Monday, April 23, 2007

Life Sucks 2 sc 4-Storyboards are for STORY, not finished art

Here's an earlier sequence from Life Sucks. This is where Ren first approaches Stimpy in his garden. Stimpy thinks nature is proof that the world is full of beauty and joy and Ren begins to burst his bubble by explaining how much torture goes on in his lawn every minute of every day.




These two still drawings are Nick's cleanups of my scribbly roughs. This animatic is mostly drawn by me in my "bus doodle" style.

I have a few different drawing styles and I use them for different thought processes. When I am writing ideas, I draw them, but I draw really fast, with no regard to construction, perspective, line quality or any finished techniques. I am purely drawing feeling. I am trying to draw in real time as the events play out. I look like a complete spaz when I'm doing it and people make fun of me and imitate it.

The drawings are very scribbly but have the germs of all the visual ideas in continuity. Once these scribbles are complete, then I switch my brain to style mode and draw bigger versions of the same drawings that use more solid principles. This step (layout) requires slower, more carefully choreographed drawings and uses a completely different part of the brain to do. If I was trying to storyboard a scene in this finished style, it wouldn't work. I would be thinking of pretty drawings rather than story and emotion and continuity.

This is a major flaw with TV studio systems today. They expect their storyboard artists to draw finished clean drawings "on-model" so they can send them overseas and then have the animators just xerox them up. This is an extremely inefficient way to use storyboards.

Storyboards are called "story"boards because the story artists are supposed to be writing the stories, not doing the animation and layouts. The more time they waste doing clean stiff on-model drawings, the less time they have to spend on making the story work.

Executives do not understand storyboards anyway, let alone rough drawings. They are easily impressed by a clean inked line, and even if the story isn't working they will quickly sign off on a fancily rendered finished looking storyboard.

Stupid.

You should look up some of Mike Maltese's storyboards for Chuck Jones to see how writers used to work.

Anyway, this animatic is made up mostly of my bus-doodle style. Scribbly but emotional. The few clean and semi-clean drawings are done by Nick Cross and Matt Roach following me up.
LS
Uploaded by chuckchillout8

Eddie has a great storyboard drawing style. It's simple but full of amazing life, fantastic strong clear poses and staging and composition. I used to shudder when layout artists would get his boards and then instantly tone down all the poses when they added the details and put them "on-model". I loved doing layouts from Eddie's boards because all the thought and life was there, and I got to add my own creativity in the finished design details and adding a few poses.


37 comments:

Jonathan C. Hohensee said...

When I would doodle stuff as a kid, all the way up to highschool, I would make the sound effects and facial expressions of the people I was drawing.

People would also make fun of me, but I wasn't that self aware at the time (not that much changed)

PCUnfunny said...

"You should look up some of Mike Maltese's storyboards for Chuck Jones to see how writers used to work."

Yeah I saw them on one of my Golden Collections,very simple sketches.

Max Ward said...

Also, I can't find any of Mike Maltese's storyboards on the internet, do you think you can post some examples?

Gabriel said...

I almost pissed myself watching this! My stomach is still hurting, this episode must get done!! If it's already working that much at this point, this will be one of the best stuff you'll ever do, john!!

Oh, please post more of your quick drawing!

Anonymous said...

It seems like a pretty cool cartoon.

I guess you'll hate me for comparing always with classic Ren and Stimpy, but I think this seems to have better pacing and less gross gags than APC and I actually like it that way.

Like somebody mentioned before, it seems pretty dark, but I guess I have not a big problem with that. Other than Ren is perhaps too excited and I prefer when he has this kind of slow burn in which there is a moment when he's totally mad but there are other moments in which he's a swell guy. Stimpy have a nice characterization in all this and it is easy to symphatize with him.

It is easy to see the story in these sketches and I can clearly imagine the clean up drawings. I've tried to do storyboards in the past, but I had no clue cause nobody has explained me the principles very well. And yeah, they are usually interested in clean up drawings as far as I'm concerned.

I'm waiting for your post about Barbera. I finally made an homage to him
here:http://elblogderg.blogspot.com/2006/12/joseph-barbera-1911-2006.html

Anonymous said...

so many poses! =)

Eric C. said...

Good John, better than the first clip. Though I've noticed that in ACP, the animation seems to be very very jumpy like the 1930s cartoons.

_Eric

Anonymous said...

awesome stuff john. But i was wondering... how do you go about choosing your music? Do you have a composer that you work with? I think it would be nice to learn about this, as well as the sound effects and voices. inspiring me is ur greatest gift, thanks!

Anonymous said...

