% used their computer to access news, and 54% used a mobile device, like a phone or tablet.

A recent Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) survey found 36% of respondents used their phones to watch videos that were five minutes or longer at least once a day. It went on to say that 35% of participants reported watching more video on their phones now than they did last year, with those numbers being highest in the U.S., at 50 percent.

News Outlet Websites Have More Mobile Traffic Than Desktop

Another Pew Research study showed that 39 of the top 50 news sites had more mobile visitors than desktop in the time frame studied. Four had approximately similar numbers for mobile and desktop, while only seven reported more desktop traffic than mobile. Digital news providers, including CNN, Vice.com, and Salon.com, even found that mobile viewers spent more time on their sites than desktop viewers. Although overall, audiences still stay longer on desktop visits.

The Increasing Importance of Mobile News in Digital Ad Revenue

The Pew report also shows that mobile advertising spending is on the rise, with $19 billion spent on mobile in 2014, vs. $10.7 billion in 2013—a 78% increase. Mobile ad spending currently makes up 37% of all digital ad spending, 25% higher than last year. For the digital sector as a whole, video ads are gaining on banner ads, with video ad spending increasing by 56% in 2014. It now comprises 27% of total display ad expenditures, a 14% increase since 2010.

The top five companies for mobile ad revenue—Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pandora, and Apple—owned almost two-thirds of the market in 2014, for a total of $6.4 billion. Facebook had the largest share, claiming 37% of all mobile display ad revenue for the year—a growth of 131%, while Twitter experienced a 111% increase.

Both networks had a growth percentage of mobile display advertising that mirrored the decline rate of desktop display ads, which fell about 10 percentage points. Overall, U.S. mobile ad revenue has grown from a meager $1.45 billion in 2011 to $18.99 billion in 2014.

Longer Content on Shorter Screens

According to a recent Video Ink article, the amount of time viewers spend watching video on mobile devices is also increasing.

Previously, shorter clips dominated mobile viewing, with consumers preferring larger screens for longer videos. Ooyala’s global data, presented in the Video Ink piece, shows people spend about 59% of their viewing time on tablets watching videos that are at least 10 minutes long.

This is good news for broadcasters, whose packages are usually two minutes or shorter. Previously, TV journalists expected viewers to watch shorter clips, like 30 second previews or teases, on mobile, and watch the full story on a desktop or TV. But with the increasing quality of phone and tablet screens, and improvements in mobile video streaming (many phones now offer 1080P HD), news viewers are increasingly watching whole packages and even streaming live newscasts on their mobile devices.

Optimizing Video Content for Mobile

Making broadcast news easily accessible to mobile viewers has many advantages. It helps increase revenue for pre-roll ads, attract younger viewers, provide up-to-the-minute reports on breaking news to anyone who isn’t near a TV, and reach audience members who spend less time watching traditional news.

When optimizing video for mobile, it’s important to make sure your organization’s website is mobile-friendly. A dedicated landing page for mobile viewers and responsive page design are two key factors. Ensuring videos are properly encoded to run on mobile devices is another important consideration. Also be sure your call-to-action (CTA) button is easily seen and clicked on with a small mobile device.

How To Be A Loved And Respected Game Company President (Like Satoru Iwata)

For most developers, the thought of being the president of a video game company never really crosses our minds. Instead we’re thinking about how we’ll make the next Mario, Minecraft, or other massive hit that will bring joy to gamers all over the world. But for the few of us who can see ourselves as the leader of a video game studio or multi-billion dollar company one day, you can’t go wrong with trying to be more like the late Mr. Iwata.

Like any man or woman who has had a positive impact on people around the world, Nintendo’s recently-passed president had the most influence on those he worked closely with. In the handful of people who spent decades with Mr. Iwata, few know just how great he was as both a boss and friend as Masahiro Sakurai did. The two collaborated on many classics such as Kirby’s Dream Land and Super Smash Bros. before founding a company together called Sora Ltd.

In his latest Famitsu column, translated by Toshi Nakamura of Kotaku UK, Masahiro Sakurai reveals five impressions of what made Satoru Iwata the perfect president for Nintendo. Perhaps by looking at what Sakurai had to say, we too can serve as a beloved and influential leader should we ever find ourselves in such a role…

“He was a man of virtue…”

Where a normal person would get annoyed or angry, he would never show such emotions and would instead analyze, organize, and offer ideas. He was someone who could bow his head and apologize for things that weren’t his fault. I often worried about his stress levels, but he always talked with a smile.”

If there’s one thing aspiring developers never realize until they’re actually making games, it’s how stressful making games can be. From technical problems and strict schedules to limited budgets and gameplay ideas that simply don’t work, there are plenty of obstacles to overcome while making a game that could very well drive one mad. Even more intense, is when you’re in a leadership position, which more often than not involves everyone on the team coming to you with the problems they are facing.

Instead of losing his cool and tossing blame around, however, Sakurai reveals how calm and collected Mr. Iwata proved to be even amidst pressure. Even more incredible is his ability to take blame and accept his errors, even when they weren’t his fault. Perhaps this is why Sakurai wasn’t surprised when Iwata took several pay cuts when Nintendo started doing poorly around 2011.

“He had a brilliant mind…”

Even when people would talk at length or without focus he was able to quickly say, “so, what you’re trying to say is…” and quickly summarize their point. He was able to see to the heart of people and things and was a master of simplifying them so that anyone could understand their point. He could immediately make a call on changes to improve. I have no doubt that many people were saved by this quality.”

It certainly takes a level of skill and intelligence to run a company, especially one as big as Nintendo. Even if you’re only leading a handful of people, it’s important to always make sure you remain focused and willing to understand what others are trying to say. This can become difficult when development reaches its hectic stages and there’s a lot going on.

Like Iwata, any leader must do their best to not only understand what others are sharing but also be able to simplify your own ideas so others can understand. As a brilliant mind himself, it is powerful to hear Sakurai talk about Iwata this way. He never let his position get to his head and instead wanted everyone to be on the same page.

“He was a man of effort.”

“Even though he didn’t start out in the managing field, he read numerous management books, he would ask for advice from the necessary people that he would take to heart, and managed to become the president of Nintendo. What he gained from his years as a programmer allowed him to take many long-term projects to successful fruition.”

