The Art Of Layout And Story Boarding Assignments

"Art challenges technology, technology inspires art"
                                                       -  John Lasseter


Storyboards are a hand-drwan version of the movie and serve as the blueprint for the action and dialogue. Each storyboard artist receives script pages or a "beat outline", a map of the characters' emotional changes that need to be seen through actions. Using these as guidelines, the artists envision their assigned sequences, draw them out and then "pitch" their work to the director. Over four-thousand storyboard drawings are created as the blueprint for the action and dialog of a feature-length Pixar animated film. They are revised many times during the creative development process. 
Storyboards are used to create story. A storyboard originates from written word; for example from a script. A storyboard artist takes the written word and draws it into pictures. The pictures are then taken and pinned on a board, a storyboard. After all the pictures are pinned to a storyboard, the artist then pitches it to the director. The artist wants to give a sense of what this movie could be like and tries to bring it to life. 
The aim of a storyboard is to get a feeling of what the story could be like as a final film. The storyboard artist attempts to convey what it would feel like to watch the film in a cinema.
The following video explains what a storyboard is and the process of storyboarding by a storyboard artist. It also shows us a storyboard pitch, where an artist is pitching his storyboards to a group of Pixar employees. The video then compares a storyboard to the finished product; demonstrating the influence and importance a storyboard has on the final product.

Toy Story -  Storyboarding and Pitch

John Lasseter on Storyboarding

The following quote from John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar, illuminates the importance of storyboarding to creating a successful film.
In animation, it is so expensive to produce the footage, that unlike live action we cannot have coverage. We can’t do multiple takes of a scene. We don’t have extra handles, we don’t have B-roll, we don’t have any of that stuff. We have one chance to every scene. So how can you possibly know you’re choosing the right thing?

What we do is we edit the movie before we start production. And we use storyboard drawings to do that. We quickly get away from the written page and the script, and we really develop the movie in storyboards. A comic book version of the story. And we do it the way Walt Disney did it. We have 4×8 sheets of bulletin board material, and we pin up drawings and we pitch them to each other. To see how things flow.

And when something seems to be working great then we’ll go on to the editing system and we will make a version of the movie using the still storyboard drawings. And we’ll put our own voices in it as scratch voices, we’ll get temporary music from some soundtrack album that has the right emotion we want, and put sound effects in there. And we can literally sit back in a screening room, press a button — no excuses, no caveats — and we just watch the movie with still drawings.

I will never let something go into production unless it is working fantastic in that version with the still drawings. Because no matter all the great animation you can do will never save a bad story. We will work and rework and rework and rework these reels — sometimes thirty times before we let it go into production. We’re really adamant. We’ll even slow the production down or stop production to get the story right because we believe that it’s the story that entertains audiences. It’s not the technology. It’s not the way something looks. It’s the story.

- John Lasseter
Here are some storyboards from a number of different Pixar films:

Toy Story Storaboard

Brave Storyboard

Up Storyboards

You’ve made a storyboard for a project, assignment, or idea and yet something seems to be lacking. You’ve got a great story and covered all the topics you need, but you still have this feeling that it could be even better. Look no further! This article will teach you all the tips and tricks you need to make your storyboard the absolute best it can be!

There are many subtle things that go into storyboard creation that add monumental value and create a professional look:

  • Layout Efficiency and Cleanliness
  • Character and Prop Positioning
  • Cropping and Layering
  • Color and Effects
  • Consistency

Layout Efficiency and Cleanliness

Any storyboard, no matter how good the content, can be ruined by a badly organized layout. The layout is the way scenes, characters, text and objects are arranged in the cell area. Using the space to its fullest and balancing all the components creates an aesthetically appealing final product.

Here is an example of bad layout and a better layout:

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Character Positioning

More often than not, storyboards are character driven, meaning the the action is propelled by the characters. Your storyboards rely heavily on those key characters, and if they are missing emotion and intrigue, your story will be as well.

Be sure to take advantage of our character poser which allows you to change the expressions, arms, and legs of your characters. Body language is crucial when trying to express emotions or ideas with a character.

Here is an example of ineffective and good character posture in a scene:

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Cropping and Layering

By layering objects and taking advantage of the ability to crop characters, scenes, and items, a whole new dimension of storyboarding can be reached. By incorporating cropping and layering, you can create the illusion of forefront, middle-ground and background. This illusion keeps your storyboard from being flat and two dimensional.

Here are some examples on how cropping and layering can bring depth to your storyboards:

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Coloring and Effects

Storyboard That offers special effects that can be added to individual objects or an entire scene. Using sepia and black and white filters can give the illusion of the past, an imagined situation, or a memory. There are also textured effects available that add canvas bumps or diffuse light. There is also a pencil option to make your storyboard look more like a sketch!

Here is an example of each of the effects on the same image:

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Although consistency is not a magical tool on Storyboard That’s drag and drop creator, it is a key skill to master in order to make storyboards fluent and congruent.

Consistency in storyboarding means being sure to:

  • Keep your characters colors the same through the storyboard
  • Keep your texts’ font the same (Unless there is shouting or “noise effect” text)
  • Stay with the same style of scenery (If you are writing about Ancient Egypt, you wouldn’t use a modern bedroom. This is where staying in a category can come in handy)
  • Place your title or explanation text boxes in the same place in each frame/cell (and keep them lined up using the Align tool or the gridlines)
  • Use the same items in a storyboard if shown in multiple cells (i.e. don’t switch vacuums between one cell and another unless they are supposed to be two different vacuums)

Consistency is about creating a feeling of continuity from cell to cell, so that the viewer doesn’t get pulled out of the story by strange changes in character, scenery or objects.

Here is a contrast between bad and good consistency:

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When creating your storyboards, it is important that you have fun and enjoy the experience. Using these tricks, tips, and ideas can make your boards “pop”, but it is your vision and input that really makes your final piece worth showing off!

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