I’m attempting to show two things with this post. And let it be known there are many images ahead.
The first thing is to show how I would have broken down a scene from a TV show (that I didn’t work on). I talked about this at the end of my last post on dealing with dialogue. This is something you can do to practice breaking up dialogue and acting it out.
Why South Park?
Well, I love South Park. It brings out the 20 year old frat boy in me, what can I say? I’ve been a fan since it first aired while I was in animation school. I also have all the DVDs and watch them while I work. Keeps me in a good mood.
Also, it demonstrates that even the ‘simple’ shows can be acted out. South Park is a very ‘wordy’ show too. A lot of the jokes are very dialogue based (as well as visually based). So when I broke this down it got quite long because of all the dialogue, even though it’s only a portion of the actual scene.
It goes to show how much work a TV animation storyboard artist should be doing to pull off the dialogue well.
I would have loved to show the video clip first to go with this. But alas, I have yet to figure out how to easily get that from my DVD onto this blog. Anyone with some advice please offer it in the comments (or email me) and I’ll give you kudos and lots ‘o Karma.
Keep in mind the South Park guys may not have broken down the posing this much. They may have left much more to their animators because they work right there with them. Very different than sending it somewhere else to be animated.
Also keep in mind what I’ve done here is not formatted like a professional storyboard. I’ve just slapped the dialogue under the images, OK?
So let’s start and I’ll get to the second point.
Butters:”Yeah, and he’s never gonna get me again,”
“because what Cartman doesn’t know”
“is that I know”
“one of his secrets.”
(hold a beat) Cartman: “What?”
There it is.
The ‘beat’. The beat is a pause. It’s silence. And it’s huge.
When you add a beat before the dialogue continues you’re usually adding comedic timing (or a dramatic pause, but we are talking cartoons here). You’ll see lots of great beats in South Park. They do it very well. And you watch and laugh at the comedic timing.
But as the storyboard artist, you have to get that timing across on paper (or pixels 🙂 )
If you want that great timing to come across in the animation, you have to put it in the storyboard because the animators probably won’t do it on their own. You do that with ‘the beat’. You don’t have to say how many frames exactly. I don’t have time for that. It’s more of a ‘feel’ for me. An instinct.
A beat is close to a second (24 Fr.) but maybe not exactly. What do I say in my head to get my beat?
Weird, I know. But it’s something I picked up as a kid watching my brother and his friends throw around the football. I don’t get it either, but I’ve been using it for years. Pick your own. I like “one steamboat” and I’m sticking with it.
Let’s move on shall we?
Butters: “When Cartman is playing all alone in his backyard”
“he likes to dress up like Britney Spears”
“and pretend he’s her!”
“He sings and dances around”
“with a life size cut-out”
“of Justin Timberlake.”
(hold 2 beats) Cartman: “You saw that?”
Ooo, see that?
How long is two beats? It’s not “two steamboats”, it’s “one steamboat, two steamboat.” About two seconds. Two beats is that much more powerful than one beat and should be used sparingly. For effect. And laughs.
What’s really going on during those beats?
Your character is thinking.
They are taking in what the last person said. Their brain is whirring around trying to ‘compute’. They are contemplating what to say next.
Make your characters think and those characters come alive.
That’s where good acting starts. Characters that think.
Let’s wrap it up.
Butters: “Yeah, and I videotaped him doing it!”
(beat) Cartman: “Nuh-uh!!”
One more beat for good measure.
If you have the chance to watch this episode (Awesom-O, season 8), you’ll really get the feel for what I’m talking about here. Hopefully I can get the video clip thing sorted out soon.
So to take away from this post: make your characters think and use beats for comedic (or dramatic) timing.
When you read this, I’ll be in Montreal (my home town) for the next week. Yes, another little get-away. Aren’t I spoiling myself?
One cool thing I’ll be doing there is attending some of the ‘Just for Laughs Festival’ and I’m going to the ‘South Park Live’ show! Very stoked about that. Matt and Trey will be there live discussing all things South Park. I’ll be sure to give a full report when I return.
I will be checking in and maybe even posting. But we’ll see how it goes. Till then, happy reading and see ya in another week or so. 🙂
Read the Storyboard Blog by RSS Feed or by email to see just how many damn vacations she plans on taking.