It’s not every day that a programmer works his way up to be the president of a company, much less Nintendo. We say this because Nintendo’s previous president, Yamauchi, was said to be very picky about who he chose as leaders. But as a hard worker, Iwata impressed him to become the first Nintendo president not to be directly related to the Yamauchi family.

Having worked with Iwata in his early days as a programmer, Sakurai knows what it took for the late president to rise to the top. Like he mentions, Iwata was reading management books well before he was in the field. If you ever find yourself as the leader of a game company, it will most likely be because you had been preparing for it long before the opportunity was presented.

“He was open and generous.”

“Things like his Iwata Asks, and Nintendo Direct weren’t things that necessarily required the president of Nintendo to stand at the front and do. There was always the risk of frivolous criticism. And yet, by being the spokesperson, I believe he showed the importance of properly conveying a message to his audience.”

It’s easy to believe that Iwata was a busy man. Even so, this didn’t stop him from taking the time to serve in roles that let him show his personality and genuine passion for the products Nintendo developed. Suffice to say, Nintendo Direct will not be the same without him.

Like Mr. Iwata, any president and/or leader should never let their position get to their head. Iwata wore suits and attended shareholder meetings, but he also did things few (if any) other presidents do and that included engaging his audience.

Nintendo fans will always remember the fun moments they shared with their favorite developer’s president, whether it involved him holding bananas, asking you to “Please Understand,” or taking on Reggie in a Smash Bros.-esque fight.

“He was empathetic.”

“After he became the president of Nintendo, he would write emails to all employees to communicate and as hard as it was, took a stance to try to treat everyone as equals. He would often ask third parties to see how people were doing. As an individual, he had no self-righteous qualities.”

Much more with a large company like Nintendo, it is no easy task to make every employee in the company feel like you, the president, genuinely appreciates them.

Most CEOs have others write their letters to employees because they are too busy with meetings and such, but not Iwata. As Sakurai points out, he took great effort in treating every employee as an important part of the company.

As a leader in the future, you’d be wise to do the same. There’s just something about having the top guy (or gal) in the company taking their time to communicate with you and make you feel important, even amidst hundreds or thousands of employees.

Lose the complacent attitude many leaders have, and perhaps you too will become a loved and respected president.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

Don’t Dread It, Write It: A Guide To Acting Resumes

How to Write an Acting Resume

Headshots get the bulk of the attention because they are the visual cue that immediately informs casting directors and agents of an actor’s type and range. However, for every headshot there is an acting resume that should be uniformly stapled to the back.

An acting resume should simply list an actor’s credits and contact information in a highly organized structure that provides readers with background information about the face in the corresponding headshot. A good resume makes an actor appear more professional and prevents agents and casting from quickly labeling you a novice.

Staples…You Should Use Them

Since it has already been mentioned, let this be the first rule of resume writing: use staples.

This will guarantee that your headshot and resume do not become separated in the chaotic piles of resumes that industry folk weed through every day. Paper clips are out. Tape is no good. Glue is messy and warps the pages. If you are really cool you can print your resume directly on the back of your headshots. If you are not really cool, just use staples.

Screenplays are Structure…And so Are Resumes

Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman said, “Screenplays are structure, and that’s all they are.” His words apply equally to acting resumes which all follow the same basic format.

Basic Resume Guide

  1. Name: At the top, centered, write your full name.
  2. Agent: On the line below, list your agency and their contact information (phone number and e-mail address).
    • If you are unrepresented, list your personal contact information.
  3. Union: The line below that should list your union status. If you are not in a union, leave this line blank and skip to the next step.
  4. Statistics: Immediately underneath union or contact info, list your basic stats: hair, eyes, height, and weight. Then move onto the meat of the resume.
  5. Credits: These are grouped into Film/Television and Theatre. Start with whichever is your primary emphasis as an actor. Under each subheading, create three columns:
    • Left Column – Title
    • Middle Column – Role
    • Right Column – Production Company
  6. Special Credits (Optional): If you have any credits you would like to list that do not fall under Film/TV or Theatre list them here in the same three-column format. Special credits might include Web Content, Dance, Opera, or Improv.
  7. Training: Underneath credits, list any formal training that you have. Only two columns are needed, one for the specific focus (dance, voice, Shakespeare, etc.) and one for the teacher or school.
  8. Special Skills: Finally, at the bottom of the resume, list your special skills. Think of things that are unique and specific that might be of interest to casting. Common skills are singing, instruments, sports, and accents but anything can be listed here.

Once the basic tenants of an acting resume have been applied, there are a few simple steps actors can follow to ramp up the professionalism.

Quick Resume Tips

  • Choose a clean, standard font and font size that is easy to read.
  • Name, agent, and all subheadings should be bold and larger font than the body-text.
  • Trim the resume to fit precisely on the back of an 8”x10” headshot
  • When listing your role for a Film/TV credit, note whether the role was leading, supporting or guest star. Casting directors probably won’t know the role unless…
  • If someone or something famous is associated with a credit, make sure you list it at the top. A noted director, producer, production company, or actor is a marketing point to that immediately signals “professional experience.”

Thou Shall Not Lie

If staples are the first “yes” rule, lying is the first “no-no.” Not only is lying on a resume unprofessional, but actors who lie are bound to be caught. When an actor is caught with a false credit, there is little to be done to save his or career. Simply put, if you haven’t worked with Steven Spielberg, do not list him on your resume because someone will find out.

Be proud of your past work and list it accurately on a well-formatted acting resume that is nicely stapled to your headshot.

Following these simple steps will immediately signal to a casting director or agent that you are ready to work. Be honest, be stapled, and be cast.

[su_note]Gain hands-on acting experience through our variety of Acting for Film programs taught by industry-leading actors, writers, directors, and producers. Visit our Acting for Film School page to learn more about our degree programs, workshops, and courses.[/su_note]

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The CEO With The Heart Of A Gamer: Remembering Satoru Iwata

Perhaps by the time you’re reading this it has finally started to sink in that Satoru Iwata, one of the most beloved figures in the gaming industry, has passed. It is also possible that you’ve already seen the following quote a thousand times recently:

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. In my heart I am a gamer.”

This was said by Mr. Iwata in front of thousands in 2005 at the Game Developers Conference held annually in San Francisco, California.

A loud applause echoed throughout the room upon hearing these powerful words that might have sounded empty if said by any other CEO in the industry. To everyone who knew of Mr. Iwata, whether you worked with him closely or simply enjoyed his presence in Nintendo Direct streams, it was obvious that although he led a multi-billion dollar company, he still genuinely cared about only one thing: making great games.

