Saturday, March 24, 2007

Scene Planning For TV - Setups for storyboard and layout 2










to be continued

If you take some time before you start straight ahead drawing your scene out you can plan what you are going to do and save setups.

The less new setups you have to draw, the more time you can spend on the entertainment-the drawings themselves.

Who cares about fancy camera angles and lots of cuts if what's happening in the scene isn't fun to look at?

Note how all the principles I have been talking about are now starting to be used together in actual functional practice.

The scenes have specific acting poses, continuity, gags, LOA,...many things I have been talking about for a year are being used together in these layouts.

All these concepts are not merely artistic abstractions to be used for their own sake. They are your artistic tools with the ultimate purpose of entertaining the audience.

Animation is an art of performance. It is not a written art. Although it uses writing as one of the tools, it is only one of many tools and a tool that is in service of the performance. The performance-the drawing entertainment is the number one reason to watch cartoons-or for that matter any visual medium.

Animation is a specific type of performance art that contains elements of the others, but it also can do things that no other art can do and if it doesn't, what good is it?

NEXT WEEK! A NEW SERIES:

FREE TIPS FOR EXECUTIVES: HOW TO DO A SHORTS PROGRAM RIGHT

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ive heard you say that in spite of the art you still found Beavis and Butthead hilarious. Is there any modern day cartoons you enjoy in spite of the art?

Gabriel said...

John, i noticed you don't let much empty spaces in your composition. Do you think there's no purpose in empty spaces or does this have some relation to the fact that the cartoon is made for tv?

Bob Harper said...

These rules must be the foundation of any TV show, especially a Flash production!

Anonymous said...

John, love your stuff, always have. What I would like to see on this site and the animation archive are more character sheets of male and FEMALE characters, you know, the stuff you can't get anywhere else. Stuff by Avery and Jones and Spumco and Taschlin. Also, the older how-to drawing books had a classiness about them that today's books don't. Like to see more stuff from the 50's.

Gavin Freitas said...

More storyboard post the better John. Keep them coming.......

Anonymous said...

according to wikipedia you have an emmy, thats gotta impress the bitches eh?

NateBear said...

Jonk! you are posting machine. Are you doing any "real" work at the moment? Reketu the motion picture perhaps? Anyway, this shit is the greatest art lessons i've ever had. I'm in Rome right now an di'm looking at all these ancient and renaissance works and viewing them thru the lens of the priciples you've outlined so many times. Boy, there is lot of LOA going on in the classic works!

Kali Fontecchio said...

"according to wikipedia you have an emmy, thats gotta impress the bitches eh?"

OH YEAH!

abwinegar said...

I see how using the extreme poses first, help the setup.

The LOA in these pages are clear and they all tell the story of Boo Boo getting fed up, very well.

And, Yogi looking at Boo Boo for the first time like, "Who is this little bear buddy of mine?" good acting pose.

Getting the problems worked out first, instead of just jumping in head first, only helps in the long run.

Thanks John.

Anonymous said...

if youre going for women your age theyre probably more impressed with an emmy than ren and stimpy lol

tanisha said...

hi guyz,i m 22 year old animation student from india.i do 3d animation.i also do 2d but here in india in 2d we only do flash animation.i want to know what r other ways of doing 2d animation.i know it must be a stupid question for great animators like u all but please tell me so that i can try it.i really wish to make great 2d animation.after reading this blog i came to know that indian animation is going in a wrong direction.on this blog i learn so many principple of animation which i could never learn in any animation school in india.
john i hope if u can visit india sometime and share ur extreme knowledge with us.:)

Kali Fontecchio said...

"if youre going for women your age theyre probably more impressed with an emmy than ren and stimpy lol"

I think he was emmy-nominated, and was not actually bestowed the most amazing award ever created, ever, of all time, really. Laugh Out Loud.

Jane said...

Your post about animation really blows my mind! I've just stumbled upon your website through someone's deviantart page, and your posts about animation is really interesting to read. I'm a freshman in college that's going into animation next year, so all of this is really interesting for my own works too. Keep up the posting!

crsP said...

Oh my! You had to explain what continuity meant... ;OP .

JohnK said...

"Who cares about fancy camera angles and lots of cuts if what's happening in the scene isn't fun to look at?"

