Archive for ‘March, 2014’

The making of: Storyboarding Tips & Tricks

So it’s time to start boarding and to give my Bogart Richard a space to play in.

I have been very privileged in the last couple of years to have a number of workshops and master classes, with some of the most talented and well know (to the industry) storyboard artists and animators.

I took and an 8 week class with Kris Pearn (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ). Had a master class with Igor Kovalyov (The Rugrats Movie ) and most recently had a workshop with Hisko Hulsing (Junkyard).

So I should have enough tips and tricks to work with!

One of the best tips I was given was from Igor Kovalyov: If you want to write a story from scratch and don’t know where to begin, take just six random words and create a scenario. And the ideas that come there after are so random and unexpected, that writing becomes exciting.

I ended up boarding a story with him about a house of unruly children who get up to all sorts of mischief. These are the words I had to work with: Antlers, Fire, Snow, A kiss, A saw, A roof top.

KIDs section of storyboard


The next best tip I was given was from both Kris Pearn and Hisko Hulsing about the line of action.

The line of action was to created to ensure that the viewer doesn’t get confused while getting to know the characters on the screen. This simple rule makes sure that the characters stay on their side of the screen, thus allowing the viewer to remember who they are. If you go over this line of action confusion can distract the viewer from the plot and cause them to loose interest in the film.



The next best tip was about camera shots. Below are a number of shots illustrated by the hand of Kris Pearn, all created to make an action more interesting to watch and to tell the story in the best way possible:

Hollywood:medium wide shot wide shot Establishing shot High angle down shot Low angle up shot Insert shot extreme close up over shoulder close up inside close up medium shot

The making of: Breaking down the script

Finally I can start drawing!

Although I love the creative side of writing and the conjuring of a story and characters out of nothing, I have been looking forward to now bringing it to life with images.

Richard my protagonist is starting to find a form and his environment is growing around him. And although I have been sketching while writing, it is now really nice to focus on the images.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have had to direct my focus at the rhyming couplet narration. Very necessary because this will direct the actions in the animation. But this has also disabled me from writing a scenario. So I have opted to writing the scenario while drawing the storyboard. Not the usual approach but I find the visualising and drawing stimulates ideas, prompts actions that could occur in the animation and how the scenario will unfold.

But for the pitch not only the synopsis will be expected but both scenario and storyboard will also be necessary.

Below is a scan of how Richard is now taking shape and how I have started to break down the Script (Rhyming couplet) for the storyboard.




break down


Next up is the Moving storyboard, Which I have started to make in photoshop. I find sketching on to paper much more enjoyable than drawing straight in to the computer, but both have their pros and cons. I then use the animation tool in Photoshop to make simple movements to illustrate the actions in the story. At the same time I can make a still storyboard (by saving frames as jpegs) that I will eventually be able to print of.

The advantage of the moving storyboard though is that a lot will be explained for those present at the pitch. I will be able to time the storyboard to the length of the film and add the narrated couplet under it, and possibly some sound effects and music… But I will have to see how far I get in a week and a half 😉 It’s a lot of work to do.

Below are a few moving frames from the storyboard, this will give you an idea of how the animation fills in the gaps that the narration leaves out:

The making of: Writing, writing and more writing!

Can you guess what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks?

It’s unbelievable how much writing and re-writing you have to do to get your story just right!

All in all I have now written 10 synopsises! 6 different and 5 re-writes of the ‘Disgruntled Bogart’ which is my chosen story (written by yours truly) for my graduation animation.

But I must admit that I really don’t mind. In-fact this is part of the pre-production that I really enjoy. It’s the creative bit where you can let your fantasy run wild! And the fun thing about writing stories now as an animator, is that the story and all the characters will soon come to life!

But the importance of a good story is the fact that it is the foundations of the animation; One I will be working on for the next 4 months. So to avoid any problems down the line and to avoid boredom, I had to give it my best. So I’m hoping that this synopsis is it and the storyboards I make here after will go according to plan.

Below is a small snippet of what I have been working on:

Synopsis: The Disgruntled Bogart 

Samantha Williams 10 march 2014

 Synopsis for a narrated animated short. Simply animated in mixed media. Characters animated in Toon Boom or Anime pro, edit in after effects.

Audience: Children 8-12 and the child within.

Richard our protagonist is a Bogart; and he is a little less than happy. He is in-fact rather angry, disheartened and disgruntled. 

Sitting in a waiting room at the job centre for Fairy Tales, he thinks back over the previous night.

