Friday, March 30, 2007

Scene Planning For TV - Setups for storyboard and layout 3

Once a layout/pose artist has drawn all his setups with all his character poses complete, and he has done a rough indication of a background, he gives to the BG designer to draw a more finished BG.

Hanna Barbera used the simplest possible staging in their first cartoons because of the severe budget restrictions. This drives Eddie crazy.

I used their staging in this manual just to give people the basic idea of how to reuse shots in other scenes.
Here is a sequence of storyboard from Ripping Friends which had a wider variety of shots.

If you look through these boards you can see shots that have been reused from earlier scenes. There are reuses and "works out of" poses and expressions too.

I still planned the show to reuse shots, but the layout artists were redrawing the same angles from scratch every time, because of the strange production system being used at the service studios in Canada. (This happens at overseas studios too-they hand out the same setups to different artists who don't know that someone else already drew a setup and BG that they themselves could use to save time, so they redraw everything 20 times) This cost extra time and money, and way too many backgrounds to paint when we couldn't even afford real background painters. The production managers tried to tell us they could paint in photoshop and we would never be able to tell the difference between fuzzy photoshop paintings and real paint. Now the Ripping Friends live in the Land Of Fuzz.

So I made this manual to help the production managers save time and money and make it easier on the artists. Unfortunately, the manuals sat on a shelf hidden away from the artists who could have used them to save some sweat.

Maybe they will help someone out there in the ether.
These gutsy manly storyboard drawings were done by Jim Smith.
The extra doodles and notes under Jim's drawings are my additional breakdowns of expressions for acting. All this stuff was way toned down in the layouts, and so I then had to make another manual explaining how to not tone down expressions and poses. Those production managers had impressive looking shelves, piled high with Spumco manuals that
were never opened!

BTW, this section is all exposition. In the story, it's meant to make fun of shows like Superfriends where there are too many characters in a scene and they all just talk and explain what's going on to each other. Those scenes are always hard to board, because you have to come up with interesting angles for static mouth flapping characters. Jim solved it by putting them in funny heavy poses and making funny compositions.

We were always trying to figure out how to make fun of seriousness. Serious superheroes to me are automatically funny, but not so to the audience, so we tried to emphasize how silly serious superheroes are.

more to come....


Kali Fontecchio said...

Those Jim drawings are great!!!

Mr. Semaj said...

This brings up a question I've had for a long time.

What exactly does the art director do?

The Mighty Robolizard said...

These are beautiful things... there should really be some kind of place where one culd reference all of the storyboards at once... like a... storyboard library... [after all, the reason people, I think, prefer scripts is that they're used for plays, and have been around for so long].

I've found the R+S storyboards on ASIFAA [i think its called]. Beautiful stuff...

The Mighty Robolizard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric C. said...

John, I've got a cartoon question.

I noticed that their's 2 types of cartooning.

Animation and cartoon strip.

Your more of an animation guy and animation quality cartooning comes first.

The humor comes in the animation.

While Cartoon Strips, writting comes first.

People like Matt Groening.

The humor comes from the diologe.

In your own opinion John, what do you think about cartoon strip cartoonist types. Do they diserve to be called cartoonists like Matt Groening, Gary Larson, Mad Magazine, South Park and The Far Side?

_Eric ;)

JohnK said...

Hi Eric

I wouldn't make that distinction at all.

Comic Strips are the cartoons you read in the newspaper. It has nothing to do with writing or drawing.

In any cartoon, you can have good writing and good drawing, like Bugs Bunny or Ren and Stimpy.You don't always need good writing to have a good cartoon, but it long as the cartoon uses good cartooning and the writing doesn't get in the way.

I don't think many modern cartoons are well drawn OR well written.

The best written sitcoms are live action-like All In The Family and the early Beverly Hillbillies.

The Honeymooners is not technically as cleverly written, but it's funny as hell, because the writers write for the performers.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing here.

Cartoon writing, for characters like Bugs Bunny, is better when the Director lets his own personality show. Like creating art. His or her vision and understanding of the medium helps in storytelling.

Having a formula for the characteristics of Bugs Bunny and others, only restrict the possibilities for a animated short.

Whould having a simple primise for a cartoon character's personality be a good thing?

Clampette's Bugs is different to Jones' and Freleng's. Which I think is better. They had an idea what Bugs was and they would write for his performance.

Very good post.

Thanks John.

The Mighty Robolizard said...

'Comic Strips are the cartoons you read in the newspaper. It has nothing to do with writing or drawing. '


Then what are they?

Anonymous said...

>We were always trying to figure out how to make fun of seriousness. Serious superheroes to me are automatically funny, but not so to the audience, so we tried to emphasize how silly serious superheroes are.

As Steve Dubby Dubb (actually Stephen W. Worth) told me, serious comics are like healthy ice cream.

Frank Miller`s movies are in the #1 and #2 spot at the box office, so my palate needed cleansing wiht some actual fun. Thanks, John!

Freckled Derelict said...

I want to see a cartoon with THOSE characters!!!!

murrayb said...

at aformentioned canadian animation studio, Backgrounds were always drawn before the poses. That's the old nelvana method. Having done both jobs, it was always a problem to "pose" on hack BGs, with phone handset held cels the size of charater's torsos, or kitchen tables that are armpit high when the character is sitting down. You got a two second blob trace off of the board for the character setup, the Bg artist would say "I'm a layout guy, not a character guy". "Layout" in canadian means "background" apparently.

>>Unfortunately, the manuals sat on a shelf hidden away from the artists who could have used them to save some sweat.

It was a locked filing cabinet, not a shelf. We would of killed for a copy of the key. They didn't want art cooties on thier " production materials"

Mebbo said...

I personally think that to make a good comic strip, the exact same rules apply as for good animation - ie. writing is just as important as the art.
case in point: Calvin and Hobbes

You look at something like Dilbert, which has some funny writing but absolutely godawful, template art.
Personally, I don't think great art saves poor writing in comics. Sadly, most strip comics these days are both hamfisted in their art and outright boring in their jokes.

Animation has restrictions that production crews must work with and still get maximum result for their budget. Cartoonists have to get maximum impact in a small space.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I couldn't remember what I typed.

I meant to make myself clearer about the Looney Tune Directors.

I was trying to say that all three had their own vision on what they wanted Bugs to do. McKimson as well.

I'll have to read what I write a little closer before I send it.

Sorry for being a pest.
Love your work and what your trying to do.

Bringing back the standards that no longer are used in the entertainment industry.
Entertainment, that at one time, everyone took pride in. Now, it's like a cattle market.

Jim Smith is AAWWSOME!

Thanks, John.

Benjamin said...

Wow, John... I just saw this trailer for the upcoming film "The TV Set", and I immediatly thought of you... check it out:

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Re-using set-ups worked fine on your shows, I wouldn't change a frame, but I wouldn't say that it's the answer for all TV animation.

On the plus side, it saves money and lends style and a feeling of confident direction to a show. On the minus side it can make a show feel stiff and dialogue heavy. Your cartoons don't have this problem but countless H&B cartoons did. One of these days you should do a blog explaining how you managed to make the H&B system work so well for you.

JohnK said...

Hi Eddie

you pretty much have to re-use setups in TV because of the restricted budgets.

You can ask on a storyboard all you want for full animation and a new background for every scene but that would be completely impractical.

To ask for other people to do all this extra work is just not right. It's the same as a scriptwriter writing scenes with crowds that animate.

New shots for every scene means more drawings and spending less time on each individual drawing. The result is really sloppy shoddy animation.

Just for continuity sake, even full animation re-uses shots. So does live action. Otherwise you'd never know where you are.