I don't know about cuts, I can do without cuts, but I would disagree on the camera angles. 'Unconventional' camera angles can and do help with the entertainment. Take a boring incidental elevator scene (real example, cannot remember the name of the animation). The animators took the point of view from a corner of the elevator, as if from a security camera or the like. Of course that is more visually interesting than a front or side view. There was some action with the character (i.e nothing over complex to baffle an animator), but it was not much-but enough to make that elevator scene necessary to the story. And can you really tell me that a crotch shot wouldn't be even funnier coming from an original perspective? (not rhetorical, so jump in at any time...)

I could go in-depth to explain what I mean better but it would take too much space, the my point I want to get across is that the angle can enhance story/humour/fun. Let's both ignore those who want 'fancy' angles for the sake of it!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Those last two paragraphs on performance should be carved on Mount Rushmore! As you said, writing is a tool of production as are the other useful skills that feed into animation but what they all build up to, what everything else is there to shore up, is the performance.

josephking said...

Wow, this post is extremely informative, and I plan on implementing some of this in my future short film. YOU RULE JOHN!!!!

Timothy Merks said...

This is very interesting. I like how you direct your layouts to the character rather than the camera shot. It is really like staging for a play.

When I was studying animation some fellow students who were printmaking graduates just used to impress the hell out of me with their layouts. They knew how to really use the whole frame. Really balanced and controlled images.

I think layout is the most important process in animation and it is something that can't be rushed.

oh and CRSP work on a flash animated series with a 30sec quota and see how much you like your camera angles then. haha

Anonymous said...

To hell with an emmy, swing for the fences man, just pick a really serious topic; Bag lady, old street musician reminiscing on his youth, the holocaust, get funding from the nfb, draw it while blindfolded, and youll have your short film oscar in no time!

Anonymous said...

you can have an interesting camera angle if the scene calls for it, its the arbitrary sitcom style cuts every 4 seconds that dont work in animation

Anonymous said...

what do you think of homestarrunner john?

Anonymous said...

Timothy Merks: I sort of have to defend crsp here - you may want to re-read what he has to say. We can all agree that pointless and arbitrary camera angles and movements that add nothing to the visual/gag/story are fluff that can be left out to put more emphasis on what is actually happening in the scene. However, the example that he cited, at least to me, seems to be an instance where an odd camera angle can aid the visual rather than distracting from it.

It's the overuse of camera angles and movement that's bad and distracting. It's a tool, like anything else - if used correctly, it can emphasize the gag/visual/story/whatever you're trying to do and make the finished product more entertaining.

That said, camera angles should never be used in replacement of good staging or acting or layout.

GinoMc said...

i LOVE it - anonymous is synonymous with JACKASS! Anonymous said...
To hell with an emmy, swing for the fences man, just pick a really serious topic; Bag lady, old street musician reminiscing on his youth, the holocaust, get funding from the nfb, draw it while blindfolded, and youll have your short film oscar in no time!

crsP said...

Timothy Merks said...

"oh and CRSP work on a flash animated series with a 30sec quota and see how much you like your camera angles then. haha"

There is a difference between 'Flash' (swf) animation and animation for television. At least there should be. I did notice that after showing 'Mucha Lucha', the people in charge have realised there's a lot more they can get away with on tv and therefore are now broadcasting cartoons which could very easily be shown in swf format on the internet. South Park is another example of where animation quality doesn't matter-behold the one frame walk cycle in all it's glory! But that doesn't mean that this is where the 'quality bar' should be. However let's take Flash animation and Television to be the same when we talk about cartoons (as it's become de rigueur). This will be important to remember for near the end of this comment.

With traditional cell animation, there was a lot of expense owing to using the cell acetate-initial costs of the cells, the amount of paint needed to saturate the cell so as to not get streaks, and the space need to house these cells whilst they dried. Now, with some gratitude towards computers, much of that cost is not a factor. So they belt doesn't need to be tightened up so much to the detriment of the quality of the cartoon. Here's a quote from Mr John Kricfalusi:

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

Yep, agreed, but logical thinking doesn't mean the complete abandonment of unconventional camera angle when they enhance story/humour/fun as I pointed out in my previous comment. Your stance seems to imply that my thinking is like thus (more Mr Kricfalusi):

"They had crazy rules in TinyToons...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."