This passion already showed at a young age when Mr. Iwata was still a student at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Here, he worked on several Commodore Japan titles as an unpaid intern before being hired by HAL as a programmer. There he played a large role in the creation of titles still considered classics today, including Kirby’s Adventure and Earthbound, before becoming president of HAL Laboratories. In this role he saw many more great titles released, including the first entry in the very successful Super Smash Bros. series.

When Nintendo’s long-time president, Yamauchi, retired in 2002, Mr. Iwata was handpicked by him to lead the company his family had worked hard to build up since 1889. Although a great honor to be the first CEO that wasn’t directly related to the Yamauchi family, the new president knew the difficulties that were ahead. The most recent console release, the GameCube, was being pummeled in terms of sales by its competition.

However, if there was one man that had enough vision to see Nintendo pull itself out of its poor situation and rise back to the top, it was Mr. Iwata. In the next few years he succeeded by guiding the release of two of the most successful video game devices ever created: the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. And like most innovative ideas, Iwata and Nintendo would receive plenty of criticism upon the unveiling of both these products.

For the Nintendo DS, having two screens working in tandem while playing a game sounded confusing and tedious. Who wants to look up and down between two screens to enjoy their game?

The Wii was also predicted to be a failure simply because it lacked the specs of its competitors and did away with classic controls in favor of motion. But as both devices continued leaving others in the dust, the industry began to respect the visionary mind of Nintendo’s young new president.

Even when Nintendo began falling behind in 2011 and onward, Iwata continued showing us that he wasn’t in it for the money or position. He voluntarily cut his salary on more than one occasion to avoid having to fire other employees. His frequent presence in the Nintendo Direct series and Iwata Asks interviews gave people the ability to see a very busy president take the time to show his personality, sense of humor, and genuine adoration for the things he and his company develop for us to enjoy.

It was also in these hard times that Iwata gave an inspiring speech at the 2011 Game Developers Conference:

“Trust your passion, believe in your dream… For 25 years, game developers have made the impossible possible. So I ask you, why would we stop now?”

Although Iwata would live to see Nintendo finally turn a profit in 2015, no one can deny that Iwata still had much more to give. Satoru Iwata will always be remembered as the perfect example of just how far patience, dedication, and the courage to innovate can take you in our industry.

Apples And Angels: Acting In New York VS Acting In Los Angeles

Acting in New York vs Los Angeles

New York City and Los Angeles couldn’t be more different in terms of location and culture, but one thing they have is a thriving entertainment industry. Every year, thousands upon thousands of wannabe actors flock to the Big Apple and the City of Angels with dreams of fame and fortune. But too often actors move to a new market and find that they do not fit. So, how does an actor decide where to pursue their dreams? With a little planning and research the two major American entertainment hubs can be better understood and aspiring actors can make the right choice for them.

The City That Never Sleeps

Broadway is the one thing that comes to mind when actor’s think of New York City, and the pursuit of a theater career is the number one reason that an actor should move to New York. There are currently 40 theaters operating on Broadway alone, with hundreds more off Broadway and in neighboring boroughs.

Beyond the plentiful opportunities in theater, NYC has grown into a substantial TV market with 20+ TV shows filmed in the city. One important note about the shows filming in New York is that they tend to be dramas, think Boardwalk Empire or Law and Order: SVU. This is where knowing your type before a move is important. If you are a sitcom actor, maybe New York is not the best place to move.

Climate and culture is equally as important to consider as acting opportunities because to be successful, an actor must be comfortable with their surroundings. New York has a climate that varies widely from hot and humid summers to frigid cold winters. Besides the drastic climate, rent prices in the city should be considered. According to Rent Jungle, a one bedroom apartment in New York averages over $3,000 per month.

On the plus side, New York has some of the finest training for actors such as The New York Film Academy, The Actor’s Studio, and New York University. In addition, the compact nature of the city means that actors can walk or ride public transport to most auditions and meetings.

Why New York:

  • Incredible Theater
  • TV Dramas
  • Awesome Schools like New York Film Academy
  • No Car required
  • East coast vibe
  • Cooler climate

Hollywoodland

On one hand you have beaches and sunshine, on the other you have smog and traffic. Undoubtedly, Los Angles is the epicenter of the world for television and film production. All the major studios and networks (Universal, Disney, Paramount, Fox, etc.) are located in the sprawling city. Which brings up a major cultural difference, in LA a working actor has to own a car.

Personal transportation is also important when it comes to audition because, in contrast to New York, LA has dozens of casting directors scattered all over the hills and valleys. Of course, outside of film and television, LA does have a large theater community as well. Los Angles theater is respected and innovative, but understandably will always operate in the shadow of Hollywood.

For practical consideration, Rent Jungle lists the average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in LA at $2,000, significantly cheaper than New York. Also, the difference in climate is obvious. Los Angles has a relatively stable, Mediterranean climate with temperatures in the 70’s year-round.

Finally, although LA has a more laid back atmosphere, it still offers plenty of fine training grounds.

Why Los Angeles:

  • Unrivaled Film and Television
  • Film training and NYFA Campus
  • Warm weather
  • More relaxed lifestyle
  • Sitcoms!

The New Guys

Outside of the traditional two entertainment giants, smaller cities around the country are making a name for themselves in film and theater. Atlanta, Austin, Portland, Miami, and New Orleans all offer film incentive programs that are drawing large Hollywood productions. Recent films and TV shows that have shot in these cities include BallersWild, 21 Jump Street, and The Walking Dead.

Impressively, smaller markets offer advantages of their own. For instance, SAG-AFTRA cards are easier to earn, there is less competition for roles, and the cost of living is much lower. If New York and LA aren’t right for you at the moment, consider the other locales that might be more feasible.

New York City and Los Angeles, California will always reign supreme as the dream destinations for actors. However, acting opportunities exist all around the country, so all actors can pursue their careers with gusto no matter where they live. Perhaps someday, after careful consideration and planning, your Hollywood or Broadway dreams will become reality.

Develop your acting skills with our variety of acting for film classes taught by actors, writers, directors, and producers from film and television. Visit our Acting for Film School page to learn more and get started.

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The Art of Acting Alone

One of the most iconic scenes, from one of the most iconic trilogies of all-time, features an actor who is acting alone.

