When I was a kid, my greatest dilemma when considering my future employment was whether I should dig up monsters or make them. I decided to work in film and I have spent nearly 10 years living the dream. I started out in costume and props as a student, sandblasting and painting armour, and currently I am a CGI texture artist for feature film, advertising, and animation.
My favorite pastime to relax after work is playing role playing games (RPGs) such as Dungeons and Dragons. Whether you are playing or running a game, it is a fantastic way to flex your creative muscles. The leadership and problem-solving skill you use to win games are not just applicable to an artistic career, but are also relevant for all aspects of business.
Although the game’s rule book sets the parameters for certain elements of the adventure, it is a completely open world. Your character can look and have any background you want. Getting creative with motivations and interactions and conspiring with the dungeon master and other players is encouraged.
Most games reward creativity, and writing extra storylines or artwork between games with extra points, but most people do it for the pure pleasure of making the story deeper and richer.
As a Dungeon Master, you create and control the world. You will decide what monsters attack, and who and what characters the players will encounter. It is also your job to keep the story entertaining, and motivate the players entering the world you have built.
Quick thinking and problem solving
Teamwork and leadership is paramount to winning in RPGs It is possible for your characters to die, so your group needs to coordinate and communicate to implement strategies and stay alive, there is no game over and start again.
Encounters don’t have to be hitting things with a sword, you can trick and talk your way out of situations and puzzles, and being innovative and quick thinking is the most exciting part of playing.
As both player and Dungeon Master you have to think on your feet, just because you have set up a story does not mean the players will follow it. There are no restrictions on what path players will choose, so you will need to be able to make up a game on the fly.
Drawing at the table
I usually have a sketchbook at the table and speed sketch creatures as I imagine them. The backs of my character sheets are covered in drawings. It is a great way to practice, sometimes I use encounters as inspiration for personal projects.
It doesn’t have to be Dungeons and Dragons
My favorite RPG is Dungeons and Dragons, set in a Tolkienesque world, but there are a wide variety of worlds to explore, everything from dystopian futures to urban magic. There are games based on TV shows and films, so you can crew up your own spaceship and enter the world of ‘Firefly’. They vary so much in style that there should be something that suites your tastes.
Although most of these games have rules and dice systems to bring some order, they are unbounded worlds where you can do anything. The world is usually controlled by the Dungeon Master, they are the god of the world, deciding how things progress. Imagine a sandbox video game with no limits to your creativity or imagination.
First create a character, most games have a race and class (what you specialize in, such as magic or fighting) to choose from. You will roll dice to decide vital statistics, such as how strong or intelligent you are. You could be a gladiator that had bought his way out of the pits or a gunslinger with a debt to pay, let your imagination fly.
You are then released into the world to start an adventure.
Trying out a game
Ask around friends, you might be surprised how many have played at one point or another.
There is plenty of online video and audio content, in podcasts and You Tube, with people such as Wil Wheaton or Vin Diesel playing to give you a feel for for the game.
To promote Dungeons and Dragons, Wizards of the Coast send out encounter packs to gaming shops. I got into the game and met many of my friends by just turning up to a game in one of these shops. You can find out which shops are running games online or phone your local gaming shop.
In the end: Grab a book, read up, and dive in!
I have spent nearly ten years in the film industry. I starting out making armour for films when I was a student, and after a few years in costume and props I moved into CGI for film and animation, where I have specialized as a texture artist.
It’s a job I passionately love. I always dreamed of making spaceships and monsters for films, and now I am using my artistic skills to do just that.
Showreels are an important way of showing off your talent and experience, and you only have a brief window to impart this to a potential employer. Here are my top tips that I’ve picked up over the years from recruiters and heads of department. Hopefully you will find it useful. Amanda Bone
1. Try to keep it under two minutes
I have been guilty of this myself! It is extremely tempting to cram in everything you have done or love. But what you must keep in mind is that your showreel is one among many being viewed, and people viewing it do not require an epic ten minute saga. Recruiters will switch off if it runs for too long, and move on to the next one. I have been advised that around two minutes is ideal.
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2. Only your best work
Do not be tempted to fill out your showreel with second-rate or old work. You only have a short amount of time to make a good impression. It is better to have a short reel with only one or two examples of your work than to have a longer one that does not do your skills justice.
3. Basic sound track
Some recruiters will turn the sound off to view a showreel but bear in mind that whichever track you choose, it is best to keep it simple. Do not overwhelm or detract from your work with vocals or an intense track. Personally I prefer to use instrumental versions of popular music or soundtracks.
4. Clear font and a brief description
If relevant, give a brief text description highlighting which part of the shot is your work.
Use a clear bold font that is easily read. Complex illuminated letters may look awesome but will need to be read at a glance and convey your meaning. It is probably best to avoid Times New Roman and Comic Sans as they are perceived by some as unprofessional.
5. Check twice cut once
Check over what you have done and if possible get others to check it as well, while a spelling mistake is not the end of the world, it is best to get it right in such a competitive market. Ensure you have attributed your work to the correct companies.