Ringling Storyboarding workshop


This has been a long time coming, but I've been meaning to collect my thoughts, and the things I learned into a post here, when a month ago (months maybe?) I visited Ringling College of Art and Design todo a workshop about storyboarding.

Now, Moonbot is a new company, and we have by no means locked in a process to the incredibly complicated art of boarding, but we've got some steps.  Here is how the workshop broke down.

I started by going here...

I pulled down scripts from 6 movies, trying to cover a range of different types of stories.  I selected scenes from the movies which I felt had good character, interesting settings, or fun stuff to draw.  I changed the names of the places/characters to discourage people from seeing the movies in their heads when they were coming up with shots (which turned out to be a total failure on my part).  AND THEN I labeled them according to their subject matter, and let the students pick...

to my surprise, nobody went for  "Chivalry In The Middle Ages"(AKA "The Three Musketeers")...but maybe it was because Tyler and I were pontificating how difficult it was to draw horses...also, "Conman poker game" was not very popular.

After the students chose their scripts, we showed some examples of storyboards we had done at Moonbot (from cancelled or long past projects) and talked through examples pulled from the internet, and some boarding pdfs floating around the studio.

We got groups together based on the scripts, to go over what the "beats" were for each story.  This is the part that is the most exciting for me, and I feel is the skeletal structure of what your story is going to be.  Beats are supposed to be the major moments or turning points of your story.  If you had only one image to tell your story, it might look like a magazine cover, if you had 24 images per second over 90 minutes to tell your story, it would be an animated film.  Beat drawings, to me are supposed to be the simplest way to get all the things onto paper that structurally make up your sequence.

Most of the stories ended up with around 20 drawings/beats, and we numbered and discussed them as a group.  Everybody who was pulling from the same script had to decide "what information was key, and what order it was given out in"  as a storyteller you have a stockpile of info, and there is an art to dolling it out at an engaging pace.....the group discussion boards looked something like this.

We asked the students "what do you feel the tone of the scene is?".  This was supposed to seep into the camera choices they made as well as the shot length, the lenses, the acting poses all of it should be pointing back to what the core of the scene is about.

Tyler and I took a half assed stab at the "Chivalry In The Middle Ages" script, and came out with what I thought were some fun shots.

these weren't all of the beats, but once we had drawn our first pass and picked our cameras, we were able to review what we had made very easily and see if it was reading or not.  Check our pacing out etc.

Then we had a pitch session.  Where we practiced our fake accents, and voices reading the dialogue for all the characters.  Pitching is also a great teacher, it lets you know if your moments are falling flat, or if your poses are fitting the dialogue you have.  Sometimes if were lucky we can get real actors to record the dialogue and then board to it...but lots of time at Moonbot, we have to rough it in ourselves.

We use a piece of software that we are also sharing on the internet for free here...

"Storytime" is a piece of software you can drag a sequence of images into, then tab through them as your timing gets recorded.  It's super intuitive for "sketching" videos of your boards.  It will also record audio, and lots of other cool doodads.  It's being updated all the time, so if you happen to find it useful, and would like more features added please let us know and we will do our best to get them into the next update! :)

The students did a great job of pulling what they did together after only three classes.  It usually takes us weeks to do what they accomplished in a short time.  I have some of their examples, but blogger is being a bitch about uploading the files. 

..I have to figure out how to use the internet.

all in all the workshop was a great success, and I'd definitely do it again.  Hopefully, if you read all the way to the bottom then you found something useful here too.