Author: New York Film Academy

Why E3 Is Still Very Relevant For Gamers And Companies

E3 2016 Inspiring New Worlds banner

Like Christmas and birthdays, gamers begin counting down the days until the next E3 the day after the show closes its doors. While there are other great events that take place throughout the year, it’s only at E3 where fans of all genres and platforms can expect to see something exciting for them. It’s also where the largest gathering of devs take place to show off what their teams are hard at work making.

Despite this, the same question always pops up all over the internet in the weeks and months prior to the show. They ask if E3 is still relevant in a time when publishers can more easily promote their upcoming titles at their own events, free from the need to share the spotlight with competition. As the House of Mario has shown us with their Nintendo Direct videos, the internet alone is enough to present news in a way that sparks excitement.

The Dropouts

This year, concern once again grew across gaming news sites when they learned that Electronic Arts, one of the largest publishers in the business, will not be having booths on the showroom floor at E3 this June. They’ll instead be hosting EA Play, a public event that will not only run at the exact same time as E3 but will actually take place nearby. EA will still have a pre-E3 keynote on June 12, but none of their upcoming games will be playable there.

It's time to play E3 event

Not long after EA made their announcement, another giant publisher stated that they’d also have no show floor presence at E3— Activision. The only exception will be the next entry in the hugely popular Call of Duty franchise, which will be playable at Sony’s PlayStation booth. With two major companies showing a growing disinterest in the year’s biggest gaming expo, you can see why the question of relevancy has reared its ugly head again.

The Faithfuls

Of course, the same will be true this year as it was last year (and the years before it). Even though some big names won’t be taking the show seriously, plenty of others will. These developers know that at the end of the day, eyes from all over the globe are watching E3 to get blown away by new reveals, gameplay footage, and more.

Imagine if Square Enix had skipped out in 2015? Their announcement of the Final Fantasy VII remake was so unexpected that it sent shockwaves across the industry. You could argue that such a reveal would have had the same event at a Sony-specific event, but then you’d be discounting the fact that E3 is also a competition. Who will gain more attention than their competitors by showing off something unique, surprising, or just plain awesome?

Here To Stay

Many thought E3 was doomed way back in 2007 when only industry professionals were allowed entry. This led to attendance dropping from around 60,000 to roughly 5,000. It also didn’t help that E3 was becoming more of a flashy marketing tool (exaggerated gameplay videos, for example) and less of a way for devs to connect with their communities.

Fallout 4 teaser image

Fortunately, the people behind E3 have worked hard to bring their event back to its former glory, leading to a big increase in visitors again in recent years. This means more companies making the effort to impress their fans at the show. As Bethesda, Sony, Microsoft, and many others learned once again, E3 is still plenty relevant if the goal is to get people talking about your latest projects.

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.

Horror Games And Genre Revival: Why People Want Scary Games

distraught game character in helmet

We have more games to enjoy than ever before thanks to the indie renaissance that our industry is currently experiencing. This is especially true in the number of and variety of games available on digital stores such as the App Store, Steam, and Xbox One Store. While the big budget developers continue making games that fit whatever their investors and publishers consider “safe”, small devs are taking risks by working with all kinds of genres and ideas.

One such genre is horror. While horror games were never completely dead, the last decade or so saw a shortage of quality examples while others genres (like first-person shooters) rose to the top. However, thanks to the indie scene, gamers who love horror games have plenty to choose from these days. In fact, they’ve become one of the most popular type of games among players and YouTubers across the globe.

The following are a few reasons why horror genre, like a zombie in Resident Evil, is back and stronger than ever.

They Offer Something Unique

One reason games group into genres is because different genres offer different types of gameplay experiences. If you want to test your ability to plan strategies and execute tactics, jump into a real-time strategy game. Those who enjoy pushing their reflexes may like a 2D platformer (which is another genre that’s also seen a huge revival in recent years). Whatever your taste is, there’s something out there for you.

Much like their movie and tv counterparts, horror games are enjoyable because they shock us and give us a rush of adrenaline. There’s nothing quite like being chased by supernatural demons or stealthing down a dark corridor where you know something may leap out at any second. That is why these games tend to put the player in a vulnerable state, be it low ammo, overly strong monsters, etc. The first few Resident Evil games are a prime example of this.

Anyone Can Enjoy Them

Horror games typically are accessible by players of any skill level. The same can’t really be said for other game genres like fighting games (that typically require being able to execute complex button sequences rapidly), or Madden NFL games which require real knowledge of football. If you can handle the basics of a controller, you’re ready to play a horror game.

Springtrap

This accessibility has allowed people who never considered themselves gamers to finally give a video game a try. Because of that developers are breaking new ground figuring out how to make horror games accessible but not boring. In Five Nights at Freddy’s, all you really do is watch security cameras and make sure the electricity doesn’t run out. As simple as it sounds, the 2014 indie hit is considered one of the best horror games made in recent years.

They Often Have Good Stories

If Aristotle were alive today, the horror genre might be his favorite. He believed that the most important element of a story is the characters. Without interesting characters in conflct there cannot be an engaging plot. Horror games’ strength is that their stories often revolve around on the character’s survival and development as unexpected revelations come about.

Dead Space, for example, seems like it has a familiar plot at first. The main character, Isaac Clarke, finds himself stuck on a spaceship where all the crew has been slaughtered by people infected with an alien virus. Aside from the amazing sound and level design, what keeps players hooked is the unfolding story of how the Church of Unitology and the mysterious Marker relic are central to this epidemic. Near the end of the game, players are shocked to discover that the Marker was influencing Isaac the entire time in ways few could have expected.

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 Write Dialogue For Games Worth Reading

Chrono Trigger character dialogue

If there’s one skill everyone thinks they have, it’s creative writing. The programmers coding the game and artists bringing ideas to life have no trouble getting respect, but the art of storytelling is one that’s not seen as challenging. Of course, we’ve all played more than one game where the storyline and dialogue was so cringe-worthy that you found yourself skipping it all.

It’s usually the games developed with the help of skilled writers that stay in our mind the longest. Bioshock, The Last of Us, and Telltale’s The Walking Dead are only a few of the many beloved titles with conversations that helped captivate players into their rich worlds.

If you’re an aspiring game writer tasked with crafting dialogue for a game, consider the following tips. Learning how to write dialogue that actually helps make the story and characters more interesting for the player instead of boring and/or annoying them is a key in creating memorable games.

Give The Regular NPCs Character

Most writers will go all out when it comes to the main characters of the game. Plenty of time is spent on conversations between the player-character and his arch-nemesis or party members during an important scene, and that’s OK. The problem is when every non-playable character feels like they can be swapped with the next and nothing will change.

NPCs (non-player characters) play a big part in making the game’s story meaningful, but the ones with little character of their own will result in a boring world that players have trouble getting sucked into. This is especially true when quest-givers lack any personality whatsoever, which means the player will find the quest boring before they’ve even started it.

Super Mario RPG dialogue with Mario and Toadstool

Do you have an NPC that wants the player to collect 10 apples from an enemy-filled orchard? Give him or her a cowardly persona so at least you know why he or she won’t do it. Or make him or her sound cautious and sneaky to imply that he or she is asking you to steal the apples without you knowing. Small injections of character can go a long way and can even make an OK quest sound exciting.

Try Keeping It Short And Sweet

One of the best books every aspiring game writer should read is On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft written by the legendary Stephen King. In a section called “Imagery and the Third Eye,” King offers a valuable piece of advice for those who feel the need to overwhelm readers with words:

Too many beginning writers feel that they have to assume the entire burden of imagery; to become the reader’s seeing eye dog. That is simply not the case. Use vivid verbs. Avoid the passive voice. Avoid the cliche. Be specific. Be precise. Be elegant. Omit needless words.“

 

When it comes to game dialogue, you’re very likely to lose the player if all your lines are long. It’s normal to feel like you need to say more in order to create interesting characters and quests. However, this can all be done by omitting “needless words” and chopping down as many useless words as possible while still keeping the important information. Even if every line is gold, players want to jump back into the action as soon as possible and will skip it if it goes on too long.

Make The Backstories And Lore Optional

Dead Space text box

Lore is easily one of the best tools for making your game’s world feel more real and alive. Learning about events that took place in the past and the history of races and kingdoms is awesome, but only when the player actually cares. The fact is, many players could care less about anything outside of the main story.

This is why it’s important to keep lore out of dialogue as much as you can, unless it’s during an optional side quest. Even then, there’s a reason why most games have collectible codex and info logs that players can open up and read if they so choose. Players don’t want every character they speak with to feel like a history lesson.

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.

Top 5 Famous Acting Quotes From Actors And Why They Matter

philip seymour hoffman quote on acting

People love to pick the brains of experts in hope of uncovering some secret recipe for success in a given field. Have a political question? Ask a former President. Want to know how to manage your money? Warren Buffet knows a thing or two. Need to know what acting really is? Ask a successful actor.

Why Do We Care What Actors Say?

There is an obsession with famous actors largely because they have defied the odds and made a career out of acting. All aspiring actors dream about breaking through and all aspiring actors are searching for the secret recipe to success. What better way to learn how to do something than by listening to someone who has done it?

Take a look at these quotes from actors you may recognize and learn what makes an actor tick.

Quotes From Famous Actors About Acting

“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

-Sanford Meisner

Meisner is most famous for his teachings on acting but he himself was also an accomplished actor. He used revolutionary techniques to get realistic performances from his students, and this quote is the spine of his acting theory. Although simple, his quote is powerful. Mr. Meisner is hinting at the fact that acting should never be forced. Instead, all actions should arise from some impetus, or, more basically, “acting is reacting” to something that happened to you.

