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Spring 2023 ︎︎︎Purchase College, SUNY ︎︎︎ (DES2460)DMD2

Storyboards & Animatics

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a document (.PDF, a physical book, or a stack of papers) containing still images and text describing those images. The images are usually drawn or sketched quickly and are not meant to be the final product, but should be a reasonable represenation thereof. For cartoons, they are usually drawn in pencil, though that is not a requirement for this class. 

Here are some examples and related material:
Jodorowsky’s Dune storyboards by Moebius︎

Why is a storyboard?

Storyboards serve a number of purposes.
    • They give a clear representation of what your shots will look like compositionally, relative complexity. 
    • They give a clear representation of how the “camera” and subject(s) will move through the scene or scenes. 
    • They give an indication of what audio will be happening during a given scene, be that voiceover music, or sound effects. 
    • They allow the animator(s) an idea of the time and labor it will take to complete a project. 
    • They allow the animator(s) to understand technical hurdles they will have to overcome. 
    • They allow clients (or other folks “receiving” the work) to understand what is happening before a tremendous temporal, labor-related, energetic, emotional, or fiscal expenditure.
    • If you are interested in drawing they are a good way to practice quicker, more fluid drawing.

For clarity, a scene is a subdivision of your video that is meaningful both narratively and in terms of production. That is to say, a conversation between two characters might require a number of camera moves, or cuts, but it is one scene. You might note this as scene because it is when two characters have a fight or an intense conversation about their relationship, and also to understand that in film production you would need access to that location or in a motion graphics or cartoon piece, you’d need to draw two images of a living room for the background when either person is talking. 

I make this distinction, not to be a stickler about what characterizes a scene, but to make sure you are being clear with yourself, when constructing your storyboard, to know where gaps in the action may be.

How is a storyboard?

To create a storyboard simply:
    • Start with an outline or script or idea and begin creating imagery to accompany it.
    • Use arrows to indicate how a character is moving through a space, or how the “camera” is moving relative to the subject
    • Describe what is happening within the scene and indicate what kind of sound or dialogue maybe be occuring. 
    • Determine if any scenes, cuts or indications of action may be occuring. 

I would strongly recommend the website Boords for creating storyboards. With a free account, you can only have 2 “boord” files which can each be 12 frames long, however that should be fine for this class. You can export in a number of formats (1 image per page, or 2 or 4).

What is an animatic? 

At its most basic, an animatic takes your storyboard and adds sound and editing to them. You can add zooms, movement, or separate characters from backgrounds to create 3D transitions and the like if you want. 

Here are some examples:

Why is an animatic?

An animatic serves many of the same purposes as a storyboard however, having it start to move is very helpful to keep excitement about a piece moving. This tends to excite non-creative people you may have to keep motivated in your process via an animatic. Editing your storyboards to time will help you understand if you under or overestimated how long things will be on screen. This might inform how you approach sound or the edit in general.

How is an animatic?

I would recommend doing animatics in Premiere, however your mileage or bandwidth for this may vary. I recommend Premiere because it makes editing things to time very simple, you can simply drag the images, extend them to where you want your cuts to be etc. You are welcome to do them in After Effects, however it will generally take longer. I would make sure you are familiar with the keyboard shortcuts in AE (the ones with editing the work area, B and N and editing the in and out points of compositions [ and ]). 

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