Author: Helen Kantilaftis

Creative Jobs Ideal For Broadcast Journalists: Looking Beyond The Nightly News

Woman setting up a camera

In the past, we’ve discussed some of the different job roles at TV stations, but not every graduate with a broadcast journalism degree works in television or radio permanently. Studying broadcast journalism provides graduates with a wide variety of skills that can be useful in other areas of the news business, or different fields entirely.

Why Some Broadcast Journalists Change Careers

The average Millennial changes jobs every 4.4 years, according to this Forbes article from a few years ago. That’s an average for all workers; individuals in television news often change jobs every two or three years, especially if they’re in on-air positions where contracts are typically renegotiated that often. While some people may work at one station for twenty years or more, it’s much more common to change stations and job titles at least a few times.

Some broadcast journalists acquire new job titles as they work their way up to a career goal—say, evening news anchor in a “Top 100” station. However, some broadcast journalists leave the broadcasting business entirely, moving to print journalism or related fields like PR, marketing, or photography.

Reasons to Explore Other Options

There are a lot of reasons people look for creative jobs in a different field. Sometimes journalists enjoy the job, but after a while they realize they’d prefer a career with a nine-to-five schedule. In television news, dayside schedules usually start around two or three in the morning; those working evening shifts usually start work some time in the afternoon, and stay until well after the ten or eleven o’clock news. Larger stations may have a mid-day shift that starts in the morning and ends after the six o’clock news—but those shifts are highly coveted and someone still has to work the other time slots.

Some journalists change careers for financial reasons. Most people start their broadcast careers in smaller markets where pay is generally low, even for on-air positions. There have been situations where a reporter and three photographers were all living together because none of them could afford his own apartment—and there were frequent arguments in the newsroom about who was late with his share of the rent.

Working your way up to a bigger market is a way to improve your pay grade, but if you’ve chosen to stay in a city to be close to a significant other, family members, or friends, you might find that a career in television news or radio may not help you to reach your financial goals in a timely manner—if ever.

Sometimes leaving broadcasting can be an involuntary situation, especially if you work on-air. Stations often decide not to renegotiate contracts for reasons anchors and reporters have little or no control over—they may want someone younger, someone who appeals to a different demographic, or someone who does better in ratings. Often station managers think they can improve ratings by replacing an anchor with “a new face.” A non-compete clause in your contract may keep you from doing on-air work in your DMA for a certain period of time after the contract ends—usually two or three years. Again, you might find work in another market, but if you don’t want to move, you’ll have to consider another career choice.

Different Career Paths In Journalism and Other Fields

Regardless of your reasons for leaving a broadcasting job, a broadcast journalism certificate or diploma provides a versatile set of skills that will serve you well in many fields.

Public Relations and Marketing

Many public relations firms like to hire former journalists. Someone who has evaluated what is and isn’t newsworthy is in the perfect position to shape publicity efforts. You know what caused you to ignore a press release, and you also know what made you pursue a story, or pitch it to your supervisor. These skills could extend into a marketing or advertising career, where experience with a TV station’s production of local ads is also helpful.

Sales

The connection may not seem obvious at first, but journalists also build skills that boost sales careers. In a broadcasting job, you spend a lot of time trying to talk people into things—granting interviews, telling you the truth, and giving you a useful tip. Building rapport with interview subjects leads to better, more emotionally honest soundbites; in a sales jobs, it leads to a lasting relationship with customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

Corporate

Many large corporations have their own in-house “news” operations. In order to keep employees at far-flung locations across the country or around the world up-to-date, they produce their own “news programs.” These can be half-hour programs suitable of viewing on desktop computers, or short stand-alone stories that can be watched on mobile devices. The era of the “company newsletter” is long past, replaced by corporate video. Large companies also produce Video News Releases (VNRs), which supplement or replace convention press releases. Sometimes they consist entirely of raw footage stations can then edit as they choose, while others include a fully produced package that a station need only insert a voiceover based on an accompanying script. As more and more people use full-motion video as their primary source of information, video producers will continue to play a key role corporate communications.

Photography and Documentary Films

People who have worked behind the camera sometimes find rewarding careers using their skills in other photography or videography jobs. You might work in still photography, possibly for print or online news sources. If you like the idea of working for yourself, you could do some freelance work, taking video of weddings and other personal events people want professionally recorded. If you prefer a steady paycheck, you might work for a business that provides these services.

Print Journalism, Blogs, Vlogs, and Websites

Some broadcasters may move to print or online news sources. You might enjoy the opportunity to write longer, more in-depth stories—especially for websites, where there is neither a time limit like you would have in broadcast, nor a page space limit like you would find at a newspaper. Although your editor will still give you word count limits to keep you focused on the most interesting parts of the story, you will have the opportunity to provide more detail, or different perspectives. While newspapers and magazines do have page-space limits, they still pride themselves on providing a more in-depth look at news than television or radio.

You can also choose to start your own blog or vlog (video blog) about news—or a particular type of news, like entertainment or sports. Some former journalists enjoy using their writing skills to tell stories in their own way, while others like being able to editorialize, instead of trying to keep their opinions out of their news coverage. Your skills in shooting and editing will also come in handy if you want to do a vlog or post video.

Successful blogs and vlogs are sometimes financially rewarding—however, it usually takes time to build a following, and not every video goes viral. You should plan to have a day job while building your blog into a viable source of income.

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

No Surprises: Radiohead’s 5 Most Filmic Music Videos

Karma Police screenshot of fire on road

A shade over twenty years ago, a little indie band from Oxfordshire, England released their debut single. That single was “Creep,” and it immediately put Radiohead on the map.

Having come out of the gate swinging, the band only grew in popularity and managed to stay ahead of the game thanks, in part, to a deep commitment to dramatically evolving their style along the way.

Thom Yorke and his merry band’s penchant for experimentation hasn’t solely been confined to music, either. Their accompanying music videos are also a strange mix—at times avant garde, at others outright bizarre, but more often than not they’ve served as food for thought for both musicians and filmmakers alike.

With this in mind—and with the new album A Moon Shaped Pool having just landed with the film referencing music video for “Burn the Witch”—let’s take a look back over Radiohead’s five most thought-provoking music videos with a cinematographic eye.

Lotus Flower (2011)

Directed By: Garth Jennings

Black and white, sparsely shot, slightly unhinged and not making a lick of sense. If that sounds like David Lynch to you, you’re not the only one.

Going on to gain a Grammy nomination, the video was directed by Garth Jennings who notably directed 2005’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which is pretty much the polar opposite in feel to the “Lotus Flower” short. Jennings has never revealed whether Yorke’s white shirt and bowler hat is a nod to Stanley Kubrick.

No Surprises (1997)

Directed by: Grant Lee

Lo-fi simplicity is something of a hallmark of a good Radiohead video, as proven with this visually arresting, one-shot video for one of OK Computer‘s finest songs (and one that the band spontaneously played in one take on getting set up for the album’s first recording session.)

While the song itself is inspired by nursery rhyme, the music video is very reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson’s cinematic style—simple ideas executed without distraction, preferring to put the subject at the forefront of the frame.

There’s also a touch of David Fincher about it, owing to the moody palette and lighting, but the take home here is that a captivating, suspenseful idea usually trumps any visual effects wizardry (and countless similar music videos have followed in the wake of “No Surprises”).

We won’t reveal how they minimized the risk of drowning poor ol’ Thom; for that, you’ll need to see the Radiohead documentary Meeting People is Easy.

Karma Police (1997)

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer

Following deftly on from “No Surprises” was the record’s second single “Karma Police”, which had an equally captivating video to match. Curiously, the idea was originally pitched to Marilyn Manson, who declined.

Directed by maestro Jonathan Glazer (who also directed “Street Spirit” and Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity,” among feature films such as Under the Skin), the video is a typically surreal depiction of an antagonistic situation, and if it looks like it was inspired by some kind of fever dream, that’s because it actually was. But in terms of presentation, the Coen Brothers is strong with this one but Glazer has also admitted borrowing liberally from Kubrick throughout his career.

Of the working process and of getting collaborators on board with bizarre ideas, Glazer says: “It starts with an idea that I’ll be able to articulate, and then it’s about almost putting that idea in a laboratory and inspecting it… and it’s a long process. We don’t start with a story, we start with a feeling, and [that feeling] is your North Star.”

Alas, despite being one of most people’s favorite Radiohead music videos, Glazer himself saw it as a failed experiment.

Just (1995)

Directed by: Jamie Thraves

Even Radiohead’s most conventional music videos have an air of mystery around them.

The overdriven melodrama here is almost certainly inspired by Douglas Sirk, whose influence can also be seen in Pulp Fiction (and directly alluded to by Tarantino, also, when Vincent Vega orders the “Douglas Sirk steak.”) Thraves was picked out specially by the band to direct the short after seeing his experimental University efforts; it was Thraves’ first assignment, and he’s gone on to work with the likes of Coldplay and Damien Rice since.

We can’t help but wonder if the sidewalk guy’s mysterious final line gave inspiration to Sofia Coppola—at the end of Lost in Translation, a similar scenario plays out and also drove viewers up the wall with intrigue.

Pretty clever marketing trick when you think of it.

Burn The Witch (2016)

Directed by: Chris Hopewell

At the time of writing, this one’s fresh on the ‘tubes, so it may be a little premature to call this an enduring Radiohead classic, but we suspect it will be and serves as a great point to close off.

Hugely different from everything that has come before for the band, The Wicker Man is clearly the main influence on this one. The story is as creepy as it always was, but made even more sinister here when presented in the style of a 1960s English kids TV show (a la Trumpton and Camberwick Green.)

In reference to the almost glaring contrast between the bright art style and the sinister undertones, animator Virpi Kettu revealed that this was at the behest of the band themselves who wanted to satirize the idea of idyllic rural communities as espoused by right-wing politicians.

It’ll be interesting to see which single follows from A Moon Shaped Pool, but in the mean time do let us know your thoughts—got a favorite Radiohead music video you wish had made the cut? Any neat film tricks you’ve been inspired to try out? We’ll see you down in the comments!

Learn more about the School of Cinematography at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

6 Lessons On-Screen Mothers Have Taught us About Acting

6 Lessons On-Screen Mothers Have Taught us About Acting

Angelina Jolie, Susan Sarandon, Mo’Nique, Essie Davis, Jodie Foster, and Meryl Streep — all mothers — teach us all a little something about acting.

Mothers: we salute you.