“If you get a chance to act in a room that somebody else has paid rent for, then you’re given a free chance to practice your craft.”

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Auditioning is time of great stress for actors. Oftentimes this anxiety is created by expectations the actor puts on him/herself before the performance. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a master actor of stage and screen and this quote offers his perspective on auditioning. Rather than expecting to get a role and worrying about what the auditors think of you, use auditions as a practice session to improve as an actor.

“The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results.”

-James Dean

James Dean was certainly wise beyond his years and a highly-skilled actor for such a young man. Although he died when he was only 24, his monumental influence on modern actors is still present today. Similar to Hoffman, Dean presents a process-driven view of acting as opposed to a results-driven view. Focusing on and enjoying the process of acting should be the actor’s purpose, not focusing on achieving a certain “result.” In other words, control what you can control and let your work speak for itself.

“For me, our job as artists is to serve the story, serve the director, and serve the fellow actors. And if you do that, by osmosis you’re serving yourself because you’ll get the best out of yourself.”

-David Oyelowo

This is an elegant quote from a talented actor who is thankfully still living and working today. Oyelowo wowed audiences as Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2014’s Selma and the actor is just as selfless as the character he portrayed. The idea of selflessness should be central to an actor’s performance because by giving to others through performance the entirety of the production is strengthened. The quote is also a reminder that in the entertainment industry, being a good person with a wholesome reputation is a good thing. Overall, the message reads like a Bible verse: Give what thou shall receive onstage.

“Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.”

Constantin Stanislavski

This is perhaps the favorite quote of acting students the world around and is meant to remind all of us that acting is bigger than any one person. Allowing ego to creep into the acting process is to doom it to failure. No matter where the actor is and what role they are performing, acting is the same and the actor must take the job seriously.

Now, go forth and discover quotes from your favorite actors that inspire you to continue on the journey. Read them, analyze them, and apply the lessons to your life so that you too may someday be asked your thoughts on the craft of acting.

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The Importance Of Subtext For Actors

an actress shows off different emotions

Words are everything and nothing to an actor. A script is filled with words, all of which add up to a plot, theme, events, and characters but the actor is responsible for bringing the words to life. One of the best ways to infuse a performance with conflict and drama is to interpret and play the subtext of the script.

What is Subtext?

In a play or film, subtext is the underlying message being conveyed by a piece of dialogue. Some call it the “lines between the lines” or “the unsaid meaning.” Writers love to use subtext in scripts because it adds an extra layer of complexity to scenes and their characters.

Actors must act like investigators to identify the true meaning of their dialogue so that they can play the character’s subtextual intention, rather than just recite the lines. Overlaying the meaning of the subtext on top of the dialogue gives actors something to do and makes for a more interesting performance.

Finding the Meaning of the Subtext

How often do people say exactly what they mean? Probably not often because of the obstacles that stand in the way. Social conventions, other people in the room, and/or a fear of rejection are common reasons that people and characters do not speak literally. So, understanding a character’s objective and obstacles is the first step to finding their subtext.

After reading a script, take a moment to think about the objective of the character i.e. what do they want? Then, consider the different obstacles that they face. Characters adopt different strategies to try and conquer their obstacles, and these changes of tactic are often motivated by subtext.

When reading through the script, mark places where the character is communicating something great than what they say. This may be a feeling, an opinion, or a desire that is hidden within the words they say. Once the subtext is identified and assigned a meaning, experiment with ways to clearly play the scene so the subtext shines through.

Examples of Subtext

Subtext is a common convention of modern scripts and appears in every film and play we see today. Here is a simple two line exchange to illustrate subtext:

INT. LIVING ROOM

A man enters the room. A woman is sitting on the couch.

MAN

How are you?

WOMAN

I’m fine.

There are 1,000 different ways to play this scene and they all hinge of the choice of subtext. Is the Woman really fine? Does the Man really care?

An actor could decide that the Woman is happy, sad, angry, disappointed or any number of emotions which would change the delivery of the line (of course, do not play an emotion, play an action). The same can be said for the Man. He could be in a hurry, he could be sympathetic, or he could be sarcastic among other things.

This example is only to show how subtext can change. In a well-written script, there will be clues about the characters’ emotional state and the true meaning of the dialogue.

The Final Word, Between the Lines

Identifying and playing the subtext of a scene is an advanced skill that the best actors make good use of. Careful script analysis is needed to find and decide what the subtext is and solid acting technique is needed to honestly play the subtextual meaning. If the dialogue is what the actor says, and the action is what the character does, then the subtext is what the character ultimately means.

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

Avoiding Awkward On-Air Situations For Journalists

awkward reporters

Recently, on a local news program, the show’s anchors congratulated their meteorologist, who wasn’t there because she’d had a baby that morning, and had sent them a picture of the baby to share with viewers. The anchors gave the baby’s name and weight, noted how adorable she was, and then moved on to the next story.

Unfortunately, the next story involved a man being arrested for beating his infant son to death. Obviously, it was a tragic situation no matter where it appeared in the show, but the producer’s choice to go from a happy baby story to a tragic one made the story awkward as well, for everyone involved. It appeared that the news anchors didn’t know that would be the next topic, because they both had horrified looks on their faces when they started reading it. They stumbled through the story and managed to pitch to break, looking somewhat relieved.

How Do I Avoid These Situations?

Production of a nightly newscast is always chaotic, becoming more so as you approach air. This is especially true given how programs often include multiple “live shots” in the course of the broadcast. It’s the details that kill you, so as the producer you have to maintain the ability to stand back and consider the entire program. Equally important, you have to be open to comments and suggestions from the show staff. You will inevitably miss something. Story producers and junior staff need to know that they not only are permitted, but encouraged to speak up.

Some stories are sad, tragic, and awful. Unfortunately, there is some truth to the old adage about the news business, “If it bleeds, it leads.” If you plan to be on-air, you’re going to have to report on murders, accidents, domestic abuse, and many kinds of avoidable deaths. In general, it’s best to read these stories with a somber and respectful tone.

However, you can’t read the entire newscast that way or your viewers may start to get depressed and change the channel. An upbeat tone is fine for stories that don’t involve death or tragedy. The problem comes when you have two very different stories right next to each other. It’s difficult to transition from a happy story to a sad one—and vice versa. You have to change your tone and facial expression abruptly while on camera.

Pay Attention When Producing

If you are producing a show, you should pay attention to how you stack stories. Usually, the A block involves the biggest news of the day, and the biggest story is what you lead with, whether it’s a political story, an accident, a murder, or the weather. (If you work in a small market, it may be the weather more days than it isn’t.) Usually producers will start with the most important story and add other subjects in order of importance, continuing through the A block.

This is a good system, and in general you should follow it. However, with the exception of the lead story, most other topics in the A block can be moved around to avoid awkward transitions. This is sometimes done to avoid technical problems, like going from one camera shot to another without giving whoever is controlling the camera sufficient time to move the camera, set up and focus the new shot. However, it can also be done to avoid problematic transitions on-air.

One solution is to build your A block, then look at the stories. Think about their content and how the transitions will look and sound on air. Keep in mind that typical lead-ins to segments like, “And now John’s here to tell us what’s happening in the exciting world of sports today!” may sound perfectly normal in some circumstances, but tacky if they immediately follow a particularly tragic story.

When going over your A block, if you note a very sad or tragic story is immediately before or after a relatively happy one, consider whether you could add a more neutral story between them. Stories about business, the economy, road work, and city council meetings generally don’t require an especially happy or somber tone. Inserting one of those topics between two emotionally disparate stories can help make smoother transitions for everyone involved.

Anchors and Reporters Also Play a Role

Avoiding awkwardness isn’t just the producer’s job. Producers are often extremely busy, and may not always have time to consider the emotional impact of each story in a block. Anchors and other on-air talent should look over the scripts beforehand if possible. As a reporter, you should make note of the stories before and after yours, your tag, and any possible problems. As an anchor, you should look over all the stories, the lead-ins, the tags, and note if there are any drastic differences in emotional tone. If something looks problematic, let the producer know—he or she may be able to move things around for a better transition.

Several years ago, when this writer was working at a local TV station, the block dedicated to national news always ended with a teaser of the sports segment, which followed after the next commercial break. Usually the anchor’s tease was something like, “Well, our local team had an exciting day at the ballpark!” and the sports anchor would say something in agreement.

On this particular night, the world news included a story about gas prices, some sort of political news, and a story about a pregnant woman who was brutally murdered, after which the attacker cut the fetus out of her body and left the scene with it. It was an awful story, made worse by the fact that it immediately lead into an upbeat tease about an exciting day at the ballpark.

The anchors did their best to hide their discomfort and pitched to break as smoothly as possible. Afterward, they told the producer that she should have rearranged the stories in the block so the murder was in the middle, and either the gas price story or the political story lead into the sports tease. They were right, of course, but if they’d carefully read over their scripts beforehand, they could have let her know ahead of time and possibly avoided the awkward on-air situation.

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How To Stack A News Show

An on-air interview

What is Stacking a Show?

“Stacking a show” is a phrase broadcasters use to describe putting the segments of a newscast together. Usually the job of a producer, stacking the show is done after assignments are given—in other words, after the show’s topics have been chosen. However, new events can happen between the time of the morning news meeting and the five o’clock news, and stories frequently need to be rearranged multiple times before the show.

