This is the first post of the series ‘The Shot Tells the Story’ using the movie Wall-E as my lesson plan. You can find the whole list of shots in the introduction post.
Now, you may not find the term ‘extreme wide shot’ in any film making books (or maybe you will…who knows?). It’s kind of my own term. Because I think ‘wide shot’ has too many variables. Therefore I’m breaking up wide shots into ‘extreme wide shot, ‘long shot’ and ‘full shot’ (you may not find that term in any book either).
They’re all wide. They can all be used as establishing (or re-establishing) shots. You don’t have to use all of them all the time. How wide you need to go will be determined by the story you’re trying to tell.
It’s all relative. And I’ll try to explain that.
But what all of these ‘wide shots’ have in common is one thing. They are answering the same question:
This is the first question you generally want to answer for your audience. Now, I’m not saying a wide shot has to be the first shot. But it should be pretty darn close to first. Again, it depends on the story and if there is something you’re trying to hide from the audience on purpose.
But I’m going to keep it pretty basic for these lessons. So I’m saying give your audience a wide shot very close to the beginning.
Or as your first shot.
Or in the case of Wall-E, the first five minutes of your film. That’s right. Except for one sequence where we see Wall-E scooping up the garbage, almost all of the shots in the first five minutes are ‘extreme wide shots’.
Because of the story they’re trying to tell us. The shot tells the story and here’s what these shots are telling us.
Above: “Space. Gotcha. We’re in space. Space is big.”
“Earth. Cool. This story is told on Earth.”
I’ve been wanting to do a series called ‘The Shot Tells the Story’.
Because that’s how I view visual storytelling and storyboarding.
In the post series ‘What’s Wrong With Your Storyboards‘, when it was all said and done, I said all that was left was shot choice.
Sometimes your shot choice can be flat out wrong.
More commonly though, is the one you chose still works, but there may be a better one to tell that part of the story.
So I’m going to go through all the commonly used shots and show you when they are a good choice and what that shot ‘says’.
In my series of Feature Favorites, a few people in the comments asked if I was going to do a review of Wall-E. Since it’s now out on DVD (and I bought it…yay) the question was posed again (thanks, t.sterling).
But I didn’t just want to do another story deconstruct (as much fun at that is). If you want to know how I feel about Wall-E, here it is:
So I’m going to use Wall-E as my little lesson plan. And I’m mostly going to use the first half of the film when it’s all him (and Eve) and barely any dialogue or sound. There is no better example of shots telling the story than the first half of Wall-E. >>continue reading>>
Well, not with that attitude.
Wish you could produce your own storyboard for a short film? Not an artist? Can’t draw a straight line without a ruler?
I don’t buy it.
If you’re capable of writing your name, you can draw.
As I mentioned in a previous post, storyboards are about communication, not pretty pictures. Sure, pretty pictures help. I won’t deny that. But if these boards are just for you, or for a small group of people to work from, you can do them yourself. With some guidance and a few tips. Which you will be able to find right here…how convenient!
OK, and some practice : ). >>continue reading>>
Here’s some differences between boards done for 2D animation, 3D animation and for live action film. This is why you should know the medium that you’re boarding for. I’ll break it down this way.
For Film, the board:
For 3D (computer) animation, the board:
For 2D animation, the board:
And yes, I’ll explore many of these points in more detail in future posts. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what I mean yet. This is a place to learn, remember?
In short, it’s a bunch of drawings that tell a story in a clear and organized manner.
“Kinda like a comic book?”
Pretty close, but with some differences. It’s a visual interpretation of a story or script that depicts every scene, action and camera movement. The storyboard has to work technically and follow the same rules as a film. Comics can be looser in format (not that I’m a big comic expert, but it’s how I see it). And you don’t put the dialogue inside little ‘bubbles’…but more on that in later posts.
So what do I mean by ‘an organized manner’?
Well, a real storyboard isn’t just a bunch of pretty pictures slapped together. Labeling is just as important as the drawings. They must have shot, scene and panel numbers and be labeled with action notes and dialogue. Without that, you’ve got nothing. At least from a professional (or practical) stand point.
Because the most important aspect of the storyboard is communication, not drawings. There are many great artists who can’t do boards. Really!
But I’m not going to sugar-coat it for those who want to do this professionally…you do have to draw well. Among many other things. Future posts, my friends.
And for those of you who think they can’t draw, fear not! For your independent projects, you can do more than you think…just stick around. I’ll have plenty of stuff to show you.