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Another valuable tool at your disposal, especially when you're directing a project or overseeing a project, is the sweat box note. And it's surprising how many people don't actually write these. I've worked on productions that didn't use sweat box notes and the result was painful. So what's a swap box note? And the director and the leads will sit down anybody who has a bird's-eye view of the project and write a note for each scene, and that note travels with the scene, either taped to it, if it's a physical scene, or as a note inside the file.
So it could be an FLA file in flash, or various production files for AfterEffects, Maya, Cinemathority and so forth, so when the animator, or whoever, opens the file, they see that note from the director telling them watch out for this, here's what I have in mind for the scene. So I'm going to write a sample sweat box note for one of these scenes. So here's one page of my storyboards, and I'm going to pick the bottom center scene, 5-0, 50. Once you have your storyboards down, once you more or less approve them as I have in this case, it's time to give them sequence and scene numbers.
Well, this is scene five, and I've numbered the scenes 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60. I number them, 10 apart because if you want to add a scene at any point, say between 40 and 50, you can call it 45. So it's very handy to have this level of flexibility. So let's write a sweatbox note for scene 5050. Okay, so the most important thing for that scene is the hookups, because if continuity is bad, that's going to jump out very, very quickly. So let's include that. Now I'm showing the hookups out of 40 into 60 because the character, the student, appears in both shots.
If scene 40 had been a street car racing down the road, then I would not include it as a hook up. It would not have been relevant to the hookups so, but the animator in this case needs to know if scenes 40 and 60 have already been animated and he needs to work into them. They don't need to work into him. So the next thing I would do would be to write some notes about the physical performance of the scene for the animator. So in this case, he's taking a little bite out of the menu, and he's going to do some business, so let's flesh it out a little bit. So I'll write for the animator, the student.
Let's see, we'll have him staring at his menu, he'll sniff at it, take a bite, and, I don't think he needs to chew it because he chews in the next shot, so let's leave that out, and we just have him take a little bite, a small piece, and maybe make an expression. And meanwhile, the chef and the waitress are watching him. So we'll type out that instruction. Alright. That's very simple. And the only other thing that really occurs to me would be that the After Effects artist who would be working on this, I would hope, would take the chef and the waitress and just blur them a little bit, so that background isn't at the same level of sharpness as the foreground.
I want some depth of field on this. And the only other thing that would spring to mind would be if there had been a previous scene with a very similar action. Maybe the animator who's working on this is a freelancer or maybe he's just in his cubicle working away, he might not have seen that shot. So let's warn him. Let's tell him, you know, you have something out there you might want to track down. That's pretty much it. That's a, that's a fairly decent sweatbox note. That'll save some people quite a bit of time, and as I said before, there's nothing worse that working on a scene without a sweatbox note. You animate the scene, you hand it in and then they give you the sweatbox note.
You know, it's best to give the not up front and it save a lot of time. There is one other part of the process that you might want to factor in at this stage, because we're still, pretty much, at the story board pre-production level. And that would be to give your scenes a rating in terms of how important they are. And I rate them A, B, or C. It's a common technique. An A scene is a scene that's absolutely vital you can't live without it. A C scene is a scene that you could cut, you could live without it. You want the scene, but you know what if you run out of money or you run out of time or energy, that's the scene you leave to last because that's the one you can cut.
So in this case my boards, I think are fairly efficient. There's not a lot of fat on them. When I was looking through it to give you some examples I did find a couple that I could probably live without, if I had to. And the one example would be this reaction shot on the second panel on the top right. We see the student here screaming, I get it, I get it. And then we have a reaction shot to the chef and the waitress. Well that shot could go. There's not dialog on it. It's a reaction shot. It's not critical to the narrative that could be abolished. And the other shot that we could get rid of would be this shot here, when the student is carted away by the paramedics when he starts acting a little irrationally.
We see this over the shoulder shot of the two officers, and that shot could actually be incorporated into this panel. We could thereby eliminate that sequence, and save a little bit of time. So this is a good way to prioritize your scenes. Do the A scenes first and the B scenes second and do the C scenes last. And that's it.
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