Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Writing for Cartoons 6 - Spelling, Grammar, Clarity : The Boy Who Cried Rat Outline


Spelling and Grammar
You are going to have to use some words when you write a cartoon-in outlines and premises -which the audience never sees, and in dialogue - which the audience hears. If you spell badly and can't construct a sentence, then it's pretty certain that you'll have trouble constructing a paragraph, let alone a story. You also won't be able to write effective dialogue if you have trouble with language.

Spelling and grammar use the same kind of thinking that writing stories and doing storyboards does, so if you can't spell or construct clear sentences, you might want to give up on the idea of being a writer. You can still be a good artist. It's a lot harder to be an artist than a writer anyway.

Clarity

You should be able to control your ideas in a way that the audience sees, feels and understands what YOU want them to see, feel and understand. You have to be able to present your ideas simply and clearly. Vagueness is a sign of poor writing.

Don't try to be fancy or show-offy. That tends to muddy up your ideas and baffles the readers, artists and audience. Use the fewest possible words to say what is happening.

Clarity is also important to the artists who have to follow up on what your ideas are. If they have to muddle through vague writing, storyboarding and overly complicated details, they will have trouble understanding what the point is that they have to convey to the audience.

If you are writing an outline, write with short simple sentences that tell clearly what is happening. Do not try to impress the artists with fancy-ass flowery prose and inverted sentence structures. They won't be impressed. They will be frustrated and confused and will not do their jobs well.








NOTE! This is an 11 minute cartoon. The outline is just 4 pages long.

Clarity applies to every aspect of art and entertainment-to the telling of the story, to the posing, the sfx, the music, the acting. The best directors are the ones who state their ideas in the clearest non-ambiguous manner.

Here are some notes a secretary wrote up from a meeting at Spumco. We were studying Tex Avery cartoons. Tex was a master of clarity.




http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5458467101259814270&q=tex+avery

17 comments:

Kali Fontecchio said...

Great notes! "Lumps are the enemy of clear staging!" I'll say! Avery's cartoons sure are clear. I love to see his drawings, like in that Walter Lantz cartoon, the Chilly Willy one.

katzenjammer studios said...

GOLD!

John, you should have fundraisers at the ASIFA archive. You could charge 5 bucks for artists to come out and watch great cartoons. Then the real value comes from your analysis afterwards. You could benefit the archive, take some green home yourself, and train artists who would be capable of working for you in the future.

I remember Steve saying he wanted to show movies that inspired golden aged animators. That'd be great too, Steve!

Gavin Freitas said...

Yeah the script does work. I just watched The Boy who cried Rat and yeah, 11 minutes in just 4 pages. John, is this the script you handed the voice talent or did you have the dialoge "in the middle" like regular scripts for them?

Hector Cortez said...

Yet another great post... jeez John... do you EVER have a bad post? :-)

Muppet said...

I am in awe. Each of your posts is a lesson, your collection of posts is already better by far than most animation books out there. Congratulations, you are a good man.

abwinegar said...

This gives me an idea in my drawing excersies. I'll work it in.

Thanks John.

abwinegar said...

Oops! I meant , "exercise". Dang these spelling errors.

Ha Ha Ha.

applepwnz said...

Another great post John! Although ironically enough, I did notice a spelling mistake in "The Boy Who Cried Rat" there was a part that said "moe the lawn"

Anonymous said...

"Isn't she adorable?" lol

Anonymous said...

Can you go into more detail about lumps? Maybe using some drawings as examples.

You've talked about them a lot and I'm still confused about what they are.

diego cumplido said...

I support the "lumps" question: what are them?

Ben Williams said...

Great stuff. I was just wondering did anyone save the pages from the 'Scene Planning For TV - Setups for storyboard and layout 2' post a few days ago. I can't view pages 5-9 and would really like to get hold of them. Cheers.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Great lesson this week, John. From now on, all of my outlines will be that simple.
I love the bonus Avery analysis too.
So much to take in.
Thanks!

fluffy said...

"You are going to have to use some words when you write a cartoon-in outlines and premises -which the audience never sees, and in dialogue - which the audience hears. If you spell badly and can't construct a sentence, then it's pretty certain that you'll have trouble constructing a paragraph, let alone a story. You also won't be able to write effective dialogue if you have trouble with language."

THANK YOU. I am so sick of people on the Internet who apologize for peoples' bad grammar and spelling by saying things like, "Well as long as they get their point across isn't that all that matters?"

Bad spelling and grammar make it harder for them to get their point across. It pulls the reader out of what they're reading, to start with, and if they don't have the attention to detail that leads them to spell basic words right or know the difference between "their," "there," and "they're," chances are they don't actually know what words they mean to use in general.

Sure, it's POSSIBLE to decode sentences like "& then teh kat walks ovr 2 the bag & sticks it's hed inside & its reely funny bcuz it doesnt no their's a stick of dinamite in their" but who really wants to try to figure it out?

Kent B said...

Your analysis of Tex Avery cartoons is spot on and insightful. These pictures really are "textbook" for cartoon making. Do you have any storyboard sequences from these to show how they arrived at this?

It was really interesting to see the storyboards from "Falling Hare" to see that the storyboard basically "worked out the story" All the emotion and exaggeration was added by Bob with the voice performance, cutting/layout, and animation performance - all worked out to music. - You mean the story guy works out the story and then the Director directs? What a revolutionary concept!

Vincent Waller said...

As Eddie would say Egad! One day I'll figure out the difference between a stooge and verb that cuts grass!

Jesse Oliver said...

Hey John

I love Tex Avery's "The Counterfeit Cat"!

Did you study that cartoon a lot back then?