While attending the award ceremony at the Fairy Tale popularity contest, Richard found out that he is not quite as popular as he had thought he was. In comparison to all the other Fairy Tale creatures attending, it turned out that he was the least popular of them all.

On a scale of one to ten, Richard was now on the same scale as pond scum.

Reminiscing over his work as a Bogart, Richard thinks about how good he was at scaring children and the terror in their eyes when he visited. On a scale of one to ten he was one of the scariest fairy tales that you could encounter. So he couldn’t understand why he’d been rated so lowly in popularity.

But at the ceremony he soon found out through a rather cute creature that ‘nice is in and bad is out’. ‘We are now expected to give only joy and gifts not horror and terror’. (For example: Santa Clause gives many gifts and provides a joyous feast). Richard flicks her in the eye and exits the ceremony.

This news gave cause to Richard wanting the success and glory he felt that he deserved and in turn a new vocation; so took himself to the job centre where he is now, to find a new vocation. A new vocation, which will bring him the popularity, he so desires: Any of which will be better than his current position.

Thats enough, or I’ll give it all a way 😉

But me being me, I made it a little more complicated for my self by wanting the animation to be narrated. The narration also had to be a rhyming couplet! ‘Why oh why’? I hear you ask. Well simply because I like them.

I grew up with being read to at bed time, and Roald Dahl who wrote them also, is my hero. Plus it also has a link to my research on Explanimations, many of which are narrated.

Writing a narration though gave a few complications to storyboarding. This is because if just one word in the couplet changes then so does the visual in the story. But it did give way to some fun twists and turns and also gave some inspiration to shots of what could happen even if not mentioned in the text, enabling me to write the couplet around what I also wanted to see in the eventual animation. So re-writing was actually a helping hand.

I wrote my couplet 3 times… one in 1st person and two in 3rd person. I found that when writing in 3rd person you could leave a lot to the imagination, in this case the animation, to visualise what was happening in the scene.

Below is a little snippet of my couplet:

‘The Disgruntled Bogart’:


In a waiting room of a job centre

Richard reasons why he’s here

Once thought to be a skilled bogart

Now realised that scaring was a dieing art.

For last night at the polls

Praise was given to those with, nicer rolls.

His skills in scaring weren’t even rated

Which meant his career is surely fated.

He took a moment to reminisce

About his professions scary Bliss.

Something must surely, be amiss?

For he was the best at his game

Terror was what gave him his fame.

But someone was quite happy to flout

That ‘nice is in and bad is out’.

Hence the reason that he’s now here

And looking for a more appreciated career.

Richard wants to win back the fame

And if it meant loosing his scary name

He was prepared to play a nicer game.

The job advisor presented options

All of which stimulated nicer reactions

Reactions he’d never created

In the job he’d just vacated.

From now on out his scariness ends

And he opts for more appealing trends

curiosity, magic, gifts and wonder,

mesmerising, magical splendour

The jobs came with there pros and con

Which Richard soon found out when he tried them on.

Naturally many remained unsold

For reasons such as being far too cold (Yeti)

Some offered fun and a little sun

But was reminded he’d never swum (Mermaid)

His experience was a promising factor

But for some he Lacked a particular stature (giant)

Many offered lots of thrills

But then he lacked particular skills (witch / wizard)

The options were making him feel giddy

And he found them all a little shitty!

So what now?

Well now I have to break the text down in to shots and scenes and start making the story board….

A little research

For my MA I have to research a subject which is relevant to my interests, my animation project and my development as a professional.

If I haven’t mentioned before I’m going to take a dive in to ‘Edutainment‘ and ‘Explanimations‘, a nice big mixing pot of entertainment and education.

And look what I found on youtube! This film was banned for being to explicit! A educational animation about menstruation by Disney. It’s a bit long but cool to see one of the first explanimations.


Busy, Busy, Busy!

I’m still here,I haven’t deserted my bolg! But man it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Not only is my assessment creeping up but school has added extra workshops to follow (brilliant but makes life very busy) And work goes on as usual.

Check out what I’ve been up to for my clients:

These images were made for a educational publisher and will be see in class rooms across the Netherlands:


2HV, figuur 04-01-01

eigentijds 6.4 BB


I also got my first Whiteboard animation project! Yippeeee!

Working with Professor Loep again I will be making an intro animation to the website. Below is part of the storyboard I made for her:

02-WBA_storyboard-Professor Loep 01-WBA_storyboard-Professor Loep


Keep watching though because I have the latest on my ‘making of’ project coming up.

Till then!




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