Studio Tour – Storyboard Artist

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					                 Studio Tour – Storyboard Artist


I'm Mack, the Storyboard Artist. Some studios call my position the 'Story
Artist'. It's my job to produce the storyboard. Here's where I fit in to the
animation production process.


A storyboard is a visual representation of a script, shown as a series of
panels. It tells the story shot by shot, showing the characters, staging and
type of action. Sometimes a storyboard is referred to as the 'board'. Here's
an example of one I've just finished.

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                  Studio Tour – Storyboard Artist


In typical storyboard, you will generally find the features outlined below.

   •   Dialogue will appear under the relevant panel.

   •   Scene number and shot number will be shown under the bottom left
       hand corner of the panel, for example, Sc 2, 5 (Scene 2 Shot 5). In
       traditional animation it is common to call a shot a scene, and a scene a

   •   The rough shot timing is given under the bottom right corner of the
       panel, for example 6" (6 seconds).

   •   There will be directions from the director or storyboard artist, including
       shot descriptions, camera angles, camera moves, transitions and
       anything else not conveyed in the visuals.

   •   Arrows are used to show the path of action, movement of the
       character or object in the scene, or camera moves.

   •   Footnotes can be used to record any changes to the script or
       sequence, or any additional comments

Shot Types

Take a look at this multimedia demonstration of different types of shots. The
shot types in this presentation constitute most of the common shots used in

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                 Studio Tour – Storyboard Artist

Camera Moves

Camera moves are movements such as zooming in and panning and are
described by arrows drawn on the panels. For example, a pan shot is a
horizontal sweep from one side of a scene to the other and is generally used
when following a moving character or object. In live action film, the camera
moves (pans) whereas in a traditional 2D animation pan, it is the background
that moves not the camera.

Trucking in is the same as zooming in to the subject. In traditional
animation, the whole camera can be moved vertically up and down to
simulate moving towards, or away from, an object. Look at the following


Transitions are the way one shot or scene changes into another, for
example: dissolves; wipes; fade-ins; fade to black. Look at this example.


Path of Action

The path of action is the path that the character, or part of a character, takes
through a scene. It is generally indicated by using an arrow. The following
storyboard shows two examples.

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                 Studio Tour – Storyboard Artist

                 A storyboard showing two examples of a path of action


The storyboard provides the information required by the layout artist and is
also a reference tool for the whole production. I have to be careful to
consider continuity - the flow and direction of the animation. I need to
make sure that the animation scenes flow into each other in a way that
makes sense to the audience. For example, it would be bad continuity to
have a car drive onscreen from right to left, and then have it drive onscreen
from left to right in the next scene. This would disrupt the flow of the
animation and might create disorientation in the audience.

This effect created from swapping camera angles from one side to the other
in the next shot is called crossing the line. Let's take an example of a truck
driving along a road with cameras set up as shown in the following image.

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                 Studio Tour – Storyboard Artist

Camera A should be followed by Camera B. If we shoot one frame with
Camera A then the next with Camera C, we would cross the line. To see what
I mean, click on the link: Crossing the Line.

The storyboard is effectively an early form of editing and so the application of
camera shots must lead the viewer to concentrate on the action of the
characters not the camera angles. The camera angles must create what the
live action filmmakers call seamless editing. Seamless editing is the
technique of editing footage so that the audience is not consciously aware of
the change in shot angles as they concentrate on the action of the

Drawing the 'Boards'

Dave, the director, usually goes through the script beforehand and notes in
bullet point form how he sees the script in terms of shots. This is called a
shot list. I then take the shot list and draw up small versions of the shots
called thumbnails. Thumbnails are drawings about the size of your thumb,
that help you quickly design and layout the shot. Here's an example.

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You have to be able to imagine how things look in your mind before you start
drawing. Sometimes it's a good idea to have a maquette to use as a model
for drawing people from various angles. A maquette is a little wooden person
that has bendable joints so that you can position them in the right position as
a reference to draw people in certain positions.

Presenting the 'Boards'

On larger films I have to act out the story to other members of the crew such
as the producer, director and animators. This involves me trying to sound
like the characters as I say their lines, pointing to the panels and explaining
in an animated way, how the sequence will play out. This is the first
checkpoint at which the crew can see whether the various panels are
working. It can be at this stage that the director and others ask me to rework
or redraw certain sequences. While no one likes doing something twice or
even four or five times over, it is far better in animation to rework sequences
at the storyboard stage than at the animation or editing stage. The cost of

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                 Studio Tour – Storyboard Artist

producing one scene of finished animation can be more expensive than
redrawing a whole storyboard.


Once the storyboards are looking finished, we are ready for the second test
of whether the storyboards are working. The storyboard is given to Lisa, the
head of timing to produce a story reel/animatic. An animatic consists of
the panels of the storyboard filmed in sequence and edited to a scratch
track. Having the sound track under the visuals playing at the correct times
helps everyone to judge if it needs rew orking or if the storyboard is ready for
the next stage of development - layouts. Many animatics are produced using
digital editing systems because it is cheap and convenient.

You might like to check out some Useful Web Sites or continue on your
tour. I guess I'll be seeing you again when you need my advice on a job.

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