Where to Start

At the news meeting, the show’s producer or producers, reporters, an assignments editor, and usually the news director will discuss various story ideas. Sometimes these are continuations or new angles of news from the previous day or few days (“latest developments,” “new information,” etc.). Some are completely new events—say, a robbery in progress caught on the police scanner. On slow news days, meeting attendees may kick around human-interest or “in-depth look” type ideas when hard news is scarce. In most stations, each reporter is expected to offer at least one story suggestion each day.

The assignments editor usually decides what stories will be covered and what angles the reporter covering the story should look into. In some stations, the assignments editor chooses the general story, and the producer picks an angle. (If there is a big disagreement, the news director may make the final call.) Each story is then assigned to a reporter/photographer team. Frequently reporters are assigned the stories they pitched, but sometimes schedules and assignments have to be juggled for a variety of reasons.

Once assignments have been given, the producer begins creating a skeleton of the show, which at this point mostly consists of putting the stories in the order they are expected to air. Software varies from station to station, but generally the producer uses a program to create a show rundown (simply a list of everything appearing in the show in order), in addition to filling in each segment with scripts and directions for the production crew. Each segment can be moved if priorities change throughout the day.

What Goes First?

The A block is the first block of the show, usually slated for the biggest news stories of the day. Typically, a show will open with a brief tease of the two or three biggest subjects to be covered, a brief standard intro in which the anchors introduce themselves (“I’m so-and-so and this is your five o’clock news on such-and-such channel,” or something similar), then the top story. Some stations have a policy of doing a brief check of the weather near the top of every show, while others simply tease the weather report coming up in a later block, unless severe weather is imminent. Whoever is doing the weather usually has a small control device in his/her hand, which will change the CGI content being used. It is easier for the air talent to do it, since the CG operator might have to guess when to change given that there isn’t an actual script.

So, what’s the top story of the day? Sometimes the answer is easy. For example, if you work in a small market station (where most reporters begin their careers), where there is little hard news, you may only have one big news event a day. (Some days you may not have any, and you might have to lead with weather.) Generally, crimes, accidents, fires, and any type of new legislation from local government are all good contenders for the top spot.

If you have multiple options, you should usually start with crimes or accidents that involve death or serious injury, in that order. If there is more than one such event, go with the one that involves more people, if possible. This also works when you have multiple less-serious events, such as car accidents—if there were no deaths or injuries, a four-car pile-up beats a two-car fender-bender.

The rest of the A block should follow roughly the same pattern, going from serious accidents/crimes to more minor offenses or accidents. Local government news might go anywhere in the A block, depending on how important it is to a large number of viewers—typical city council meetings might warrant a brief mention near the end of the A block, but if a new law has been passed, that story might be closer to the front of the show. It could even lead if there was no other hard news to report. On the other hand, if the mayor was just arrested for purchasing the services of a prostitute or embezzling city funds, that story should be near the top of the show, if not the lead.

Should it be the lead? This can be a tough call. Will the majority of people be more interested in the mayor’s arrest than a story about a family killed in a car accident? Obviously both stories are newsworthy, but which one should you lead with? The car accident is sad, and involved multiple deaths, but the majority of viewers don’t personally know the victims, and won’t be directly affected. On the other hand, almost everyone knows of the mayor, who shapes or influences policies and laws all residents of the city are expected to follow. In this case, it might make more sense to lead with the local government corruption story, and follow with the car accident story.

In general, if you’re having a hard time choosing an order for two topics, it’s a good idea to think about how many people will be affected by each one, and put the story you think affects more of the viewing audience first. Some stations also take a cue from social media, teasing several stories for the upcoming newscast on Twitter or Facebook. If there is no clear-cut lead story, you can look at which one gathered more comments/shares/re-tweets to gauge audience interest.

The Rest of the Show

The rest of the show is usually divided into three or four blocks. These can vary by station, but usually one is dedicated to weather, another to national news and/or human interest type stories, and another to sports.

Weather is fairly easy to block, as the meteorologist usually ad-libs and doesn’t need any scripts. He or she will let the graphics operator know what needs to appear on the green screen, and in what order. Similarly, the sports director usually chooses the order of stories in his or her block and relays that to the producer.

The national news block should go in order of importance, although national stories, by nature, are important to most viewers. Deaths of VIPs or tragedies involving mass casualties usually lead. As we discussed in a previous article, if you end on a lighter story, try to add a more neutral topic in the middle for an easier transition.

The final block is usually brief, and involves a quick check of the weather, followed by what’s called a kicker—video of an upbeat event so the show can end on a pleasant note. Concerts, fairs, sporting events, spelling bees and other school events all make good kicker video. If there’s time (like on a slow news day), try a lighthearted national story—new world records, or human-interest stories about people doing anything unusual are good topics. The most important thing about the kicker is to have plenty of cover video, which will usually continue after the anchors sign off until the next commercial or network program rolls.

Other Considerations

In addition to choosing an order for stories, you will also need to write technical instructions for the director and production crew, letting them know what video and audio need to be “punched up” at any given time. This allows camera operators to prepare their shots, graphics operators to get graphics ready, audio operators to plan when to open and close mics, and the director to be prepared for all of the above. These technical considerations will be discussed in more detail in a future article.

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

“Opening Up Libel Laws” – Can the President Do That?

Donald Trump speaking on the campaign trail

Last week presidential candidate Donald Trump told supporters at a rally in Texas that, if elected, he wants to “open up libel laws” to make suing media organizations easier. A Business Insider article contains the full quote from his speech:

“I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money…. So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace—or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons—write a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”

But Isn’t That Already the Law?

In a previous article, we discussed the burdens of proof for a libel suit, which include proving the defendant made a statement about the plaintiff (the person suing) that was both injurious and false. So if a media organization said something that was “negative and horrible and false” about Donald Trump—or Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, or anyone else running for public office—then yes, that candidate could sue for libel.

However, because Trump, Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, and everyone else running for public office are considered public officials, they would also have to prove something called “actual malice,” defined as knowing a statement is false and acting with reckless disregard for the statement’s truth or falsity.

Keep in mind, this only applies to three groups: Public officials, a group that includes politicians and many government employees; public figures, a group including celebrities, athletes, and heads of major corporations; and limited-purpose public figures—individuals who have inserted themselves into a particular controversy with the goal of influencing the outcome. If you don’t fall into any of the above categories, and a media outlet says something about you that is both false and injurious, you would not have to prove actual malice to win a defamation suit.

The idea of actual malice is to protect freedom of the press, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Public figures, after all, already command the media’s attention and can refute negative statements easily. If a media organization said something patently false and injurious about a presidential candidate like Trump, he could call a press conference and denounce the false statement any time he wanted. The average person would not have that luxury and would find it more difficult to refute a libelous statement.

While Trump wasn’t specific about what aspect of libel laws he wanted to change, actual malice would probably be the biggest stumbling block if a public figure wanted to sue for libel over a statement that met the other burdens of proof.

Does the President Have the Authority to Rewrite Libel Laws?

A Washington Post article notes that rewriting any of the country’s laws exceeds presidential authority in most circumstances. However, the article also notes that presidents nominate justices for the Supreme Court, and a president might appoint a justice who could swing the Supreme Court decision in the president’s favor, should a specific case about libel make its way to the highest court in the land. While it is theoretically possible for a president to change the libel laws (or other kinds of laws) in this way, future journalists can rest assured that this is a highly unlikely scenario.

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

Tips For Keeping Gamers Challenged But Not Overwhelmed

Bloodborn screenshot

Difficulty has always been an interesting subject when talking about video games. Some people have no problem playing a single-player campaign on Easy or Normal mode. A lighter challenge they can enjoy the game’s’ storyline and world without running into a barrier or getting slowed down by the gameplay. Others, however, cannot gain satisfaction from a game if it doesn’t test their skills and push them to get better and better.

This is the reason gamers today still have respect for classic titles like Super Metroid, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, and Battletoads. In fact, some of the most popular titles today are admired for being more difficult than the average game. This includes big-budget titles like the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne as well as indie favorites like Super Meat Boy, Cave Story, and Braid.

But for all these “hard” games that became successful, there were plenty that did the one thing that should never be done— frustrate the player into submission. The problem that every designer faces is finding a balance of difficulty that leaves the gameplay demanding yet rewarding. The following are a few ways you can avoid over-punishing your players to the point where they’re no longer having fun.

Frequent Save Points

There’s nothing more intense than working through a tough room or fighting a boss while knowing full well that if you die, you’re restarting pretty far back. While this can help suck you into the game even more, it can also serve to annoy players since they’ll have to repeatedly do the same thing over and over if they keep dying.

Samus in tube in Super Metroid 7

But with enough save points, players don’t have to facepalm every time this happens. The best part about saving is that it’s usually optional (unless you have an auto-saving feature), which means players who think they’re good enough can skip it. The ones who don’t want to spend time traversing a tortuous corridor just to reach the boss that keeps killing them don’t have to because there’s save point just outside the room.

Let Players Keep Things After Death

For some gamers, losing tons of times is all part of the process and not a waste of time at all. Each death helps them figure out what they’re doing wrong, bringing them one step closer to adapting and overcoming the challenge. For other players this isn’t enough.

They hate the idea of losing anything they earned. For example, you gain a bunch of experience points exploring a dungeon but then suffer a dumb, careless death and lose it all. It can get annoying never feeling like you’re progressing or advancing your character. Thus it might not be a bad idea allowing players to hold on to items, currency, etc. even after they die.