You’ve cooked us countless meals. You’ve put up with our laundry-strewn bedroom floors. You’ve been a shoulder to cry on when we got snubbed by that crush we were infatuated with in high school. But, ultimately, you’ve helped nurture and encourage the next generation of filmmaking talent and for that you deserve unending praise.

And so, in tribute to mothers everywhere, today we’re paying homage to six cinematic mothers who have taught us all a little something about acting over the years.

Presenting…

1. Angelina Jolie – The Changeling

What We Learned: Motherhood isn’t a character trait

With stunning cinematography and a tight script reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby, The Changeling sees Jolie’s character distraught to find her nine year-old son missing. But on being reunited, things go from bad to worse; when she adamantly declares that the boy isn’t actually her son, authorities conspire to brand her psychotic.

From start to finish, the audience is locked into an emotional rollercoaster and herein lies the key to Angelina’s impressive performance: motherhood isn’t just a line on her character spec sheet. Even though it’s central to her story arc, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of her character – under the umbrella of motherhood, she runs the gamut of emotion. At times she’s broken and in despair; at others she’s fierce and strong. Depending on the situation the plot finds her in, she’s nurturing, sexy, divisive, hopeful, frustrated, joyful and desperate…

… in short, she acts as a real person would in real situations. The fact that she has a child is purely circumstantial.

Read more: The importance of subtext

2. Susan Sarandon – Stepmom

What we learned: It’s okay to play to type

While keeping Jolie’s lesson in mind for how to play a multi-dimensional mom character, there’s also no shame in playing that character often if it’s something you are terrific at.

Susan Sarandon is proof of this, and despite having played a mother figure in numerous movies, no two of her performances are alike as she ekes out and embellishes the role in different ways as the script demands.

Stepmom is a classic example – just make sure you have a handkerchief at the ready.

Read more: How to find your type as an actor

3. Mo’Nique – Precious

(Caution: NSFW Language)

What we learned: It’s not all sunshine and roses

 When you think of on-screen moms, usually the first image that springs to mind is one of a domestic housewife living in marital bliss.

But of course, art imitates life, warts and all. That means some performances call for a frighteningly abusive relationship between parent and child, and nobody captured the darkness with more authenticity than Mo’Nique and her on-screen daughter Gabourey Sibide in Precious.

Some characters are more monstrous than others, and parents are no exception. As actors, it’s important to give it our all in order to bring that character to life no matter whether it calls for domestic happiness or terrifying dysfunction.

4. Essie Davis – The Babadook

What We Learned: A duty of care

So terrifying and demented was Essie Davis’ performance as a slowly-unraveling mother (and the entire movie in general) that many viewers were left wondering how the crew didn’t mentally scar 6 year-old actor Noah Wiseman for real.

Director Jennifer Kent, however, took great pains to make sure that Wiseman’s welfare was at the forefront of production. The child’s mother was on set at all times in what was described as a ”very protective, loving environment” and Wiseman himself wasn’t present during more traumatic scenes with an adult extra taking his place: “During the reverse shots where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie [Davis] yell at an adult stand-in on his knees. I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film – that wouldn’t be fair.”

Ultimately, no matter whether we’re directing a film, in acting school or performing opposite a very young actor, we all have a duty of care to understand that great cinema doesn’t need to come at the expense of a child’s well-being.

Read more: 5 performances by child actors we can all learn from

5. Jodie Foster – Panic Room

What We Learned: Not all on-screen bonds are purely fictional

David Fincher’s 2002 thriller worked on many levels, but it was arguably the close bond between the mother and daughter characters which propelled the drama and kept the film emotionally grounded.

And the reason it worked so well is that the bond was real – Jodie was deeply nurturing of her 10 year-old costar Kristen Stewart, who in turn looked up to the acting veteran (Foster was also responsible for having the script changed to make her on-screen daughter a tougher character.)

To this day the pair remain close, with Foster calling Stewart “my other daughter” and Stewart having honored Foster while receiving her Walk of Fame star.

And on a similar (if a lot darker) vein…

6. Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia!

What We Learned: We draw from the strong women around us

The ultimate Mother’s Day movie, and one which sees Meryl Streep performing at her finest (though really, when is she not?).

While her filmography is as varied as it is extensive, Streep is no stranger to performing as an on-screen mother and her career is loosely typified as being one that exudes feminine strength, of which Mamma Mia! is a good example.

And perhaps a lot of her acting prowess is rooted in her close bond with her real-life maternal figures – Streep drew extensively from both her mom and grandmother’s experiences to as a career mother and war survivor respectively for her celebrated roles in Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice.

And the inspiration may even run deeper than that. Of her highly encouraging mother, Streep says: “She was a mentor because she said to me, ‘Meryl, you’re capable… If you’re lazy, you’re not going to get it done. But if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.’”

Amen to that.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those that continue to inspire us, as well as those who are sadly no longer with us.

How To Produce Sweeps Pieces Or Stories In Series Form

Brian Williams interviewing Mitt Romney

National elections make for ideal story series during sweeps.

In broadcast journalism, most stories are reported as they happen, and covering the new developments of a story for several days or even weeks doesn’t necessarily mean you’re producing a series on the topic. Generally, reporters and producers don’t think in terms of “I want to do a series of stories about X or Y.” Instead, they think in terms of, “I’d like to do a story about X and then I’m going to follow up to see if there are any new developments in the story about Y.”

However, there is a place for the production of a series in broadcast journalism. There are several situations in which you might want to do a series:

Sweeps weeks, when TV station ratings are measured—Nielsen sweeps months typically occur for the better part of November, February, May, and July, but as the measurement period increasingly straddle months, weeks have become a more common measurement period. And for major markets, where the numbers come in the next morning, every week is essentially sweeps week. To attract viewers during a ratings measurement period, broadcasters frequently run a series about a topic of local interest, looking at different angles of the story for each installment. Typical marketing messages will say something like: “How safe is the drinking water at area schools? If you are a parent, you’ll want to see this.” In small and medium markets, they still do the sweeps drill about four times a year.
• Big stories that can’t be covered all at once. These may include political topics, controversial local legislation, large disasters that continue for days after the main event (say, flooding and the resulting damage to property), or a local scandal or crime wave in which new information arises frequently.
• Small stations undergoing slow news periods may do a series to provide a more in-depth look at the few news topics that are available. This should not be done just as a way to fill time during a show—you should use the opportunity to provide value to your viewers, in the form of additional information or a new perspective on the same story.

How to Get Started

Approaching a series is not all that different than approaching your story or stories of the day. However, you will probably have a little more time to examine different angles if you’re working on a series. Ideally, that’s something you should do for every story, but sometimes, when you’re running around covering multiple topics, you may only have time to report the facts and move on to your next assignment.

Many broadcasters will ask each reporter to pitch an idea for a series to run during the upcoming sweeps month. There are a few ways to approach this. You can look back at recurring topics or issues you’ve reported on in the last few weeks or months and consider whether there are unexplored angles or simply opportunities to provide a more in-depth look at a story.

A profile on a prominent community member or close look at a local issue or problem is another option. You can also look at the many different stories you’ve covered and think about whether there might be a connection between some of them. Did you cover several different car accidents at the same intersection? Have you covered a lot of theft stories at a particular chain of local stores?

Another way to develop material for a special series is through the contacts and sources you build up over time. A good reporter always nurtures sources. Checking back occasionally with individuals you have interviewed in the past can lead to new, perhaps even bigger stories.

Alternatively, you can spend some time on your station’s social media feeds and try to get an idea of what viewers find interesting. Granted, some viewers’ suggestions may not be right for a series, and others may not be based in fact. However, if you keep seeing different people inquiring about a certain topic, or suggesting it should be covered in more detail, that might be worth considering.

Here’s an example: Several years ago, a local TV station covered a tragic story about a road worker who was killed by an intoxicated driver. She had no previous record, and claimed to have mixed up her daytime and nighttime medications on the day of the collision. Although she pled guilty to negligent homicide as part of a plea deal, she only served about ninety days, plus twelve months probation. A few years later, she was arrested on a DWI charge, bonded out of jail, and was subsequently arrested several more times for DWI and a variety of other charges. When local media covered each arrest, her previous conviction for negligent homicide was frequently mentioned.

As you might imagine, many viewers were outraged by the situation. After every story about a subsequent arrest was posted to local stations’ social media feeds, a deluge of comments from audience members followed. Many asked how an individual with such a history kept getting out of jail. Some suggested she was bribing a judge. Others demanded DWI laws should be toughened.

During a sweeps month, one local station ran a series about state and local DWI laws, as well as sentencing statistics, in an attempt to answer some of these viewer questions. The first installment described the arrest, conviction, and sentencing history of the habitual drunk driver. The reporter explained the leeway judges have in sentencing after a conviction of negligent homicide, and noted reasons judges typically give light sentences—first-time offenders, mitigating circumstances, etc.

The second installment looked at rates of DWI/DUI arrests and convictions, statistics on how many people actually served time for such offenses, and the frequency of repeat offenses for the same individual. A third installment included interviews with local legislators about proposed changes to local DWI laws that, in their opinion, would make the area safer from repeat offenders.

Tips for Covering a Series or Sweeps Piece

• Choose a different angle for each installment.
• Either provide new information or a new perspective in each installment.
• You are usually given more time for a series or sweeps piece. Use it to give the audience a more in-depth picture of the issue or story.
• If you’re doing a profile of a person, try to include details that have an emotional impact, in addition to the facts of the story. Show us the local scholarship recipient studying while riding the bus to his second job. Show us the pile of cold cases the police detective keeps on her desk and looks at once a week, even when she knows there are no new leads. Show us the mayoral candidate emptying the trashcans at his campaign headquarters like a regular person. Things like this often tell us more about a subject’s personality than the rehearsed talking points or nervous rambling you might hear in an interview.

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

How To Find And Get Journalism Internships

Internships Next Exit road sign

Internships are helpful for students who want a hands-on learning experience in a real TV or radio station. Interning with a broadcaster can help you narrow down what kind of job you’d like to do in the field. It’s also an asset to your resume when you’re ready to apply for jobs after graduation.

How Do I Find an Internship?

First of all, start looking sooner rather than later. If you’re hoping for a summer internship, it’s best to start looking early in the spring semester, or even the previous fall. Many summer internships have application deadlines in February or March. Please note that the days of work-for-free interns are gone. Due to a recent lawsuit and subsequent court decisions, interns must either be paid or receive academic credit. Some schools allow students to get class credit for doing an internship during a semester, usually with an approved local company, but you’ll also need to apply for those months in advance.

