Category: Fran

Personal Careers Development Material

The Job

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This is the job application page for a senior 3D Character Artist at Bungie Studios, Washington.

Application letter

Dear Bungie,

I am writing to apply for an Internship at your studio, under your Senior 3D Character Artist position, as advertised on your website. Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration!

Admittedly, you’ll find my CV doesn’t contain much of anything in terms of experience, but that don’t let that fool you, for I am perhaps the most eager person to work in this industry you’ll meet. I believe the knowledge and skills I’ve built up throughout my lengthy educational period has set a sturdy foundation, on which great things can be accomplished. A passion for learning, creating, and discovering new skills has lead me here. I’ve grown up playing your games, and its those games that have inspired me, driven me to were I am today, and for that I am extremely grateful. I feel I want to give something back to you, and to the best of my ability help the next generation of players feel the same sense of awe and wonder as I did, when I first stepped out onto a Halo ring nearly 15 years ago.

Your games have been an intrinsic part of me for as long as I can remember, and I wish for that to continue on a professional level.

With my current course at my college, I’ve accumulated almost the highest grades possible within my projects, including 3D environment design and 2D animation, and I continue to improve myself with practice and personal projects (of which you may find enclosed with my CV). The technical knowledge of video games has been with me for almost a decade, and I’m willing to put my knowledge to good use and continue to improve, working under the best in the business. I am confident that I can bring a level of creativity and perspective to your design team, and help Bungie build on upon your reputation for stunning visual design. I’m ready and willing to actively contribute as soon as possible.

Thank you for for your time and consideration. I look forward to discussing my application further.

Yours sincerely,

Benjamin Halling

Supporting Evidence

Often when applying to creative jobs, It’s wise to include a portfolio of your best, work presenting what you are capable of and how you’ve created it. This normally comes in the form of a presentation, showreel, album or depending on what you’ve applied for (animation for example) video. Here are a few examples of professional portfolios;

 

CV

My modified CV can be found here. It’s mostly a re-worked version of my current, rather lackluster one designed to fit the critera.

 

 

 

 

 

Media Sector Employment Opportunites

Jobs within the creative media sector are vast and varied, and each job offers different opportunities that suit different people.

Employment opportunities within the creative media sector (specifically video games) range from 3D artists and animators, to top-end programmers and publicity directors. These few jobs could be considered senior roles, while entry-level jobs within the industry would present themselves as testers, texture artists and scriptwriters.

Each job is not self-contained however, as artists, programmers and designer jobs often overlap and interact with one-another. Designers might draw up a character, and inform the animators how it will move, who in turn informs the 3D modellers how to go about creating the asset, who then explain to the programmer how it should react/behave within the game. The sheer complexity of a big video game wouldn’t be possible without a great deal of communication between all of the sections of a development studio.

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A small section inside Bungie studios. Without excellent communication, things would probably never get done in there.

Every job as it’s pros and cons, and for this example I’m going to use concept artist. Concept artists perhaps have the most creative freedom in the video-game development studio, as they dictate and design how the game should look and are directly responsible for how environments, objects, characters and menus might appear in the game. However, at the end of the day they are just ‘concepts’, and alot of concept art either never sees the light of day, or is never used at all. A concept artist will never see his/her work in the final product, only representations of it created by the environment/object artists.

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Environment Concept art for Halo 4, by 343 Industries

Though I said Concept artists have the most creative freedom in the studio, they are still dictated by the art director or lead artist, who specifies certain styles, formats and restrictions.

Different jobs of course require different skill sets, and as the creative media sector being as varied as it is, there is almost a job for every profession. However, some jobs might require certain skills you’d not expect.

Animators and modellers are often very well educated in physiology and anatomy. The knowledge of how muscles work the mechanics of the skeleton greatly assists these artists in creating realistic and believable characters/movements, and to a much higher standard then compared to an animator who can only draw stick men.