Don’t Slow Them Down

If there’s one thing all of us gamers have in common, it’s the urgent desire to jump back in after failure. We recognize our defeat and are ready to try another option that may be the key to overcoming the current obstacle blocking our way. The sooner we get back into it and see if we learned from our mistake, the better. It’s the reason why long tutorials are frowned upon; we just want to play!

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.

From Telltale Games To The Walking Dead: Why Episodic Games Are On The Rise

Screen shot from The Walking Dead video game

While many of us learned about episodic games by playing Telltale Games from the mid-late 2000s, this format has been around in various forms since the early ’80s. Titles like Dunjonquest, Wizardry, Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, and Sorcerian were innovative for providing expansion-like episodes and/or being divided into small episodes that players could purchase to see the entire story.

Even though they’ve never held the spotlight like the FPS or RPG genre, episodic games recently became more common when a number of developers started churning out memorable, story-driven projects. The Walking Dead: Season One took the industry by storm when it was released a couple of years back, receiving wide critical acclaim and earning several Game of the Year awards.

The episodic model has continued rising in popularity thanks to more amazing titles boasting great stories. It’s still too early to say if they’ll remain a favorite or die down like many genres before. Either way, here are four reasons why people today enjoy episodic games so much.

1. Availability

Certain game types have trouble providing a consistent experience across platforms. For example, the controls on real-time strategy games on the PC provide much more precision and control than the controls on the same real-time strategy games on the smartphone. Similarly, you’re at a disadvantage playing a fighting game with a mouse and keyboard instead a console controller.

Tales of Monkey Island screenshot

Leading episodic games today, however, play almost the same on all platforms. Whether you have a iPad, PC, or a next-gen console, you’re getting the same experience with titles like The Wolf Among Us, Tales of Monkey Island, and more. Why can these games transcend platforms much better than other game types? One such reason is…

2. Approachable Gameplay

As the years go by, more and more people are identifying themselves as gamers. But top-selling game series like Assassin’s Creed or hot MOBA titles like League of Legends aren’t solely responsible for the growth in gamers. The gaming community is expanding thanks to mobile games that are very approachable, which means someone who didn’t play games before now has far more access to gameplay. Nintendo is also responsible for introducing video games to many people across the globe with their motion-controlled Wii console.

In other words, the easier it is to pick up a game, the more likely it is to have a lot of fans. This is true for most episodic games today since few of them are demanding in terms of button inputs, reaction time, etc. All it takes is a button press or two to make dialogue choices, move a character, and complete a quick-time event. Someone who is intimidated by input-demanding games will have no trouble checking out your average episodic title.

3. Enticing Business Model

Just five years ago no one could have imagined that free-to-play games would be raking in serious dough. Hits like Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Hearthstone have proven that people are willing to spend money on freemium content if they’re into the main game, which they downloaded for free. What’s interesting is that episodic games have a pretty similar business model as free-to-play games.

Hearthstone screen shot

For one, they both offer a taste of the game at no charge. It is now common for developers to make the first episode of their game for free. Gamers get invested enough into the story that they want to know what happens next, which means purchasing the following episode. These extra episodes come with small price tags that don’t feel too costly.

4. Story-driven Experiences

If there’s one thing history has shown us, it’s that people have always appreciated a good story. This is the reason why guys like Shakespeare and Homer are still remembered all these years later. It’s also the reason why so many people spend a lot of their time watching movies, binge-watching their favorite television series, or getting lost in a good book.

Since video games are interactive, they offer a narrative experience unlike any other. And while other genres are more than capable of telling an interesting tale, most would argue that episodic games are one of the best. Since the gameplay is simple, there’s more focus on the characters and how they interact and develop within game world. Having choice-driven dialogue and big player decisions that impact the story only serve to captivate the audience even more.

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.

Three Important Steps To Launching A Game On Steam

Steam Library of game titles

When Valve released Steam more than a decade ago, few could have imagined the impact it would have on the game industry. The online digital distribution platform is arguably the most popular one out there, boasting nearly 5,000 available titles and 125 million active users as of February 2015. It was recently estimated that three out of four games purchased online are downloaded via Steam.

It is then no surprise that developers dream of releasing their game on Steam. In doing so they make their game available to millions of potential customers. Whether you’ve already released your title on Steam or need helping getting Greenlit, below are three tips for those who want to do everything possible to make sure the game is a success via Steam.

1. Consider Starting With One Platform

Windows, OS X, and Linux are the main platforms supported by Steam. The mistake a many developers make is trying to support two or more platforms as soon as the game launches. While some teams can handle this, many end up overwhelmed when they run into early problems that require frequent updates. The negative feedback then starts streaming in as you struggle to juggle different updates for different platforms, hurting your team’s morale, and game’s reputation.

Mac, Linux and Windows Symbols

Instead, choose one platform first. Windows is a safe bet since it is the most widely-used desktop client out there. By focusing on a single platform, you’ll have a much easier time releasing updates, which are usually needed during the first few weeks of launch. Once your Windows version is stable, then consider adding OS X or Linux.

2. Don’t Rush Major Updates

We don’t blame developers for wanting to squash any unforeseeable bugs that rear their ugly head. You want your players to have the best experience possible and feel like their purchase was a wise choice. However, sometimes showing a bit of patience can allow you to make your game better in the long run.

For example, there are some devs that release an update every week to fix small issues. But here’s the cold hard truth—there will always be small problems to discover. A better choice might be to release major updates every three or four weeks. This gives you time to find and solve more problems while making sure they don’t cause another problem immediately after.

3. Sticky Threads Are A Must-Have

Every title released on Steam has its own “Discussions” section where people can ask questions, offer their opinion, etc. As a developer, there are few things more satisfying than seeing people discuss things about your game and having a good time sharing tips and secrets. The discussions section is also very useful for providing information that will help players get started and fix problems quickly.

Steam community

A sticky thread you’ll definitely want to add to your Community Hub is one providing download links for graphics drivers needed to play your game. A “Guides & FAQ” thread is also common so people that have a basic question about your game can find an answer. An updated thread on known bugs is also useful, as is one detailing the system requirements for the game. We recommend taking a look at the discussion section of other titles to see what kind of threads their developers thought important enough to make sticky.

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.

Game Developers: What Not To Miss At GDC 2016

GDC 2016 Banner

It’s amazing to think that the Game Developers Conference started out in a small living room back in the 1980s. The annual event now takes place in the biggest convention and exhibition complex in San Francisco, California. Thousands of developers from across the globe do whatever it takes to attend and soak in the knowledge from the multitude of sessions. The time spent networking with other devs and talking about games alone is worth the trip.

To say that there’s a ton of things to do at GDC is an understatement. Whether GDC 2016 will be your first time attending or you’ve already been there before, below are some of the show’s highlights we’re sure you won’t want to miss.

Virtual Reality Developers Conference

This year a two-day summit will take place at GDC focusing entirely on the next big thing—VR. Experts from not just video games but also from the entertainment and tech industries will be there to talk about creating virtual and augmented reality content with today’s advanced tools. They may even touch on the biggest challenges facing VR.

User testing out Playstation VR at Madrid Games Week 2015

If you’re interested in what the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and other companies are bringing to the table, you won’t want to miss talks by people from Crytek and Epic Games. The conference will also cover how VR can be used in other fields such as retail, product design, sports, and more.

Indie MEGABOOTH

The independent video game scene continues to thrive as more and more developers work with what little they can to make something amazing. This year’s Indie Megabooth will showcase more than a dozen games, allowing developers to exhibit their projects to people from around the world. If you can, be sure to also attend the 16th annual Independent Games Festival Awards.

The featured Megabooth games are Altered State, C-Wars, Elsinore, Fort Triumph, In The Shadows, Long Story, Metareal, Oneshot, Semispheres, Sentree, Sneaky Ninja, Streets of Rogue, sU, Sumer, and We Are Chicago. For a better look at these titles, check out the official site at http://indiemegabooth.com.

The Perfect Session For You

It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at all the incredible sessions going on during the event. But since we can’t be in more than one place at a time, you’ll have to decide which will be the most beneficial to you. We recommend you look online and start planning your days so you don’t miss the sessions that can help you become a better game creator.

Screenshot from Fallout 4

Interested in level design? Check out the “Fallout 4‘s Modular Level Design” session by two Bethesda veterans. Are you involved in the art side of game development? Perhaps the “Art Direction: Graphic Design is Key” by Ubisoft Montreal’s Liam Wong is your best choice. You can also view them later online on the GDC website, so don’t sweat it if you miss one.

16th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards

Just like in other entertainment industries, the best video games and developers deserve to be recognized. The annual choice awards is where developers come together to celebrate how far games have come and choose who they think deserves attention for their work.

This event takes place on Wednesday, March 16 and will feature awards in thirteen categories. The categories include the illustrious Game of the Year awards as well as awards for Innovation, Best Debut, Best Design, Best Narrative, and more. To take a peek at all of the finalists and honorable mentions here, see the official website: http://www.gamechoiceawards.com/.

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.

6 Outstanding Performances That Could Have Been Nominated For An Oscar in 2016

Oscar Trophies

Every year there are only five nominees in each of the four acting categories at the Academy Awards. As such, there is always disagreement among film fans and critics alike. Unfortunately, while not everyone can be nominated, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other performances that are worthy of the award. Here are some standout performances from 2015 that could have easily been nominated for an Oscar.

Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Lead Actor

Michael B. Jordan in Creed

Mr. Jordan burst onto the big screen a few years back with his headline-grabbing performance in Fruitvale Station. It was a wonderful film; brilliantly acted while generating the kind of buzz that leads to future nominations. In Creed, Jordan plays boxer Adonis Johnson, son of Apollo Creed. The actor stacked on muscle like it was going out of style for the part and his character faces enough internal and external obstacles to have warranted a nomination. Maybe the planned sequel to Creed will generate some bigger Oscars buzz for him next time.

Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Lead Actress

Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road

Another sequel, another overlooked performance. Charlize is almost unrecognizable as the tough, one-armed warrior Furiosa, but her rough exterior belies a tender heart. Furiosa is the protagonist of the Fury Road. She hatches a plan that jumpstarts the plot, shows her integrity, and artfully demonstrates her ultimate willingness to sacrifice herself for others. This isn’t the first time Theron has chopped her hair and gotten dirty (literally) for a role but the last time she did, she won for Monster.

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Supporting Actor

 Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation

If you haven’t seen the debut feature film from Netflix, it’s well worth the watch and Elba steals the show. It’s a story about the tragic life of a child soldier who is taken in by a group of guerilla fighters led by the Comandant (Elba). Commandant is a charismatic (if not delusional) man of questionable moral fortitude and Elba embodies him with power and grace. Look out for that accent too; it is scary good. Curiously, Elba won this year’s SAG Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor. At least that’s a bit of a consolation.

Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Lead Actor

 Johnny Depp Black Mass

The brown-eyed, dark haired star donned blue contacts and blonde hair to portray legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. His turn as the evil protagonist is chilling and detailed and is a testament to Depp’s skill at playing believably real people. Indeed, he is the most nominated actor on this list (3 nominations and counting) who is always in conversation for awards at year’s end. But Depp doesn’t seem to care much about the Oscars, which probably hurts his chances.

“I don’t want to win one of those things ever, you know… The idea of winning means that you’re in competition with someone and I’m not in competition with anybody.”

-Johnny Depp, Vanity Fair

Mya Taylor (Tangerine), Supporting Actress

 

Mya Taylor in Tangerine

Tangerine was a game-changing film to be sure, not only shining the light on a day in the life of a transgender sex worker, but also displaying the incredible cinematography that can be achieved with a mere iPhone. But, that doesn’t mean there is no humor to be found on the streets of LA. The film shows a hectic day in the life of two prostitutes, one of which, played by Taylor, is a musician on the side. Taylor is hard as nails and sweet as sugar in her performance. Tangerine is a landmark film for several reasons, largely because it is the first time transgender actresses—Taylor’s co-star Kitana Kiki Rodriguez also got quite a bit of critical attention for her stellar performance—have had their Oscar campaign backed by a major studio.

Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Supporting Actor

Jason Mitchell from Straight Out of Compton

Although any of the five young actors in Straight Outta Compton could stake a claim to awards nominations, Mitchell’s turn as the charismatic mastermind Eazy-E is especially moving. He starts as an arrogant dope-slinging gangster and becomes a worldwide phenomenon before his ultimate downfall. The breadth of the man and his complicated personal relationships are brought to life by Mitchell in a way that makes you equally respect and despise his character throughout the film.

Awards are always subjective things. Nominations depend on a number of factors, popularity, past work, and politicking not least among them. But take it from Johnny Depp, awards are not the end-all be-all in acting. Truth, passion, and technical skill will always shine through in the visual telling of a story through film.

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

The Ultimate List Of Broadcast Journalism Terms

The Ultimate List of Broadcast Journalism Jobs

The amount of technical jargon in the world of journalism—often even for very simple concepts—is notorious, and even if you’ve spent a few years at broadcast journalism school there will still be terms that’ll inevitably mystify you when starting your career.

But fret not! Below you’ll find a glossary of the most common broadcast journalism terms, as well as definitions for the most confusing and ambiguous lingo still used today:

Common Broadcast Journalism Terms & Slang

Advocacy Journalism – In which the reporter or journalist openly declares their stance on an issue while attempting to espouse it with factual reporting.

Active Proceedings – Any ongoing judicial case in which the activities of journalists may impede or subvert the proceedings, typically spanning between the arrest of a suspect and sentencing. Those who contravene reporting restrictions on active proceedings may be held in contempt of court.

Actuality – Sometimes shortened to “act.” Any audio recording taken outside of the studio on location (typically referred to as a sound bite in radio; see below.)

Anchor – News anchors are responsible for presenting stories on-camera, usually from a studio location though work can take place in the field. See our broadcast journalism jobs page for more info on the different professions within the field.

AP Stylebook – The Associated Press Stylebook, commonly adhered to as the industry standard on formatting and word usage in news writing.

A-Roll – The main portion of audio video footage in a news story.

Aston – An increasingly uncommon term for the strap line, more popularly known in broadcast journalism as the lower third (see below)

Attribution – The written phrase that identifies the source of a fact, opinion, or quote in a story.

Back Timing – The practice of rehearsing the final segment of a news broadcast and timing it; during the live broadcast, the director may then speed up or slow down this segment to coincide with the scheduled finishing time of the program.

Backgrounder – A story used to provide history and context to a current news story.

Beats – The areas of expertise in which a journalist or reporter covers on a regular basis and on an in-depth level, such as politics, health, or law enforcement.

Beat Checks – A list of established contacts that a beat reporter will frequently touch base to find or develop a story. These could include the local law enforcement agency, city council, hospital, or other sources.

Blind Interview – More common in print than in broadcast journalism, a blind or off-the-record interview is one in which the interviewee is intentionally left unaccredited (also known as a non-attributable.)

Bridge – An audio track linking between two news items.

Breakbumper – A short (2-10 second) indent used as filler leading into and out of commercial breaks. Often shortened to “bump,” but not to be confused with the verb of the same name (to bump a story is to place it higher or lower on the scale of priority.)

B-Roll – Supplementary material to complement the A-Roll, such as establishing shots or graphical overlays.

Chroma Key – Also known as green screening. See this post for further information.

Chyron – The words on the screen that identify speakers, locations, or story subjects. Chryon is a trade name for a type of character generator. 

Citizen Journalism – Reporting which takes place outside of what is usually considered mainstream media, predominantly carried out by members of the public without formal training. Can include the work of bloggers and social media platforms.

Closed-Ended Question  A direct question intended to elicit a yes-or-no answer as opposed to an open-ended question intended to encourage a lengthy answer.

Cold Copy – News script not previously read by the reporter until the camera is rolling. Sometimes referred to by the slang term “rip n’ read.”

Cold Open – Any type of video which rolls before the camera cuts to the anchors, usually featuring a voice over and ending on a form of cliffhanger.

Correspondent – A reporter who files stories from outside the newsroom—usually someone assigned to cover events in another city, state, or country.

Crawl – AKA the news ticker, a thin bar of scrolling text which informs viewers of any upcoming breaking news or weather alerts.

Cutaway – A shot of something other than the main action of an action sequence. In an interview, the cutaway is usually a shot of the reporter listening as the source talks. Necessary to maintain continuity and avoid jump cuts.

Dateline – The specific location where a reporter is delivering a story. Usually announced in the sign-out or sign-off.

Donut – A produced news package with a live shot, with a live intro, and tag.

Downcut – Chopping off the end of a story or sound bite. Opposite of upcut.

Effort – A verb in newsrooms, as in “I am efforting that package to have it ready for tonight’s broadcast.”

Feature – A non-breaking news story on people, trends, or issues. A feature story isn’t necessarily related to a current event.

Feed – A satellite or microwave transmission of live or recorded material.

Follow-Up – A story updating or supplying additional details about an event that’s been previously covered.

Fullscreen Graphic or FS – A still or animated image, usually computer generated, that takes up the whole screen.

Happy Talk – Casual, informal, and light-hearted chatter between the anchors. Can be used as a form of bumper.

Hard News – The news of the day. Factual coverage of serious, timely events (crime, war, business, politics, etc.)

Hit or Glitch – Any distortion or technical distraction in video or audio.

Hot or Overmodulated – Either too loud (hot audio) or too bright (hot video). Engineers often say that hot video “blooms” on screen.

Hot Roll – When a crew in the field doesn’t have enough time to feed back footage to the newsroom, so they must roll it live from the truck during the broadcast.

Human Interest – A news story focusing on a personality or individual’s story with wide appeal to a general audience.

IFB or Interrupt Feedback – The earpiece through which a director or producer instructs a correspondent in the field or anchor in the studio. The producer interrupts whatever feedback the reporter is getting in the earpiece.

Join in Progress (JIP) – A direction to the control room to cut to a broadcast already in progress.

Jump Cut – An edit in a news package that interrupts continuity. Example: an interviewee speaking followed immediately by another shot of the same interviewee speaking at a different time, so the image “jumps.” Avoided by using cutaways or b-roll.

Kicker – A light story that ends a newscast.

Lead – The key information of the story, usually presented at the beginning of the segment. Not to be confused with the “lead story,” being the first presented in the broadcast and often the highest in priority (confusingly also referred to as the “lead.”)

Leading Questions – Questions intended to steer an interviewee in a particular direction.

Lip Flap – Video of somebody talking, with the audio portion muted. Happens when using video of people being interviewed as B-roll. Avoid it.

Live – Put on the air in real time, not pre-recorded or pre-produced.

Lower Third – The bottom third of the frame containing text information regarding the current story, the anchors’ or interviewee’s identification, and other relevant captions.

Miscue – An error in which footage or audio is played before its intended time, resulting in overlapping elements in the broadcast.

MOS – An acronym for “man on street” interview, in which a reporter on location gets spontaneous sound bites comprised of reactions to a story from members of the public. Also referred to as “vox populi.

