Before I get to the meat of this post I just want to point you to two great posts from Christine Kane.
No, she’s not an animator or anything. She’s a blogger and a musician and all around creative person and pretty cool woman.
I don’t know her or anything, but I read her blog. She’s a great inspiration for the creative type who wants to follow their passion. Sound like you?
Since a lot of you may be going back to school or just starting college, I thought these two posts would be a good read. They totally fit in with pursuing an animation or film making career, being an artist and more.
Give them a read (after you read me of course).
Creating College: 5 Things I Wish I Knew as an Undergrad (part 1)
Creating College: 5 Things I Wish I Knew as an Undergrad (part 2)
Well, this is the fourth and final post from the series What’s Wrong With Your Storyboards. The fourth point I mentioned is bad labeling. I wrote:
If you numbered the scenes wrong. Wrote ineffective action notes. Have lots of spelling mistakes. Put the wrong name on some dialogue. All that kind of stuff.
Now labeling would be quite a long and detailed read if I covered everything. So I’m not going to cover everything. Because as a post subject, it’ll probably bore you to tears.
But I am working on putting together a nice guide about the whole labeling thing. So if you want that information, you’ll be able to get it.
Then I won’t be boring you to tears against your will.
So I’ll just touch on a few things here to help you out. And I’ll try to be entertaining.
Everybody get out your fabulous and free storyboard templates to follow along, shall we?
BTW, Is anyone else having problems downloading the Thumbnail Template? Let me know in the comments. Thanks a bunch.
Now, today I’m only going to talk about the areas I highlighted in yellow. Which are the Dialogue and Action Note boxes. Because besides the actual drawings, these are pretty important.
First, a few general pointers:
- PRINT YOUR NOTES. Do not write in long hand. Your writing may be hard to read and look like chicken scratch. Don’t make people decipher your crappy chicken scratches. It’ll tick them off. Print. Neatly.
- LABEL IN CHUNKS. Labeling and writing out the notes can be a drag. And tedious. If you save them all till the end, you’ll start to go buggy and make more mistakes. Label in nice little chunks. I usually label what I did that day. 20 to 25 pages at a time is nice. Save your sanity and your hand by NOT saving it all till the board is complete.
- DO ONE THING AT A TIME. While labeling your nice little chunk, do all the numbering, then do the dialogue, then do the action notes for the whole section. Don’t do everything for one page, then everything for the next page and so on. More chances of screw ups. Concentrate on one area at a time, then move to the next area. Like an assembly line. Henry Ford was on to something. (Google ‘Henry Ford assembly line’ if you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about).
Now onto the specifics.
The DIALOGUE box
All you write in the dialogue box is the character’s name who is speaking and what they are saying. Like this:
That is my name and this is what I’m actually saying.
Nothing more. Don’t write what the character is thinking. The audience doesn’t get to read these notes so that’s useless. The drawings and acting should show us what they’re thinking, remember?
Just the dialogue from the script and that’s it. You can sometimes add some emotion to help the dialogue by putting it in brackets under the name. Like this:
This is some really boring dialogue. Who wrote this crap?
If you’re working from a printed script, you can either write them by hand or cut it out and tape it down right from (a copy of) the script. I like doing that because it cuts down the possibility of making a spelling mistake or forgetting a word.
Get the idea? Not much else to say about dialogue.
The ACTION NOTE box
The action notes should not tell the story. The pictures should tell the story.
The action notes should tell us what’s in the picture. And to label any camera movement and all that. So answer these questions when writing your notes:
- WHAT is the shot? Close-up, wide shot, over-the-shoulder?
- WHO is in the shot? Use character names, not just ‘he’ or ‘she’.
- WHERE are they? Give the location and if it’s day, night, dusk etc.
- WHAT is/are the character(s) doing? Not thinking…DOING. Describe it briefly using simple language. No slang. The guy in China might not know what ‘freaks out’ means exactly.
- ANY CAMERA MOVEMENT. If there is a Trunk-In or Pan, it must be mentioned in the notes and labeled properly. I’m not going to get into that now though. (Sorry, too long).
It really doesn’t have to be long and complicated. Here’s what I would write for this image.
Ext. Backyard – Morning
Wide shot on Fido approaching tree.
No big deal, huh? It really doesn’t need much else. Let’s try another.
Ext. Backyard – Morning
Close-up on Fido smiling in relief.
You don’t need to write a book.
Just the facts ma’am.
Like the other posts in this series, this is *far* from a complete labeling guide (it’ll come though!). But I hope I helped with one of the more important parts of labeling…the notes.
So go through your storyboards, ask those questions and check those notes people!
Until next time. 🙂
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