That's a real relief to hear your take on storyboards.

When I compare my dinky storyboards with storyboards, say, on a DVD bonus feature, and look at how complete those look, I sometimes wonder if I'm being careless. But honestly, the general audience will ultimately not even see these, no?

So is the storyboard where you flesh out dialog as well?

Art F. said...

the mystery of storyboards is finally revealed to me. i've been turned down for storyboarding jobs cause my boards were "too messy" i guess it wasn't all my fault...

Anonymous said...

What are the dimensions on these panels?

Anonymous said...

Aaaaagh! I just wrote a reply and Blogger might not have accepted it because of complications arising from the transition to the new system!

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

That's awesome...but I'm confused. If it isn't done in the story board, then when do all of the clean drawings happen? All in the layouts?

Does that mean you redraw EVERY scene of the storyboard seperately as a layout drawing?

JohnK said...

>>Does that mean you redraw EVERY scene of the storyboard seperately as a layout drawing? <<

Yeah, of course.

The trick is to not tone the poses and expressions down when you add the details. Most artists will tone them down or outright change them and the director has to struggle against that.

deadman said...

Thats a wonderful concept to animate. Was that your story? It was just too great! And watching the storyboard I learn how each of the emotions in a dialogue could be broken down into an interesting array of poses full of life. I am just starting as a student and am doing character creation in Preston Blair. So this insight is extremely useful for me. Thanks very much!

ncross said...

Most of the drawings for this board were done by Matt Roach, I only did the small handful of "setup" shots with the bg's in them.
I loved working on "Life Sucks" there was so much variety in this episode. Just about every style imaginable all mixed in to one huge epic tale.

Jorge Garrido said...

I bet Kevin has those Maltese story boards!

So in the storyboards, that's where the line of action and raw emotion and poses happen?

What if a layout artist can improve on a stroyboard drawing, evenby outright changing it? I bet it's all up to the director, correct?

Now, Eddie, don't be modest! You've got an amazing quick sketch style! You own hand gestures!

Art, your new avatar is awesome! John, have you seen Art F's blog? It's got GREAT drawings, his drawings of your animation course lessons are great, way more advanced than mine! I bet he can work for you soon!

Serge said...

hey john...i cant see previous posts for some reason...i was trying to check out posts from october but it says not found...then i tried november and other months and nothing...

do you know whats going on?

Jesse Oliver said...

Hey John

I really love this Ren & Stimpy Life Sucks storyboard animatic! I can already picture the cartoon in my head. This will really make a great Ren & Stimpy classic! I just love whene the bug sez "Hello big bloated pussy". I was laughing so hard I almost pissed my pants. PLEASE, MAKE THIS CARTOON HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The world needs more Ren & Stimpy cartoons from you and the SPUMCO gang! You know how to make cartoons the way they should be made! So John, Lets see "Life Sucks" on DVD in the future!

Jesse

P.S. Yesturday I was flipping threw the channles and I happend to see on VH1 the music video you did for Wierd Al. It was SO COOL! Keep up the kick-ass work buddy!

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's been awhile since I posted on this blog. You know, it's funny how you put up this whole storyboard thing. I've had a perfectionist problem with drawing that I've only been able to fight against recently. It takes too long for me to get a drawing done because I'm always self-conscious about the original idea in my head, and I'm constantly erasing and re-drawing the same details over and over again. Even ruminating about my vision takes up precious sketching time. My 11th grade art teacher and family all showed concern and kept telling me to just draw out a bsasic outline of the picture first and then fill in the details later. I never had this problem when I first started drawing in kindergarten, but for some reason it happened in my mid-to-late teens, and progressively I've drawn less and less over the years.

I know I should be saying this in the other "Life Sucks" post, but the other day the new commenting system pissed me off to no end. Would I buy "Life Sucks" direct-to-video? Heck yeah, you can count on it, my friend! But why stop there? There's a whole stack of "Ren & Stimpy episodes just waiting to be made, and I wanna see 'em all. I want to see as much "Ren & Stimpy" goodness as one DVD can possibly contain. Or 2. Or 3.

Speaking of that list, has anyone given you the idea of making a "Ren & Stimpy" musical episode, where the characters just go off into musical numbers as the story progresses? Or how about an episode with little to know dialogue where the music constititutes the entire animation and story? If those interest you, you should definitely put them down on the list.

Also, for a while I've thought about the possibility of a full-length "Ren & Stimpy" movie, and what it could be. After seeing "LIfe Sucks" at the Aero earlier this year, I thought, "Wow, this has so much potential! It's the closest thing to a full-blown "Ren & Stimpy" character study! This could be epic." If it could be feasibly stretched out with enough good ideas and imagination, "Life Sucks" would make the ideal 90 minute or 2 hour "Ren & Stimpy" movie.