Gollum

Yes, precious, false! They will cheat you, hurt you, lie!

Smeagol

Master is our friend!

Of course, the scene, which is equal parts hilarious and spine-chilling, is from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Most people consider talking to one’s self to be a symptom of a severe mental problem, but for an actor, the ability to converse while alone is a sign of a strong and vibrant imagination. Although acting classes in a studio setting, like those offered by New York Film Academy, are the best way to practice, actors can perform solo exercises to improve their craft. Monologues, imagination exercises, vocal exercises, and the simple act of reading scripts are all effective ways for actors to progress.

Watch Yourself

Johnny Depp famously refuses to watch himself on film claiming, “Actually, my kids have seen more of my films than I have.” Conveniently for Depp, he is big enough to stand by such eccentricities, but for the rest of us circumstances are different.

More and more, it is becoming commonplace for actors to watch the playback of their scenes for directional purposes. So, being comfortable watching yourself on camera and understanding the technicalities of film acting are both important skills that can be practiced.

Film A Monologue:

  1. Set-up a camera, cell phone, or webcam to capture your performance
  2. Prepare as you would for an audition
  3. Choose a point in the room to talk to, a chair, a speck on the wall, whatever
  4. Picture the other character in the room with you and play to them, observing their reactions as you act
  5. Press Record, perform the monologue
  6. Watch the playback and observe yourself. What worked? What didn’t?

This exercise will help you become more comfortable on camera and also help with the technical side of film acting. Do your eyes drift? Are you “over acting”? Experiment with your motivations and technique until you find what works for you. This simple and solitary exercise builds comfort and confidence in front of the camera that directly translates to the film set.

Remember that acting is an internal process that leads to an external performance. Do not focus on external results like your facial expressions or posture. Focus on the thoughts that led to them.

Watch Others

Technically, this exercise is not a solo exercise because it requires other people, but those people do not have to be willing participants. People watching is an excellent way to hone character building skills by stretching your observational skills and imagination.

Spy on Strangers:

  1. Go to a public place – coffee shop, mall, park, or anywhere else with foot traffic
  2. Pick a person and observe them. Look at the way they walk, talk, laugh, wear their clothes, etc.
  3. Allow natural questions to arise. What job do they have? Where do they live? What are their dreams and desires?
  4. Answer these questions as honestly as you can, taking into consideration all that you have observed.
  5. Repeat the process over and over for different people around you.

With this exercise, an actor works on their imagination, taking their surface observations and using them to fill in the details that make a person unique. These skills of observation and imagination directly translate to script analysis. The next time you break down a character, your decisions will be more specific – rooted in observation – and the result will be a well-rounded and unique performance. And to think, this was all accomplished by practicing alone.

Acting alone is a powerful way for an actor to strengthen their imagination and build confidence in a risk-free environment. However, acting alone is only worthwhile if it leads to better public performances in the future. Take these exercises and learn from them, but continue to pursue auditions and classes to further your acting career.

Live, breathe, and eat acting with our intensive 1-Week Acting for Film workshop designed to teach students to the fundamentals of acting for the screen through hands-on experience. Visit our 1-Week Acting for Film Workshop page to learn more.

How To Ace Your Headshot Session

 

Imagine for a moment that you are a detective selecting a suspect from a series of mug shots. You would use the description you have to try to match the information with the person in the photograph. In a sense, casting directors are detectives who use scripts to create character descriptions, and then browse through headshots to find actors who match.

As an actor, you have control over the impression that you create on casting directors through your headshot. A good headshot makes a casting director’s detective job easy by instantly showing potential. Simply put, your headshot can get you more auditions, or it can get you repeatedly tossed into the discard pile. Here is what all actors need to know to ace their headshot session.

The Basics

A headshot is an 8×10 color photograph of an actor’s face. When submitting professionally, headshots are stapled to the back of the actor resume so that anyone can see stats, past work, and a picture all in one. The headshot is the most important of these components because acting is a visual medium. Essentially, the headshot is an actor’s visual resume.

Professional Photographers = Professional Headshots

Headshot sessions are expensive. They can range from a couple hundred dollars to over a thousand depending on where you live, but the price tag is worth the hassle for a professional actor. Decision makers in the entertainment industry expect certain traits and a level of quality in headshots. To be taken seriously as an actor, you need to take your headshots seriously, and have them taken by a pro headshot photographer.

A professional will help you get the shot you need in an industry standard style. They have the hardware (camera, background, lights, etc.) and posing tips to get the best shot. Professionals work with other professionals. Reduce your stress, and increase headshot quality, by going pro.

Keep it Real

Believe it or not, casting just wants to see you. They want to see what you look like currently and naturally so that when they call you in for an audition they know what to expect. So don’t go wild with clothing, make-up, hair, or posing. Nothing should distract from you.

Wear a simple, solid shirt in a color that makes you look good. Darker colors tend to photograph better than light colors, and wearing white is a no-no. Hair should be worn in a simple, everyday style like you would wear to an audition. All photos can be digitally retouched after the shoot, so makeup can be kept to a minimum. Minimal eye-defining makeup and wipes or powder to keep your face nice and matte are appropriate. When posing, natural positions are ideal, and your photographer will help you find them. In general, your hands shouldn’t be in the shot and neither should a prop.

DO NOT: wear white, wear shirts with designs or words, have wacky hair, hold a prop, make a “funny” face/pose, do anything weird.

DO: be real.

Typecast yourself.

Throughout a headshot session, you will have different outfits, poses, and intentions. Each time you change your facial expression, pose or wardrobe, think about the type of character you are attempting to portray. This is an exercise that anyone can do on the fly to add layers of thought to their headshots. What type am I? What do I want? How does a character of this type look? Answer these questions and project them into the camera. Thinking ahead will result in a better variety of headshots which will open you up for more roles because you will have specific headshots to submit for the different characters you can play.

Lights, Camera, Relaxation

When it comes time to shoot, the most important thing is to relax. Be confident knowing that the photographer isn’t going to let you look bad. If you have followed all the previous steps and are mentally engaged in the headshot session, it will show in the final prints. So, relax.

Relaxation will help you achieve the natural and expressive headshots you desire. When you are relaxed you can focus on giving your best to the camera through your eyes. A slight squint in the eyes, combined with energy and zest from within, will make your eyes pop on the desk of any casting director.

