Monday, January 19, 2015

Animation Update #2: Teasing Out the Story

Things are progressing!  We have a team together (I will introduce everyone later), we have a rough schedule, and it’s taking pretty much all of my free time, which is about what I expected.
This month, my #1 job is to get the story to the strongest place it can be.  In a film we are budgeting on 5 minutes to tell, there’s not a lot of time for fluff.  We want the viewers on the edge of their seats, and we want things to make sense without wasting time with exposition.

In a live-action movie, I would make a tight script, revise it a couple of times, and then storyboard it out a bit to see how things flowed. Live action gives you the flexibility to “fix it in post”, editing down extra stuff you don’t need and potentially even doing some reshoots.
Things are a little different over here.  With the help of the art director and head of storyboarding (yeah, I like titles), I have hashed out a beat-outline of the major plot points, and how the story will string together.  From here, it goes to boards, so we can test how the flow will actually feel.  We are doing our editing before we “shoot”, because animation takes forever to create in comparison with just shooting an actor in a location.
My visual part of this is to create a whole bunch of keyframe images, either drawings or paintings, that capture the feel of the scene, so that the board artists know what the mood they are trying to hit feels like.  These paintings are what most people think of as “concept art”, and they are a part of that process, but at this stage, keyframes are less concerned with what a character looks like and more with how does it *feel*.  
Meanwhile, the entire team (yeah, we’re all artists) are drawing characters, locations, vehicles, weapons and magic effects.  We are creating a pantry of designs that we can mix together and hopefully come up with something that is both exciting and unique.  At this stage, the drawings aren’t much to look at, they are just thumbnails and shorthand to express ideas to other members of the team.

Our next full-team meeting is the start of February, and the hope is by then, we can go full-bore on both storyboards and design.
As always, thank you for reading, sharing and otherwise supporting this crazy idea!