NATSOT or NAT Package – A type of pre-produced package that has no reporter track; the only audio is the natural sound of the video being shown. It may also use interview sound bites. Often used to convey the mood or atmosphere at a scene or an event.

NAT Sound – Natural sound on video that the microphone picks up. Example: Including sound of a rally with video of a rally.

News Envelope – A summary segment in which the main headlines are broadcast in brief (around a minute or less.) May have local or national sponsorship.

OC or On Cam – Abbreviation for “on camera.”

On Camera Bridge or OC Bridge – The reporter appearing on camera in the middle of the story. Used for transition between voiceovers or soundbites, or when there is no video to talk over.

Open-Ended Question – A question phrased in a way that encourages a source to give a lengthy, in-depth answer—as opposed to a closed-ended question designed to elicit a yes/no answer.

Outcue – The final three or four words of a news package, included in scripts to signal to the anchor and control room staff when the package is about to end so they can cue the next element in the program.

Over the Shoulder Graphic or OTS or OC Box – A graphic that appears over the anchor’s shoulder.

Package (sometimes Wrap) – A pre-recorded, pre-produced news story, usually by a reporter, with track, sound, B-roll, and possibly a stand-up.

POV or Point-of-View Shot – B-roll shot from the perspective of the subject, illustrating what the subject sees or saw at a given moment.

Production Element – Any piece of audio which is intended for use within the final mix, i.e. jingles, music, sound effects, and other station-specific audio.

Promo – Promotional announcement. In effect, an advertisement for a program a station or channel is carrying.

Pronouncer – Phonetic spelling of word in story, placed in copy behind correctly spelled word.

PSA – Abbreviation for “Public Service Announcement.”

Raw Video – Unedited video, just as it was shot. Also called field video.

Reader – A script read entirely by the anchor on camera, without sound bites or video.

Remote – A live shot from the field, where a satellite truck is required to transmit the image.

Rundown – An electronic or paper form created by the line producer of a news broadcast. Gives specific details of every element in a newscast, including the order of stories, video, audio, and graphic elements and timing for each.

ROSR – Radio On Scene Report. Audio broadcast from the scene of a breaking news story, or shortly in the wake of recent events.

Rundown – An electronic or paper form created by the line producer of a news broadcast. Gives specific details of every element in a newscast, including the order of stories, video, audio and graphic elements and timing for each.

Sidebar – A small story, graphic, or chart accompanying a bigger story on the same topic.

Sign Off, Sig, Sig Out – Reporter giving name and dateline at the end of a package or report.

Slate – A full-screen graphic, shown on screen before the beginning of pre-produced video which identifies the story title, the reporter’s name, and the total running time. Only for newsroom use; not meant for broadcast.

Slug – The name given to a story for newsroom use.

SOT or Sound Bit – “Sound on Tape.” A recorded comment, usually audio and video, from a news source other than the anchor, narration, or voiceover, played during a news story. Usually an edited portion of a larger statement.

Spot – A commercial.

Stacking – Lining up stories within a newscast based on their important and relationship to one another.

Stagger-through – A full rehearsal of the show.

Standup – A reporter speaking to camera, not covered by video.

Studio (in the) – A story updating or supplying additional details about an event that has been previously covered.

Still – A still image as opposed to a moving video image. Stills can be used to illustrate a story and can sometimes be displayed over track or interview clips instead of video footage.

Sting  A brief piece of music, typically less than fifteen seconds, used to punctuate the end of a segment or story. The sting is often the station’s own jingle. 

Stop Set  The time allotted to any commercial breaks within the broadcast.

Survey Week, Sweeps Week – The week in which a station’s viewership is monitored and rated.

Switch – An instruction given to the control room to cut to another camera or video source.

Tag – A paragraph at the end of a news story, usually delivered by the anchor, that provides additional information or sums up the item.

Tease  A short description of an upcoming story designed to keep the viewer watching through commercial breaks.

Tight on – A direction to the camera crew to zoom in on a subject so that they fill the shot (e.g. “Tight on anchor/guest.”)

Time Code – The time signature on a camera or recording device—actual time a story is being shot on a 24-hour basis, i.e., 1300 is 1 p.m., 0900 is 9 a.m. Includes hours, minutes, seconds, and video frames.

Toss – When an anchor or reporter turns over a portion of the show to another anchor or reporter.

Track – The reporter’s written and recorded script in a news package.

Tracking – The act of recording a script.

TRT – “Total running time.” The length of an edited package.

Two-Shot – Most often an interview guest and the back of the reporter’s head. Also used to refer to any shot including two people; two anchors at a single news desk, for instance.

Upcut – Chopping off the beginning of the audio or video of a shot or video story. Opposite of downcut.

Video Journalist or VJ – A reporter who shoots his or her own video and may even edit it. Also referred to as a “Multimedia Journalist.”

Videographer – A name for a photographer or cameraperson.

VO or Voiceover – “Voiceover” followed by “sound on tape.” A news script, usually read live, that includes video, track, and at least one sound bite.

VOSOT – “Voiceover” followed by “sound on tape.” A news script, usually read live, that includes video, track, and at least one sound bite.

Watermark – A semi-transparent graphic, usually the station’s logo, placed in one corner of the broadcast feed.

Woodshedding – The practice of annotating a news script to denote which words should be spoken with emphasis.

Know of any other terms which should be included here? Any that are still causing confusion and warrant further explanation? Head on down to the comments and let’s make the murky world of broadcast journalism terms a little clearer!

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

Journalism Jobs In The News Department Beyond The Control Room

Channel 10 news room employees

Producers frequently do many of the same tasks as reporters—they come up with story ideas, and in some cases do the legwork of setting up interviews or chasing down leads. They’re also usually responsible for “stacking the show”—putting the stories for a broadcast in order, starting with the A block. This means deciding what to lead with—what was the biggest story of the day, or overnight if you’re working on a morning show. You will also have to decide how much time to devote to each story.

Producers’ duties can vary from one station to another, with larger stations having more producers, sometimes with different titles. Smaller stations (where many journalists start their careers after graduating) usually just have one producer per newscast. In these small-market stations, one producer may be responsible for the morning show, another for the five and six o’clock casts, and another for the ten o’clock news. (Again, this varies depending on the station—in some stations, one person may be responsible for all three evening newscasts, while another handles the morning and noon news.)

Field producers often go out with a photographer, gather facts, and interview subjects for the story while standing off-camera. Depending on the size of the station and how busy other staff members are, he or she may even go out alone, set up the camera, and record video in a pinch. The same is also true at the network level, where nationally known correspondents often arrive on scene after a field producer has already begun the process of assembling a story.  This is a good assignment if you like interviewing and chasing down stories, but don’t want the pressure of appearing in live shots or spending a lot of time fixing your hair and makeup every day.

If they’re not in a field position, most producers spend their time at the station, generating story ideas, monitoring the reporters’ work on those stories, and stacking the show.

Producers and reporters both usually report to the assignment editor, someone who monitors everything going on (including following the police scanner) and determines what stories to pursue. Often the assignments editor will give the producer a general assignment—“Give me five ideas for election coverage,” for example—and the producer will decide on a specific approach—the five angles, who covers them, when they run, etc. Producers and reporters sometimes move up to the assignments editor position after multiple years of experience.

Producing can be an ideal position for someone who wants to be a reporter but doesn’t want to be on-air. Good qualities for this job include multi-tasking, organizational skills, and the ability to work under a tight deadline. If you think producing is right for you, you’ll also need some of the same qualities as a reporter—being friendly, personable, and able to talk to a wide variety of people.

Photojournalism

Not everyone is a “people person.” Photojournalism is a good career choice for those who are interested in journalism, but aren’t comfortable talking to a lot of strange people every day.

In television news, a photographer is usually assigned to go out with a reporter and capture video and audio of the story. While the reporter usually does most of the talking and tries to get the subject to open up, the photographer has an equally important job: Finding a visual way to tell the story.

This is not a job for someone who just wants to set up the camera and pay no attention to the news topic. Your job as a photographer is to understand the story, the angle the reporter is going for, related issues, etc. That way you can seek out shots that help tell the story.

A photographer’s job can be critical to producing a package that not only tells the facts, but makes viewers care. Yes, the reporter will do everything in his or her power to get the interviewee to open up and say something with emotional impact. But sometimes even the most skilled journalist can’t get a subject to say anything beyond a rote recitation of facts. Yes, you can complete the assignment that way, but whenever possible, you want to present something viewers will relate to on an emotional level.

This is where the photographer comes in. If you’re paying attention, you might get a shot of something in the interviewee’s office or home that tells us more about that person than he or she ever would. Maybe the police chief has the picture of a missing child whose case has been unsolved for twenty years on her desk. That tells us more about the kind of difficulties the chief faces in her job, and her determination to solve the crime even after many years, than she would probably tell a reporter in a standard interview about the department’s new software program to help find missing kids.

It’s important that the photographer and reporter work together as a team. Sometimes the photographer notices things the reporter misses because he or she is busy trying to make eye contact with the interview subject. Just because your job isn’t to interview, doesn’t mean you can’t ask the occasional question, or point something out to the reporter. Sometimes a casual questoin like, “Hey, that’s an interesting picture, where was it taken?” can bring a new angle to the reporter’s attention, and get the subject talking about something you can use. Cultivating basic interviewing skills is also important because, during busy times, a short-staffed assignments editor might ask you to go interview a subject by yourself.