Be your own detective by having a well thought out plan for your headshot session. A professional photographer will help you, but as the actor, you must bring the personality. With the tips above, all actors can ace their headshot session and put themselves into more auditions.

[su_note]Dream of becoming an actor? Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy. [/su_note]

Finding a Balance Between Traditional and Digital Advertising

Balance between digital and traditional broadcast advertising

According to a recent Tubefilter article, the U.S. Media Industry Forecast predicts digital ad spending will reach almost $42 billion in 2015. The study suggests digital spending might exceed TV spending for the year, although other reports predict television will remain in the lead for a few more years. Either way, broadcasters should focus on retaining – and even gaining – ad dollars for television, as TV ad revenue remains the primary source of income for most broadcasters.

Tout the Benefits of Television Ad Spending

Both digital and TV ad spending are good sources of revenue for broadcasters, and there are advantages of both for advertisers. In an increasingly digital world, however, some advertisers are eager to put more, or even all, of their eggs in the digital marketing basket. While TV stations can still earn revenue selling thirty-second pre-roll spots for video on their websites, retaining television revenue is important.

It’s essential to remind advertisers that they benefit from continuing to spend in the television market as well. With new updates for business Facebook feeds, business content appears less often in the feeds of consumers who like a company—such as a TV station. Broadcasters can combat this problem by doing their own ad spending on Facebook, but even so, not every fan will see every video link a station posts. Other social media feeds, like Twitter, are often even more crowded than Facebook. Consumers can easily scroll right past that video and never see its pre-roll ad.

There are other concerns for advertisers. Even if high numbers of consumers see a broadcaster’s content and click the link, the advertiser could still be missing people who don’t see or take the time to watch the content. Remind businesses that including television spending in their media plan enables a larger reach. In some cases—depending on the market size and time slot of the ads—TV spending may be cheaper per impression than digital advertising, so including both allows greater reach and frequency without additional cost.

Pay Special Attention to Advertisers Who Benefit the Most

While most advertisers benefit from including at least some TV spending in their media plan, certain products will find broadcast dollars offer a particularly good ROI. A 2014 Fiercecable report shows that TV viewing has been declining among teenagers, but remains steady among adults 35 and older. A Pew Research report indicates that while Millennials get 61% of their political news from Facebook, Baby Boomers get 60% from local TV.

Do any of your advertisers offer products aimed at Baby Boomers? If so, remind them that while their target market is increasingly branching out into social media, their media plan will still benefit from heavy TV spending. Baby Boomers might be joining Facebook in growing numbers, but they still get most of their news from television. If you’re looking for new business, spend the most time on companies whose products are of interest to those 35 and older.

Special Promotions Tie Broadcast and Digital Advertising Together

Spending on both digital and TV ads opens up new possibilities for all advertisers. One common trend for local TV stations is to run contests or special promotions that engage viewers on both fronts. For example, many stations ask a question on social media that can only be answered by people who saw the latest newscast. Then they randomly select a winner from the correct answers. Advertisers can sponsor these contests, giving away branded merchandise to the winner. Whether they win or not, viewers are exposed to the advertiser’s message at least twice—once during the newscast and once on social media. These promotions can be local, national, or a combination of both.

These types of promotions are great for products with a younger target market. Millennials are more likely to get their news online, but a contest can encourage them to watch a local news broadcast so they have a chance to win on social media.

But don’t forget the 35 and older demographic. Even though this age group is more likely to get news from television, 79% of adults 30-49 use Facebook, and 60% of those in the 50-64 demographic use the site. Combined social media/news promotions encourage older adults to interact with your feed.

Follower Engagement is Key

Interaction is the key to social media success with any demographic. With the new Facebook feed rules, most people who like a TV station’s page will see few, if any, of its posts unless they specifically visit its page. There are two ways around that problem: The broadcaster can pay Facebook to put its posts in more feeds, or it can build a high level of engagement with fans. When “likers” interact with a page, by liking a post, sharing it, or commenting on it, they’re more likely to see future posts—at no cost to the page owner.

Combined promotions and contests that utilize both traditional TV and digital ad spending not only help advertisers improve reach and frequency, they also grow a station’s social media following and encourage interaction, ensuring more future posts will be seen by fans. To capitalize on this opportunity, you can offer additional chances to win or special prizes to followers who share content or tag friends.

[su_note]Pursue a future in broadcast journalism. Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy. [/su_note]

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Trends in Ad Spending Affect Broadcast Journalists

Ad Spending

Recent estimates of current U.S. ad spending by Strategy Analytics show that while digital marketing continues to grow, it’s still almost $30 billion behind TV ad dollars. The report estimates total ad spending will be close to $187 billion for 2015, with the digital space at around 28%, or 52.8 billion. While this makes digital the fastest growing category, TV still has the largest share of ad spend, with almost $79 billion, or about 42%.

Why TV is Tops Even in the Digital Age

TV advertising still offers significant advantages to many advertisers. While video and news clips on social media now carry advertising, this space is much more limited. Most video clips only have thirty seconds or less of ad space before the video rolls, generally limiting each clip to only one advertiser. During a thirty minute newscast, on the other hand, each ad break is several minutes long and includes room for multiple advertisers. Because ad space is at less of a premium, advertising on local TV sometimes offers a lower cost per thousand, depending on factors like market size and time slot.

TV advertising is also still more pervasive than digital advertising. If you put down your phone and walk into the kitchen to get a drink while an ad rolls, you probably won’t hear any of the commercial. If you’re watching television and leave the room during an ad break, you’ll probably still hear the commercials booming out of your TV’s powerful speakers.

TV Consumption Still High Among Most Adults

Most importantly, despite the rise in digital consumption of news and entertainment, consumers are still watching TV at a high rate. According to a Fiercecable report, the average U.S. adult spent 5 hours and 10 minutes watching TV daily in the first quarter of 2014. While that was attributed to mostly older viewers, even younger viewers (in the coveted 18-24 demographic) logged a weekly average of 18.5 hours of traditional TV viewing time in a report on the latest Nielsen study.

TV Ad Spending Especially Important for Some Target Markets

While TV advertising is still important for products aimed at younger viewers, it’s especially critical for advertisers who wish to reach Baby Boomers. A recent Pew Research Center report shows that Boomers and Millennials are opposite each other in news consumption: Roughly 61% of Millennials rely on Facebook for political news, with only 37% depending on local television. On the other hand, Baby Boomers rely on local TV for their political news, with 60% seeking news from local television vs. 39% searching for news on Facebook. Gen Xers fall in the middle, with 51% citing Facebook as a source of political and government news, and 46% relying on local TV. For marketers whose target market includes adults 35 and older, TV ad spending is critical.