Several websites dedicated to helping students find internships in their field allow you to search for journalism openings. Many schools maintain a list of resources for students seeking internships. You can also check with local broadcasters in your area—some may list these positions on their “job opportunities” page.

Time to Write or Revise Your Resume and Cover Letter

The application process often varies from one broadcaster to another, so it’s important to read the requirements carefully and make sure you’ve met all of them before clicking the “submit” icon. Some may want a video audition explaining why you’d make a great intern, while others may ask for samples of packages you’ve produced in class. Regardless of other requirements, most companies want a resume and cover letter.

If you haven’t written a resume yet, now is a good time to start—it’s definitely better than waiting until you graduate and start applying for jobs. If you have written a resume, this is a good time to update it.

In general, a resume should have your name and contact info at the top, then subheadings for education, work experience, and possibly volunteer work or student associations.

If a student is responding to a posting, it’s always advisable to integrate some of the language from the posting into the cover letter. They have provided a checklist of what they are looking for, so you give them their own words back. This is especially helpful in an era when, at large companies, software often scans incoming job applications and selects only some of them to be forwarded on to a real person.

Education

Under “Education,” you should list your school, your major, where you are in your program (“Completing one-year program in May of 2016,” for example), and your GPA, if it’s high enough to be beneficial. If your GPA is not where you’d like it to be, you may consider leaving it off. On one hand, employers may assume your GPA isn’t listed because it was a low number—on the other hand, if you actually list your 1.8 GPA, they’ll know for sure. (Obviously, the best option is to make every effort to get good grades.)

Work History

You should list any work experience you have, even if it’s not related to broadcast journalism. The fact that you worked at Joe’s Hamburger Barn the last three summers suggests you were a reliable and hard-working employee—otherwise, Joe probably would have hired someone else instead of hiring you back for the next summer.

Under each job, you should add a list of bullet points describing what you did—in particular, goals you met or exceeded, or innovative ways you improved your employer’s business. Be as specific as possible. “Earned a five-star average on customer comment cards” sounds better than, “Waited on customers.”

If you don’t have any work history, you can list volunteer work or student association activities—especially if they’re related to broadcast journalism. Definitely list any work you did for the campus TV or radio station, even if it was only for a brief period of time. Again, be specific about your accomplishments. Examples of good bullet points:

  • Interviewed news witnesses, asking follow-up questions as appropriate
  • Wrote package scripts answering the questions of who, what, when, why, where, and how
  • Made beat calls to local police and fire agencies and followed up on all leads
  • Engaged with students on social media to learn the types of news stories that most interested them, then shifted our editorial focus to those topics, resulting in a 5% viewership increase over last semester

Cover Letters

A cover letter should do three things: It should tell the reader who you are, why you want the internship, and what you can do for the company. Although you may repeat some sentences or paragraphs about your education, experience, and goals, you should not send the exact same letter to every company.

First, address your letter to the correct individual. Usually applications list a contact person. If not, search the organization’s website—you may find an “internship coordinator” or “hiring manger” listed in the directory. If that doesn’t work, simply call the company and ask for the name of the person in charge of the internship program.

You should use the first paragraph of your letter to briefly introduce yourself and explain why you want to work for this particular broadcaster. Although you can touch on your desire to learn more about journalism, you should focus on why you want to learn from this organization. To show that you’ve thoroughly researched the company, give concrete examples of what you like about it. Here’s an example:

“As a one-year student studying Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy, I’ve always wanted to work at a TV station with excellent live coverage of the latest local news. When I come home from school and watch WXYZ News, I’m always impressed by how professional your reporters are, and how quickly and accurately they report news and show how it affects the average person. Your three-part special on the city’s homeless population really helped me see the subject from a new perspective. I would love to learn from the team that was voted “Best Newscast in Cleveland” three years in a row, and when I saw that you had a summer internship program, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

The next paragraph should tell more about your education and work history, especially any broadcast journalism-related experience. Your final paragraph should mention that you’ve attached your resume (and any other requested materials). Close by thanking the recipients for their time and note that you look forward to hearing from them.

Apply Widely

Even if you’re a great candidate, you will be vying with hundreds of other applicants for each internship. For that reason, you should apply for as many as you can to improve your chances of landing one.

There’s no reason to stick with your city, either. You can apply for internships all over the country. Keep in mind, however, that some internships are unpaid. Some larger companies may provide housing for a pool of interns, but most will expect you to pay your own expenses. Even a paid internship might not pay enough for all your expenses while living in an unfamiliar city. If traveling and renting an apartment out of town isn’t financially feasible, you might want to focus on an internship closer to home—even if it doesn’t pay at all. Or, you could look for one in a city where you could stay with a friend or relative.

Unpaid Vs. Paid

Obviously, most students would rather take a paid internship—which is probably why there’s even more competition for these spots. There’s nothing wrong with trying to land one, but in case that doesn’t work out, you can at least get academic credit if your school allows it.

And while you might not make any money, you will learn about the different job roles in a TV or radio station. If you’re unsure which career path you want to follow, working at a TV or radio station might help you figure out which position most interests you. Also, you get to network and make contacts, which can help when you graduate and start looking for a job in broadcast journalism.

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

5 (Even More) Game Design Mistakes To Avoid

Xbox 360 demos

Like in life, learning the hard way is never a pleasant experience. Instead of identifying your game design mistake beforehand and avoiding it, you get hit by it extra hard when players ask how something so terrible could be in your product. Although even the best and most experienced designers have launched a title with decisions they later regret, only a fool doesn’t study other games to see what mistakes they can avoid in their own.

We’ve talked about five common mistakes before, and then we went over five more. The following are five additional design choices that leave a bad taste in the player’s mouth and are way more common than they should be.

1. Bad Save Point Placement

Anyone who played games in the late 80s and early 90s—before save points were commonplace—knows that automatic save points are a good thing. There was nothing worse than playing for hours or defeating a tough boss, only to die and lose it all because you forgot to save. Our beef is with save points that seem to be placed just to frustrate the player.

For example, we’ve all played a game where a save point happens just before a difficult boss. The problem is that prior to the boss fight we have to watch a long cut scene that can’t be skipped, which means you’ll probably be forced to watch it a few times. Even though they’re also very proud of the cool cut scene in their game, good designers will have the decency to place the save point after it so you can jump back into the fight after every defeat.

2. Bosses with Insane Health

A good boss battle is the result of careful and lengthy design, testing, and iteration by the developer. All of our favorites were designed to give us a challenging yet rewarding experience that made the trek through the dungeon worthwhile. Unfortunately, we’ve also faced an annoying boss that felt more like a chore than an epic encounter.

One way to bore players with your bosses is by making them a “bullet sponge”. These bosses take a ridiculous amount of damage before finally dying, which often involves the repetitive act of shooting/attacking its weak point for a very long time. A good example is the final showdown with the boss, Shao Khan,in Mortal Kombat 9. Defeating him is a boringly repetitive chore of Down, Left, Square over and over until he is dead. Unless the boss changes tactics often and keeps this fresh, it’s better to avoid designing bosses that take several minutes of doing the same thing over and over.

3. Psychic A.I. Enemies

We’ve all been there. You see a group of enemies and creep near them, waiting until one separates from the group. Once it is safe to do so, you take the lone enemy out far enough away so that no other enemy notices. But instead, all the other enemies in the room magically know what you did and start charging straight at you.

Or worse, they find you no matter where you hide and can shoot you even though they’re on the other side of the room. An example of a game suffers in this regard is Assassins Creed Rogue. Specifically, the Aggro distance (meaning the cone of awareness around an enemy AI within which a player’s actions trigger the enemy to attack the player) is overly long and sensitive. In particular the vertical view distance and cone of vision of enemy Snipers are unrealistically large. As a result it feels like Paris is on hair trigger alert to attack the player. It feels like the enemy AI have eyes in the back of their heads. The end result is a frustrating play experience that does not allow the player to use stealth mechanics to her satisfaction. What’s the solution? Tweak and test the numbers for the enemy view distance to allow the player more satisfying stealth play. This issue is becoming less common thanks to improvements in technology, but it still happens. Instead of engrossing players into the stealth gameplay, they are taken out of it when enemies unrealistically seem to possess psychic abilities.

4. Escort Missions with Dumb NPCs

Escort missions aren’t the most common type of quests/objectives but they can be tremendously fun when done right. Players get frustrated with escort missions when the NCPs that the player must work with test the player’s patience. We’re talking about the ones that never seem to move at an appropriate speed.

assassin's creed screenshot

Nothing tests your patience more than an escort NPC that walks at a mind-numbingly slow pace. The destination is already in site, but if you run too far away from the NPC, you’ll fail the mission. So instead you have to walk alongside the snail of an NPC as he or she delivers some kind of monologue. This is even more annoying when you’re being attacked by enemies, which means you always have to babysit the NPC in case they fall behind or run ahead into a pack of enemies. A game that famously frustrates players in this regard is Resident Evil 4 wherein you have to save the President’s daughter, Ashley. Ashley is given to cowering when she should run thereby requiring you to expose yourself more than you would like.

5. Unbelievable Map Barriers

Designing 3D levels that both feel expansive and look believable is no easy matter. But the good news is that developers are relying less on invisible barriers that jar you when you run into one unexpectedly. The bad news is that a lot of the obstacles they place restrict players from moving outside the map are just as unbelievable.

A good example is a waist-high fence or wall in a game where your character is able to jump 10 feet into the air. You can hop over that fence/wall anywhere else on the map, but now it’s being used to indicate where the map ends. Even though we get it, it would still be nice to have a wall that is obviously unreachable despite the character’s jumping abilities.

E3 2016: Predictions for Nintendo

Tatsumi Kimishima

Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima

It’s been a rough generation for Nintendo. Plenty of amazing titles have graced the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, but the latter has definitely left gamers wanting more. Great experiences like Pikmin 3, Splatoon, and Super Mario 3D World were superb experiences, but the lack of third party titles meant Wii U’s were left to collect dust for long periods of time.

Nintendo fans, however, are quite resilient. There’s always a high level of optimism that has them positive that their beloved game developer will soon give them what they want. From new Metroid and F-Zero games to a new console as powerful as the competition in the shape of the NX, hopes are always high.

Unfortunately, Nintendo released a wave of news recently that all but crushed most of those hopes. Not only will the NX not be released until March of 2017 but the next The Legend of Zelda title will also be pushed back to make a simultaneous NX and Wii U release possible. As if that weren’t enough, Nintendo announced that they’ll only be showing off Zelda at E3 2016—the same game we were promised to see release at the end of the year.

