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November 8, 2006

Q&D - photo storyboard

by sven at 8:10 pm

(Q&D = "quick and dirty" - an ongoing animation project)

Last night I took 90 test photos of the new pups in their sets. The puppets and props, as material objects, don't cooperate entirely with my imagination... But that's OK. This is an experimental project -- and I wound up finding all kinds of interesting solutions that I never would have thought of if I weren't working with my hands.

As I took photos, I began to re-write the "script" in my mind. Today I worked on assembling a new storyboard -- a "photo storyboard" -- which you'll see below.

It's funny: I have a hard time reminding myself that I haven't actually shot the film yet. These photos totally look like still shots excerpted from a film that's already been made... But no! Filming is yet to come -- and the final product will still probably wind up looking very different from what I've got here.

'Nuf said. On to the storyboard!


Jimmy's standing on his head in the comfy chair.


Close-up on his face as he flops down playfully.

(Shot should probably be even more of a close-up, to avoid the awkardness of animating him getting down. Let it be implied.)


Jimmy: Ah, the joy that is Saturday.

(Characters won't actually speak -- at least not in English. I'm writing out their thoughts to help motivate pantomime acting. When dialogue is in quotation marks, the puppets' voices will be a squeaky sound for Jimmy, and growly nonsense words for Dad.)


Jimmy: What could possibly go wrong?

Dad walks into the foreground.


Dad stands with his hands on hips, growling in irritation.


Jimmy: "Uh, hi dad!" He waves hello.


Dad: "What are you doing just sitting here?"


Dad: "Didn't you promise to do a really boring chore?"


Dad: "And yet, here we are, several seconds into this film, and you still haven't done the work!" He indicates offscreen. Maybe there are leaves to be raked outside.


Jimmy changes position in the chair.

(I'm worried about how I'm going to pull off a transitional shot like this without a solid rig for Jimmy...)


Jimmy: "Aw, Dad... I don't wanna. Prettyprettypretty please?"


Jimmy: "Have you ever considered that assigning me this chore might just be a manifestation of your bitterness about the soul-sapping, nose-to-the-grindstone life that you find yourself in now? ...That maybe deep down, part of you is jealous of my ability to still be playful and relax -- and is trying to punish me for it?"


They stare each other down in silence. Is Dad going to fall for that excuse? I mean, it sounded pretty good, right?



Jimmy topples backwards in the chair.


Dad: "That is the most irritating, lazy-bones, psycho-babble excuse I've ever heard, young man!"


Dad: "You promise me that you're going to do something..."


Dad: "And then I go to the kitchen and eat a little strawberry pie..."


Dad: "And do you do the chore? ...No!"


Jimmy: While Dad's talking to himself, I think I'll just slip away.

Jimmy crawls around toward the back of the chair. Dad continues ranting in the background.


Jimmy: Good thing Dad doesn't know about my secret escape route!


Jimmy crawls into the cave set through a little crack in the wall.


He crawls through this secret, magical cave tunnel.


He looks over his shoulder. Perhaps we can still hear Dad off in the distance...



Dad: "And what's more, the strawberries were rather tart and unsatisfying..."


Dad: "Which brings me to my point: which is that..."


Dad does a big startle response, realizing that Jimmy's chair is now empty.


Dad: I'm confused and unsettled!


Dad: Oh! I'm going to go get that boy!!

He growls through gritted teeth and storms off.



Jimmy is crawling through the cave tunnel. It's silent, like a natural cathedral. Perhaps a good moment for a music cue?


We have a POV shot, the camera shuffling through the tunnel...


Still in the POV shot, we come to a door in the wall marked "Exit."

End of photo storyboard.

I'd like to add a further sequence at the end: We see a shot of a painting hanging on the wall back in the house. The painting opens up like a door, and Jimmy jumps down to the floor, having escaped Dad and the dreaded chores.

The problem with this epilogue, though, is that at this point I haven't made a dining room set for Jimmy to emerge into. It requires more fabrication.

In the last version of the storyboard I had a whole 'nother sequence again, where Dad finds Jimmy and then Jimmy escapes into a second secret tunnel. I think at this point I'm just going to jettison that part of the story. But I believe I still need a scene in the dining room -- otherwise the nature of the secret tunnel is too unclear. It's not just a mysterious cave; it's a tunnel to another part of the house.

posted by sven | November 8, 2006 8:10 PM | categories: stopmo