How TV Stations Can Protect Ad Revenue in a Digital World

This TechCrunch article predicts that TV’s share of ad revenue will fall to around 40% by 2018, with digital revenue increasing to 35%. But that’s not necessarily bad news for broadcast journalists. The author goes on to point out that TV’s ad share decline will mostly reflect a shift from TV ads to online video, and many broadcasters will continue to profit from both formats.

To keep both digital and traditional ad revenues flowing, journalists should produce unique, compelling content for both online and broadcast channels, and use both formats to promote each other. Posting shortened clips of longer packages on social media can encourage readers to view the full package on the evening news. Contests and promotions can be devised to engage viewers on both fronts. Meanwhile, advertisers should be advised to purchase spots in both digital and traditional spaces so they can expand both reach and frequency. Click here for more on How to Maintain and Improve TV Ad Revenue in the Digital Age.

[su_note]Pursue a future in broadcast journalism. Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy. [/su_note]

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E3 2015 Recap: Why It Was One Of The Best

E3, for a lot of us, is comparable to Christmas; an entire week when our favorite websites and social media pages serve as a floodgate through which we receive exciting new from the press conferences, expo floor, and more. Whether you’re all about new game reveals, innovative tech demos, or learning what people have to say after going hands-on with anticipated titles, one thing’s for certain: it’s a very good time to be a gamer.

An E3 All About Games

Although every E3 has its highlights, it was awesome to see just how game-focused this year’s show was. As a trade fair specifically focused on the video game industry, it can be odd to say that some of the past few E3’s have been more about tech and future plans. This was due to both Sony and Microsoft doing their best to convince fans that their shiny new console was the one to buy, which meant giving the actual games less attention.

Fortunately, this year was one of the better shows in a long time for the fact that almost every major company and publisher focused on games and nothing else. No accessory demos, console specs, or talk of entertainment apps; just game reveals, trailers, and gameplay footage. What’s also great is that it wasn’t only big-budget AAA titles but also indie games that were shown off.

Learning From Past Mistakes

Of the three major contenders in the console market, Microsoft was perhaps the most impressive when it came to having a solid game lineup to show. It was almost expected after the negative response they had received for their previous conferences that most felt gave too much time to entertainment apps and other neat but non-game features. Microsoft came in full force at E3 2015 and did not disappoint, especially after delivering perhaps the most unexpected yet exciting announcement of all: backward compatibility for Xbox One.

Plenty of upcoming games like Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider were shown off. Both look incredible. As with every generation, it has taken the latest consoles a while to finally start showing us what they’re truly capable of, and the previously mentioned titles are prime examples.We also got to see the first reveal trailer for the highly anticipated Dark Souls 3, which also looks fantastic visually.

Even more memorable, however, were the slew of new titles Microsoft revealed, one of the most exciting ones being Gears of War 4. It was a title we all knew was in the works, but it was great to see some gameplay, especially when it looks to draw from the original Gears of War’s small but interesting horror elements. ReCore, which is being made by the legendary Keiji Inafune and ex-Retro devs, and Gigantic, a free-to-play shooter MOBA, also look promising. Of course, most people still can’t get over that amazing Hololens demoed with Minecraft.

Affirming That The Best Is Yet To Come

If there’s’ one word to describe how Kazuo Hirai and team arrived at E3, it’s “confident”.

Boasting plenty of momentum after months of seeing the PS4 outsell its competitors, Sony did an amazing job of reminding fans why picking up their console was the best choice. Even if their biggest surprises involved looking at the past, it was nonetheless a conference to remember for any PS4 owner out there.

In the big reveal department, Sony stole the show (even if there were only two new titles that really captured attention). The first was The Last Guardian, a game that was announced in 2009 only to never be mentioned again until now. The other exciting reveal was the long-awaited remake of Final Fantasy VII, a title that, despite Square Enix mentioning various times that they didn’t want to develop, is finally coming soon.

Also worth mentioning is Horizon: Zero Dawn, a title that was revealed via a captivating gameplay trailer that had a female warrior taking down a large robotic dinosaur. Sony also did a good job of showing off titles we already know are coming, including Uncharted 4, No Man’s Sky, and Firewatch.

A Window To The Immediate Future

Unlike the other companies, Nintendo opted to only discuss titles that were making their ways onto store shelves and digital stores soon. For this, they received quite a backlash from fans who were disappointed by the lack of heart-stopping reveals the Japanese company is known for. Even though we didn’t get the new Metroid or F-Zero reveal most of us wanted, Nintendo still did a decent job of showing us why it’s good to be a Wii U and 3DS owner.

Perhaps the most impressive showing was from a game that has already received a lot of attention in previous Nintendo Direct: Super Mario Maker. Being able to craft your own levels using the art style of several iconic Mario games has plenty of people counting down the days until September. Star Fox Zero, which is being co-developed by PlatinumGames, suffered a few gripes from its unimpressive visuals, but nonetheless looks exciting due to its classic Star Fox gameplay and transformable vehicles.

Also revealed was The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes, a 3 player 3DS game that no one saw coming, but looks to be a highlight for 3DS owners this coming holiday season. Of course, you’ve probably already heard of the backlash for the reveal of Metroid Prime Federation Force, a game that looks neat but people already hate because it isn’t Metroid Prime. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, Hyrule Warriors Legends, Fire Emblem: Fates, and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam were other notable title announcements.

[su_note]Want a career in game design? Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy. [/su_note]

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Five Things Your Free-To-Play Game Should Have (And You Should Track)

When creating a free-to-play (F2P) game, most developers focus on tracking the obvious: number of downloads, installs, and in-app purchases. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye on these metrics, it is important to study how your players are interacting with your game by receiving details on the performance of specific elements.

This will help you make the necessary tweaks and adjustments you otherwise wouldn’t know you needed. For example, realizing that no one is trying to complete your game’s achievements can say a lot about their level of difficulty or fun. As we’ll mention later, achievements can even affect how many people stick around long enough to use your cash shop.

Below are five ways to help you see which parts of your game are acting strongly, and which are making you lose players.