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Characters such as the Hulk could not have been created without a great deal of knowledge on the human anatomy

Environment artists, more-often than not study geography, and programmers have certificates in computer sciences.  These skill-sets are all useful to have and will give you an edge with your projects.

To get a further edge on your projects, further education/experience is also an option. the best way to get experience in the game development environment is through an apprenticeship within the industry.

An example of a job in the game industry would be one at Studio Wildcard, a relatively small developer working on an exceptionally large game, ARK: Survival Evolved. The game features vast, thoroughly detailed landscapes and a plethora of beautifully re-created pre historic creatures.

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On the main homepage of their site was a large red banner simply advertising “WE ARE HIRING”, a click on the banner lead to a page detailing the specific jobs. The studio are currently looking for senior technical staff, lead animators and competitive multi-player designers. This is the .PDF relating to those jobs:

ARK Job

Link to the job page

As you can see, the requirements for this jobs are rather extreme, and demand many specific things, such as knowledge of specific game engines (In this case, Unreal Engine 4), and technical support on specific items (performance optimisation).

Were I to even think about applying for this job I’d have to have helped publish a similar product myself, and have years of experience with Unreal Engine. Publishing a game aside, the first thing I could do is get to grips with the technical aspects listed here, that would be learning Unreal Engine 4, and how animation and modelling works in conjunction with that. Personally I’m very limited when it comes to 3D modelling, and that is not even with an industry-standard program.

A way of professionally developing those skills would be to attend a higher-education course dedicated to either game development, programming or 3D modelling/animating. The job requirement also states that I would have needed to produce at least one product similar to this before I’d be considered. So, I’d have to get a job to get this job.

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Link to the job page

The job for Senior 3D Character Artist at Bungie Studios has almost astronomical requirements for their team. They are not as specific as Studio Wildcard, but ask far more in terms of technical ability and experience in the business.

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Link to the job page

This is a job advert for a concept artist at Framestore, a studio in London. The company asked for simpler, less specific skills, and skills that are mostly common throughout the creative industry. These are in-fact skills I mostly possess, (save for the experience), and would suit me well, were it not so far away.

These sorts of jobs is never a part-time arrangement. Game developers (Studio Wildcard specifically) are known for working around the clock, 7 days a week if that’s what it takes to produce a polished product. With these small indie developers, its passion for their game that drives this approach.

A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is a method that evaluates those four elements of a project or business, or person. A SWOT analysis can be carried out for a number of reasons, such as evaluating staff or potential ventures.

Here is a simple SWOT analysis for myself, regarding a 3D artist job

Strengths

  • Technical knowledge on many digital art subjects
  • I’m eager and willing to contribute to a team effort
  • I’ve a very sharp eye for detail and enjoy getting my work to a high standard
  • Artistically inclined
  • Working knowledge of game engines and technical possibilities/limitations

Weaknesses

  • I’m often poor with organisation
  • I’ve only experience with a few 3D modelling programs
  • I’m often poor at interpreting instructions correctly
  • I’ve limited skill with texturing objects
  • I’m not the best at social interactions/communications

Opportunities

  • I can use my artistic background to enhance my work and the work of others
  • I’m uniquely experienced in designing and modelling of mechanical objects
  • I’ve still got a lot to learn and am not yet ‘set in my ways’ with any particular method/practice

Threats 

  • My quest for perfection can lead to me never finishing a project
  • My lack of experience
  • I haven’t enough money to afford any expensive programs
  • My emotional state may fluctuate, resulting in dips/rises in productivity

Glossary of terms:

  • Part-Time – A job with (inconsistent) hours depending on the business’ availability.
  • Full-time – A job with consistent or predictable hours,.
  • Free-Lance – Someone who is self-employed and sells their skills to outside clients.
  • 0 Hours – A job with no minimum required/demanded hours
  • Temporary – A temporary job, normally covering for someone who is absent.
  • Internship – An opportunity of temporary employment from a business.
  • Apprenticeship – A position of working and learning underneath someone experienced in the field.

