Callum Jennings - Skillset Workforce - Youth ConnectCallum is a 19-year-old young man who registered with Skillset Youth Connect through the Bathurst Jobs Expo in August 2018. Callum completed his HSC at Denison College last year and is considering going to University in the future, but doesn’t feel quite ready yet and wanted to explore his options.

Skillset Youth Connect assisted Callum with career planning advice and helped him identify the educational and employment pathways that could one day lead to his dream job – game design! Callum has a passion for 3D modelling, game design, and digital content creation, and with our help, has enrolled in Certificate III Information Digital Media & Technology at TAFE NSW to begin his career journey.

To help make this decision, Skillset Youth Connect encouraged Callum to attend an open day at AIE (Academy of Interactive Entertainment) in Sydney to broaden his understanding of career options in the game development, animation, and visual effects industries.

Callum enthusiastically took on this advice to participate in the open day and this is what he had to say to Skillset Youth Connect about his visit to AIE:

“The AIE Open Day was a really nice experience and quite informative. There were around twenty people in attendance so there were two groups that alternated between workshops. The workshops themselves were basic but provided a firm understanding about what the tasks in the course are about and what it’s like to study and work in such a field. They were also quite hands-on, getting us to use the industrial programs used in the making of games and the assets within them. Before we moved into the workshops we were introduced with a powerpoint slide showing us some statistics about the market: where and how fast it’s growing, the number of specialised fields of work there is. But the main thing that surprised me is how many companies both for games and VFX are based in or have hubs in Australia. And Australia has some pretty famous VFX companies that work with a lot of Marvel and high budget films.”

“After the introduction, the first workshop my group attended was 3D Art and Animation. They focused mainly on animation and showed a simple but effective video explaining how to bring life to an artificial object by using techniques that mimic the real movement and follows the laws of physics. We got to use a little bit of Maya which is the program currently used in the industry for animation and creating 3D models among some other uses. The task was the oldest trick in the animation playbook—animating a ball bouncing. What I enjoyed the most about doing this was actually learning some of the features and interface of the program itself.”

“About an hour after the first workshop, the group moved on to what I thought would be the least enjoyable workshop of the day: programming. But I have to say, I learned more about programming in the one-hour long workshop than all the multi-media and software development classes I ever did combine. The teacher was also brutally honest in saying that programmers don’t even know or remember all the special rules or specific commands but rather rely on the program tool-tips and interface to help them decide what the best function is for the job. The teacher also mentioned that the hardest time in coding will be when you’re just starting and eventually you’ll just learn all the syntaxes and jargon. During the workshop I also learned how developers start most of their days; they arrive at the office/studio log into an online application called Trello, which stores all the projects currently in the works, and the developers can pick and choose which tasks they want to complete.”

The application also functions like a pipeline that helps set tasks along and keeps everything organised. And that’s something I love in a workplace, a personalised schedule but also highly organised.

“Once that workshop was completed the staff ordered in Pizza which was super convenient because it meant nobody had to go around Sydney looking for food and all be back at the same time. It was also surprising as I’ve never seen as many teenagers without that typical “I’ll eat everything” appetite. So what the staff did was much appreciated!”

“After lunch, it was the VFX workshop which I found the most interesting. The main thing we learned was what compositing is. I would describe it as essentially removing or masking real objects and inserting computer-generated inserts (CGI). Our task was basically moving files into Adobe After Effects and compiling and layering them together to create a scene with physical footage but also some CGI and VFX elements such as a lens flare and an explosion. We also learned how to remove a green-screen which was neat. We didn’t get to use the industrial program which is called Nuke but the teacher demonstrated how it was different.”

“The final workshop was Game Design. This was probably one of the groups that had the most freedom to do what we wanted as we were given a 2D plat-former pre-set level in Unity and told to change it and make it our own; the purpose of which was to get others to playtest the level so we could see how another person experiences and approaches the level. The workshop was quite fun but my favourite aspect of it was seeing a game in-engine and how the very core of it is constructed and how all the different bits and pieces come together to create a product. Even though everything was already set up I could imagine the sheer fun of creating the assets for a game, compiling them in a format so that they can be accessed and placed inside the game engine, all the while coding the functionality of the pieces to create a game.”

“In the end, what impressed me the most about the whole day was the industry experience the teachers had and how effectively they conveyed that experience and knowledge from working in the industry. This experience looks like it’s carried over to the final products that students study there. I say this because some of the student’s works were absolutely phenomenal and must’ve taken hundreds if not a thousand or more hours creating. Just the amount of detail and functionality in some of the works were really up there in quality. It puts my year 12 project in the dumpster. But that’s a good thing as it shows the quality and degree of skill that students come out with. Taking a course there definitely something I’d like to do in the future when I have a bit more confidence that I could handle the work in terms of quantity and quality.”

If you would like to discover the career pathway to your dream job, get in touch with Skillset Workforce Youth Connect by calling: 1300 853 525, inbox us of Facebook, or email youthconnect@skillset.com.au (eligibility criteria applies).