Here we are!
You can find the intro post where I discuss my role storyboarding on the show here.
Rob continues his discussion about storyboarding, but now from the role of being a director. You get to hear it from ‘the other side’, so this is valuable stuff.
Then a little about what to do with your own brilliant ideas.
Read, learn and enjoy.
Take it away, Rob.
11. Looking from the other side of the desk as a director, what would you say are the 3 most important skills a storyboard artist can have to make *your* job easier?
Number one is an understanding of story structure.
Scenes are not just thrown randomly throughout a script – they’re placed in a particular order to move the characters and action forward (or backward in some cases).
The more understanding you have of how and why the pieces are put together, the better storyboard artist you’ll become. (Although it can be a dry read at times and is geared much more toward writers, I would suggest getting a copy of Robert McKee’s “Story”. Or attend one of his lectures if you have the money or time to do so.)
Number two is clarity of expression.
I don’t mean expression on a character’s face, but expression of scene.
Once you figure out what the intent of the scene is, ask yourself “what’s the simplest, clearest way to express this?” Your composition, camera angles and cutting should all be an answer to that question.
You want to keep things interesting visually, but don’t get caught up with fancy angles and camera work that do nothing but confuse the intent of the scene!
Number three is learn to improvise.
I’ve said above that there’s a reason why scenes are placed in a particular order, but that doesn’t always mean they’re in the best order.
Sometimes the intent of the scene can be played more effectively by moving things around, deleting or adding to it. This is something that comes from experience, but I’ve also seen rookies that just have a natural feel for what can work better.
The gag provided by the writer is not necessarily the best gag, so if you can think of something funnier then don’t hold it back.
Also, get a feel for writing dialogue in character – sometimes the best line in a show will come from a board artist, not a writer. (Always, always, ALWAYS talk to your director before doing any of this!)
(Editor’s note: Yes! Don’t go changing dialogue without permission. It could backfire on you if they have no intention of re-recording anything.)Click image to enlarge
12. What is your biggest frustration/pet peeve with storyboard artists during production?
I just don’t have time for people who ‘crap out’ a storyboard with little thought, just to grab a paycheque… and there’s plenty of them out there.
I expect people to care about the project as much as I do. If you are wasting my time by overloading the revision department with problems that could have been solved if you gave a damn, you won’t last very long on the crew.
Bad time management is always a frustration too – it can cause a normally dependent board artist to cut too many corners in an attempt to make the deadline.
Remember that the consequence of lazy storyboarding is that other people will ultimately end up fixing your mistakes and THOSE MISTAKES WILL BE REMEMBERED by the directors you work with!
(Editor’s note: Insert warning music: “Dun, dun, duuuuuunnn!”)
13. For folks out there with their own show ideas, what do you think the reality is of getting a studio on board with your concept and it actually getting made?
Let’s be honest: the odds are against you.
But that should never stop anyone from pitching.
I had the same odds against me, but I still managed to get a series on the air. Sometimes it’s just about timing – an idea presented and rejected one year could be the toast of the networks several years later.
You need a solid concept, but you also need a stroke of good luck in finding that one person who’ll be as excited about the idea as you are.
Think about how many studios rejected George Lucas’ script for ‘Star Wars’ before he found the one guy who was willing to take a chance on it.
Studio B has a great internal pitch mechanism with the ‘BHive’.
It’s pretty rare for a studio to be willing to spend its own cash to take a chance on untested talent. But if they feel the idea is worth it, they’ll throw their support behind you.
If it’s available, you’d be foolish to not take advantage of opportunities like that and learn from the experienced people behind it.Click image to enlarge.
14. What would be your biggest piece of advice for would-be creators? Your biggest warning?
Everything I mentioned before about clarity of expression should apply to pitches as well.
Kid vs Kat was a simple pitch with a clear conflict, and all the characters were there to either support Coop or work against him. There wasn’t any fat to weigh the pitch down or make it confusing.
The networks noticed that and appreciated it.
Do not go into a pitch believing that you have the greatest idea in the world, because the odds are you don’t.
Be willing to accept, or at least consider the advice of the people that you’re pitching to. Their suggestion of changing a design or adding a character is not an arbitrary one. It’s based on their experience in the industry and what audiences react to.
Remember, there’s a reason they’ve been running a studio or network for years and you haven’t.
That doesn’t mean you should roll over and change everything until your pitch no longer resembles your original vision, however.
Be passionate about your project and you just might find that passion will spread to the people you’re speaking to.
Great advice Rob.
I would just like to thank Rob for his time and generosity in making my first interview on the blog an awesome one!
And to you guys, for allowing me to be the lazy ass that I am and drag this out over four posts.: )
Read the Storyboard Blog by RSS Feed or by email to see how I break out of my lazy-ass-ness.