Animation Toolworks



An Introduction to Storyboarding
by McAnim8

Storyboarding can be a delight or a chore, depending upon how you approach it. When we do animation, we are using a camera, a rectangular view, about a 3x4 ratio, wider than tall. In order to have your ideas appear on screen, it helps to pay attention to that frame. The planning stage usually involves a storyboard. A storyboard is a succession of images that show where the camera is and what the viewer will see each scene, not each frame.

For example, a stick figure standing on a fence: this may show the whole person and the whole fence. That's called a long shot. If you want to see what the person is holding up to their ear, we cut to a close up. That's a very simple drawing of a person's face, and they have a little box by their ear. Some arrows may show that the person is shaking the box back and forth. Then we cut back to the long shot, and we see a car driving by, and someone pulling a wagon. If we want to see what's in the wagon, from the perspective of the person on the fence, we have an overhead shot, a Spiderman point of view.

We see there is fish bowl in the wagon. We can cut closer, and see that in the bowl is a goldfish. Pull it back to the shot where the girl pulling the wagon is talking to the guy on the fence; she might be pointing to the box he holds. To see from the girl's perspective, we have an upward angle. It's an imposing shot, like looking up at a monument, or a giant. As he hands the box to the girl, we can shift to a side view, so you can see from the profile that they exchange the box.

In several drawings, you have set up an entire narrative. It tells a story. It makes us want to know what's in the box, to explore the relationship, to see what will happen next.

We want to tell stories, but it does not just magically appear on the screen. We cannot keep saying "you know, you know..." This visual tool of storytelling with a camera, the storyboard, gives you a chance to state your ideas.

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