Sto­ry­board­ing Tech­niques

GET ON BOARD Sto­ry­board artist Fred Gago of­fers a nine-hour primer for the first and most im­por­tant stage of an­i­ma­tion

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The process of an­i­ma­tion starts long be­fore any ac­tual an­i­mat­ing is done. Whether you’re cre­at­ing a short sin­gle-handed or are part of a team, the sto­ry­board is es­sen­tial for un­der­stand­ing how a tale will be told. An­i­ma­tion re­mains work-in­ten­sive de­spite all the com­put­ing power at our dis­posal, so us­ing sto­ry­boards to fig­ure out what works and what doesn’t can save you many hours.

In Sto­ry­board­ing Tech­niques, Fred Gago takes you into the mind of a sto­ry­board artist, help­ing you un­der­stand what your goals should be. He starts with the house­keep­ing of build­ing a sto­ry­board lay­out tem­plate in Pho­to­shop and as­sem­bling ba­sic vis­ual ref­er­ence to com­mu­ni­cate the flavour of the set­ting and char­ac­ters.

As you’ll dis­cover through this nine­hour mas­ter­class, the point of the sto­ry­board is to con­vey in­for­ma­tion as clearly as pos­si­ble. The de­sign of the main char­ac­ter may not be com­plete, for ex­am­ple, but Fred will still be sure to give him/her/it a dis­tinc­tive look and sil­hou­ette, so they’re im­me­di­ately recog­nis­able in ev­ery frame. Choice of cam­era an­gles is also key: Fred shows you many of the most-used, al­though a more sys­tem­atic run-through might have been use­ful. You’ll also learn how he uses el­e­ments in the scene as fram­ing de­vices to re­in­force the set­ting, and why he pays at­ten­tion to a char­ac­ter’s po­si­tion within the frame.

The fi­nal ma­jor com­po­nent is move­ment. Static draw­ings can’t al­ways show ex­actly what’s hap­pen­ing, such as when a bar­man slides a beer bot­tle along a counter-top. Ap­par­ently sim­ple ac­tions like this be­come an ex­er­cise in us­ing as few frames as pos­si­ble to make the mo­tion clear.

You could ar­gue that Fred could have got the ba­sics across in less time, but if you’re pa­tient and let the les­sons un­fold, you’ll find Sto­ry­board­ing Tech­niques a first-rate primer for a de­cep­tively chal­leng­ing dis­ci­pline.

In Sto­ry­board­ing Tech­niques, Fred Gago ex­plains how to keep the char­ac­ter po­si­tion on the screen con­sis­tent, what­ever cam­era an­gle you pick. Here, Fred demon­strates the art and tech­nique of cre­at­ing a sto­ry­board be­fore an­i­mat­ing be­gins. A good sto­ry­board con­veys the flavour of the set­ting, even though the fi­nal de­sign work isn’t com­plete.

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