Editors take the video from a shoot and edit it into a package, VO (voice over) or VO/SOT (voice over with sound bite). In smaller stations, photographers sometimes double as editors. This can be useful because if you do both jobs, you can start thinking about how you’ll edit a package as you shoot. However, in larger stations, photographers frequently run from one story to the next and have no time to edit, so these stations usually employ a full-time editor.

Editing is another job that requires you to pay attention and think about different ways to tell a story. When you edit a package, you receive a script written by the reporter. The script contains the package intro, the reporter’s voice over script, sound bites from subjects, and usually some direction about cover video/ambient sound (“cover of children playing at the park,” “cover of crowd with ambient noise from cheering fans,” “cover of the mayor greeting supporters,” etc.). This leaves you with some room for creativity, especially if the photographer provided a wide variety of video and audio. Training in both photography and editing is a good way to boost your skills for both tasks, as you can learn a lot about shooting video from editing, and vice versa.

Increasingly, employers are looking to hire multimedia journalists (MMJ). These are individuals who can quite literally “do it all.” In an era of tight budgets, it makes good economic sense to send out one person instead of three. Local cable news outlets pioneered this approach. Now even network news and magazine programs employ MMJ’s as broadcast journalism schools place an increased emphasis on teaching the skills needed to be an MMJ.

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

Five Must-See Movies For President’s Day

The presidents of past and present have afforded screenwriters with a lot of solid writing material, both in terms of their political careers and personal lives.

With President’s Day upon us, today we’re looking back on five different presidents given the biopic treatment, as well as taking a look at how closely each drama mirrored real-life events.

Five Must-Watch Portrayals of U.S. Presidents

White House and front yard

Frost/Nixon (2008)

President: Richard Nixon
Played by: Frank Langella

An electrifying series of power play interviews centered around the Watergate scandal game of cat and mouse between British journalist David Frost (played by Michael Sheen) and Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) as the former tries to ensnare the well-prepared latter in a lie.

The film features incredible performances from both leads, and has the screenplay equivalent of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

How Accurate is Frost/Nixon?

Some fairly crucial liberties were taken with the line in which Nixon admits his participation in Watergate—in the script, it reads, “[I] was involved in a cover-up, as you call it.” In reality, it omits an important prefix to the line: “You’re wanting me to say that I participated in an illegal cover-up. No!”

Historians have also queried the impact the interview series had on both politics and the media, with some feeling it overstated the significance of the event and the effects it had on those involved.

Lincoln (2012)

President: Abraham Lincoln
Played by: Daniel Day-Lewis

A strongly performance-driven movie covering the span of Lincoln’s life between the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and his assassination. Although dialogue heavy in places, you’re left with the overwhelming impression that you’ve just seen history in action, exactly as it happened, with Honest Abe himself on screen.

How Accurate is Lincoln?

Very. Daniel Day-Lewis is famed for his method acting and extensive research before a role (he shut himself away for a year to read every book he could on the president) and both critics and historians praised his uncanny resemblance to what we know about the real article.

Script-wise, a few lines were put into Lincoln’s mouth under artistic license, but on the whole it’s as close as a biopic can get while still being watchable.

Southside With You (2016)

President: Barack Obama
Played by: Parker Sawyers

Very few fictionalized accounts of Obama’s life and/or presidency exist to date, which is hardly surprising given he is still in office at the time of writing.

However, one gem comes in the form of Southside With You, a light-hearted romantic docudrama focusing on Obama’s first date with the future First Lady (played by Tika Sumpter.) A disarmingly sweet movie and one that was received well by critics when released earlier this year at Sundance.

How Accurate is Southside With You?

According to director Richard Tanne, the “trajectory of the date is about 90% accurate” while freely admitting that a couple of elements may have happened later into the courtship.

Primary Colors (1998)

President: Bill Clinton (kinda)

Played by: John Travolta

More of a political satire than a Clinton biopic, but with plenty of parallels to reality that hit home on a mainstream level (and with some critics declaring it to so closely mirror reality that it seems indistinguishable with a factual account.)

How Accurate is Primary Colors?

Although Emma Thompson stated that she didn’t base her performance on Hillary Clinton and Travolta drew from a number of different presidents, the movie is a fairly accurate depiction of life on the campaign trail. Not all that surprising, given that the screenplay was based on the writings of Joe Klein (who had been closely following Clinton’s presidential campaign for Newsweek). The real-life Bill Clinton is reportedly a big fan of the movie.

Warm Springs (2005)

President: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Played by: Kenneth Branagh

An HBO television film covering Roosevelt’s battle against polio and subsequent work to change the titular Georgia spa resort into a safe haven for fellow victims. The biopic went on to receive universal praise (aimed primarily at Branagh’s performance as FDR), as well as numerous award nominations and an Emmy win for screenwriter Margaret Nagle.

How Accurate is Warm Springs?

Roosevelt’s journey to recovery and return to politics is told here with a fair degree of accuracy, with many FDR consultants working on the film to keep it as close as possible to real events (of which there are many peppered throughout.)

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

The 10 Best Romantic Movies Set In New York City

Love is in the air once again, and is there any city more romantic than NYC?

Okay, maybe Paris. But few cities have such a deep cinematic history and air of romanticism as the Big Apple, and as such we’re going to dive headlong into that loving feeling with a few NYC-based love flicks.

Buckle up, hopeless romantics, and brace yourself for a lot of 90s goodness and a heavy dose of Tom Hanks as we cry our way through…

10 Best Romantic Movies Set in New York City

 

Love sculpture in NYC

From the weepies to the films that’ll make even the coldest heart swell with joy, here’s our rundown of the ten finest New York romance movies ever committed to film (along with their Rotten Tomatoes scores in parentheses).

Know of any that deserved to be included here? Be sure to drop your favorites in the comments below!

10. You’ve Got Mail (69%)

Bizarrely (yet enjoyably) anachronistic to modern viewers who remember it from the first time round, and probably baffling to anyone born this side of the early 90s, You’ve Got Mail was the third and final pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in leading roles (and the second one in which they fell in love in New York) before the 90s collectively decided to leave them to their happy ever after.

9. Sleepless in Seattle (72%)

Don’t let the name fool you. Sleepless in Seattle features a healthy dose of New York City in all its 90s romantic glory, performing slightly better critically (if not commercially) than the aforementioned You’ve Got Mail which followed five years later.

It has also aged a lot better, too, so this is definitely one to dust off for Valentine’s Day in 2016.

8. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (88%)

Audrey Hepburn’s scene-stealing performance is matched only by the movie’s overall charm, and you’d have to be a robot not to succumb to its sophisticated tenderness.

As an aside, Hepburn ranked the job of playing Holly Golightly as the hardest of her career. We’ll leave you to decide how well she did (Clue: very well).

7. Blue Valentine (88%)

From one of the most-loved romantic movies to one of the most under-watched on this list, Blue Valentine grabs you from the off and doesn’t relent until the closing credits.

An exceptionally deep and powerful early performance by both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as their characters traverse a marriage on the rocks, although for that reason it isn’t the most lighthearted of romance movies to watch on Valentine’s Day (unless you’re in a particularly melancholic mood; and if so, all power to you).

6. When Harry Met Sally… (89%)

We meet again, Ms. Ryan (albeit this time without Tom Hanks in tow).

A seminal piece of NYC-based romance, directed by the master of sentimentality Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally is genuinely funny and romantic in equal measure. It was one of the first rom-coms to have dug really deep into the philosophy of love and raised some fairly deep questions, the main one being “can men and women ever just be friends?”

5. Splash (92%)

A man falls in love with a mermaid. We meet again, Mr. Hanks (and this time without Meg Ryan in tow).

On paper it sounds implausible, and in practice it should have been too saccharine to be enjoyable. But as it happened, this is another great Tom Hanks romance-in-New-York city flick that really found its mark and is delightfully sweet in its delivery.

4. Enchanted (93%)

A movie which will restore your faith in the modern-fairytale-reimagined trope, which has become somewhat oversaturated in recent years. As much of a satire on modern NYC living as it is on the Disney-esque fairytale genre, with the perfectly-cast Amy Adams helping the film live up to its name.

3. West Side Story (94%)

A slice of suburban NYC culture from a different time set against a nigh-on perfect adaptation of Shakespeare’s ageless story of Romeo & Juliet. Dance choreography doesn’t get much better than this, not to mention Leonard Bernstein’s pen.

2. Big (97%)

A true rom-com if ever there was one, and the movie that really put Tom Hanks of the map (and yes, this is the last appearance of the good man on this list).

Stuffed with now-iconic sequences filmed in and around NYC, Big remains as a seminal piece of 90s romance hinged upon a quirky premise. It’s also the movie that still makes us want to jump on oversized floor pianos nearly thirty years after its release.

1. Manhattan (98%)

Annie Hall is another Woody Allen classic that could have topped the list of best romantic movies set in New York, but we’ll give it to the equally great Manhattan by proxy, owing to the title.

Slightly darker than the preceding Annie Hall but no less romantic (in the truest sense of the word), this is arguably Allen’s finest display of wit and even possibly the greatest movie in his back catalog.

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

The Pros And Cons Of Developing For Today’s Top Game Markets

Video game collection

One of the most important decisions every development team has to make is what platform their game will be made for. Unlike a decade or two ago when there weren’t a whole lot of choices, these days there are more platforms than ever competing for gamers. And no matter how amazing your game is, making it for the wrong platform can spell disaster.

The good news is that choosing the correct platform can have the opposite effect. Few would argue that Rovio Entertainment isn’t very happy that they put Angry Birds on mobile instead of consoles or PC. That is why it’s important to study the state of every market today in hopes of predicting where your game will receive the most attention. This is of course easier said than done but not impossible!