But as dire as all this news sounds, here’s why these decisions will help Nintendo succeed during the next console generation:

1. Good Launch Lineup for NX

If there’s one thing that Nintendo didn’t get right with the Wii U, it was preparing a launch lineup that would’ve made it irresistible from the start. To be fair, even Sony and Microsoft released their latest consoles with a less-than-stellar collection of games to play. The difference is that previous Nintendo consoles have released fantastic (and innovative) titles like Wii Sports, Super Mario 64, and Super Mario World.

Wii Sports screenshot

Pushing the NX’s launch from Holiday 2016 to early 2017 means Nintendo will have more time to prepare good games to release alongside it. We may be despondent now, but it’ll be worth the wait when the NX goes on sale with not just the next Zelda but other intriguing titles as well.

2. More Time To Get the NX Right

Nintendo took a massive risk with the original Wii. Instead of a standard gamepad and high-definition graphics, they pitched a low-spec machine with motion controls. The risk paid off as the Wii went on to sell like hotcakes and become one of the most successful consoles in gaming history.

The Wii U was a whole other story. Although the gamepad seemed interesting on paper, it’s clear that developers didn’t really find ways to make great use of it. Worse still, even Nintendo seemed like they struggled selling their two-screen concept. The extra months will no doubt help Nintendo (and other developers) figure out if whatever the NX’s big feature is will actually work.

3. Little E3 Presence, No Problem

E3 is easily the most anticipated video game trade fair. It’s the biggest opportunity for developers and publishers from all over the world to show off what they’re developing. The problem, as you can imagine, is trying to stand out when so many devs have something to show.

Star Fox puppets from E3 2015

While Nintendo always used to find a way to get people talking at E3, it seems they got tired of trying to fight for the spotlight. This is evident by their Nintendo Direct approach instead of a live conference. This year they’re apparently only having The Legend of Zelda on the show floor, which means they can use their online presentations for their big reveals.

4. More Time for Third Party Support And Mobile Growth

As we already mentioned earlier, the Wii U’s third party support was pretty sad. The fact that the Wii U’s technical specs didn’t match those of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 meant that developers didn’t feel like spending time and money to make ports. Hopefully the extended development time will give other studios the opportunity to understand the NX and make something great early in its life.

But while the Wii U loses what little steam it had and only a few worthwhile 3Ds title releases, all eyes will be on Nintendo’s mobile efforts. The success of Miitomo, which barely passes off as a game, is proof that people are excited to play Nintendo titles on their smartphone. Hopefully the reveal of a mobile Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem is only the beginning of a great 2016 for Nintendo’s mobile efforts.

How To Get The Story First And Not Get Scooped

Daily News Extra!

If you spend time on social media, you might have seen the story of nine-year-old reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak, who broke the story of a murder in her small town of Selinsgove, Pennsylvania—beating adult journalists to the scene. Not long after, critics took to social media to suggest someone her age would be better off “having tea parties” or “playing with dolls” than covering serious crimes like a murder. Lysiak later read the list of complaints in a YouTube video, and went on to say, “If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?”

Lysiak later told the Washington Post she received a tip from a reliable source, confirmed it, and went to the crime scene. She then posted the story on her digital and print newspaper, Orange Street News, hours before The Daily Item, a local community paper newspaper that declined to comment for the Post article. Her father, author and former New York Daily news reporter Matthew Lysiak, said there were no other reporters at the scene of the crime when she arrived.

Although the Post story only mentioned the local newspaper, Selinsgrove appears to be part of the Harrisburg DMA, which is 44 on the Nielsen ranking list. Stations that serve small towns in addition to larger ones don’t always have the resources to cover crimes in the smaller, outlying areas. In these cases, an assignments editor may choose to report the story based on the information in a police report rather than sending a crew to the scene.

Getting Scooped Happens

Every journalist wants to be the first to report on a big story, and many TV stations place a high value on bragging that they were “first on the scene” or “first to bring you the news of such-and-such event.” While no reporter or media organization can be first to the scene of every story, you should aim to get the scoop more than you get scooped.

There are a lot of reasons reporters and producers lose the opportunity to break a story. Sometimes it simply isn’t possible—in smaller markets, stations may only have one or two reporter/photographer teams on duty, especially during slow news times, like overnight. If news happens and all your available teams are on the other side of town covering other stories, but your competitor happens to have a crew nearby, you may be out of luck. Stations in larger markets have the opposite problem—they have more reporters and photographers, but they also have more news.

Avoidable Causes of Losing a Big Reveal

While some missed opportunities aren’t avoidable, many are. Sometimes, especially in smaller markets, the person assigned to monitor the news room’s police scanner simply misses something. Maybe he or she steps out of the room at the wrong moment. Maybe something sounds less newsworthy than it actually turns out to be. Plus paying attention to the scanner isn’t the only way to gather news—some reporters have missed out on major leads because they ignored a viewer tip that sounded like a crank call, but wasn’t.

The Police Scanner Is Your Friend

If it’s your job to monitor the police scanner, pay attention and remember just hearing the radio isn’t enough. It’s easy to get focused on a task, like stacking the next show, and hear something without really processing it—especially if you’re used to the sound of routine conversations between the police dispatcher and patrol officers. That’s why it’s helpful to have other people in the newsroom listening at the same time—a coworker might hear something that you’ve missed because you were concentrating on writing an intro to a package, for example. If you happen to have interns, teaching them what to listen for on a scanner can be a good learning experience for them, and take some pressure off you.

But sometimes you may be alone in the newsroom if you work in a smaller station—or, your coworkers might all be as distracted as you. It’s a good idea to train yourself to listen for specific things that are out of the ordinary—an increase in chatter on the radio, for example, over the normal level, might signify something is happening beyond a traffic ticket. You should also familiarize yourself with the codes dispatchers and officers use. While there are far too many to memorize all of them, you should make note of the ones that indicate the most newsworthy events, like a homicide, bomb threat, car accident, etc. After you’ve been listening to the scanner for a while, you should have yourself trained to take notice whenever you hear one. Keeping a comprehensive list of codes handy is also helpful, in case you hear a less-common one you can’t place.

…But Not Your Only Friend

While the police scanner is a great tool for any news organization, it’s not the only one. Most stations also maintain a “tip line” for viewers to call in when they witness news, a link to report news on the station’s website, or both. As you might guess, this setup can attract crank calls, and you should always take anything you get from these sources with a grain of salt until you confirm—but you should try to confirm the information, no matter how kooky the person delivering it might seem.

If you receive a phone call or email about potential news, ask appropriate follow-up questions. Where is this news event happening? Have the appropriate authorities been contacted, if necessary? Does the caller have any video or pictures of the news event? Sometimes a quick call to your press contacts at the local police or fire departments can confirm or refute a story quickly. If the claim doesn’t involve a call to authorities, you may be able to find the answer by searching on the internet.

Don’t Forget Social Media

Not every viewer with a great tip is going to call a tip line or use the appropriate link on your station’s website. Sometimes audience members may just post something on your Facebook page or Tweet a tip to your official Twitter account. Even if you’re busy, it’s a good idea to frequently check your social media accounts, if only briefly. You may just get a big tip that turns out to be legitimate. On the other hand, if a viewer is mistaken, confused, or just getting a good laugh out of posting lies on the station’s social media feeds, you want to know so you can delete the posts—or respond with a correct version of the story.

How You Look at a Story Is Important, Too

Sometimes you might cover a story, but miss a bigger related piece of news. This is easy to do when you’re focused on reporting the facts, especially if you’re working under a tight deadline. Once you’ve written your script, however, it can help to think about the story and all its angles. Have you missed something? Could this news affect any particular public figure, or maybe a group of people in the community?

If you have time, it’s always helpful to do an internet search on people involved in crimes or accidents, whether you consider the story newsworthy or not. Even if the event seems cut-and-dried, you never know what might turn up. It could be the guy who just got arrested on a drunk-and-disorderly charge is running for City Council. While drunk-and-disorderly stories usually aren’t that newsworthy—except on a really slow news day—it’s always interesting to viewers if a local politician is arrested, even on a misdemeanor charge. Or you might find out a company that just received a lucrative city contract is run by someone related to the mayor or a City Council member. Considering all the angles might open up new opportunities to report on a big story.

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

E3 2016: The Titles That Can Help Third Party Devs Steal The Show (Again)

ReCore screenshot

Whenever E3 comes around, most gamers have their attention on the corner of the game world they identify with. Die-hard PlayStation fans will have their eyes glued on Sony’s press conference while Nintendo gamers count down the minutes until the video presentation begins. But even if you swear your allegiance to Microsoft, PC, or the other two big platforms, everyone can agree that 1st party content alone isn’t enough

In fact, some of the most exciting games revealed every year are made by third-party developers. This includes groundbreaking reveals such as Fallout 4 and Final Fantasy VII Remake as well as unexpected surprises like Rare’s new pirate game and the revival of The Last Guardian. Simply put, third-party games stole the show last year.

The following are some third-party titles that could blow the roof off E3 2016.

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

Who would have thought that a cross between Grand Theft Auto and the wild wild west would be such a hit. Red Dead Redemption was an undeniable success for Rockstar as gamers and critics alike praised it as one of the best console games of the last generation. A captivating story combined with fun gameplay has left us wondering why a sequel hasn’t been made.

Red Dead Redemption is the most requested title for the list of backwards-compatible Xbox One games. The unveiling of a second game would possibly be the biggest news of the entire show, especially if we get to see gameplay footage.

2. BioWare’s Two Upcoming Titles

Mass Affect: Andromeda screenshot

It’s no surprise that BioWare is currently preparing another installment in the acclaimed Mass Effect series. The games in the trilogy are some of the best experiences our industry has to offer, and we want more. Mass Effect: Andromeda was announced at last year’s E3 and we’re hoping more gameplay footage is shown this year.

Some gamers are even more anxious to find out what Bioware’s secret new IP (intellectual property) is. Apparently one of their developers wore a shirt at Game Developer’s Conference 2016 with the name of this new title, and no one noticed. You can bet everyone will be paying attention at conferences this year in hopes of learning the identity of this new IP.

3. Resident Evil 7

Resident Evil is one of the most iconic franchises in video game history. The original titles showed us the capacity at which video games can keep our hearts racing via elements of horror. Then along came Resident Evil 4, which revolutionized the third-person genre with incredible gameplay that reinvigorated the original formula. Unfortunately Resident Evil 6 was panned by critics, but it’ll take more than one bad game to make this franchise irrelevant.