Regulation of the Media Sector

If you work in a creative media industry, it is your responsibility to be aware of the various restraints and regulations imposed on your practice. The main bodies who impose said regulations are PEGI (Pan European Game Information),  and ESRB  (Entertainment Software Rating Board). These bodies were established to ensure that games available on the market are rated correctly to protect minors from being desensitized or wrongly influenced by any of the content with the game, and to ensure that content will not offend, discriminate or insult any group of people. PEGI enforces its regulations on developers by contractual obligation, and regional law.

The regulation of media is very important. The age rating system helps regulate what type of game reaches what audience, in an attempt to protect younger (more impressionable) audiences from experiencing potentially violent or discriminative games. Other regulations may include warnings about gambling, use of drugs, sex or bad language. Again, products may be rated with these tags to help consumers know what they are buying, and weather or not they are suitable.

Retailers that sell video games to customers who below the age rating stated on the game are liable for imprisonment or a fine, under an age-classification system designed to prevent minors from viewing unsuitable content.

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They key issues affecting media producers are many of the regulations themselves, and what sort of impact they may have on development and/or sales. For example, if PEGI chooses to tag a game with an 18+ rating, that is suddenly restricting the game’s overall audience to older viewers only. On the other hand, developers may have to cut content from the game to acheive a low PEGI age rating, as to have their game available to the widest audience possible. The issue facing consumers is that of the age rating system as well, as minors are not permitted to buy 18+ games.

Concerning businesses, a monopoly is where said company or holds most or all of its certain industry. Monopolisation is in-fact an offence, as it removes any external company competition and excludes the industry to all businesses, save for itself. Monopolisation of an industry or sector also limits consumer choice to the single company. Consumer choice is important as it creates competition between businesses, and as a result forces business to improve their products to attract more customers.

Censorship in the media sector refers to the edit or complete removal of certain game elements (or even entire games). Censorship laws vary from country-to-country, and video games may have certain elements removed or edited due to regional rating standards. Games are toned down when they become too explicit terms of violence, religious references, profanity, drug use, etc.

Regulatory issues are perhaps the most prominent in video games. In the game Fallout 3 for example, the optional quest “The Power of the Atom” was removed in the versions released in Japan, due to concerns about depictions of atomic detonations in inhabited areas.

Many people believe that there is a ‘fine line’ between censorship and protecting the public interest. The concept of censorship is that it aims protect groups of people (mainly minors) from harmful content, but this really only applies to that small minority as they are far more impressionable. The argument is that this control adults also, and are thus stopped doing as they wish.

 

 

Ethical & legal constraints in the Media Sector

Introduction

If you work in the creative media industry, it is your responsibility to be aware of the various legal/ethical constraints surrounding your practice. If not, you face either angering a lot of people or getting yourself in trouble with the law, or possibly both.

Legal constraints are laws that govern the media sector and it’s of the up-most importance that you abide by these polices or you could be investigated by law enforcement.

Ethical Constraints aren’t things directly punishable by law, but can hold similarly dire consequences if not taken into strict consideration. These constraints dictate that you are working and/or producing work within accepted norms of your respective society, and you have to represent what is considered the ‘right’ thing to do, i.e. not offending anyone.

The upholders of these certain legal constraints are PEGI and ESRB.

PEGI (Pan European Game Information) and ESRB  (Entertainment Software Rating Board) are the two main players in the legal/ethical constraints in the interactive media sector. They are there to ensure that games available on the market are rated correctly to protect minors from being desensitized or wrongly influenced by any of the content with the game, and to ensure that content will not offend, discriminate or insult any group of people.

Codes of practice 

The VSC (Video Standards Council) govern the codes of practice regarding the video game industry. They are a non-profit organisation designed to ensure that a particular industry shows a certain amount of care in their dealings with customers and the public generally. The VSC also provides retailer staff with a staff training course dealing with age restrictions related to media titles. The VSC also acts as an administrator of the PEGI system of age rating for video games.