Mobile (iOS, Android)

The Good: Massive Potential Audience

A lot of video game developers are trying their luck in the mobile game market for one simple reason—it’s huge and still growing. Everywhere you look someone has a smartphone, which means a potential buyer for your game. This is why big game companies like Konami and Bethesda are showing more and more interest in this market. Even Nintendo is finally making the jump!

Video game characters on a mobile device

The Bad: Tons of Competition

With hundreds of new games releasing every day on the App Store and other mobile platforms, your game will have plenty of competition no matter when it is released. This means that extra work will have to be put in to get your game noticed and stay relevant. While the challenge is great, those who succeed end up having thousands (if not millions) of people downloading their title.

PC (Steam)

The Good: Easy Access

Thanks to Valve’s popular game distribution software, it has become easier than ever to release a game on PC. Steam Greenlight and Early Access have allowed plenty of small developers to gain exposure and sell tons of copies, all while receiving valuable feedback about their games. If your game is good, you won’t have trouble finding people to check it out on Steam.

Pick the next games on Steam

The Bad: Oversaturation

One of the biggest gripes people have about Steam, particularly their Greenlight program, is that it’s become easier and easier to get your game accepted. This means that if you game was greenlit to be sold on Steam, you can be sure that several dozen other games, perhaps of inferior quality, were also accepted. This has made it very difficult for team developers to keep their games relevant and at a place where people will actually discover it.

Consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360)

The Good: More Attention

Although Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have recently begun welcoming indie games with open arms, their digital game market is far from being overcrowded. This means that if your game becomes a downloadable title on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, or the Nintendo eShop, it will receive a lot more attention than anywhere else. This is why a lot of developers who found success in other markets eventually try to port their titles to consoles.

Different controllers

The Bad: Development Challenges

If an indie game will get more attention on consoles, then why aren’t more people developing for them? The simple answer is that it’s not easy. The next time you check out a Kickstarter game campaign, take a look at how much they want for their Xbox One or PlayStation 4 stretch goal. Making a game for consoles is a timely, costly, and challenging task, which is why most small teams would rather take the mobile or PC route.

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 Nail An Interview As A News Reporter

Broadcast Journalist Gabriela Naplatanova interviews on camera

As a journalism student, you’ve probably learned a lot of different techniques for interviewing people. Being open and friendly, putting the interviewee at ease, asking the important questions even if they’re difficult—these are all good tips. But not every technique works in every situation. It’s important to learn how to quickly size up a situation—and a person—so you can determine the best way to proceed.

Watch Body Language

Depending on the situation, your subject may be open and friendly, or closed-off and uncommunicative. Sometimes body language is easy to read, but some individuals have great poker faces.

In general, you should watch for abrupt changes in body language. A person who suddenly breaks eye contact or looks away may be hiding something. If possible, you should try to make small talk about things unrelated to the interview’s topic for a few minutes before getting down to business. This lets you see what gestures, facial expressions, and tone and pitch of voice are normal for the interviewee, so you can be aware if there’s a big change.

Breaking the Ice is a Good Idea for Other Reasons, Too

Aside from granting more insight into the individual’s normal body language, chitchat can have other benefits. You may not always have time to talk about the weather or your subject’s favorite sports team, but if you do, it’s usually time well spent. Chatting about something relatively inconsequential can help put the subject at ease. It also allows you to establish rapport, and helps the subject see you as a human being rather than a scary person with a camera.

You don’t have to stick to the weather—in fact, it’s best if you can talk about something the subject finds interesting. Look around the person’s office or home for clues—sports memorabilia, movie posters, etc. People often open up when you ask about subjects that most interest them. Once they feel comfortable with you, it will be much easier to quiz them about other topics.

Again, it’s important to read the situation. If your subject seems impatient, answers all your small-talk questions with one-word answers, or suggests that he or she is in a hurry, it’s probably best to move on to the actual interview.

What If the Subject Doesn’t Want to Open Up?

What do you do when the individual at the center of a big news story won’t talk to you? Continuing to badger the person is generally a bad idea. The more you irritate people, the less they’re going to want to talk to you.

Instead, interview other involved parties. Keep going until you find someone close to the story who’s willing to talk—an employee, a friend, a coworker, etc. However, you should remember that people willing to talk to you about a big scandal may have an ax to grind, so it’s essential to fact-check their answers.

After you’ve spoken to others, another technique is to tell the person you really want to interview that you’d like their comments on X thing that Y said. Be specific enough to concern them, but vague enough that they have to ask you for clarification. For example: “I know you said you didn’t want to talk to the media about this issue, and I respect that, but I’d like to give you the chance to respond to your assistant Bob Jones’ comments about your campaign funding sources. If you’re interested in telling your side of the story, call me at….”

A word of caution: Don’t tell subjects you’re going to help rehab their image or make them look good—that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen, not to mention highly unethical and an example of media bias. As a reporter, your goal is to find and report the truth in the most unbiased way possible.

Do assure the subject that you want to examine both sides of the story. This may discourage people who are hiding something from granting an interview, but it can also get great stories out of people who are simply scared or feel they haven’t been accurately portrayed by the media. You can’t/shouldn’t promise someone good publicity, but you can assure the person you’ll make every effort to quote him or her accurately (which is something you should do anyway).

Asking the Hard Questions

Sometimes it can be intimidating to ask an interview subject, especially a powerful or well-known individual, difficult questions, especially ones that involve allegations of illegal or unethical behavior. Even if you don’t feel intimidated, it’s important to tread carefully—your boss will not be happy if you start making baseless accusations and ticking people off.

Here are some tips:

  • Prepare for the interview by thoroughly checking out the information you’ve received, and considering the source. If at all possible, fact-check the story yourself. If you’ve received allegations about a criminal activity, ask the source if he or she has reported the crime, and if not, why? If the source isn’t available for comment, you may want to check with your station’s legal department or counsel, if it has one, before venturing further.
  • When you interview the subject, be specific and explain the source of your information. If it’s an anonymous source, say just that—it’s better than letting the subject think you’re just pulling ideas from thin air. “Mr. Mayor, we received an anonymous tip from someone claiming to be one of your campaign staffers. This person says you wrote checks out of the campaign fund for personal items, including a $500 barbecue for your backyard. How do you respond to that?”
  • Don’t argue with the subject or accuse him or her of lying. Do reiterate what the person said and ask if you’re understanding the answer. “So you’re saying that you never purchased a $500 barbecue out of your campaign account? Is that right?”
  • If you have evidence the person is lying, follow up with another question asking for clarification. “Then how do you explain this copy of a canceled check on your campaign account for $500 to Joe’s Barbecues? Is that your signature?”
  • Remain calm and professional, even if the subject gets angry and starts yelling. Never get angry and start yelling back. Simply repeat your question in a calm manner.
  • You may hear something along the lines of, “You’re trying to make me look bad!” A good comeback is, “I’m just trying to gather the facts. I asked you a simple yes-or-no question. Did you sign the check or not?”
  • But don’t apologize either. Your job is to ask questions. If the subject really doesn’t want to answer, he or she can simply say, “No comment.” Yelling at a reporter for asking a question makes the interviewee look bad, not you.
  • If someone tries to duck a question, there is nothing wrong with saying, “That’s not what I asked,” or “You didn’t answer my question.” Then repeat the question.g
Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Analyze A Script For Actors

Analyzing a script

All the activities we pursue in our daily lives have directions. When you drive on the road there are laws meant to prevent us from getting into accidents, when we cook we follow a recipe and when we build with LEGOs we follow the literal directions so that our castles and spaceships turn out just right. For acting, the closest thing to a set of directions for how to proceed is a script. However, complications arise because of the different ways that readers interpret scripts. This means that the primary job of the actor is to analyze a script to uncover the truth about a character so they can accurately portray then on stage or on camera.

The First Read

Script analysis is a process and the process may be slightly different depending on the actor, but, in general, script analysis starts with the basics and gradually adds details. On the first read through, it is important to understand the literal situations and events that affect a character at each point in the story. These facts from the script are the given circumstances and help to determine the actions that you will take in performance.

As you read a script, make a list of all the facts about your character. Anything you can glean from a script is helpful. What do they do for a living? Where do they live? Who is closest to them?

Breakdown into Scenes and Beats

After you have a feel for the character, map out the story into scenes and beats. Good scripts are written as a series of related events where A leads to B and B to C and so on. The practice of making a scene map helps the actor to understand the story sequentially and provides built-in points to change action.

Look for points in the script where the setting changes or the characters on stage change, or time passes. These are common ways that scenes change. Beat changes are smaller shifts within the scenes where the characters may change their action, attitude, or topic of conversation. After identifying the scenes and beats….

Identify Your Characters’ Actions

Ask yourself, “What does my character want to other people in the scene to do?” The answer that question is your character’s objective. How are you going to accomplish your objective? That’s what is important because that gives you an action to play in each scene.

Usually, characters want other characters to do something, feel something, or understand something. For example, perhaps your character wants someone to get the mail. How will you get them to go to the mailbox for you? Charm them? Barter with them? Yell at them? The right action is the one that is true to your character and helps you to start identifying your character’s type.

Stay Open to Notes and Change

Remember that acting is a collaborative exercise and actors must also take a director’s opinion into account. Listen to what a director says and incorporate it into your character in an honest way, based on your own analysis of the script. Sometimes your initial analysis won’t be correct and you will have to make adjustments throughout the rehearsal process. But, with a strong foundation for your character, built from a thorough analysis of the script, these changes will be minor and your performance will be natural.

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