Tag: Storyboard Class

Drawing for Features Storyboarding ANM 372 Week 2: Character

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:

 

Imogene Expressions 2
Imogene Expressions 1
Imogene expressions 1
Imogene expressions 2
Imogene standing
Imogene standing
Imogene sketches
Imogene sketches
Imogene meets a fluffy friend
Imogene meets a fluffy friend
Imogene sews
Imogene sews
Imogene argues with her phone
Imogene argues with her phone
Imogene holds an umbrella
Imogene holds an umbrella

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…

Drawing for Features Storyboarding ANM 372 Week 1: Life Drawing

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.

TV 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

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).

Feature Animation

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:

Classmate 1 Classmate 2

Classmate 3

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.

Trying out different ideas, I thought of the idea of something cute and squat with glasses.
Trying out different ideas, I thought of the idea of something cute and squat with glasses.
Working off the original idea, I made my monster girl a little bigger and made her into a workout junkie.
Working off the original idea, I made my monster girl a little bigger and made her into a workout junkie.
Expanding on the theme, I made her even taller, and decided that she enjoyed swimming.
Expanding on the theme, I made her even taller, and decided that she enjoyed swimming.
My last sketch, I gave her a 50s retro swim suit and gave her the lifelong ambition of being on the swim team -- in spite of her flaming hair.
My last sketch, I gave her a 50s retro swim suit and gave her the lifelong ambition of being on the swim team — in spite of her flaming hair.

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:

The Original Sketch with a little newt added for fun.
The Original Sketch with a little newt added for fun.
I turned the character into a witch and moved the newt so that he became an unfortunate prince floating in the air.
I turned the character into a witch and moved the newt so that he became an unfortunate prince floating in the air.
A cleaned up version of sketch two with a little more detail.
A cleaned up version of sketch two with a little more detail.

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.

Bon Nuit!

Pixar Storyboard Class Week 2: Economy of Storytelling

This semester I am taking ANM 499 Digital Storyboarding for Feature Animation with Pixar Story Artist Kristen Lester. 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, as well as watching the films assigned. Happy boarding!

*In order to fully discuss Kristen’s notes, I detail events that occurred in the films we watch. Watch the film, then read on to see how we analyzed the film.

Image courtesy of http://moviescreenshots.blogspot.com

Today we started class watching the montage scene from The Hudsucker Proxy. An excellent film released in 1994 written by Joel and Ethan Coen and Sam Raimi, The Hudsucker Proxy chronicles the rise, fall and rise again of Norville, played by Tim Robbins, an idealistic young man fresh out of Muncie College of Business Administration. He has an excellent idea “you know, for kids!” that he wants to share with the world that becomes the hula hoop. It’s like watching a live action cartoon, and proved to be a great movie to analyze. There are many excellent sequences that propel the story forward.

Some of the take aways Kristen mentioned were to have a scene ask a question, then give an answer. For example, in the Proving Room scene, we first see men behind giant windows, then we see men in hazmat suits jumping behind sandbags. We are asking ourselves “What is a proving room?” “What’s with the hazmat suit guys?” Then the camera cuts to a mannaquin with a bomb strapped to him and a hula hoop around the waist. We realize they are going to blow up the mannequin to see what happens to the hoop. The filmmakers could have showed the mannequin first, but they instead opted for us to ask a question, then the answer is revealed later.

In the same montage scene, the shopkeeper throws out all the hula hoop, and the red one rolls through the street on a magical journey to the footsteps of a small boy. We watch the event that eventually pans down to the hula hoop’s POV, as though we are the hoop itself. In this way we are like both the hula hoop and, in a way, Norville, we just want someone to believe in us. We, (the hula hoop) want to reach our full potential.

The montage works because it conveys a lot of information in a condensed period of time. It is a story within a story.

Next, we learned a set of useful terms to help us in our storytelling process.

1. PROGRESSION

Always have something build to something else. Ask yourself, is every shot giving a new piece of information that’s adding to the story?¬†Each shot should have its own moment, an opportunity to build humor, intensity or emotion for example. Also, the emphasis should have the most contrast.

2. ECONOMY OF STORYTELLING

Why say it in 5 shots when you can say it in 3? Why not 1? Always try to move the story forward.

3. CLARITY

This refers to clarity of the idea, not the drawing. Rough sketches are fine as long as they convey the story point. A beautiful drawing is pointless if the story doesn’t shine through. Again, does every scene work?

4. STRUCTURE

How are you telling your story? For this, we briefly discussed The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Glove and Boots made a fun video about it too. We didn’t mention the Glove and Boots film in class but I love it so here you go:

 

5. ENTERTAINMENT

Ultimately, everything you’ve done is for naught if the story is not something that people want to watch. Are there interesting and unexpected reversals? Good staging? Our job as filmmakers is to entertain and educate. That’s why we shell out the bucks for movie tickets.

