I like to keep a positive feel here on the Storyboard Blog (sidenote: I have registered http://storyboardblog.com so it’s easier to tell your friends about it…so um, go tell your friends about it 🙂 ). But I also like to keep it real for the people who want to do this for a living or who just want to do it better.
So here are a few ‘nots’ about the craft. Not to scare off or intimidate, but to inform. Hope it’s not too doom-and-gloom-y. I may have touched on some of these before but they are always worth mentioning again.
Here are five things that professional storyboarding is NOT:
1. EASY. This can be a huge misconception in the industry itself. I have heard burned-out animators say ‘maybe they’ll try storyboarding for a while’. Like their lives will be so rosy and laid back if they could board for a living. I’ve seen veteran layout artists (a job that could be viewed as the close cousin to storyboards) give it a go. And fail miserably because it’s a different animal and not easy. It’s hard work that requires many more skills than just drawing. It can also take a toll on your time, your sleep and your sanity and it’s not an easier ride.
2. SOCIAL. If you freelance or even if you work in a studio, this is a very isolating job. You may have the occasional meeting with the director, but you will be working many long hours by yourself. It’s not much of a collaborative effort in television storyboarding (it can be more so in feature films, but not every day). If you have a hard time being in your own head for hours on end (and possibly losing contact with the outside world day after day), this job may not be for you.
3. ABOUT PRETTY PICTURES. The drawings do matter, but they’re not the most important part. They have to be strong, yet clear. They have to tell a story that anyone can read. They have to convey the character movement and the camera movement effectively. They have to be labeled to an industry standard. Lovely renderings that don’t tell a visual story or are not organized properly will be useless to a production.
4. MINDLESS. I would say that storyboarding is 70% thinking and 30% execution. (I would go a little higher on the ‘thinking’ but that execution can a take a long-ass time). You don’t get a script and plop down exactly what is on the page. This is what separates the strong storyboard artists from the mediocre. There are many questions to ask yourself about that script. There are many possibilities to tell that story with images. You should be making it better, funnier, more dramatic and entertaining to an audience. Choosing the right shot, composition and perspective takes thought. Adding strong acting to weak dialogue takes skill. If you’re just banging out what’s literally written on the page all the time, you’re not doing the job justice.
5. ABOUT YOU. This one is big. When you storyboard for a client, your job is not to show them how many ‘cool’ shots you have up your sleeve. Or to add your personal style to an established show. Adding long tangents that aren’t in the script and have no other purpose than you showing off is not a good idea. It’s not doing the job. If any of those things don’t tell the story in the best way, nobody cares (especially the folks signing your check). Your job is to create a visual story from the written word. Their story. You have to make their characters look good (or bad), not yourself. This is where you have to put your artist ego aside for awhile and remember that your real job is to serve the story at all times. It should always be clear and make sense. And sometimes that means just keeping it simple. Save that other stuff for your personal projects or when it truly is appropriate to help tell that story.
So…is there any good stuff?
Of course there is. And because I’m back at the drawing board and need some easy posts to write for the next little while (bear with me), I’ll write the next post about what storyboarding IS. Most will actually take a positive spin on the above topics. The follow-up will be chock full of flowery images and lollipop dreams, OK?
(Does that sound as sarcastic as it looks?)
So I will write the ‘ISes’ in the next one…because there has to be some reasons I’ve kept at it for over ten years. Right?
You betcha. 😉