This semester I am taking ANM 372 Drawing for Features Storyboarding with Disney Story Artist Tamara Lusher-Stocker. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given. Happy boarding!
“Get the audience by the throat. Don’t let them escape. Don’t wake them up. Don’t let them stop and realize ‘this is only a movie.'” – Billy Wilder
Today we showcased the character we found from life and expanded upon for our upcoming storyboard assignment.
While at the Walt Disney Family Museum last weekend I saw a fascinating young woman wearing an electric blue fluffy bear hat, a Wizard of Oz style Dorothy Gale dress, purple tights and motorcycle boots. The moment I saw her I knew I found my muse.
Wearing purple tights and a blue hat are bold choices. One decides to dress that way, that style does not randomly happen upon a person. I imagined her to be a creative, fun, Zooey Deschenel type of woman. In my mind, she loves eclectic fashion, her Etsy site where she sells her own creations, animals, playing guitar, wears her heart on her sleeve and spends little time on the phone. Here are my ideas for my character:
After each person in the class showed their character, Tamara gave us our assignment – our character baking a cake in 40 to 60 panels.
We also gleaned some words of wisdom to aid us in our quest.
Some excellent rules to live by:
To Be A Great Story Artist, You Need To…
1. Use your draftsmanship. Draw everything. Everywhere. All the time. Draw, draw, draw.
2. Draw AND discuss film language. Know what different shots mean and when to use them.
3. Act – you are an actor with a pencil.
4. Write – understand story structure and how to tell a visually compelling dramatic story.
5. Have a keen eye and ear. You know how Pinocchio is timeless while a lot of direct to DVD films out now have a shelf life of six months? Learn how to tap into the human psyche without being the hot thing of the moment.
6. Be flexible and humble. Carol Kieffer Police said something excellent at the Walt Disney Museum yesterday: “your plans are always meant to humble you in the end.” Things will not always go as planned. Your great idea may be ripped off the wall and tossed in the trash. Roll with it. Know when the bigger story is more important than your one cool scene.
We also discussed different types of boards, of which there are three:
1. Beat Boards – these are panels or illustrations that show the scope of an entire film. These are the fancy ones you often see in all those beautiful hard cover art of books.
2. Pitch Boards – panels that represent all the changes that occur within a film, including film shots and character emotional changes. I learned something cool here too – the more boards to show an action the slower the action will seem. The fewer the number of boards the faster the action will seem.
3. Continuity boards for an animatic or story reel – panels that play together as an animatic. A good example is the “100 mile Dash” sequence in the special features of The Incredibles.
For next week I’ll show my boards for our first assignment I call “A Cake Story.”
Until next time…
Hello good webizens! Today I am showcasing my second storyboarding class, Animation 372: Storyboarding for Feature Animation. That’s right, this semester I am taking not one, but two storyboard classes. I am exceedingly pleased with this semester. As a storyboard major, I am finally taking the courses most interesting to me: STORYBOARDING. For FILM no less. Although both of my courses have to deal with storyboarding for feature animation, I am learning some different things in each one. And each of my excellent professors has their own unique way of teaching.
Disney, ILM and Pixar artist Tamara Lusher-Stocker teaches this course. Her filmography includes The Lion King, Home on the Range, Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, and Escape from Planet Earth.
On our first day of class she introduced herself, then the five of us (that’s right, only five students – stellar! Personal attention!) discussed our goals. Everyone in our class is a storyboard major and three of us will soon graduate, so we will be able to showcase our thesis project during the class.
For our first class, we discussed some of the similarities and differences between boarding for TV, live action and feature animation.
As everyone who has ever watched the credits of an animated program knows, most TV animation is not actually animated in the states. For this reason, storyboard artists must be extremely precise. The boards are often used by overseas animators as key frames for their animation, so accuracy is a must.
Live action boards serve as a blue print for complicated shots. You want to make sure that the angle of that explosion looks just right before the truck drives under the bridge you’re going to blow up. The point is to give the director exactly what they’re looking for, to draw realistic characters, and often arrows are shown to where the action is going (although I hear this is starting to go away since most everything is put into an animatic now).
You’re creating the entire film with boards and making a story reel, or animatic, that will show exactly how the movie will be played. No arrows here.
Most importantly one should draw loose and communicate quickly. There’s no time to noodle boards to make them beautiful. You’ll be drawing way to many of them to get attached to any one in particular.
Like in Kristen’s class, we also discussed Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey (seriously, read this book. It explains A LOT and you’ll find how many of your favorite films use the formula pretty accurately). We also discussed stereotypes, empathy, acting, and the importance of using a strong silhouette.
We practiced modeling and drawing each other in preparation for our homework.
Here are my drawings of my classmates:
Next we watched interesting clips from The Incredibles and Monsters Inc. in order to get a better sense of character design and structure. Then we tried our hand at drawing our own crazy creatures.
Finally, we took our last model and were encouraged to tell a story with the character, making the model into some type of creature.
Here are my three processes:
For our first homework assignment, Tamara instructed us to draw three life drawings of a single person from life, five drawings of them participating in an activity, three head studies, and one drawing of them on the phone. She encouraged us to pick someone fascinating, as our first storyboard will revolve around this character.
You’ll see who I chose in Week 2.
I enjoy drawing people on BART. However, people on BART, look up from your phone once in a while. We are permanently attached to our phones. Phone zombies if you will.
Saturday I went to the Walt Disney Family Museum and drew some of the cutest farm animals ever. Love animals.