Last and certainly not least, we each pitched our homework assignment from last week.

Our assignment was to take this image:

HomeworkAssn

And create a story using only 6 cuts and no more than 30 images. She allowed us to use B and C cuts so you can ignore that part at the end of the image. Everyone submitted very imaginative stories. She emphasized the necessity of making appealing drawings that are loose so that we focus on who the story is about and their POV rather than an omnisicient POV. She also discussed the importance of putting the camera in the best place to tell the story and paying attention to the 180 rule, which everyone breaks from time to time. The 180 Rule, of the Rule of Left to Right, can be remembered this way: if a character is on the right, they should always be on the right. This will keep you from crossing the line. Kristen went through all of our stories, one by one, and shortened them. Cut out the fat. It was amazing. Turns out you don’t need that many drawings to tell a story at all.

For example, here is my original story:

ZiegfeldMurders01 ZiegfeldMurders02ZiegfeldMurders03ZiegfeldMurders04ZiegfeldMurders05ZiegfeldMurders06ZiegfeldMurders07ZiegfeldMurders08ZiegfeldMurders09ZiegfeldMurders10ZiegfeldMurders11ZiegfeldMurders12ZiegfeldMurders13ZiegfeldMurders14ZiegfeldMurders15ZiegfeldMurders16ZiegfeldMurders17ZiegfeldMurders18ZiegfeldMurders19ZiegfeldMurders20ZiegfeldMurders21

And here it is after Kristen’s cuts:

ZiegfeldMurders01 ZiegfeldMurders09 ZiegfeldMurders14 ZiegfeldMurders16 ZiegfeldMurders21

You get the same meaning in fewer shots. Still exciting, fewer drawings, story point is still intact. This is the essence of economy of storytelling – simplifying the story into ONLY the images you need. AMAZING. And time saving.

For our second assignment, we are using Late Night Hashtags by the one and only Jimmy Fallon, my favorite talk show host and future host of The Tonight Show. Our assignment was to turn the following hashtag into an amusing story in 10 images or less:

@longdoug35

My friend yawned and a rubber band from his braces shot out of his mouth and hit a lady in the face. #awkwardpromstory

You can watch the whole clip here:

You’ll see my story in the next post! ‘Til next time storyboarders…

The Hudsucker Proxy image courtesy of http://moviescreenshots.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Pixar Storyboard Class Week 1: Cinematic Punctuation

I have the great fortunate to be taking ANM 499 Digital Storyboarding for Feature Animation with Pixar story artist Kristen Lester. On our first day of class she told us a little about herself. She is quite an accomplished artist. She went to Sheridan, which I almost attended, and she worked on films like Everyone’s Hero and Epic and shows like my personal favorite, Sym-bionic Titan.

After class introductions, we dived right into what makes a good story. In her words:

“What makes a good storyboard? It communicates something.”

Once you the point of the story, you can us certain tools to communicate what you want to say. And those tools are things like composition, camera angles, perspective, and the like.

Shots, according to Kristen, are like cinematic punctuation. Different meanings are created using different punctuation. See how the meanings change in the following sentence – Woman without her man is nothing – with a little creative punctuation:

Woman, without her man, is nothing

Woman: without her, man is nothing

See the difference a little punctuation can make?

In film cinematic punctuation are the types of shots used to tell a story, such as a wide shot, medium shot, close up and extreme close up.

Shot choices are used to communicate something, to show people what and where they should look and what they should pay attention to. It shows what’s happening, where to look and who is important.

How you string the shots together are what is known as cinematic grammar.

As an example, she showed us a clip from Jaws, the classic 1975 Steven Spielberg film. Brody, played by Roy Schneider, waits anxiously on the beach, looking out for the shark, trying to see it among the throngs of unsuspecting beach goers.

Jaws01You’ll notice that everyone in the background is having a wonderful time, while Brody waits, staring out to sea. Waiting. Watching.

Jaws02Even when people get in his face, Brody’s attention is split as he watches the water.

Then, as Jaws attacks and people scream and panic, the camera ZOOMS in on Brody as his worst fears are realized.

As Kristen explained, wide shots are used in the first few shots as the crowd frolics on the beach so that you see and feel Brody’s anxiety. Individual shots are included to track people so that you ask yourself in terror “Who will be eaten?” Brody focuses on them all, and the stress that he experiences becomes our stress.

The key to all of this is that every shot and angle is on purpose.

And that’s the point – be intentional with your shots. Don’t have shots simply to have shots. Ask yourself, what do I want people to feel? And how can I use these shots to convey this feeling and move the story along?

For our homework, we were assigned to board out a scene from an illustration she gave us that could use 6 cuts and up to 30 frames. And for our film analysis, she assigned The Hudsucker Proxy, a great Coen Brothers film that more people need to watch. Great stuff.

More to come about this assignment in Week 2’s post!

Images courtesy of www.cinemasquid.com