Anonymous said...

Hello John, you know that I always read your posts, but lately I think about an idea and wanted to know your opinion: You give us much good information, that I thought if were possible to do a blog in Spanish with the translations of your posts more interesting, from the next year ...
I have friends who can make that collaboration because they are very interested in to know your answer
What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I worked in an animation study where storyboard in addition was to put in a photocopying machine and increased, and was the base to do the layouts. The excuse of the producters was “to accelerate the process and not to waste time drawing as much...”(¿?).
I found ridiculous situation. And that obsession to make everything so fast, frustrated to me in my short and insolvent vocation of animator of cartoons

Anonymous said...

Yes, I prefer messy storyboards as well for all the reasons you said. But also a messy storyboard gives the layout people and animators more creative freedom as well. Some of the stuff in my Hansel und Gretel film came to me as I was sitting in front of my animation disc. Inspiration would hit me and I'd go with it. That sort of thing would never be allowed at a studio and that's a crying shame, and is also one of the many reasons the studio system needs a major overhaul.

Anonymous said...

"I loved doing layouts from Eddie's boards because all the thought and life was there, and I got to add my own creativity in the finished design details and adding a few poses."

This is exactly the way I felt too.
I have never had so much fun or felt so visually thrilled doing layouts as when they were from Eddie's boards. I put them in a class with Jim Smith's and a precious few other people, but even so his rough boards stand alone. I don't think he ever really appreciated how good he is at those drawings(no shrinking violet he, but he'd always make some excuses for this or that scene where none was necessary imho).

My drawings improved about 1000% after working on his stuff. He also encouraged me to go beyond the board poses and really animate the scene. Unfortunately the timing rarely did the boards or layouts justice.
But he's a genius, especially when he's really spumming along on those boards!

Anonymous said...

If a company or individual wanted to invest in having an 11minute (half-episode) cartoon made, what kind of $$$$ are we talking here? I mean the artistic JohnK approach, not the watered down assembly line studio approach? Like $10,000, or $100,000? Sorry to be so blunt by asking this in your blog... but it is something worth asking. Thanks,
lostk9@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

So Life Sucks is a Christmas story I take it heh heh.
I dig the dark humor, how long is this cartoon timed out to be john? Is it a half hour spot like the R&S on Spike TV were?

cemenTIMental said...

good stuff. Over finished storyboards are definitely bad news... look at Steamboy; Otomo famously did the storyboards to full manga quality, but the story was a total mess. Really bogged down feeling, you could tell they'd been working on it for a decade and had got stuck on things that no longer worked.

cemenTIMental said...

Haha the animatic is great!

Is it at all inspired by Werner Herzog? :) Ren's words remind me of Herzog's view of nature:
"The trees are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don’t think they sing. They just screech in pain. …Taking a close look at what’s around us, there is some sort of harmony: it’s the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder."

Anonymous said...

Now this is more like it! This scene is incredible! It's starting to look and sound like what a Ren & Stimpy feature film would be like!

Citizen Drummond said...

Please tell us the rest of this story. I'm interested to see how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

John, Jenny: Thanks a million for the comments. I hate to admit it but I was really touched by them. it's wonderful to have friends who care enough to write things like that!

Hryma said...

Merry Christmas.
I like the roses in the sketch and the twisted up tomatoe plants, nice!

FLAMINGPINECONE said...

i am still wanting to hear your words on joe barbara, I did a drawing and stuff but i think you have alot more important things to say than any of us could, you met the guy.

also live sucks looks awesome, the voice work is top notch. I hope it gets made.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, this Life Sucks stuff is amazing. I love the contrast of Stimpy's "intelligent design" parallels and Ren's atheistic world view. I would pay for this on DVD, just for this (the art style on the children's book is wonderful). Thank you so much for sharing this, it's classic! It would be a shame left unfinished. What happens next?

Anonymous said...

I hope it gets made eventually. I'm interested to see how Ren and Stimpy would work in a movie.

But I have to say, Stimpy's voice isn't working for me. I mean, I do like Eric Bauza's Stimpy in APC, but all the screaming in this, it just seems a little rough. But maybe it's just me.

By the way, merry christmas, John K.

Brett W. Thompson said...

Awesome!! :) So funny.

Any possibility of showing us some of Eddie's boards in a future post maybe? :)

R said...

I hear ya- When I was trying to get something made by Frederator, they wouldn't even look at my storyboards due to their 'roughness'