The last time we heard of the possibility of an RE7 was in October of 2015 during an interview with series producer Masachika Kawata. Since then, we’ve received spin-off titles and will soon see launch of a CGI film called Resident Evil: Vendetta. Given the huge lack of details on another numbered title, it would be a jaw-dropping surprise for Capcom to reveal RE7.

4. World of Warcraft II

Even people who don’t even know what MMORPG stands for have at least heard of World of Warcraft. Blizzard’s legendary 2004 title has stood the test of time, earned more cash than any other game in history, and continues sustaining millions of players. But even though an expansion has been introduced every few years, World of Warcraft has been losing steam for a long time.

World of Warcraft movie still

Even though the market is more competitive than ever, the announcement of World of Warcraft II would certainly turn heads. If you think this is unlikely, consider what director Tom Chilton said in a recent Game Informer interview when asked about a sequel. His response was this: “Definitely. It’s something we have talked about. It’s something we have talked about for ten years.” Knowing how good Blizzard is at keeping secrets, WoW2 may already be in development.

5. The Titles We Already Know About

Like at most video game shows, developers reveal exciting new titles but show very little gameplay. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a trailer that was made just for the reveal. Last year we learned that many titles are in the works but this coming E3 we want to see a lot more than a logo or 30-second cut scene.

Seeing more of Rare’s pirate game and Comcept/Armature Studio’s ReCore would be awesome. Both developers have the potential to create great gameplay experiences., but we won’t really believe it until we see it. Other titles we want to see more of are Dishonored 2, Scalebound, Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy XV, Titanfall 2, and Gears of War. Here’s counting the days until we get to see what E3 actually holds for us this year to !

5 Tips For Standing Out At Your Next Game Fair

Tokyo Game Show

The Penny Arcade Expo, Game Developers Conference, and Gamescom are a few of the many huge trade fairs small developers dream of attending. Who wouldn’t want thousands of people checking out their game, especially as it’s preparing for release? There are plenty of gamers out there who would probably love your game, but they may never know it exists unless you exhibit it.

If you’ve been to a trade fair before and have seen all the different booths, you probably didn’t notice all the hard work that went into attracting your attention. We’ve offered advice before on preparing for an event like this so everything goes smoothly. The following are a few more tips to help you get the most out of your next trade fair:

1. Make Your Booth Easy To See

If you’re at a massive event like the Tokyo Game Show (more than 268,000 attended in 2015), it means lots and lots of people are going to be walking by your booth. Knowing this, the biggest mistake you can make is designing your booth so that they can’t see easily see it. This includes making walls around your space so that it feels more enclosed and personal. The problem is that some people will see walls and not your game.

Rex Rocket at game convention

It’s also a good idea to face your booth toward where you think (or know) the most people will walk by. This of course doesn’t apply if your booth is against a wall, which means there’s really only one direction you can face your booth. But if you’re somewhere in the middle, try setting up your booth so that the “back” of it is facing an area where the least amount of people will walk by. This way, more attendees will catch a glimpse of what you’re showing off.

2. Be Unique

As we’ve mentioned already, the biggest challenge that comes with exhibiting at a big event is getting the attention you know your game deserves. But with so many booths surrounding yours, how is this possible? One thing you can do is refrain from doing what all the other booths are doing, even if it looks like it’s working for them.

Instead, try making your booth unique and appealing. If everyone else has neon lights and bright colors, go for something darker yet intriguing. This might be tough since trying to put something together at the last minute is a very bad idea, so it’s hard to react to what other booths near yours are doing. Use your brain and come up with designs, shapes, and colors that you think no one else will also try pulling off.

3. Make Your Booth Approachable

Your game should of course be the biggest reason why anyone approaches your booth. However, there are small things you can do to entice walker byers to spend time in your “area.” The longer they hang around there, the more likely they are to finally pick up your controller and play the game you’ve worked so hard on.

Indiecade exhibitors lounge in a booth

One small tip is to have some kind of seats, even if they’re metal folding chairs that no one finds comfortable. But to someone who’s been walking around for several hours, they’ll look very inviting. Sometimes it’s also a turn-off seeing a dev standing next to their setup with the same “please try it” look as the people giving samples at Costco. There are those who like talking to devs, but some people will only approach a game if they don’t think someone’s going to distract them by talking.

4. Prepare for Problems and Exhaustion

We touched on this before on our last five tips. Exhibiting at shows means staying active for more hours in a row than you’re probably used to. This means you need to make sure you get plenty of rest when the doors are closed and stay well nourished during the event. Bring snacks you can munch on whenever you get the chance, such as when there’s a big event elsewhere and so there aren’t a lot of people in your area.

It also helps to go in knowing that something can (and probably will) go wrong. This way, you won’t panic when a disastrous bug that renders your game playless pops up precisely when you have a line of people waiting to play. If you stay calm and tackle one issue at a time, you’ll eventually sort things out and get back to demonstrating your game.

5. Set Up An Event Or Two

The truth is, video game trade shows often boil down to a competition for attention. Perhaps this is why Nintendo has reduced their presence at E3 each year and instead focused on their own Nintendo Direct presentations. To get people to look your booth’s way and not the one nearby, setting up fun events might do the trick.

cosplay contest at convention

Since people love free stuff, frequently contests where the winner gets swag. This can include your game, such as seeing who can get the highest score out of X amount of participants, or something random and silly like a pie-eating competition or who can twirl a hula hoop the longest. People show up cosplaying so you can even set up a cosplay contest. The goal is to capture their attention and hopefully engrave your game’s name in their minds.

The Up-And-Coming Actors Performing At Coachella 2016

Coachella banner

It’s that time of year again—the days are longer, people’s calendars are filling up with more and more parties, and outdoor festivities are popping up more often than a jack-in-the-box at a preschool. Spring is definitely in the air. And how fitting that the flora is flourishing again as many heads would seem all but bare without the floral accessories accompanying them to the festivals of this season. Namely one, in particular—COACHELLA (ella, ella… a nod to Rihanna’s surprise guest performance with Calvin Harris on Sunday for those of you wondering). It’s not news that this yearly event in the middle of a Palm Springs’ desert gathers big names in entertainment – both on and off the stage. And this year’s artist line up is no different. What may be news to some, however, are the names these musical artists are making for themselves in film and television. So here are a few noteworthy crossover acts in that respect.

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky on stage

Rick Famuyiwa’s coming-of-age Hip Hop film, Dope, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year to much fanfare. It was also the acting debut for Rocky (birth name Rakim Mayers) who played the integral part of ‘Dom’—a charismatic drug dealer from the notorious streets of Inglewood, California. Although he only appears in the first half of the film, Rocky really made his time count. Acting as the catalyst for the film’s protagonist, Malcom (Shameik Moore), a 90s hip-hop loving “geek” having to deal with a terrible string of events following their meeting, Dom manages to exude likeability and a surprising amount of humor. That said, you get the feeling this isn’t another episode of stunt-casting to get people in theatre seats; Rocky is actually a good actor. “Rocky is so smart and such an intuitive actor that you sort of know unexpected casting would play into how I wanted Dom to be perceived,” says Dope director and writer, Famuyiwa. Looks like the “L$D” rapper has a bright (and diverse) future in film—“Moving forward, I don’t want to play any more roles playing a drug dealer, or a handsome guy,” he says

Sia

Sia and Maddie Ziegler at the Grammys

Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage

“I was too embarrassed to tell anyone I wanted to make a movie,” said the talented singer-songwriter during a panel last year. “And then last year, after I made the Chandelier video, I realized that I was pretty good at directing, so I felt a little bit braver.” With her frequent partner-in-crime, Maddie Ziegler (the child dancer starring in the singer’s music videos for “Chandelier,”Elastic Heart,” and “Big Girls Cry”) taking the main role, the film, entitled Sister, follows a sober drug dealer and his sister with autism. Based on a story Sia wrote around eight years ago, the singer sought help from numerous industry friends for her first go at screenwriting, including the children’s book author Dallas Clayton, actor Joel Edgerton, and husband and documentary filmmaker, Erik Anders Lang. “What I do enjoy is the creative process,” says the artist when comparing similarities between music and filmmaking.

Bat For Lashes

Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes

Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes has a number of short films under her belt. The British singer-songwriter and clothing designer has produced one of six parts for the MTV World film, Madly. The film series also includes works from Gael Garcia Bernal and Mia Wasikowska and showcases stories of modern love. Khan’s film is called “I Do.” “It’s about a bride, the morning of her wedding, being disturbed by subterranean weird feelings, messages and signs… It’s all about redemption of grief, putting ghosts to bed before you can move into a fully committed relationship,” she says. The multi-talented singer also directed and starred in her own short film, “Under The Indigo Moon”—a film she made for fashion house YMC for whom she created a clothing line. The film also showcases the song of the same name—one on which she collaborated with singer. In addition to these, Khan is also in the process of writing a screenplay for a film commissioned in 2014 called Gotcha, a family drama about a father and son in a dysfunctional family situation playing hide-and-seek.

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding

The “It” girl of British pop managed to showcase some impressive acting skills in a short film, “Tom And Issy,” which premiered on her Vevo channel in late 2013. Written by Dead Car creators, Stefan Georgiou and Sam Bern, and directed by Notting Hill director Roger Hill, the story was shot entirely on a Nokia Lumia 1020 and captures the complex and intricate details of falling in love. Goulding plays the main role of Issy, who gets whisked away by her flatmate, Tom, from an unappreciative boyfriend to explore London at its finest. As successful as her career in music may be, the singer admits she’s always dreamed of becoming an actress and hopes to eventually swap singing for a career in television. “I’d quite like to act at some point. I just think it’d be quite fun. It’d be another one of my experiments… You’ve got to get experience in front of the cameras [in a soap opera]… Or I’d like to do a play,” she says.

Ice Cube

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along

This hip-hop veteran has accumulated a long list of accolades for his role in films that easily matches his successes in music over the past few decades. By the ripe, young age of twenty, he had already assisted in founding—and later departed—what some would consider the most influential rap groups of all time, N.W.A. With no time to waste, he went on to start an acclaimed solo career in both music as well as the big screen, starring in 1991’s Boyz n the Hood—a role that would instantly establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in film. Since then, the rapper has amassed an extensive filmography that covers everything from family-friendly fare and dramas to action and goofy comedy. While appearing in John Singleton’s Higher Learning in 1992, the multi-talented rapper took on the director’s advice to start writing his own films.