1. Have stages to complete

The first one on this list is perhaps the most important because it could be the easiest way to compare players based on their level of skill and progress. Although time-based measures can sometimes be effective, you may not receive very useful information if you’re comparing data from a player who just installed your game with someone who has been checking it out for a month or two. And since outside factors such as poor internet, or gamers who multitask while playing games, can mess up your time-based data, developers with experience instead recommend stages, levels, or whatever you’d like to call them.

Stages are perfect because they allow you to measure different groups of players based on their progress. You can then see which stages need to be toned down in terms of difficulty, especially when a low percent of the players that completed the previous stage are able to complete the one in question. The more stages your players check out, the more likely they are to invest at the cash shop.

2. Analyze the First Time User Experience (FTUE)

Studies show that most players tend to open up a F2P game and only play it a few minutes before deciding if it’s worth keeping or not. That is why it’s very important to track the user flow during this initial time, and see at what point players lose interest. Like we previously said, the longer someone plays your game, the more likely they are to buy something with actual currency. The best way to track the FTUE of your game is by either flagging certain events the first time they appear, or having players go through a specific sequence of events.

For example, you can set it up so that you know when players install the game, open the title screen, start and complete the tutorials, collect the post-tutorial reward, start the first stage, complete the first stage, and so on. If a large percentage of players stop playing during your tutorials, you know there’s something that needs to change.

3. Know what players are buying

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing that a good number of players like your game enough to spend their hard-earned virtual currency on new stages, items, and more. Of course, it’s even more thrilling when that virtual currency was obtained by paying actual money, and not just grinding for it in-game. Either way, you should keep track of how many players are earning your game’s currency by playing the game and how many are doing in-app purchases.

Like many popular F2P games, such as Clash of Clans, your game probably gives (or will give) players two options for earning currency: pay actual money or perform certain goals that earn you the currency. And like Clash of Clans, you want to design a perfect balance between the two so that players keep coming back never feel like the only way to truly enjoy the game is by paying real cash.

4. Ask them to link their social media sites

You’re not likely to find an F2P game that doesn’t ask you to link your Facebook, Twitter, or other social network profile to the game. This feature is very useful to developers, as it not only allows players to invite others to the game, which is a great way to gain popularity, but it also gives them access to specific demographic information.

The reason you want to track his is simple: if no one is linking their social media profiles with your game, then perhaps the incentive isn’t enough. In other words, you should be giving them rewards for doing so to increase the chances of it happening. Study which rewards convince players to link their profiles so that you have a better chance of drawing in new players.

5. Have achievements or objective system

A good number of F2P games feature achievements that are not necessary to progress further, but allow players to give themselves a pat on the back and feel good. If there’s one thing that Gamerscores, Trophies, and Steam Achievements have taught developers over the last decade, it’s that gamers love receiving that sense of over-achieving, and being able to show it off as well.

So what do achievements have to do with earning profits via a F2P model? Simply put, players that find your achievements interesting enough to try and complete are more likely to spend money in your cash shop. This is because they will spend more time in the game and get more invested, which usually results in buying items that will help them earn the remaining achievements.

[su_note]Dream of becoming a game designer? Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy. [/su_note]

Bethesda Tests A New Market With Their Highly Successful Fallout Shelter

Over the past few years we’ve seen many big name developers and publishers enter the mobile game market. From Sega and Blizzard Entertainment, to Epic Games and Konami, there are quite a good number of veteran game companies known for their high-profile console and PC games that are finding success with their iOS and Android titles. Even Nintendo has recently struck a deal with DeNA to start putting their iconic franchises on our portable devices. With the mobile game market expected to reach 28.9 billion by 2016, who can blame them?

Bethesda Softworks was one of the few developers that hadn’t tested the waters for themselves, despite releasing some of the most successful AAA titles in recent years. This all changed during the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo, when they simultaneously revealed and released something hardly anyone saw coming: an iOS game based on the acclaimed Fallout franchise.

Fallout Shelter almost instantly reached the top of the App Store, and even stayed in the Top 5 in terms of grossing for many days. As of this writing, it sits just one position outside of the Top 30, which is not bad for a game that serves as Bethesda’s first mobile game. Even more interesting is the fact that the main devs didn’t even expect it to reach the level of success it has. Pete Hines, the Vice President for Marketing at Bethesda, had the following to say during an interview with Gamesindustry.biz:

“To be honest, I’m not sure what we expected. It’s not like we’re a pretty well-known iOS and iPhone developer where we’ve been down this road before and it’s going to go like this. But it seemed like it ought to be pretty popular, the whole idea of, ‘This thing exists and you can go play it today.’”

The Importance Of Timing

Of course, Hines also notes that timing had a lot to do with Fallout Shelter’s success. Much like Nintendo’s Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which received backlash from fans due to not being the main franchise entry players want, releasing Fallout Shelter before the reveal of Fallout 4 may have proven disastrous. Instead, the iOS title not only became a financial success, but is also doing its part to raise hype for the upcoming Fallout 4 set to release November 10th on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Having their first iOS title become a big success is good reason to continue releasing games in the mobile gaming market, but Hines has also made it clear that, for Bethesda, it isn’t all about the money. Instead, they want to make sure they develop something fun that a wide range of players can enjoy. Doing so requires plenty of preparation, which was done with Fallout Shelter. In fact, the E3-revealed title was already finished and ready for release long before the unveiling of Fallout 4.

As more and more developers shift some of their resources to the growing and profitable mobile game market, it will be interesting to see how this affects the AAA titles we’re used to seeing on PC and consoles. Like Konami, who has already announced their future plans of focusing more on iOS and Android titles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bethesda take longer to develop the next Elder Scrolls in order to release a mobile spin off beforehand instead.

[su_note]Dream of becoming a game designer? Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy. [/su_note]

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7 Easy Tips to Memorize a Monologue

Monologue Memorization Tips

Someone once asked themselves in a monologue, “To be, or not to be?” When it comes to monologues there are things you want to be, and things you do not want to be.

Monologue memorization is a process, and the focus should always remain on the performance, not solely on the memorization of the text. However, without knowing the words, an actor cannot do in-depth work.

With the following seven tips in your memorization arsenal, monologue preparation will be a painless process.

1. It’s a Pick ‘em Game

The first step in monologue memorization is the selection process. This choice is the foundation of preparation and affects all steps of the process, including memorization speed. Actors who are personally connected to the text they are memorizing are more motivated to explore the work, and will understand the monologue more easily.