Copyright

Copyright is a law designed to protect your idea or product from being duplicated by another company. Copyright laws protect how an idea is presented (in the form of a film or game), but not the idea itself. An example of this being the plethora of modern shooter games currently on the market; they are all similar in ideas and concepts, and have no legal quarrels with one-another. However, if one of these shooters were to present itself in a similar fashion to another (i.e., the designs, music etc.) then there would be grounds for copyright infringement and other legal action.

Patents

A patent does what copyright does not, and protects the idea of something rather than to protect how it’s presented. A patent is more commonly used alongside inventions and other similar products, but is just as important in the creative media industry.

Constraints relative to my own work 

So far, my work within the college has been extremely safe regarding legal and ethical constraints. My two main projects, Upgrade and JAWS are mostly devoid of human characters.

Upgrade features robotic characters only, thus removing any kind of ethical or racial discrimination against people. Upgrade is also an entirely original concept, so that removes any copyright issues that might arise if I choose to publish the game. The game does involve tearing robots apart, which might be considered “violent” in some cases, but the lack of blood or gore means its still suitable for a wider range of audiences.

JAWS, does feature one human character, but she is completely anonymous, allowing the player to more easily project themselves onto the character. Similarly to Upgrade, the lack of human characters removes any sort of ethical issues. The only issue I foresee with JAWS is copyright, due to it being named (and loosely based) after the famous film.

Company Ownership – BUNGIE

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Introduction/History

Bungie are a private game development studio based in Washington, United States. It was founded in 1991 by university students Alex Serbian and Jason Jones. The studio became what one employee termed “your stereotypical vision of a small computer-game company—eating a lot of pizza, drinking a lot of Coke” This was not to remain the case however, as in 2000 Bungie was acquired by Microsoft Studios. When Microsoft acquired Bungie, the project they were working on was re-purposed into a launch title for Microsoft’s new console, the Xbox. The game was called Halo: Combat Evolved and became the Xbox’s biggest seller, selling millions of copies and spawning a billion dollar franchise.

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Halo: Combat Evolved (2000)

Throughout it’s lifetime, Bungie has gone through some major organisational changes. The first being in June 19, 2000, after Halos preview at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2000. Microsoft announced that it had acquired Bungie Software and that Bungie would become a part of the “Microsoft Game Division” under the name Bungie Studios. Halo would be developed as an exclusive title for the Xbox. The reasons for Bungie accepting Microsoft’s offer were varied. Jason Jones stated that “I don’t remember the details exactly, it was all a blur. We’d been talking to people for years and years.

Competition 

Since the Advent of their first person shooter (FPS) game Halo, Bungie have been in constant competition with other similar developers who also produce FPS games. Studios like Infinity Ward, DICE, and Activison.

Audience/Cross-Media Productions

Bungie’s audience are gamers, specifically Xbox/Xbox 360 gamers who enjoy first-person shooters. This might seem like a niche market, but together Bungie’s Halo franchise has sold over 65 million copies to players across the globe. Bungie’s influence spans far beyond the games however, as the Halo universe has been expanded into books, comics and short films. In reality, Bungie’s (indirect) total audience count may be significantly high number.

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A small collection of the Halo novels

As Bungie produce video games, a side-product of that is often original soundtracks. Halo’s soundtrack in particular has received critical acclaim, and contains tracks featuring many famous artists such Steve Vai, Breaking Benjamin, Incubus and Hoobastank. As a result, Bungie (or more accurately the soundtrack composer, Martin O’Donnell) publish and release the score albums alongside their games.

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The production the Halo 2 Soundtrack at Skywalker Sound

Bungie have created a wide variety of cross-media products, including (but not limited to) books, comics, music soundtracks and film. Though Bungie has not been directly responsible for producing any of these works, they are always involved as creative directors and consultants for the projects.