Three years later, he starred in the cult comedy classic, Friday, which he co-wrote with DJ Pooh. He then went on to write, direct, and act in The Players Club in 1998 as well as writing, producing, and starring in Next Friday in 2000. With a string of acting gigs in critically acclaimed films over the past decade, his most recent film career highlight came about yet again just last year, with the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton. The Oscar-nominated film, which he produced, has made a definitive mark, boasting the highest domestic box office tally for a film that’s directed by a black filmmaker, F. Gary Gray. In the same year, it was also picked by the Screen Actors Guild for a nomination in the “best performance by a cast in a motion picture” category. All in all, the film’s success was truly “Dream come true stuff, man,” as Cube explains.

Learn more about the Film School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

E3 2016: Predictions for Microsoft

Gears of 4 image shot

Another year, another opportunity for the biggest names in the industry to show us what they’ve got cooking for us. E3 is more than just about wowing your fanbase with big surprises and new titles. It’s about convincing gamers to forget about the competition by promising them more joy and entertainment down the road.

Sony had a strong presence last year but Microsoft also didn’t do too bad at the highly-anticipated event. A good job was done to hype us up for surprises like ReCore as well as late 2015 titles like Halo 5, Forza Motorsport 6, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Who could forget probably the most exciting surprise of all—Xbox One backwards compatibility.

Below are some of our predictions of what Microsoft has in store for us this coming E3 2016.

1. More Gears of War 4

Fans of the series were blown away by the sharp Gears of War 4 gameplay trailer from last year. Although many questions were left unanswered, including as who the two characters were, the notion that Gears will bring back horror elements like with the very first game had fans impressed.

Since Microsoft’s latest entry in their other big series (Halo 5: Guardians) already went out the door last year, Spencer and his team will definitely put the spotlight on the next Gears of War this E3. We know more about the story thanks to interviews with The Coalition but there’s still plenty more to share. You can rest assured Xbox One owners are anxious to learn more about Marcus Fenix’s son and the new threat facing Sera.

2. HoloLens News

HoloLens user with globe

Virtual reality is all the rage these days, especially with the recent release of Oculus Rift. Sony has been offering plenty of details about their upcoming PlayStation VR, including the reveal of a $399 price point at Game Developers Conference 2016. Now it’s Microsoft’s turn to talk up their own VR experience.

Last year’s HoloLens demo with Microsoft was one of the highlights of the conference. We’re confident that we’ll see yet another presentation that demonstrates how their VR headset has progressed. If virtual reality truly is the next evolution of gaming, you can bet Microsoft plans to make a strong presence.

3. The Exclusives

Nintendo has learned the hard way that 3rd party support is very important. Of course, few can argue against the Wii U’s superior lineup of exclusive titles. If there’s one thing Microsoft needs to do to catch up to the PS4’s sales, it’s show off the games you can only play on their console.

There are a number of Xbox-only games that we can expect to see at E3 2016. Perhaps one of the most exciting ones is Halo Wars 2, a console RTS in development by Creative Assembly. Crackdown 3 and Titanfall 2 will also most likely make an appearance, although the latter isn’t guaranteed to be exclusive. Other titles we want to see are Rare’s Sea of Thieves, Scalebound, and ReCore.

4. The Unexpected Surprises

Minecraft screenshot

The big reveals are the reason E3 is the biggest gaming event on the planet. It’s what leaves people talking weeks, if not months after the event has closed its doors. Since the competition always has secret weapons of their own ready to unveil, Microsoft will have to deliver at least one or two good surprises.

Our Minecraft 2 prediction from last year didn’t happen, but there’s no way Microsoft isn’t planning on it. We may even already get a look at the next Halo in the works. Although probably not exclusives, being the ones to reveal Red Dead Redemption 2 would be huge. As for the too good to be true prediction, a new Banjo-Kazooie 3D platformer would send the Internet into chaos. A slim version of the Xbox One is also always a possibility.

5 Classic Video Games That Changed Everything: From Mario to WoW

Grand Theft Auto 3 cast

Compared to the history of film and television, video games are still pretty much in their infancy. One can also argue that games are advancing much faster than either of the two thanks to better tech and new ideas. Twenty years ago we were all playing 32-bit titles but can now jump into a massively multiplayer online world with hundreds, if not thousands of others.

Although games today blow yesterday’s classics away in terms of polygon count and download sizes, some of the best our industry has to show are from way back when. It’s thanks to more than nostalgia that veteran designers frequently recommend up-and-comers to check out the games that changed everything. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Super Mario Bros. (1985) – Fun For All

To a Minecraft and Call of Duty kid of today, it may be impossible to believe that Super Mario Bros. was a breakthrough in its time. Not only did it serve as the birth of Nintendo’s biggest mascot but it also single-handedly helped save the video game market after its infamous crash. Three decades and more than half a billion game sales later, the Mario franchise continues playing a large role in the industry.

So what was it about Super Mario Bros. that convinced people to once again spend their hard-earned cash on video games? Accessible gameplay. To this day, anyone can pick up Super Mario Bros. and immediately start hopping on Goombas, entering pipes, and making their way to the flag at the end. Hand a non-gamer an Xbox One or PS4 controller and a copy of any big-budget title today and you’ll see them stare down in confusion.

2. World of Warcraft (2004) – Making Friends

Before Blizzard unleashed arguably the most influential MMO of all time, people did have online games to get lost in. Before 2001 there were titles like EverQuest and Lineage as well as RuneScape, Dark Age of Camelot, and more. If you wanted to hop into a big world and quest with other players from across the globe, you had a number of choices.

World of Warcraft screenshot

Then World of Warcraft arrived to nearly wipe out all the competition. There are many reasons why, including great gameplay, cinematics, and graphics. But the one reason numbers only continued growing was due to its social elements. Whether it was raiding, questing, or just hanging out in a main city and listening to nonsense on trade chat, Blizzard’s world made you feel connected with other players.

3. Grand Theft Auto III (2001) – Freedom

Today, gamers know what to expect from a Grand Theft Auto game. That still didn’t stop the fifth entry in the series from leaving everyone who played it stunned. With its improved gunplay, expansive world, and three characters to switch between, it’s no surprise that GTA V ended up being one of the most successful games of all time.

More than a decade earlier, the first 3D entry in the series was released to the same applause. Grand Theft Auto III gave players freedom unlike any other game in that time. If you didn’t want to do the main storyline, you could drive around wreaking havoc by stealing cars, fighting random people, and running from the law. More importantly, all those extra things to do were fun.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) – Captivating World

Plenty of great games had released before 1988 that showed us what 3D could do. Super Mario 64, Spyro, Resident Evil, and Tomb Raider are few of the many trailblazing titles that made us forget about our beloved 2D adventures for a while. Eventually we were introduced to a Hyrule that felt alive and expansive.

Link from Ocarina of Time

Ocarina of Time’s world was a sight to behold back in the day, and even now if you can forgive the outdated visuals. Every area of the game feels like it’s part of a living world, complete with beings that are still going about their business after you leave. If you’re looking to create a game with a world that invites players

5. Wolfenstein 3D (1992) – We Like Shooting Things

The first-person shooter genre is hands-down one of the most popular today. Thanks to franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, and many more we could mention, FPS titles have been raking in the dough for developers and publishers for many years now. The ability to play with people from all over the globe thanks to better tech has helped significantly

Of course, it all started with a little game called Wolfenstein 3D. The PC game by id Software introduced us to gameplay elements we still see today—health packs, holding more than one weapon, and more. Although the visuals haven’t really stood the test of time, it’s still a great game to pick up if you want to see where the genre was born.

How To Make A Great Audition Video

Making an audition video

Most broadcast journalism students who want to pursue an on-air career make an audition video in their senior year, prior to applying for jobs in the industry. (These are sometimes called audition or demo reels, although those technologies have been replaced by DVDs, uploading your video as part of an online submission process, or providing a link to your work.) You’ll have more footage to work with after you have produced several projects. Still, it’s never a bad idea to start thinking about the kind of footage you want to use. You might want to record some special material—in particular, stand-ups—for use on your audition reel.

Keep it Short

Most audition videos should be no more than four or five minutes, although two or three minutes is acceptable and sometimes preferable. Station managers, news directors, and other people who make hiring decisions at TV stations are busy people with many other job functions. They also receive, on average, dozens or even hundreds of audition videos every month (this varies a bit depending on the size of the station). In the spring, when most journalism students graduate, that number increases. The bigger the station, the more videos they have to sift through.

What does that mean for you? It means some hiring managers may not have time to watch every audition video. They may choose some to watch based on the attached resumes, so it’s important to make sure yours is in good shape. It’s a good idea to ask a professor, if he or she has time, to look over your resume and make suggestions. Make sure to include any work you did for the school’s TV or radio station, even if it was unpaid or required for a class. Also include any internships, and part-time or summer jobs at local broadcasters.

Assuming the person in charge of hiring decides to watch your video, he or she probably won’t view the whole thing. Again, people in those positions are busy and overwhelmed with audition videos. Even if they like you, they’ll probably just watch the first 30 or 60 seconds, or they may fast-forward to the next clip to see if there’s anything different on the video.

What Does That Mean for Me?

That means it’s important to grab your viewer’s attention right away. Some professors recommend putting a slate (also known as a graphic) at the beginning and end with your name and contact info. This doesn’t have to stay up for more than a few seconds at the beginning—if interested, a hiring manager can always rewind and freeze the frame.

The first piece of video that rolls should be your best work. In three minutes, you could put six thirty-second packages on your tape, or four thirty-second packages and two sixty-second stories, or various other combinations. You can also include a montage of stand-ups and live shots. If you think some of your packages are slightly better, you should start and end with the best ones.

How Do I Decide?

This can be a tough one, especially if you have regularly appeared on a school TV station, and make a point to save a copy of all your videos. There may be some you can rule out right away—ones where you stumbled on a sentence, or experience technical difficulties, for example. (Of course those things happen in television and provide good learning opportunities, but they shouldn’t be on your audition video.)

You should also make sure you were professionally dressed in any video you’re considering. Most students have at least a few clips of themselves in jeans and a t-shirt, because it’s easy to forget you’re going to shoot a story or anchor the news at your school TV station later. You may also have outdoor videos where the wind has messed up your hair, tugged your tie crooked, etc. Those shouldn’t be on your audition reel either.

Audition video footage should show you in the type of clothing you’d wear to a job interview—a suit jacket or blazer, dress shirt or blouse, and matching pants or skirt. Not all TV stations require men to wear ties on-air today, but it won’t hurt to wear one. You might be able to get away with wearing flip-flops if your feet don’t show in the video, but remember you’ll be expected to wear real shoes to work when you get a job. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid t-shirts, tank tops, jeans, shorts, sequins, and anything you would wear to the beach or a nightclub.