Choose a monologue that speaks to you as a person and as a performer. Also, know your type, or the type of characters, that you typically audition for, and find a monologue within that domain. An age appropriate character with similar thoughts and opinions as you is a good start.

Another goal is to choose a monologue that is in the active voice, not past tense, or repeating previously revealed information. Monologues where a character speaks to another person or a group of people, in an attempt to get something from them, provide natural objectives and stakes.

Choose a monologue from a play or script that you are familiar with. Knowledge of back story enriches a performance by providing layers of feeling toward other characters, and helps to establish the internal emotions of the speaker.

To learn more about  how to choose an audition monologue, check out our tips here.

2. Break it Up

Once a personal monologue has been selected, text work is the next step. Read the monologue for story and understanding, and then break the text up into beats. Each beat should have a different action and objective associated with it.

This is also the time to edit the monologue if needed. A monologue should only be 60-90 seconds, and never more than 2 minutes long. An appropriate length will make memorization faster and allow more time to invest in the depth of performance.

Be sure to maintain the story arc when editing with a decisive start and a finish that shows change(s) in the character.

3. Write it Out

Now you have a short and sweet monologue that is split into beats that have transitions built in between them. Write out the text by hand the whole way through.

Studies show that handwriting boosts retention by activating more of the brain, connecting fine motor movement with the memory cortex. Handwriting is literally muscle-memory for monologue memorization.

4. Get Active

You probably won’t audition while sitting in a chair at a table, so why would you prepare a monologue in that fashion? Adding locomotion to your memorization efforts connects the words to movement, which will make your performance more fluid and flexible in the end.

One suggestion is to take a walk with your script. As you walk around, quietly recite your monologue beat by beat. Start with the first beat, and when it is memorized add the second beat. This step-by-step process of memorization forces you to remember the transitions, which are where good acting takes place.

5. Switch it Up

After you have the monologue memorized, continue to explore possible objectives and actions. You can do this by speaking and moving differently during each performance of the monologue. Practice with different volumes, dialects, posture, speed, pauses, etc. Change anything and everything about your performance and observe how it changes the emotional outcome.

6. A Italiano

Don’t actually try to recite the monologue in Italian, unless you know Italian, then that would be an interesting way to switch up your tactics. Instead, say the monologue as quickly as you can while playing all transitions and striving for all objectives. This is the ultimate test of understanding through speed.

7. Sleep

Your brain builds connections through sleep, which is the only way to move your memorization work into your long-term memory bank. Plan days ahead when memorizing to allow adequate time for your brain to adapt.

There are no shortcuts to a perfect monologue memorization and performance, but there are easy strategies that actors can implement to expedite the process. Following the above tips will allow you to answer the most famous of monologue questions, “To be, or not to be?” For actors, the answer is to be; to continue living through performance.

[su_note]Dream of becoming an actor? Learn more about the NYFA Acting School and apply today.. [/su_note]

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Learning From The Best: RPGs

One of the most beloved genres in gaming continues to be the role-playing game (RPG). It’s in these games that we often truly feel like we are in the shoes of the characters as they explore different lands, face titanic enemies, and befriend others throughout their adventure. It’s the feeling of helping to shape the world by completing quests, defeating bosses, and progressing through the main story that has always engrossed us.

We can all think of an RPG that in our opinion serves as the perfect embodiment of a certain element that makes this genre so captivating. Below are a few of our own choices along with what any aspiring RPG developer can take from these superb titles:

1. Have a Meaningful Story and Characters

Even though there are plenty of RPGs that are known for their gameplay, it’s often the charming stories that draw us in. We fall in love with a good RPG narrative after spending several dozen hours with a group of characters as they overcome challenges, form special bonds, and perhaps even suffer unexpected fates. When it comes to characters and story, it’s hard not to bring up the Final Fantasy series.

Almost every title in the main series has boasted its own cast of interesting characters that must prevent a certain evil from destroying the world. Even if the plots sound the same, titles like FF6 and FF7 feel like entirely different experiences thanks to the unique characters, great protagonists they face, and more. Unless you’re able to yourself, there’s no other genre we recommend more that you find yourself a talented writer.

2. Go For Something Inventive

Considering how many RPGs release each year, your best bet at having yours stand out from the crowd is by having it deliver something that feels new. We know this is easier said than done, but we’re willing to assume that if a gamer has just dropped 40+ hours on a turn-based RPG with practically the same gameplay as yours, they may not be as interested. You don’t have to completely change the genre, but your RPG should have a gameplay twist of some kind that makes it feel fresh and exciting.

There’s no better example than the original Pokemon Red and Blue titles. Despite having the same turn-based combat and random battle encounters as other RPGs, these games started a revolution by offering 151 different Pokemon to catch and train. By also pushing the idea of trading with others, Game Freak created a franchise that to this day remains for the most part unchanged in terms of gameplay but still continues selling like crazy across the globe.

3. Give Players A World to Get Lost In

Even if your RPG boasts great characters and fun gameplay, having a dull world to explore may just be the reason why many will be turned off. If there’s anything we have learned in the industry when it comes to some of the more recent RPGs, it’s that gamers love traversing massive worlds in hopes of encountering new quests, hidden treasures, exotic towns, dangerous dungeons, and more.

Two fantastic titles come to mind when thinking about worlds that immediately entice players: Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Despite being very different games in terms of setting, Bethesda Softworks was able to have both; offer fascinating worlds by sprinkling notable characters, moving quests, and interesting places to check out. At every corner we felt like the digital world in these titles were alive and connected.

4. Why Not All of The Above?

This is the part where we take the opportunity to mention why Chrono Trigger is a must-play for anyone who ever plans on designing their own role-playing game. There are countless amazing titles that released in the 90s, but very few have stood the test of time the way that Crono’s time-traveling adventure has. Spearheaded by some of the most creative minds in the industry at the time, this game perfectly embodies everything you should want in your own RPG.

From fantastic gameplay, an engrossing world, and memorable story, to the multiple endings, meaningful side-quests, and emotional dramatic moments, this legendary title was nothing short of groundbreaking when it released. We’re confident that those who have tried capturing the same magic of Chrono Trigger, whether they succeeded or not, were inspired to make an excellent RPG.

[su_note]Want to design and develop video games? Learn more about the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy. Campuses in New York and Los Angeles.[/su_note]