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Halo Legends, an animation produced in Japan using Bungie’s intellectual property.

Company structure/Ownership

Martin O’Donnell described Bungie’s workplace as having “a slightly irreverent attitude, and not corporate, bureaucratic or business-focused“. An artist at Bungie noted that when he walked in for an interview, “I realized that I was the one who was over-dressed, and I knew this was the place I wanted to work.” Frank O’Connor comically noted that at a conference, the Bungie team was told to wear business casual, to which O’Connor replied “Bungie don’t do business casual.”

This informal, creative culture was one of the reasons Microsoft was interested in acquiring Bungie, although game designer Jordan Weisman said that Microsoft came close to destroying the company’s unique development culture, studio head Harold Ryan emphasized that even when Bungie was bought by Microsoft, the team was still independent.

The next radical shift in Bungie’s organisation came on October 1, 2007. Microsoft and Bungie announced that Bungie was splitting off from its parent and becoming a privately held limited liability company named Bungie, LLC. As outlined in a deal between the two, Microsoft would retain a minority stake and continue to partner with Bungie on publishing and marketing both Halo and future projects, with the Halo intellectual property belonging to Microsoft.

While Bungie was part of Microsoft, they were required to produce games according to Microsoft’s schedule. This schedule resulted in a game being produced at most every 4 years. While this schedule wasn’t particularly demanding or unreasonable for Bungie, the studio had always enjoyed producing different and varied works, and traditionally never stuck with a title for long. Microsoft however demanded that Bungie kept working with the Halo franchise, and as a result Bungie produced 5 games belonging to Halo. After the 5th Halo game Halo: Reach, Bungie subsequently split from Microsoft entirely in an effort to pursue new original ideas. This lead to Bungie horizontally integrating with Activison, and producing Destiny. 

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Destiny (2014) bears many similarities to Halo.

Eventually in 2009, 343 industries (a company established by Microsoft) was created in order to oversee and continue the development of the Halo franchise.

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Glossary

  • Horizontal Integration – The Process of a company merging/cooperating with another company of similar size and/or industry
  • limited liability company – A limited liability company is a structure whereby the members of the company cannot be held personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities.
  • Intellectual property – Refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs etc used in commerce.

 

Research Report for Trailer Production

Market & Audience Research 

My game has been designed around a very balanced audience from the start, aiming to appeal to all types of people (Unless you have Ichthyophobia, in which case this game would be terrifying). The current market facilitates this open-armed approach with the gamer demographic being more diverse as it’s ever been;

The gender-ratio remains around 50/50 throughout the market, alleviating any such need to appeal to a particular sex, as it’s clear from our data that males/females are already enjoying and buying whats in store. Our research also concluded that the age-range of gamers has also expanded dramatically, so creating a trailer/game that appeals to as many of these ages as possible gives me the best chance of boosting sale numbers.

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Investigations into the current market is a logical step when considering production, as it’s important to discover wether or not your game is in demand.

The current media market (Games, Movies, TV shows) are currently brimming with remakes and reboots of older titles. This current trend works out perfectly for me, since my game is based of the movie of the name, JAWS from 1975. The familiar and iconic title should be immediately familiar to most people, and with the film being as successful as it was, I feel this will further boost the general positivity towards my game and/or trailer.

If you produce a product that you already know is in high demand, and peoples reactions to similar/related products has been positive, you can guess that its safe to release your product.

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However, to be more specific, my game is part of a sub-genre that has never been fully explored, and that genre is Underwater Exploration. During my research I came across a game Subnautica, a game which relies in the same premise as my own. It was nice to see that this game has been widely successful and that demand for such a game exists.

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Production Research & Required Resources

Production research is essential when creating a product. Production research helps you to identify what resources you will need to launch the eventual product and whether your product would be profitable within the current market.