Keep in mind that most TV stations won’t hire someone with purple hair, a nose ring, or a lot of highly visible tattoos for an on-air position. Of course you have the right to express yourself, and you could argue that a reporter with unicorn hair is just as skilled a journalist as a reporter with a more traditional hairdo. You’d probably be right—in fact, you might even be able to find a person with green hair and a nose-to-ear chain who can out-investigate someone who looks like a clone of David Muir.

But, whether you like it or not, TV hiring managers will pass up anyone who doesn’t fit with the image they want to project for their stations. You could argue that they should care more about journalistic skill than conforming to an image, but the fact is most broadcasters care about both when making hiring decisions.

Buying professional-looking clothes can be expensive, and not everyone can afford it after paying for tuition, books, etc. Thrift stores sometimes have gently-used career clothes at a low cost. You might also be able to borrow a suit jacket from a friend before going to shoot something for your campus TV station.

Variety is a Good Thing

If possible, you should show clips of yourself both anchoring and reporting. Also try to use video in different locations—maybe one outdoor shot, one at the news desk, another at an indoor news scene. Try to make sure you’re not wearing the same thing in every clip you use—that tells the hiring manager you shot a bunch of stuff in one day to make your audition reel, and you don’t have much experience.

A variety of news topics is also a good thing. You should have some serious stories—about the economy, politics, or crime, for example—interspersed with more lighthearted, or even humorous, topics—sporting events, local fairs/carnivals, concerts, local person who did something unusual or set a record, stories about animals, etc. This shows that you’re versatile, and a less serious story is an opportunity to prove you’re able to try new things and poke fun at yourself—say, letting a monkey climb on your head at the local zoo. Being a good sport is an important part of being a journalist.

Audition Videos Aren’t Just For On-Air Positions

If you seek a job as a producer, newscast director, photographer, or one of many other off-air positions, you should have video of newscasts you produced, directed, etc. You will need to explain in your cover letter what you contributed to the video you’re submitting. For example: “I’ve attached a sample of three packages I shot, then edited per the reporter’s instructions.” By being precise and to-the-point, you’ll grab the attention of a potential employer while showing off your diverse strengths.

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

How To Become A Game Artist

Batmobile from Arkham Asylum

Do you fancy yourself creating the virtual worlds where players explore and get lost in? The job of Game Artist is becoming more and more sought after, and it’s no surprise. You get to work with a team of designers to bring ideas to life, whether that be 3D or 2D. Maybe it’s all the same to you just as long as you can help create games for a living.

Below are a number of things you should make a list if you want to become a Game Artist. The more you can check off, the more likely you are to make it:

1. Actually Enjoy Drawing

To be a game artist you may be required to draw— a lot. While this may seem obvious, it’s not hard to find someone who enjoys drawing a sketch or two a week, or maybe even a quick drawing every day. But show us someone who almost always spends their free time drawing and I’ll show you a Game Artist ready to one day help make something great (Titles from the past Link).

And while it’s possible to become a 3D modeler or art software expert without being good at drawing, having that skill does make you more versatile. Being able to draw your idea before spending time creating it in a 3D graphics program is a big plus. A game artist that can draw is usually more flexible and creative, which is what every studio wants in their team.

2. Learn The Software

Drawing skills are great but they’ll only get you so far in today’s gaming industry. Even a sketch artist makes use of different photo editing programs to sharpen up their work. If you see yourself as a 2D artist, the latest softwares like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator should definitely be in your repertoire of skills.

Game artist at work

If you fancy yourself a 3D artist instead, there are a number of programs you should be familiar with. Autodesk Maya is one of the more popular 3D programs that is used used by big developers like Naughty Dog and Quantic Dream. 3DS Max is also a common one.

3. Know What You’re Good At

The term “game artist” is very general and unspecific. When you look at the credits of most games, you may not even see it used. Instead, you’ll see things like Character Animator, Character Artist, and Marketing Artist. Unless you’re a part of a small indie team, chances are you’ll be hired to work on a specific area of the game.

So the sooner you learn where your strength lies, the better. Are you good at sketching things just based off of words and ideas? Maybe the role of Concept Artist is for you. Someone who prefers working on the game world may find an interest in a career as an Environmental Artist or even Level Designer. Other common ones are User INterface Artist, FX Animator, and Art Director.

How To Sabotage Your Game’s International Chances

Yokai Watch gameboy DS game cover

The game industry is more competitive than ever, enough that finding success in any one country is hugely challenging. Imagine then trying to create a title that is popular in multiple countries at the same time. While luck is always a factor, global success isn’t going to happen unless you prepare.

The following are oversights that game developers make when trying to turn their new game into an international sensation.

Mistake #1: Don’t Study Their Culture

“Localization” is the term used to describe when a game is prepared for other territories. The most obvious reason for this is language. Your English-only game won’t have much success in China or Brazil or France if the people in those countries can’t read the text. But what many fail to realize is that merely translating to additional languages is only part of the process.

Localization also requires an understanding of the respective territory’s culture, including popular trends, the food they eat, country traditions, and more. So if the American version of your game has cheeseburgers or hotdogs as health items, it would make a big difference changing those to sushi rolls for the Japanese release. These little things can go a long way and even save your came from coming off as disrespectful, which is why the top developers always do what they can to make a game acceptable in specific countries.

Mistake #2: Don’t Study the Country’s Market

It only takes one look at the highest selling games of a territory to see how different each culture really is. According to Famitsu, the 10 best-selling video games in Japan throughout 2015 consisted of 8 3DS titles. Clearly handheld games are much more popular in Japan than in other countries. In contrast, Americans favored console games like Batman: Arkham Knight, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Players with Nintendo DS machines

By studying a specific country’s culture you can learn right away if it’s even worth the effort to localize your game. If your game is similar to other titles that are big there, do some research to study their marketing strategies and reasons why they were successful. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you simply toss your game into another country without a plan.

Mistake #3 Use the Same Monetization Strategy

If there’s one thing that’s frustrated mobile game makers, it’s that the average American has no problem dropping more than $5 on a coffee that will be gone in a few minutes,however,that same person sees a $5 game on the App Store and thinks “too expensive” and instead opts for a free game instead. With so many freemium games out there these days, it’s tougher than ever for games with price tags to sell well on mobile platforms.

Now imagine a selling a game in a country where the average wage is less than that of US. That game’s US monetization model isn’t guaranteed to work in every country it is released on. Maximize your chances of success by studying the prices of games in other cultures, including cash shop pricing in free-to-play titles.

Mistake #4: Starting the Localization Process Late

As mentioned, localization is more than just translating text. There are also art and sound assets such as currency symbols and voice-over dialogue that may need to be changed. Starting too late may require expensive re-engineering to accommodate the new files.

Japanese game cover

Developers who plan properly code their games do so with localization in mind. In doing so, the process goes more smoothly and takes less time, especially if you plan on releasing in more than two territories. You’ll also avoid bugs that may rear their ugly heads when code is altered in a hurry.

How To Design The Best Boss Battles: 4 Must-Read Tips

Young girl and soldier in game screenshot

Boss battles are arguably one of the most exciting things about video games. Ask the average gamer what their favorite boss battles are and they’ll most likely smile while recalling the first time they faced them. In case you are not familiar with the term, the “boss” is typically the super difficult character you face at the end of a level or sequence of levels. Bosses have been around since even the earliest video games and show no sign of disappearing any time soon.

But just like we can all think of great bosses, we’ve all also encountered terrible ones that were either boring, too easy, or felt impossible to beat. That is why we’ve shared four things to consider while designing your own bosses so players always remember the moment they first got clobbered by them.

1. Make The Build-Up Memorable

Have you ever noticed how in most sports you’re getting excited before the match or fight even begins? Whether it’s ‘fake’ like WWE or a huge boxing match, there’s promotion going on to make the contenders seem bigger and better. The same is done with a good boss fight. This is usually done with a cutscene that demonstrates how dangerous and powerful the boss is, but it can also be through dialog from characters or text logs seen beforehand.

For the perfect example, consider the last fight in one of the best Action Adventure games ever madeThe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The player is forced up a long stairway as ominous organ music plays before encountering Ganondorf himself. As he plays, a helpless Zelda can seen floating above him. Ganondorf then floats into the air and pounds the ground, almost destroying the floor entirely and setting up the arena.

2. Make Bosses That Prepare Players For Future Challenges

The first minutes of Batman: Arkham Asylum are pretty straightforward. Players learn basic moves like how to attack enemies, counter their attacks, throw a Batarang, etc. But when Batman encounters what are called Deformed Titans for the first time, players quickly realize that the same routine isn’t going to work.

Batman punches Joker
The Deformed Titan teaches players that sometimes the best thing to do is simply dodge, then quickly jump in to attack. The fastest way to defeat it is by making it run into an electric force field, showing players that their environment will play a big part in getting through the game successfully.

3. Make Bosses That Enrich The Story And World

The coolest bosses are always the ones that play an important part in the story. Usually this involves squaring off with the main antagonist at the very end of the game. For example, it’s always exciting encountering Ridley in a Metroid game since you know he’s served as Samus’ biggest rival during her bounty hunting career.

Story aside, bosses can also make the world more captivating and believable. Who could forget the first time they made the mistake of attacking a Big Daddy in Bioshock, only to get pummeled to death? Despite having mowed down plenty of Splicers, players realize they aren’t’ the only force to be reckoned with in Rapture.

4. Make Sure Each Boss Actually Tests Certain Skills

Usually the first boss you face is merely meant to make sure the player has learned all the basic controls and understands the game. If it’s an RPG, the player might learn how to attack, defend, use items, or that elements play a big role. In an Action-Adventure or First-Person Shooter, players will learn the importance of avoiding damage while moving in or aiming to hit weak points.

Super Mario RPG screenshot

Of course, this isn’t enough for future bosses. Later ones should force players to use a new item or ability they recently obtained in order to succeed. Otherwise, players will find the game boring from lack of challenge. In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, players fighting Croco will have a rough time if they don’t give Mallow the healer role and stick with Mario’s Fire Orb attack. This fight also teaches players to always have a healthy stock of items (Honey Syrups in this case) and to level up their characters so they can unlock new abilities.

How Today’s Best Game Design Students Graduate Prepared

standing out in the crowd

Almost anywhere you look, statistics will show that the number of people who identify themselves as gamers is growing. From small mobile and indie titles to big-budget PC and console games, there is more variety than ever for people to choose from and enjoy. This also means there are more young gamers with dreams of someday creating their own interactive experiences.

