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November 4, 2006

Q&D - the story

by sven at 5:00 pm

I've been working on "quick and dirty" (Q&D) puppets and sets for the past few weeks... My story idea for them was inspired by this quarter's StopMoShorts challenge: to make an animated short using the words sword, cave, and fear.

My current goal is to pull back from focusing entirely on armatures, to begin working more holistically. I'm not committed to submitting to the StopMoShorts challenge -- but since I had an idea that could work for it, I figured I might as well start there.

STEP ONE: brainstorming story ideas

To come up with my story, I brainstormed a list of 40 ideas and then chose my favorite. You can read the entire list here. (written 10.11.06)

STEP TWO: thumbnail storyboard

The story idea really isn't much more than a paragraph or two long... A few days later (10.17.06) I drew a really quick thumbnail storyboard. Moving from words to images was helpful -- it made me realize that I needed a couple of segues that that I hadn't envisioned before...

thumbnail storyboard (click to enlarge)

Based just on the thumbnails, I started work on the sets and pups.

STEP THREE: storybook format

Thursday (11.02.06) I decided to do a clearer storyboard. It's still rough. And I'm not bothering to draw my images on index cards, or in little pre-printed boxes, as some authors would recommend at this point. I drew multiple pictures per page in my sketchbook, only cleaning them up a little for presentation on the blog.

Pairing words with pictures further helps clarify the story. See, the whole point here is to keep developing the story by switching to different formats: a paragraph (words)... thumbnail sketches (pictures)... a storybook presentation (words + pictures)... Whatever my first vision of the story is, it's not going to be nearly rich enough. I believe it's important to go through a bunch of exercises, which progressively evolve the skeletal idea into a fully fleshed out concept.

At this point in time, I don't really have my process of exercises down. Figuring out what the meta-process is here, is almost as important to me actually producing footage right now. ...Other potential exercises: refining sketches of the characters; making 3D maquettes of the characters and sets; trying out different color palletes; a "pop-through" video to demo the blocking...

OK, that's enough theory for now. On to the storyboard!

1. Jimmy was sooooo... Bored!

2. His father was lecturing him.

3. He tries to get comfortable.

4. Dad goes on and on...

5. What's this? A crack between the cushions?

6. There's another world!

7. Ah-ha! A way to escape!

8. Does dad even notice?

9. Jimmy drops into a cave.

10. He runs through the tunnel... To an exit!

11. He comes out from behind a painting on the wall.

12. Jimmy leaps down and the painting-door snaps shut.

13. Is he safe?

14. Oh no! Dad's found him!

15. Quick! Under the table!

16. Jimmy runs through another tunnel... Straight into dad!

17. Caught!

18. Dad's eyes roll back in his head and he flops over.

19. A worm-monster comes out of dad's back!

20. The worm rises up...

21. Terror!

The End.

Yep -- it ends abruptly. A traditional resolution would be to have Jimmy snap to attention; we realize this was all just a fantasy, and that he's actually still being lectured by his dad. But I don't want to undermine the reality of these shaman-esque tunnels between places. And what I'm going for here is an interesting sketch, rather than a full story arc... So I think ending on the climax of fear is a legitimate choice. (Hard to tell if it really works until it's actually on film.)

posted by sven | November 4, 2006 5:00 PM | categories: stopmo