Due to the nature of my project, I don’t necessarily demand any complex equipment such as that of green screens, lighting set-ups or recording studios. For the most part, the live-action portion of my trailer can be reordered indoors, within Plymouth Aquarium.

Filming in this particular location poses problems such as transport and peak times. To avoid getting in anyone’s way, I shall visit during the week, and during the Aquarium’s least popular time and day. After a brief search I found that the least popular time at the Aquarium is Monday.

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I plan on using a camera that can record in at least 1080p mounted to a tripod, for stability. The college has these in store and I shall film my subsequent footage with one such as this:

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This is a Go-Pro 3+, the same model I have acquired from the college. I do require at least one scene filmed out at sea and underwater, which is why this Go-Pro has a waterproof casing. This Go-Pro is capable of recording a 1080p at 30 FPS, the ideal resolution and frame rate for my trailer/animation.

As far as software is concerned, I require Adobe After effects for animating and Paint.net for asset creation, the latter being freeware, and the former being available for a month-free trial period, enough time for me to complete and submit my animation.

Rationale & Strategy

Based on all my accumulated research, I’ve been able to come up with a marketing strategy that should be widely effective and suitable for my game trailer;

The simple name or title of my game should be enough for initial peak interests, due to it being connected to a highly successful and well-known film series. Gaining that first interest in your product is key to ensure any future marketing success.

The main portion of my marketing strategy will consist of my trailer, being suitable and available for viewing on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. Social media (specifically Facebook) is an extremely powerful tool when it comes advertising, as it is able to fine-tune what individuals see through their search patterns and interests, ensuring that the right kind of person (my target audience) is exposed to my product.

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Using Youtube has it’s advantages as it’s able to be directly shown from Facebook and Twitter, and it’s also realativly cheeper to upload and get out there, as opposed to a TV advert of a large poster campaign.

Youtube-statistics

I plan to produce and release my trailer  in a format that is suitable for a youtube trailer, and this means taking a few variables into account. The first issue is what parameters Youtube has for it’s adverts. At present, youtube limits the maximum resolution of adverts to 1080p, and the maximum frame-rate to 30. The length of the ad also affects weather or not the ad is ‘skippable’, and this parameter varies for different regions.

These parameters are widely acceptable in most cases, and I aim to produce my animation to fit within these quality standards.

My trailer and game is aimed toward all ages, therefore providing me with consumer base. My trailer has to reflect this aspect of my product, and also appear suitable for all ages, presenting appealing colourful visuals and the emergence of a compelling game world that people will want to experience.

In conclusion I’ve geared my trailer to appeal to all ages, providing clean visuals and a mysterious narrative, features that I think will be popular with a wide range of people, thus boosting the size of my potential audience.

 

 

 

 

Research – Presentation/Conclusion

The group presentation I conducted can be found here.

Conclusion – Personal 

I can say with confidence that the research I conducted has given me a greater insight into the world market of video games, especially when comparing how the sales different platforms/genres differ from region to region.

As far as my personal project goes, it’s helped me realise how popular remakes have become in recent years, and what sort of people might interested in buying my hypothetical game. I’ve discovered how versatile and efficient social media is when it comes to displaying ads, and I would certainly aim to advertise my product on Youtube and Facebook. As far as platforms go, I’m still convinced PC (through Steam) is the most ideal setup for my game, as it provides multiple services for small indie developers such as myself. The most logical option after that would be to head for consoles if/when the game succeeds after that, as many developers have.

My game is part of a sub-genre that has never been fully explored, that genre is Underwater Exploration. During my research however I came across a game Subnautica, a game which relies in the same premise as my own. It was nice to see that was indeed demand for a game such as this, albeit not a huge demand.

In the end though, everything is hypothetical. I’ve geared my trailer to appeal to all ages, providing clean visuals and a mysterious narrative, features that I think will be popular with a wide range of people, thus boosting the size of my potential audience.