Lunacy, sure, but important is the last sentence of the quote. I'm writing about using the camera angle to enhance the entertainment, not merely because it's difficult (therefore impressive when accomplished correctly) or getting the investors 'money's worth'. If you weren't ignoring my example you would see that. However I have to take some of the blame as I had not spoon fed you with at least a title of the animation so you could see my point yourself. But here's another you can check out-->

Search this site for 'Calling all cars - Clampett likes funny lip synch'

The eye level of the shot is not dead on. It's a worms eye view. The take at the start is strengthened by the angle of the camera. His head goes up-there is foreshortening you would not have got with a straight on p.o.v. It looks funny. Then this little head swings down closer to the camera to become this fat bastard cop. That's comedy. You would not have that change in head sizes with a straight frontal shot. Not to say the scene wouldn't have been funny, but I believe this treatment is funnier than some would-be dead on shot. Would you argue with me that the camera is not integral to the enhancement of the gag? Would you take the stance that the camera angle was purely incidental? If so, then you sir are a madman.

As or the assertion of this 30 second quota animation series, I refer you to Peter Chung, creator of AEon Flux. Here's some 30 second spots he created (look out for the camera angles)-->

Peter Chung Samples

Unfortunately there's none of his original Aeon Flux stuff. But he accomplished a lot with Aeon Flux (quality wise and I refer to the originals) and this was around 1991 (release date). So no computer trickery masking itself as hand drawn. And if you recollect, we agreed that Flash animation and T.V. animation are to be seen as the same.

I rest my case. :O)

JohnK said...

Aeon Flux and Book Revue are custom made cartoons.

Most TV cartoons are cheap and fast and need to use few and simple angles as a practical matter.

If the director (who draws) decides the odd scene needs a dramatic angle, that's up to him. It's not up to the writers or anyone else.

Storyboard artists need to be practical and realistic too. If they have animated before, they will more be considerate of the animator's job.

GinoMc said...

i'm with John 100% i think we're missing the point here,first,it's about where you spend your time (money)and how much of an impact it'll have.with sound, studios mix layer upon layer of sound in ATEMPT to distract us from the noticing that what's on the screen isn't very interesting,and give it more "energy" but only make things worse.the same applies to the camera,when there's a script,the storyboard artist is the cinematographer, and HE and the DIRECTOR make those decisions,based on their ability [+ eperience}to tell stories visually - the WRITER should be there to tell the STORY [+ maybe desribe-suggest- visuals that are important to major plot points. the rant was partly about people who dictate visuals based on the idea that in cartoons EVERYTHING is possible so let's do EVERYTHING! just as with a drawing it's about ballance and contrasts ,the same applies to story + storyboarding - if you're going to call the shots you better know what you're doing

crsP said...

JohnK said...

"If the director (who draws) decides the odd scene needs a dramatic angle, that's up to him."

That is the point I was trying to get across. If it can be used to aid the cartoon then it should be used. And I would agree that it should be used sparingly (in fact it has more impact when it is contrasted against more 'normal scenes). And doubly so if it's going to be output as a '.swf' file, as the less change you have, the smaller file you get-the irony is that some of those who use Flash output to quicktime movies, yet they still work in methods which were only created to gain smaller file sizes. But as I keep writing, if it purposeful then I'm all for it.

I mentioned Aeon Flux in response to his '30 second' animation bit. But certainly that Clampet example proves the idea of using camera angles as an aid to humour. That's how I see it, others may disagree, different strokes for different folk.

Timothy Merks said...

oh yeah using different angles can really bring out a scene and make it seem more cinematic but there's just a cost to it. When you're working on a flash tv series a different camera angle will seriously make you cringe because you can't reuse any setups, you are limited to what flash tricks you can use and it can also create symbol layering problems with your characters. Weekly quotas are fuckers and that was the point I was trying to make. I wasn't having a go at you sorry if it seemed that way

Scot said...

Aeon Flux and Book Revue are custom made cartoons.

Most TV cartoons are cheap and fast and need to use few and simple angles as a practical matter.

If you were given a feature film budget would you still keep it simple?

Paul B said...

hi john

the first images are not seen

you might fix the images?

Brett W. Thompson said...

Hmm, is anyone else having trouble viewing pages 6 through 9 of the very awesome manual John's kindly posted here?? :)

Jennifer said...

I'm waiting with bated breath for the "free tips for executives" post.

How much do you want to bet that either the execs don't take your advice because "they're the executives and they know more than a mere cartoonist", or one of the execs does take your advice and then takes the credit for "inventing" that method when it proves to be successful?

Ahahnah said...

Yes I can't see them but when I click one of them
[_______________________]
[_______________________]
[_______________________}
[_______________________]

I get
[SET-UPS-Boards_Layouts5.png]

Valuable information that will be forever lost!!!!!!!!!! WAAAAAAAAH