While it isn’t the only way to break into the industry, most of these aspiring developers take the education route by attending a college or university. It is there that they discover countless others who share the same goals as them. And more often than not, they meet at least one person who feels as though they’re much more prepared for a game design role than any other student. Why?

Below are three nuggets of advice we recommend to anyone who wants to be just that—a game design student ahead of the curve and well on their way toward a rewarding game development career.

Play Something Else

We don’t blame anyone for wanting to spend time with the games that bring them the most fun. One of the reasons our industry is so great is due to all the types of games we can choose from. However, a chef-in-training who only eats one type of food will only get so far. How can you expect them to prepare a seafood dinner when they rarely, if ever, even eat it themselves?

Game Dev Story screenshot

If you’re all about fast-paced MOBA games like Heroes Of The Storm, pick up something entirely different such as a mobile simulation title (we recommend Game Dev Story, a sim about game development). The more game genres and platforms you get familiar with, the more knowledge you’ll soak in and be able to use later on.

We also recommend playing non-digital games such as board and physical card games. You may find inspiration in them much like the creators of the popular Hearthstone game did. Playing poor-received titles can also be useful for sharpening your ability to analyze games and identify bad game design.

Try On Different Hats

To people who don’t really understand how game development works, the role of game designer is very simple. He or she is in charge of coming up with all the awesome ideas, and that’s it. While there are game designers out there who are lucky (or experienced) enough to make a living just by making design decisions, this is far from the norm.

The typical game designer actually helps out in a number of ways throughout development. Game designers are constantly playtesting the latest build in order to provide feedback to other team mates. Making sure every department (art, programming, writing, etc.) is on the same page every step of the way is also a responsibility, as is keeping the team motivated and inspired even when the next milestone feels far away.

Even if it’s not your thing, take a low level programming class or join a few art classes where you become familiar with industry-standard software. Taking some creative writing, film, and theater classes can help you better understand storytelling in games. Even if you’re no good at any of them, at least you’ll gain an appreciation for other arts that go into making games.

Make Games… Now!

The first and biggest roadblock many game design graduates run into is not being able to apply to certain jobs for one reason— they require experience. Frustration sets in at the thought of being expected to have experience even though you just graduated. Although they can’t say they’ve worked at a studio before, the smart students can at least put down one or more game projects they worked on before getting their diploma.

In fact, it’s now easier than ever to make games on your own or with a few other students thanks to valuable online tools and resources. Many of them don’t even require programming knowledge and can be used by anyone who knows how to work a mouse and keyboard. Of course, no one is expecting you to make a complete title that rivals those developed by a professional team.

Game development software screenshot

Why is this such a big deal to developers looking to hire students fresh out of college? Because saying you want to make games for a living and actually showing that you do is very different. If you didn’t make time from your busy schedule to play around with tools and create a simple game or two, do you really have a passion for game creation or do you merely enjoy playing them?

Learn the skills you need to succeed as a game designer at the Game Design School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Read The News Like A Professional News Anchor

Rob Chochran reading the news in 1963

Reading the news off a teleprompter may sound easy, but it’s actually more complicated than it seems. Anchors and reporters have to develop a reading style that comes off as natural, but isn’t too fast, too slow, too nuanced, too accented, too high-pitched, too quiet, or some other extreme.

Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to start is to practice reading news stories that you’ve written for class. If your school has a student TV station, doing some on-air work there is also helpful, as you’ll probably be able to get a recording of it afterward. You can also record yourself with various apps on your phone.

It’s hard to be objective about your own reading, so it’s a good idea to ask others their honest opinions. Does your reading sound natural? Is it hard to understand for any reason? Would your listeners want to hear you read more?

Things to Work On

Speed is one important consideration when reading the news. If you read too slowly, viewers may get bored and impatient and consider changing the channel; if you read too fast, they may have a hard time understanding you. Typically news anchors read between 150 and 175 words per minute, and some stations may time new reporters or anchors to get a baseline for that individual’s usual reading speed.

If you find you’re talking too fast, it may be helpful to concentrate on enunciating clearly—sometimes this helps people slow down. Of course, people often talk faster when they’re anxious, and your first time reading a story on-air can be nerve-wracking, so sometimes the problem resolves itself after you’ve simply spent more time doing the job.

Talking too slowly is less common for students learning to read the news, but if this is a problem you can ask the teleprompter operator at your campus station to intentionally go a little faster than you. (It’s a good idea to practice this for a while when you’re not actually on-air.) If you’re practicing by yourself, you can try reading from a computer or tablet screen and scroll through the words a little faster.

Sounding Natural and Conversational

Another common problem students face when learning to read the news is sounding as if they’re reading. Most of us sound very different when we read something aloud than when we’re having a conversation with friends. It’s also very easy to sound robotic when you’ve been reading for a long time and your attention has started to wander—something that can easily happen to an anchor, particularly during a slow news day. (This is an especially big problem with morning shows, which can go on for 1-2 hours instead of 30 minutes, and often involve reading the same story several times.)

You can practice by reading a news story and pretending that you’re telling it to a friend. You don’t want to ad-lib or change the wording (which may be more formal than the way you normally speak), but you should otherwise talk the way you normally would. This can be difficult, especially if you’re also trying to speak more slowly or enunciate more clearly, but sounding natural is an important aspect of reading the news. After all, if viewers wanted to hear the news in a monotone, they could just ask Siri to read the day’s headlines.

Accents and Dialects

There are many different “accents” associated with American English. Depending on where you grew up, you may sound like a southerner, a New Yorker, or, if you learned English as a second language, you may have an accent associated with your first language.

While there is no single correct accent for American English, most broadcasters prefer reporters speak with a General American accent (most common in the mid-west and on the west coast)—or as close to it as you can reasonably get. Some people already do this, but for those with a strong accent, becoming more linguistically neutral can be difficult.

If you find you have a strong accent, you can listen to reporters or anchors who read the national news—those reading to the entire country have to be the most linguistically neutral—and practice speaking like them. Sometimes it’s helpful to listen to one sentence, pause the recording, and repeat it a few times yourself, then listen to it again. It may not be possible to get rid of your accent entirely, but if you can move it closer to General American, you will probably improve your prospects of finding an on-air job.

If you have difficulty shaking a strong accent, you might consider working in an area where that accent is common. Although General American is preferred in most places, the tendency to speak with a southern drawl likely won’t be as much of a problem in the south as it might be in other parts of the country, for example.

Of course, it should be noted that the United States has a vibrant foreign language news media. The most obvious is Spanish language, but there are Chinese, Korean and Japanese news operations as well. Univision and Telemundo (owned by NBC) are national networks, with local affiliated stations. The other languages tend to be represented by small, generally local outlets.

Adjusting Tone for Content

In general, when you read you should sound moderately upbeat, but not overly chipper. However, you’ll need to adjust your tone when reading somber stories, like those involving deaths or serious injuries. Sometimes slowing down and speaking more quietly can help you convey the seriousness of a sad situation.

This should extend to the whole story, including the reporter’s “standard out” and anchor tags. Recently there was a news story about the death of a twelve-year-old boy in a house fire. The reporter sounded appropriately somber while reading the details of the story. However, when she read her “standard out” (usually something like “Reporting live, Jane Doe for XYZ News”), she suddenly sounded very upbeat and chipper. My guess is that she practiced her standard out this way, and it probably worked fine for most news topics. Unfortunately, in this case it was a sharp contrast to the rest of the story and seemed both jarring and awkward.

For this reason, it’s also helpful if producers can plan content to avoid going directly from an extremely sad story to a happy one. There is no good way to transition from reading about a tragedy to “So, I hear we had an exciting day in the world of sports! Tell us more about that, Bob!” If you can wedge a more neutral story or a commercial break between sad stories and happy ones, you’ll be doing both the anchor and the viewers a big favor.

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

How To Write A Compelling Game Story In Three Steps

Marston from Red Dead Redemption

More people are realizing just how powerful video games are as a storytelling tool. Movies are fine and books are great too, but there’s just something about jumping into an interactive world where you can choose who to talk to and explore wherever your heart desires— within the limits of the game, of course.

Whether you’re playing a two-decade old role-playing title like Chrono Trigger or an atmospheric 3D first-person shooter like Bioshock, a story can sometimes be the reason you fall in love with a game. The following are some of the main ingredients you want to think hard on when developing your own video game, especially if you’d like players to be impacted by its narrative.

The Characters

“It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” ― William Faulkner

First, and arguably most important, is the characters; especially the one who your player will be taking the role of throughout the adventure. Characters that players can relate to are the ones that act human, even if they’re actually a robot, fantastical creature, or something else familiar. Unless they have a backstory, strengths, weaknesses, and genuine intentions, your characters will feel fake and uninteresting.

 

Scene from Uncharted 4

When building a character, start by settling on an idea of where they come from. Were they born to the king of a powerful kingdom or a humble father barely surviving by tilling the land? From there, come up with their personality, their skills, and what they look like. Even a life-changing event that occurred prior to the game’s story can help shape who your character/s are.

The World

Focus on building worlds where you’d like to spend time, no matter who you are in the game. When franchises don’t succeed is because the focus is too narrow from the outset, too singular. I think Halo from the very beginning was an IP where you could tell any story you wanted.” — Joseph Staten

Next up is deciding what the world of your game will be. The world is obviously very important to the story since it will determine what the player will encounter. Since this step can sometimes feel overwhelming, it’s a good idea to separate your world into different pieces and them put them together.

For example, after deciding on a time and setting, think about what cities/villages exist and who live there. Are there nations or kingdoms present? And if so, are they at war? Why? Thinking about what technologies exist can also help you come up with cool story events and even gameplay mechanics. Note that it might not be until you’re world-building that you really start fleshing out your characters.

The Main Conflict

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Almost every good story, whether it be from a book, film, or game, pushes an overarching conflict. Without it, the characters would have nothing to fight for or have no need to develop. This is especially important in video games since most of them have enemies you must defeat. But if the “enemy” or problem the character is facing isn’t interesting, you’ll have a hard time captivating players with your story.

Carmine from Gears of War 3

In JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a book/film trilogy you’re probably familiar with, the main conflict is the struggle to destroy the Ring while making sure Sauron doesn’t obtain it. The characters face Black Riders, Saruman’s army, and even themselves (Boromir failed) to make sure they overcome the conflict. If you can write a main problem for your story that has players caring about the characters and world, you’re on the right path.

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