Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Scene Planning For TV - Setups for storyboard and layout 1

All storyboards should have some logic in their planning, whether for full or limited animation, but it is especially important in limited animation.

Hanna Barbera developed an extremely intelligent system in the late 50s that allowed them to animate whole cartoons with one animator-one American animator.

Of course they used the simplest possible system, just 3 shots basically, but we can add more shots than that and still get a lot of good stuff out of it. They only had $3,000 per short back then so what they did with it was pretty amazing. We have a lot more money these days to play with, even taking inflation into consideration. We just waste most of it.

Storyboard theory today, thanks to Dic and some other studios in the 1980s developed storyboard practices that are not only creatively preposterous, but also way too ambitious for how much money they actually had to put into the cartoons. Downshots, crowd scenes, 3/4 animation and other expensive practices that are difficult to pull off in even fully animated features became standard practice in the 1980s. Many producers feel cheated if you use actually practical common sense thinking when planning your cartoons. Executives tend to like storyboards that look like the animation will be very hard to do. They want to imagine they are getting Sleeping Beauty when they look at the storyboards for their low budget kiddie cartoons.

They had crazy rules in TinyToons from what I hear from the artists who worked on it. Everything had to be hard to do, or it wouldn't get accepted. Something simple and entertaining was cheating. So the board artists developed tricks to fool the execs into thinking that their cartoons would call for the most expensive and time consuming techniques. Techniques that do not add up to entertainment or good drawing, acting or story.

The ugly result of this is that all this ambition upfront ensures that the cartoons will have to be animated overseas at lightning speed and the animation coming back will look like hell and disappoint everyone back in the states who worked on the cartoons.

The amount of money that is spent on cartoons today could easily bring back animation to our shores. We'd have to eliminate a lot of wasted money on this end-on market research, development, executives, crappy scriptwriters-believe me there is a ton of wasted money that never makes it to the screen.

And we'd have to plan our cartoons efficiently and logically. Then we'd have to train the artists to follow simpler staging procedures. We wouldn't be making Bambi, but we could make Ren and Stimpy quality this way.

I made a manual for artists that had worked on these crazy cartoons that all started with a downshot, just to try to cure them of irrational practices and concentrate their staging on telling the story in the simplest, funniest and most effective way. You get it for free.

Using simple staging buys you more time and money that you could use to put some animation and maybe even acting in the cartoons.

More to come....